Fall Maintenance checklist
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This Year’s Fall Maintenance Checklist

Fall is just around the corner and with that comes cooler weather, warmer clothes, colorful leaves, and pumpkin spice everything.  Now is the perfect time, before it gets too cold, to go around your home and provide some quick fixes before the long winter.  To help you out, we’ve compiled a handy checklist of things you can do to get your home ready for fall.

Stow your mower – If your mower is going to sit in the garage for months on end, the gas in its tank can begin to deteriorate. This can in turn damage the internal engine parts. Add fuel stabilizer ($10) to your gasoline can to keep spare gas in good condition over the winter. Run your mower for five minutes to ensure the stabilizer reaches the carburetor.

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Store Hoses and turn off outdoor water – When your hose is left attached over the winter, it can cause water to back up in the faucets on your exterior walls. When freezing temperature hits, water can freeze and crack the pipes. Drain and store your hoses early and shutoff and valves on water lines that lead to exterior faucets.  You don’t want a sudden drop of temperature to take you by surprise.

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Drain and turn off sprinkler system – Buried irrigation lines can freeze as well. This can lead to busted and broken pipes and sprinkler heads.  Turn off the water to your sprinkler system.  Shut off the automatic controller. Open drain valves to remove water from the system. Remove any sprinkler heads above the ground and shake the water out of them.  This will save you time next spring when you’ll need your sprinklers again.

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Seal cracks around doors and windows. – Cool air seeping into cracks in your home’s exterior can cost you a pretty penny if left unchecked. Take a couple of tubes of exterior caulk and go around your home sealing up potential cracks where air can seep into.  Look between trim and siding, around door and window frames, and where wires and pipes enter your house.  Check for worn weather stripping and replace any that are beyond repair.

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Clean your gutters & Direct drainage away from your house – After the leaves have begun to fall, you should remove your gutters of leaves, twigs, and debris to clear them out. Clogged gutters can cause ice dams, which are expensive to repair.  Make sure your gutters aren’t trapping water and can remove water effectively.  Take special care to make sure your drainage slopes away from your house.  Water in the soil around your foundation can lead to cracks and leaks.

People working in a garden during autumn

Change Your Furnace Filter – When the seasons change, so should your furnace filter. Debris and particulate in your air vents can accumulate on the filter media of the furnace filter over time. This can restrict airflow and increase energy costs.  You should change your furnace filter every few months or as necessary to ensure that your home has premium and clean air quality.

A man's arm and hand seen replacing disposable air filter in home central air furnace.

Prune your plants – The best time to prune plants and trees is late in the fall. Prune your plants so that limbs and branches are at least 3 feet from your home so that moisture is kept away from the exterior.

man cutting trees using an electrical chainsaw and professional tools

Inspect Sidewalks and Driveways for Cracks – Damaged drives and walkways can be expensive to fix. Look for disintegration of asphalt, cracks more than 1/8-inch wide, uneven sections, and loose railings on steps.  Fixing these problems in the fall can keep little problems from becoming expensive repairs.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA - May 09, 2012 Department of Public Works crew (three workers and driver) fixing the holes in the road. Person from City of Milwaukee driving by. Seen spring morning of May 2012.

Look up chimney for blockages – An unchecked fireplace can become a nest of problems if left out of maintenance. Grab the nearest flashlight and take a peek inside. Look for obstructions such as bird’s nests, branches, and leaves.  Open the damper and look up into the flue.  Check for cracked or missing bricks and mortar. If you spot any damage, you should hire a professional fireplace and chimney inspection.

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Test and Change Batteries in Your Smoke and Carbon Dioxide Detectors – Replace the batteries in each smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detector and then test them to see if they still work. You can test the detectors by pressing the test button or holding a smoke source (blown-out match or candle) near the unit.  You should have a smoke detector installed on every floor of your home.

Tradesman approving of the use of smoke detectors

These tips can save you both time and money in the long run.  How many have you already done? How many do you need to get started? These tasks don’t have to be done in a single day.  Try to knock out every item on this checklist throughout the fall so you aren’t in a rush come winter time.

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