Ready your fall checklist
By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Aug. 30, 2012
On a seasonal basis in this column, I have suggested a list of tasks that might need attention around your home. These are items that you can most likely take care of yourself, though some might need the attention of a qualified service person. Either way, the next three months are just the right time to take care of several things in and around your home.
Your gutters and roof might not look like the ones in our photo, but it gives you an idea of the chronic problems that can arise from neglecting your gutter and roof. Fall is the best time to check gutters for several defects. Even though your house might not be surrounded by trees, windblown debris and nesting material from birds and insects can build up at the ends of the gutters, as well as in the drainpipes. Early in the fall, check for disconnected systems, poor drainage slope and obstructed spouts. Fix these things now. Then in the late fall, when all the leaves have fallen, inspect the whole system for leaf debris, and clear any obstruction.
While you have the ladder out, survey your roof for organic material growing or collecting on the surface. Clean moss and algae off shingles by soaking them with oxygen bleach solution. Keep it wet and wait about 20 minutes. Then gently brush off any loosened debris. Use your garden hose to wash it clean. Inspect the shingles themselves and the caulking and flashing where the roof meets siding or other roof sections. If you have neglected this chore for a long time, you may discover the roof has a significant need. Best to do this early in the fall, in case the project becomes complex.
Once the weather turns cold and precipitation becomes icy or snowy, you will be hard pressed to correct any insulation deficiencies. Exterior doors might need a new sweep on the bottom, one with flexible insulation that seals the gap between the door and the sill. Inexpensive seal replacement around the top and sides of the door will also close out drafts. While you're at it, insulate windows where they meet the sill and between top and bottom sections.
Pipes are often overlooked when it comes to insulation. Insulating heating pipes along bare stretches will help reduce heat loss. But also filling the holes where they pass through floors and walls will cut down on drafts as well as heat loss.
Before you know it, you will need to turn your furnace on. It's one of those appliances you have come to depend on. So when it fails to heat the house, it becomes a major issue. If you can't remember when you last had a qualified technician make a service call, this may the year - and this is the season - to get it done. Call to schedule the appointment, or if you feel qualified, do it yourself.
Don’t forget to have the chimney inspected and cleaned. I know people who have this done annually. But most homeowners disregard this inspection and maintenance for years. If you operate a wood or coal stove, this is essential, but even the chimney used for an oil or gas furnace should have routine inspection.
Once you have put the lawn and garden to bed for the colder months, take time to properly clean and/or service your tools. In previous columns, I have talked about the need for seasonal maintenance of your lawnmower. This includes draining the fuel, changing the oil, lubricating the cables, sharpening the blade and cleaning the underside of the mower deck. Your garden tiller requires similar end-of-season maintenance.
Tools with wooden handles should get treated to a coat of linseed oil or something similar. Wash the tools and scrape or sand off any rust. Dry the metal parts, and give them a light coat of oil. Store them all in a dry, out-of-the-way location in the basement, garage or shed.
While the weather is still warm, there are several other tasks you can get to. How many of these should also be on your list? Clean siding of mold, mildew or algae. Clean, repair and seal/stain your deck. Patch and seal the driveway. Touch up or finish painting the exterior of your home. Check and replace water heater components (anode and heating elements).
I could suggest several other things you should do at this time of year. The point is to look around your house, create your own list, and address those things that have to be done before the season changes.