Fall color

Keeping Your Home in Tip Top Shape

As you know, the list of things you have to do routinely to keep your home in top shape can be a little daunting, especially for new home owners. I recommend breaking the list down into seasons so that it is easier to manage. So below is my list of items for fall.

Checklist for This Fall

 Clean out the gutters

Fall is the best time clean the gutters in preparation for the winter weather. Cleaning gutters isn’t that difficult of a task, it’s just time consuming. The easiest way to get rid of the leaves and debris is to use a hose with a high pressure nozzle, and then use a small trowel to scrap at any debris that is stuck in the bottom. Note: Make sure your windows are closed when spaying near them or you could end up with water in the house. I speak from experience here. Once you have gotten rid of all the debris, give your gutters a final spray.

B. Lawn Sprinkler System

By the middle of September you can decrease your watering time. By the 2nd or 3rd weekend in October it is recommended that you have the water to the system shut off and blow it out with compressed air in order to remove all water. This reduces the chance of broken pipes that ice can cause in our winter climate. Some people wait until the end of October however your lawn’s growth has generally slowed down and it is becoming dormant by October. So unless it is an unusually hot and dry Fall, you can start saving some water. Please note: Trees and shrubs, particularly younger ones, need to have some water throughout the Fall and Winter. So keep a hose out and handy, but not attached to the faucet and  plan on hand watering these guys from time to time throughout the winter.

C. Evaporative Coolers (Swamp Coolers) or Window Air Conditioners

When the temperatures start to cool down you should Winterize your Evaporative Cooler. The basic steps involve disconnecting it from the water supply and draining the bottom pan. I leave the drain open so that any water that may collect during the winter can drain away. Change the cooler pads. The last step is to install a Cooler cover. If you do this you will prevent the rain or snow water from causing the problems. But more importantly it stops the outside air from entering the home or building being supplied by the Evaporative Cooler. Most newer home Coolers have a damper that can be closed that will prevent most of the air from entering the ducts and getting into the building. If you have a window mount Air Conditioner it should be removed from the window and stored in the garage or basement.

D. Caulking and sealing openings

Check foundation for cracks and caulk around the areas where masonry meets siding, where pipes or wires enter the house, and around the windows and door frames to prevent heat from escaping.

Check basement windows for drafts, loose frames or cracked panes.

E. Furnace filters

Put in a new furnace filter. This is also a good time to consider having your ducts cleaned, so you’re not blowing around the dust that has been collecting over time. Plan to replace your filters several times during the winter.


F. Attic Vents – Don’t close those vents.

I put this in because I often hear people say they have to close those vents in the winter.Attic ventilation can be more important in the winter than in the summer. The vents keeps the air space in the attic from having a build up of moisture. With the vents closed there is nowhere for the moisture to go. There are times when the humidity in the attic can get  high enough to cause mold and mildew on the lumber, insulation and the roof sheeting. In the summer the vents allow heat to be vented out and in the winter they allow moisture to be vented out.

G. Pots and planters

Move pots and planters into a protected area or cover them. If you leave the soil uncovered in the pots then water collects in the soil and freezes, the water will expand and crack the pots. If the pots are really big but you can move them, then turn them over so that the water can’t collect inside. Otherwise remove the soil from the pots.
Note: Having the soil freeze is a good thing because it will kill any bugs or insect larvae that are in the soil, so you could store it in a garbage bag outside just don’t let it crack those pots.

H.Weed and feed the lawn

The best time to weed and feed the lawn is in the fall. If you add weed killer in the fall, the weeds will store the poison in their roots during the winter season, and will prevent a breakout in the spring. By feeding your lawn with fertilizer (a high phosphorous mix) in the fall, you are promoting healthy root growth, and this will help your lawn grow greener and faster in the spring.

I. Give your tools a tune-up

Once you have finished your fall maintenance chores, make sure you clean your tools and store them in a dry place so they will be in working order once spring arrives. Be sure to store metal shovels with the head upwards, as this will help avoid rusting when it dries. Sheers need to be oiled up, wheel barrels should be left upside down and don’t forget to spray off the underside of the lawnmower.

J. Planting Bulbs ( Tulips and Daffodils for Spring)

Spring bulbs can be planted from Mid-September until mid-November, as long as the ground is easily workable. Still planting the earlier the better for healthy flowers in the Spring. Pick bulbs that are large, full and firm. If the winter is dry make sure to water planting beds  along with your shrubs and trees.

You might want to consider hiring a lawn service  to come out to do the final mowing, fertilizing, shut off the sprinkler system and blow it out.