Your Fall To-Do List
Fall is finally here and that means winter isn’t far behind. While it’s tempting to spend your time tailgating and sipping pumpkin spice lattes, be sure to spend some time prepping your home so it’s ready for the cold weather ahead. Take care of the chores listed below now and save yourself time and trouble in the year ahead.
Outside the Home
Gutters & Garden Hoses
After a long season of hot weather and summer storms, your home’s gutters have likely filled with dried leaves, grass, and other debris. Now is a great time to clear them out to keep them working properly all through the rest of the year. Make sure you unhook any garden hoses from outdoor spigots to prevent water from freezing inside and cracking the rubber.
Fall is also the perfect time to ready your yard for following spring. Raking up dried and dead leaves regularly to prevent buildup is key. Left alone, leaves can quickly accumulate and suffocate the grass below. Speaking of grass, experts agree fertilizing your lawn (and filling in bare patches) is best done in the fall too.
Cleaning your windows and checking for drafts may not be your favorite chore, but it’s one you don’t want to skip. And, if you’re hoping to save on energy costs this winter, installing storm windows might be a great option. Less expensive than window replacement, storm windows have been shown to reduce air movement into and out of existing windows which can translate into reduced heating and cooling costs all year long.
Window Air Conditioners
One sure sign of cooler weather ahead is the removal of widow air conditioners. These heavy “widow shakers” should be removed and stored away each fall. If you’ve used the unit recently, be prepared with old towels as it may still be full of water. Also, be sure to clean the unit’s filter before storing as doing so can boost its efficiency by up to 15%. If you aren’t able to remove the widow unit, be sure to cover it completely with an insulated cover.
In the Home
After sitting idle all summer long, your furnace may need some TLC. While you can take care of some items yourself (ensure heating vents aren’t covered by curtains or furniture, and reverse the motion of your ceiling fans), it’s a good idea to schedule a maintenance visit with a professional heating and cooling technician. Certified technicians perform a variety of safety checks and ensure your system is working as efficiently as possible. He or she will do things like check for carbon monoxide leaks and change out the furnace filter. These visits cost around $80, but can save you much more than that in the long run.
For the most part, water heaters sit unnoticed in the basement demanding attention only when they aren’t working properly. But, annual water heater flushing isn’t something that should be ignored. Over time, sediment (from naturally occurring minerals in water) builds up in the tank portion of the water heater and can cause a host of problems. Anything from lower efficiency, to dangerous bacteria growth, to system deterioration can all be attributed sediment build up. Flushing the system once a year is the best way to prevent mishaps. Contract with a local plumber who will safely drain and flush the tank and make sure all wiring and heating elements are operating properly.
Once you’ve completed your fall to-do list, kick up your feet and relax…You’ve earned it!