House & Home

Streamline Your Fall Home Maintenance Routine

Posted October 3, 2015

Just when you're recovering from summer vacation, along comes fall. This is traditionally the busy season, when squirrels are hard at work gathering nuts for the winter and human beings are harvesting the crops, raking up the leaves, fitting the storm windows, getting their houses and yards in shape for the cold weather, and … oh gosh! It's exhausting even to think about all the chores that you should be doing. For those who are short on time or inclination -- or possibly both -- we present a quick guide to streamlining your fall home maintenance routine.

Prioritize. Remember: you don't have to declutter your garage or repaint your house exterior this fall … just because your neighbors are doing so. Concentrate on the absolutely essential tasks instead.

Make a list. There's something about checking items off a list -- any list -- that gives most of us lazy … er … busy people a nice warm glow of accomplishment.

Keep it simple. Don't try to get the whole routine done in one day. Set aside a few spare half hours to gradually tackle what may look like a mountain of chores.

Set up a reminder. Many folks coordinate their fall maintenance routine with the end of daylight saving time on the first Sunday in November (November 1 in 2015).

Enlist help. Call on your partner or children to share the load. Many hands make light work. And if a specific task is beyond your capabilities, call in a pro to take care of it.

Include at least one fun job. (That is kind of an oxymoron, isn't it?) If you are a gardening fan, you might trim the rosebushes and display the results in one huge beautiful bouquet.

Accomplish just the following 5 things and you'll be doing great. Then you can get back to your busy schedule of hayrides, pumpkin carving, wine tasting, football watching, or whichever fall pleasures you most enjoy.

  1. Check your CO monitor and smoke detector. Make sure that they are in good working order and replace their batteries. And if you don't have these life-saving gadgets, get them. Today.
  2. Have your furnace inspected by an HVAC expert. Yes, you will need it when the mild autumn weather turns chilly, and when you do, you will be grateful for your efficient, smooth-running, clean, and mold-free heating system.
  3. Stop unnecessary heat loss. Insulate your HVAC system's plenum and ductwork; then repair any cracks or leaks. Now is also the perfect time to clean out the ductwork as well. These simple steps will save you money and keep you cozier when winter comes a-calling.
  4. Take care of your roof and gutters. Clear away dirt, debris, and leaves or other vegetable matter. Then trim any overhanging tree branches so they won't crash onto your roof during a fierce winter storm (remember those?). Should you find an abundance of tiny asphalt granules in your gutter -- residue from damaged roofing shingles -- you'd better get a professional to check out the state of your roof. Ditto if you spot shingles that are cracked or broken, or that seem to have taken off for warmer climes.
  5. Protect your lawn care equipment. If you own an automatic sprinkler system installed above the frost line, have your landscaper use an air compressor to blow all the water out before the temperature drops below 32 degrees. This will keep the water from freezing and expanding (which leads to cracked pipes and fittings). Electricity to the system should then be disconnected. Turn off the water supply to any outdoor faucets. Bring your garden hose indoors until it returns to active duty next spring. Winterize your lawn mower by draining the gas and replacing the oil.

Laura Firszt writes for

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