5 Fall Home Maintenance Tips

fall home maintenance attic insulationby Mike Morris, editor

It’s that time of year again. The kids are back in school, the days are getting shorter and the list of things that need to get done before fall is staring you right in the face.

Don’t think you’ll have enough time to get it all done? Rest easy, my friend. With this five-step plan in hand, you can prepare your home for the harshest reality Mother Nature has to offer well before the cold winds start to blow.

1. Let there be heat

There’s nothing worse than having your heating system break down when the outside temperature is in the single digits. Why wait for an emergency? Have your system inspected by a heating pro right now while the weather’s still warm. You’ll pay less, wait less and have peace of mind that when you turn on the heat, it won’t let you down.While you’re at it, now is a great time to vacuum accumulated dust and pet hair from your vents, baseboard heaters and cold-air returns. If you suffer from upper respiratory illnesses every winter, cleaning the dust and pet dander from your air ducts can greatly decrease your suffering this season. You’ll have to hire a pro to vacuum the ducts, but once again, it’s their slow season and you’ll get a much better price than later in the year.

2. Seal the deal

Now that you’re sure the heat works, why let it blow your hard-earned money right out the window? Inspect all your windows and doors for cracked and peeling caulk and weather stripping. Make all necessary repairs. The tighter your building envelope, the lower your heating (and cooling) bills.

If you have wood windows that need to be painted, caulk first to get the best looking finish. Check your windows, too, for cracked or missing glazing that causes air leaks. This also helps prevent water damage to the sills and interior walls. Finally, if you can see daylight under your doors, install inexpensive door sweeps to seal them up.

3. Throw a blanket over it

Warm air rises, so most of your home’s heat loss is through the roof. Add an extra blanket of insulation on top of your existing layer. If the insulation is packed between the joists, like most homes, roll out a top layer of batts perpendicular to the joists to minimize air leakage. While we’re talking insulation, get a couple cans of an insulating foam sealant (watch out, it expands!) and tour your house.

In the attic, check the chimney and any vents for gaps. Walk the perimeter of your basement looking for daylight around flues, dryer vents and anything that penetrates your home’s exterior. The money and energy you’ll save will more than make up for the little expense and time you put into this effort.

4. Say it ain’t sow

Late summer and early fall is the best time to revive an established lawn that can use some TLC. If you’ve got bare spots and thinning areas, over-seed your lawn two to four weeks before the first hard frost. Use a hard rake to remove thatch and loosen hardened soil before spreading the seed. Perennial or annual ryegrass is recommended for reseeding lawns. Water regularly and apply a winterizing fertilizer two weeks after planting. Winterizing fertilizers are richer in potassium, which makes grass more winter hardy.

5. Give it a fresh coat

Planning to entertain guests this holiday season? One of the cheapest and easiest ways to give your home a crisp, new look is to slap on a fresh coat of paint. Now’s the right time, because you can still get rid of the fumes by opening windows before it’s too cold outside. The same is true for many interior projects you might be considering. If it needs to be glued, stripped or treated with noxious chemicals, you’ll want to tackle it while the warm summer breezes are still blowing.

 

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