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Get Ready to Rake and Other Fall To-Do’s

fallgraphicfinalWith the air getting cooler in the DC area, our trees will start turning into those gorgeous
fall colors … and then their leaves will soon cover your yard!

Yep, it’ll be time to rake and schedule other maintenance for your home. Even if you don’t have a yard and are living in a condo, there is still yearly maintenance that needs to be done and now’s the perfect season for this to happen.

You might rather stay on the coach and watch college football all day but we’re here to convince you otherwise.

Upkeep Made Easy

The upkeep of your home is not only for your enjoyment (who doesn’t want to host a backyard BBQ on their fabulous deck) but it also helps preserve your home’s value down the road.

Slacking off now on simple tasks can hit you hard later on when it comes time to sell or when facing a major expense that could have been avoidable.

That’s why maintenance projects both in the early and late fall are important. Winter weather can wreak havoc on your home and you want to get to these projects before it’s too cold or icy to take care of them.

Some are DIY jobs but for others you can hire reputable contactors or even sign up for a yearly service contract (i.e., HVAC, chimney, pest control).

We always recommend creating a maintenance binder or downloading a maintenance app for your iPhone or Android (e.g., HomeSavvy, BrightNest, HomeZade) so you can schedule and record your repairs and upkeep. That way, you’ll know exactly what you have to do each month and how to budget for it. On certain apps you can even set up alerts to remind you.

With a binder or an app, you’ll be able to store information on repair dates and costs, contact info for contractors, any receipts from purchases, warranties, model numbers and manufacturer materials.  With all this information in one place, you’ll find it so much easier to stay organized!

Our Handy Fall List

We’re helping you to get started with our list below that you can customize for your own home and put in your binder/app for fall maintenance:

Doors, Windows & Attic

Save on winter heating bills:

• Add or replace weather-stripping around doors and windows to keep out drafts.
• Caulk around windows where cold airs gets in.
• Get a good storm door for your entrance.
• Consider getting plastic shields to protect basement window wells.
• Insulate your attic and look at the benefits of cellulose insulation over fiberglass.
• Give your windows one more thorough cleaning (this one doesn’t save money, we just like looking out clean windows!).

Chimney

Important safety musts before building fires this winter:

• Hire a professional to inspect and clean your chimney.
• Check to make sure the damper works properly. Close the damper when not in use, but don’t forget to open it before lighting a fire.
• Examine for loose bricks and mortar and get it repointed. The earlier you catch this the better, in order to avoid water damage and rebuilding a new chimney.
• Make sure your chimney is lined, even if you don’t have a fireplace. Many gas hot water heaters and heating systems are vented through a chimney.
• Cap or screen the top to keep out rodents and birds seeking refuge.
• Buy firewood but store it away from the exterior of your home (it can attract rodents!).

Furnace, Ducts, AC Unit & Etc.

Get your heating system and other units in top shape for winter use:

• Hire a HVAC professional to inspect and clean your furnace.  Also check your whole-house central humidifier unit to make sure you’ll have the right amount of moisture in the air.
• Stock up on furnace filters and change them monthly.
• Drain air conditioning pipes and turn off its shut-off valve if you have one.
• Hire a professional to inspect air ducts for leaks in their joints; and have them cleaned if necessary.
• Ducts in cold spaces such as attics, basements, or crawl spaces should be insulated.
• Remove and store window AC units if you have them.
• Clean dryer vent by vacuuming the tube that leads to the vent and then vacuum from the outside dryer vent. This should be done every six months so include on both your fall and spring maintenance schedules.
• Clean and disinfect your portable humidifier if you have one in order to prevent mold and bacteria growth in the standing water.

Thermostat

Keep your home toasty warm:

• Buy a programmable thermostat that allows you to set temperatures lower when you’re not at home or sleeping. You’ll save money!
• To prevent pipes from bursting, never set your thermostat below 55 degrees.

Home Exterior

Prevent small issues now from becoming larger ones later:

• Clean out gutters and downspouts of leaves and debris. Depending on where you live, you may have to clean your gutters several times in the fall. Blocked gutters can cause water damage to your home, and water can freeze causing gutters to detach from your home.
• Make sure your gutters are directed to drain as far away from the house as possible and on a downslope. Check this regularly during rainstorms to prevent major water damage.
• Inspect roof for any damage to shingles and double check seals around vents and chimney to prevent any leaks.
• Seal foundation cracks to prevent mice from sneaking in.
•Drain outdoor faucets and winterize in-ground watering systems before the winter so you don’t get burst pipes inside your walls. You plumber can show you how.
• Inspect your driveway for cracks. Seal it now to prevent winter damage.

Yard

Come springtime you’ll be happy you did these items:

• Trim tree branches that hang too close to your home or electrical wires. You don’t want any surprises during a storm so hire a professional company to care for your trees and trim where necessary.
• Rake leaves regularly in yard so you aren’t overwhelmed with one big job at the end of the season. Check your community’s leaf pick-up services and schedule.
• Plant fall bulbs now for springtime flowers. Look at catalogs and the internet for some ideas for your garden. Perennial flowers are less costly and time consuming in the long run, making your yard look nice with less work each year.
• Remove and weed any dead plants, especially annuals.
• Prune shrubs before they go dormant. Cut back perennials; divide and transplant as needed.
• Aerate, fertilize, and seed your lawn.
• Drain garden hoses and store them inside.
• Clean and then cover outdoor furniture (or store it inside).
• Winterize sensitive plants such as roses and stake any shrubs or young trees.

Power Failures & Severe Weather

Prepare your home now so you’re ready for winter storms:

• Buy and store flashlights, candles, and matches in easy-to-reach locations.
• Keep extra water bottles, nonperishable food (for pets too!), blankets and necessary medications on hand.
• Buy that snow shovel before it snows! Don’t forget bags of ice-melt and sand.
• Find the phone numbers for your utility companies.

Let us know if you have any questions and if you need any suggestions for contractors that could help get your list of to-dos done. And, don’t forget that jumping in leaf piles can be fun!

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