Like it or not, the summer days are waning. Nights are getting cooler, and those packed-away sweaters are calling your name. Pretty soon, the leaves will change colors, and the snow will fall.
Now is the perfect time to begin all the necessary household chores to prepare for fall and winter. Menomonee Falls homeowners would be smart to undertake a few of these essential maintenance tasks every weekend from now through October. Get your house ready while the weather is still pleasant, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get everything done. Then you can relax, knowing your home is prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at you.
Many chores listed below are certainly within the average person’s capabilities, so get your kids involved. However, it’s worth the expense if you choose to have a professional handle some jobs, especially those dealing with the roof, gutters, or chimney.
Let’s begin with the most important outdoor tasks first, then easier outdoor jobs, then finally, what you should do indoors to prepare for fall.
Outdoor Home Maintenance for Menomonee Falls Homeowners
Most Menomonee Falls homeowners have yards and mature trees. That means lots of leaves, grass, debris, and equipment maintenance. It also may involve some additional work.
• Rake and Fertilize Your Lawn
Take care of your lawn in the fall to protect it over the winter. In October, give it a final raking, then give your yard a good dose of fertilizer. This will trigger the renewed growth of both roots and blades once the weather warms up again in the spring.
• Clean the Gutters
Not many Menomonee Falls homeowners love cleaning gutters, but it should be done at least once a year. Depending on your home, this might be a job you hire a professional gutter cleaning company to do.
But if you’re doing it yourself, get a sturdy ladder and scoop out all the debris around the entire perimeter. Try using a leaf-blower attachment to blast it out if you prefer.
It’s essential to keep this system flowing smoothly because gutters divert water from the house’s foundation and exterior. Clogged gutters may lead to damaged walls and basement flooding. Before the leaves fall, clean the gutters and then cover them with mesh guards. Add extenders to downspouts to funnel away water.
• Inspect Your Roof and Chimney
While you’re up on the ladder, take a close look at your roof. Houses are built from the ground up, but they’re taken care of from the top down. A leaking roof or damaged chimney should be repaired immediately to avoid serious problems. Dripping water starts as annoying. But ice, snow, and winter winds turn it into a disaster.
Use binoculars to inspect your roof. Check shingles for cracks, curls, loose spots, or missing ones. Metal flashing around vents, chimneys, and valleys should be in good shape. If you noticed your gutters had an accumulation of granules (when you cleaned them out earlier), that’s a sign your roof is losing its coating.
Check the exterior of your chimney for damage as well. The flue cap to cover the top must be in place. Inspect the bricks for cracks, broken joints, or missing mortar.
If you notice any damage, this is another job best left to professionals to repair. Every few years, a complete inspection should be made by a qualified roofer.
• Fix Concrete and Asphalt Cracks
The next couple of months will be the last opportunity for Menomonee Falls homeowners to fix driveway and sidewalk cracks and uneven sections before the snow. Any damaged concrete can be hazardous, but it only gets worse when it’s covered with ice. A few repairs can prevent small problems from becoming expensive headaches or bad injuries.
Water seeping into the cracks of concrete will create more damage as it freezes and thaws. Trying to shovel snow or just walk on an uneven sidewalk is difficult at best. Small jobs can be a DIY, but call someone experienced in concrete or asphalt if major repairs are necessary.
• Get Your HVAC Serviced
It’s time to give your hardworking air conditioning a rest. But be sure to thoroughly clean the coils before you say goodbye for the next eight months. Clean everything off and cover the outdoor unit securely. This will keep animals, debris, and ice from damaging your cooling unit. It’s a good idea to have your heating system inspected by a professional once a year as well. Consider scheduling this task in late summer/early fall, before the last-minute rush. There’s nothing worse than turning on your furnace on a chilly night and not having heat!
Besides cleaning and covering the exterior unit, go inside the house and change the air filter. Check that all indoor vents are uncovered – especially if they are near or on the floor. If it’s been a while, consider having your air ducts professionally cleaned.
• Check Exterior Siding and Shutters
Winter winds and snowstorms can wreak havoc on your siding and shutters. Be sure that everything is securely attached to the house. Keep pests from entering your home by spraying foam insulation around wires and pipes leading in. Holes in the siding attract bees and other insects to build nests between the interior walls and siding. Touch up any bare or pealing wood with paint while the weather is still comfortable.
• Install Storm Windows
Inspect all windows for cracked or broken glass panes. Replace caulking, if necessary, to help keep out cold, wind, snow, and dirt. Clean both sides of storm windows with vinegar and water before installing them.
Simpler Outdoor Chores to Complete Before Fall
You’ve now gotten the “big” jobs complete, but there are still several small – but equally important chores to be done. Add one or two to each weekend, and you’ll be finished sooner than you think.
• Get Salt, Shovels, and Snow Blower Ready
It’s often too late to find snow gear once winter arrives. Stock up on shovels, salt, fuel de-icers, or ice scrapers in the fall when they’re in stock. Check your supply, even if you’re sure you’ve got enough leftover from last year. Take your snow blower in for a tune-up. Don’t get caught out in the cold and snow to realize your snowblower isn’t working.
• Drain and Store Your Lawn Equipment
Unused fuel in a piece of lawn equipment goes through chemical changes that can create deposits and ruin it. So, before winter storage, drain the tanks of your weed eater, lawnmower, and leaf blower. Now is also a great time to sharpen the blades, so they’ll be ready when you need them.
• Turn Off Outdoor Plumbing
When the temperatures fall below freezing, outdoor sprinkler systems, pipes, and hoses will burst if they’re full of water. Replacing a standard garden hose isn’t complicated or expensive. But digging up your lawn’s sprinkler system to deal with burst pipes is very costly.
Therefore, before the weather gets too cold, disconnect outdoor hoses, and turn off the outdoor water supply. Drain any remaining water by opening faucets and running your sprinkler systems. Cover the outdoor faucets (insulated covers can be purchased at any hardware store) to protect them from freezing temps.
• Clean Lawn and Garden Tools and Outdoor Furniture
You may still be using the furniture and equipment for a while, but it doesn’t hurt to clean your patio furniture and gardening tools now. Get them ready for storage in plenty of time for winter. Find a place in the basement or garage to keep them away from blowing winds and snow.
• Start Composting
If you enjoy gardening but don’t compost, now is the time to start. Collect your fall leaves and kitchen scraps into a special bin. By next spring, you’ll have gardening gold!
• Plant Bulbs Now for Spring Flowers
As soon as the soil has cooled down in October, plant tulips and other flower bulbs. Chose a spot in your yard or garden that gets full sun. You’ll have a riot of color come spring.
Menomonee Falls Homeowners Indoor Household Preparations for Fall
Most home maintenance to prepare for fall isn’t difficult, just time-consuming. But by putting off the chores, they can cause problems and cost you enormous money. Therefore, once you’ve completed the exterior maintenance tasks, it’s time to tackle the interior ones.
• Prepare Your Furnace
If you didn’t already do this when taking care of your air conditioner, get your furnace professionally serviced now before it’s cold and the repairman gets busy. Before you start using the heat, at least visually inspect it for any loose wiring and replace the filter.
• Inspect Windows and Exterior Doors from the Inside
Menomonee Falls homeowners can lower their utility bills by stopping drafts coming through doors and windows. According to the US Department of Energy, gaps account for a 10% increase in heating costs. A home with air leaks is like an unbuttoned coat.
The most effective way to reduce heating costs is by using weather-stripping and caulk. These materials keep your home more comfortable; however, they can both deteriorate over time and periodically inspect your windows and doors.
Check weather-stripping by opening the front and back doors, placing a piece of paper on the threshold, and closing the doors. The weather-stripping isn’t doing its job if the paper easily slides back and forth. For windows, hold a lit candle next to the frame. You have a leak if it flickers.
Seal any gaps around window frames with caulk inside and out and add more weather-stripping in doorways. There are also plastic wrap kits in hardware stores to wrap the interior of windows.
• Bring in the Light
Before you wrap any windows in plastic, clean them with vinegar and water to get the most natural sunlight possible. Brighten dark corners with lamps and replace incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient ones. For the colder, darker months, bring as much Light into your home as you can.
• Keep the Humidifier Running
Dry air is not only bad for your health, but it can also dry and crack fine wood furniture. Your home will feel more comfortable if you keep a humidifier running during the fall and winter months.
Check your humidifier by inspecting the pads or plates and use a strong cleaning solution to cleanse them. Use steel wool or a wire brush to remove mineral deposits.
• Clean Vents and Screens
Many vents have screens, whether in the dryer, kitchen, or bathroom, and they need to be cleaned regularly to work properly. Air conditioning and heating systems use filters to remove pollen, dust, and dirt from the air. Every 3 to 4 months, filters should be replaced.
• Hot Water Pipes
Hot water pipes should be wrapped with insulation. This can lower your energy bills and keep your water at the preferred temperature. Foam insulation tubes can be purchased at many hardware and home improvement stores.
• Check your Fireplace
If you are one of the lucky Menomonee Falls homeowners who have a fireplace in their home, be certain that it’s in good shape before starting a fire.
If your chimney isn’t working correctly, your home will fill with soot, carbon monoxide, and smoke. Even if only used occasionally, gas fireplaces will also need an annual inspection to ensure that the pipes are free of cracks.
The best option is to have your chimney system inspected by a chimney sweep and be professionally cleaned. For those with a wood-burning fireplace, stock up on firewood now.
• Create a Special Mudroom
Before the weather turns colder, organize an entry that will also serve as a mudroom. If you don’t have a dedicated space for this in your home, you can create one for muddy shoes, and heavy coats, gloves, and scarves.
To do this, first, protect the floors with an indoor-outdoor rug. Build a tray (or purchase one) for wet and snowy boots and shoes. Add a coat rack or storage bench. This will prevent having a pile of wet jackets and boots blocking the entry.
When you complete your fall checklist, you can enjoy the season in your warm, comfortable home, knowing that you’re ready for the coming fall and winter months.
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