This fall's unavoidable to-do list

By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Oct. 3, 2013
- Contributed Photo

This time of year if I work on a to-do list, it better be short. And, of course, it doesn't mean I will get to everything. But as the days get shorter and the nights longer, here are some things I try to get done.

In late September, I gave the lawn a treatment of fall fertilizer. It will grow a little more before the frost, so I'll wait a while, and cut it one more time. Then I can prepare the lawnmower for a long winter's rest. The gas tank gets emptied, and if there is any gas left in the can, it will go into the car's gas tank. I just replaced the gas line this year, but if yours has been on for a while, check it for cracks and brittleness. Clean the air filter or replace it if necessary. Disconnect the spark plug wire, and remove the blade. Get it sharpened. You should do everything you can to make the machine ready to run when you need it next.

Once all the trees around me have shed their leaves, I will clean and inspect my gutters. Check yours to see if they are well-fastened to the house, and that drainpipes are clear of debris. Run a hose onto the roof, and watch the water to be sure it drains quickly. The winter will be a lot more stressful on a gutter system. Inspection is easy to do, as are most repairs to joints and pipe connections.

This past summer, I doused the roof with an oxygen bleach solution to clean off moss and algae, so I know that it is ready for snow. That exercise gave me an opportunity to examine the roof. While I was up there, I noticed the rubber gasket around the wastewater vent pipe was long overdue for replacement. With that accomplished, the only other item I need to check is the flashing around the chimney. It may need a new line of caulk to keep out snow, ice and water.

Earlier this year, I recommended that you get an energy audit performed on your house. Since I did not take my own recommendation, I will need to get that done soon. If you have not had your house checked, visit the website. There you can find information about getting a low-cost (or no-cost) energy audit. You could take on projects to insulate around doors and windows, replace weather stripping, and eliminate drafts, but having a professional assessment gives you a better way to 'snug-up' your home for winter.

Once all the outside work is done, I can clean up all the outdoor tools that will be stored until next spring. I will use a wire brush, put a thin layer of oil on the metal parts to retard rust, and sand and refinish any handles that are showing wear. While I am putting those away, I will reluctantly ready the snow shovels and brushes for the cars.

Late this month, I will fire up the furnace, and check a few things to see if it needs some professional service. This is not one of the things I do myself. I know that if the burner shows a lot of yellow flame, I call for service. If you didn't clean or replace the filter on your hot air systems at the end of last heating season, get it done this month.

That sounds like a lot of things to do, and a lot of time as well. But it really will take a just a little time each weekend. And some of it I will get done in an evening or two.

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