Getting Your Home Autumn Ready
September 21, 2021
Alabama’s first cool autumn breezes signal change ahead: colorful leaves that crackle under your feet, football games, state fairs, fire pits, pumpkin patches and cookouts. Along with all that fun comes the annual fall chores like raking and bagging those leaves, changing batteries and setting back your clocks. It’s fall, y’all, so take a look at these suggestions to make your home and property autumn-ready.
Recheck and Replace
Furnaces - If you want to feel warm and comfy all winter, fall is the time to recheck your heating system and fireplaces. Book an inspection and cleaning early in the season before service providers are slammed with calls. If you prefer to clean the furnace yourself, shut off the system, remove the cover and vacuum away dust and dirt. Filters should be replaced as needed.
Fireplaces - gas and wood-burning – need specific care. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that chimneys be inspected annually and cleaned as needed. The Chimney Safety Institute of America says fireplaces should be cleaned when 1/8″ of sooty buildup is evident inside the chimney and flue system. Hidden build-up can keep your fireplace from venting correctly and put your family at risk.
Thermostats - If you have a programmable thermostat, consider reprogramming it to reflect the lower temperatures ahead. Replacing a manual thermostat with a modern programmable device can save you money on heating and cooling costs.
Batteries - The end of Daylight Savings Time on November 7, 2021, is your reminder to also replace smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries. Remember to dust the detectors, too, so their sensors function properly. It’s also a great time to proactively replace clock batteries since you’ll likely have to handle them anyway while resetting, as well as flashlight and weather radio batteries.
Doors and Windows
Heat isn’t free, so don’t waste it by letting warm air out and cold air in. Eliminating gaps will help maintain the desired indoor climate. To find hidden gaps, hold a lit candle in your hand and move it around your window and doorframes slowly. If the smoke or flame flutters, you’ve may have a gap. Seal it with caulk or weather stripping to save money and stress on your heating system.
Firewood and Propane
Check your firewood rack and anticipate your winter needs before the demand and cost increase. Homes in rural areas often rely on propane to fuel the furnace and for cooking. Since propane demand increases as the weather turns cooler, suppliers advise buying in the fall, which they call the “shoulder season” between the higher periods of summer and winter demand.
Much like an annual spring-cleaning ritual, a fall-cleaning routine prepares your home for the seasons ahead. Generally, give your home a deep cleaning and give special attention to windowsills and screens that need a scrub. Now is the time to reverse (and dust) ceiling fan blades, too.
Gutters and Downspouts
Those pretty autumn leaves don’t just fall on the ground for raking. They clog gutters and downspouts and may cause moisture and mildew problems on soffits, resulting in rotting wood and roof leaks. If you clean them yourself, make sure you have a safe ladder and a spotter to avoid an accidental fall.
Did you know that water heaters get dirty? Water contains minerals, particles and sediment that settle into the bottom of the tank over time and impact the effectiveness of your water heater. Plumbers recommend servicing and draining the water heater annually or more often if you have hard water. That recommendation applies to a tankless water heater as well since minerals can also build up and force the unit to work harder.
With the holiday baking season only a few weeks away, give your oven a thorough cleaning to improve both its appearance and efficiency. The high heat generated by a self-cleaning oven is more tolerable as summer temperatures ease downward.
Aside from raking those once-pretty autumn leaves, there are a few more outside areas that may need action. Like other providers, pool services book up quickly in the fall as homeowners begin to winterize and cover pools and spas. Ask them to inspect the pool for cracks or liner tears. Fall is the best time to begin the process of replacing liners or equipment.
Fall is also the time to plant trees, spring flower bulbs and winter annuals like pansies. Visit a local garden center for recommendations on what to plant for your soil and sunlight conditions. Check flowerbeds and trees and mulch as needed.
For more tips check out The Ultimate Fall Cleaning Checklist from home advice website, The Spruce. With a sparkling clean and season-ready home, you’ll be ready to pick out those pumpkins and mums and bring out the colors and beauty of autumn.