Fall season brings the return of cooler temperatures, yellow school buses and a respite in high home energy bills. The change in weather and foliage is also a signal for homeowners to prepare their homes and yards for the onset of winter. These home maintenance tasks will help you save on home heating costs, protect your house from cold weather damage and ensure a healthier lawn come next spring.
*Lawn and Garden
Take advantage of cool fall weather to improve your lawn's health and appearance. In one Better Homes & Gardens online article, Denny Schrock shares 15 fall lawn care secrets.
If you live in the north, fall is the best time to fertilize. Schrock says, "Cool-season grasses, such as bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass, respond well to feeding in early September and again in late fall (late October or November)."
Remove excess thatch, as it is dead organic matter that can cause disease and insect problems. Dethatch with a power rake or vertical mower, or do a once-over with an aerator. Aeration has the added benefit of loosening soil and improving drainage, which is essential for rain and snowfall.
One basic step to winterize your garden is removing all the vegetable plant debris. If left in the garden, it leads to fungus and insect infestation.
*Roof and Rain Gutters
A yearly roof inspection prevents ice and water damage during winter and extends the life of the roof. Head up and look for cracked, cupped or missing shingles, as well as popped nails, gaps in the flashing and missing sections of ridge vent. Or make an appointment for an inspector to do all of the above. Wayne Gwaltney, sales manager of National Roofing Partners, says: "Often by the time owners or facility managers call, contractors are booked through the fall. By confirming inspections now, there is time for any necessary maintenance." Plan ahead to ensure all repairs can be made in time.
Remove debris from your gutters to prevent clogging, and inspect them for broken rivets. Make sure the gutters are properly attached to the roof eaves. If not, they could tear away from your home and cause exterior damage.
The attic is one of the major sources of heat loss during the winter months. The correct amount of insulation will help maintain a comfortable temperature throughout your home, save money on heating bills and prevent major cold-weather issues, like ice dams. The U.S. Department of Energy lists recommended insulation levels for different climate regions around the country. Use a simple measuring tape to test yours, and if more is needed, install accordingly.
Have your furnace serviced in the fall to ensure that it will work safely, reliably and at peak efficiency during the winter months, otherwise it could cost you hundreds of extra dollars and lots of cold nights! Additionally, poorly burned fuel exhaust gasses can permanently stain your roof and siding.
*Window and Door Weatherstripping
Doors and windows are another major source of heat loss. To prevent cold drafts, install flexible foam weatherstripping along the doorjambs, and in any gaps between the windows and window sashes.
*Inspect Plumbing Pipes
Look for supply and drain pipes that are exposed to cold weather, such as those in crawl spaces, garages or on exterior walls of the home. You've got to keep them warm, or they will freeze and create bigger problems. The Popular Mechanic website suggests that you insulate pipes with foam insulation, fiberglass, a foam board or a heating cable.
These tasks may not be particularly exciting or enjoyable, but they sure beat the cost and hassle of sky-high heating bills, ceiling leaks and a dead lawn. Give your home some longevity and yourself some peace of mind this fall.
Mark J. Donovan's website is at http://www.homeadditionplus.com.