Get your home ready for fall with these simple chores
After a summer of fun, you can ensure a great fall by taking on just a few simple weekend chores. This guide will help you prepare your home and yard for a stress-free fall.
WHAT YOU NEED FOR THIS PROJECT
• If you’ve got large limbs to remove — 6 inches in diameter or more — it’s best to work with a heavy-duty gas-powered chainsaw to deliver the necessary power and torque to handle large, dense limbs.
• Look for a chainsaw that features a kickback reducing system and a chain catcher to lessen the chance of injury should the chain break during operation.
• Cut halfway through the limb, then switch the direction of the cut by cutting from the opposite side of the limb until it falls.
• If you’ve got some smaller branches to clear, a tree pruner will suffice and allow you to reach up high.
• Once you have your tree trimmed, run the branches through a chipper to make mulch for your garden.
• You can also use a log splitter to make firewood out of the limbs and use them in the winter to help heat your home.
Safety: Have a work buddy on hand to make sure any falling limbs don’t cause injuries. Always wear durable work gloves and safety glasses.
Clean your gutters twice a year to ensure proper drainage away from your home and your home’s foundation. Depending on the height of your home, you’ll most likely need an extension ladder to reach your gutters.
Safety: Take the proper safety precautions before climbing the ladder. Make sure you have the ladder positioned on level ground and make sure it doesn’t move from side to side as you start to climb. Stabilizers can be attached to the top of your extension ladder for added stability.
• Remove the leaves that accumulate on your roof with a roof rake. Simply position the rake behind the leaves and pull forward until they fall off the roof.
• Once you’ve climbed up to your gutters, put on some waterproof gloves and scoop the leaves out by hand. Just remember to always keep one hand on the ladder for safety.
• You can also take a half-gallon milk or juice jug and cut the bottom off. Then cut into the sides at a 45-degree angle. Grip the handle and use it as a tool to scoop out the leaves.
• Another option is to use a pressure washer gutter cleaner attachment. It’s curved to fit easily into your gutters and shoots a powerful stream of water in opposite directions.
• Now that you’ve got your gutters all nice and clean, consider topping them with a gutter topper to help keep them leaf-free.
• Leaving the leaves on your lawn may result in withering or dead grass, so it’s best to remove them before any damage can be done.
• To help speed things up, consider using a leaf blower. Choose from gas-powered, electric-powered, cordless and backpack models. There are also dual-function blowers that vacuum leaves and turn them into mulch, lessening the amount collected and bagged by as much as 90 percent.
• Rake or blow the leaves into manageable piles so that you can easily dispose of them.
• To make the bagging process easier, try a bag bone. It fits securely inside paper lawn bags during cleanup, and is easily removed when you’re done. A lawn and leaf chute is another option.
Tip: If removing the leaves is not an option, run your lawn mower over them a few times to cut them into smaller pieces, essentially turning the leaves into mulch to help keep your grass healthy during the winter.
• Use a pressure washer for easy, high-powered cleaning. Choose from electric, gas-powered and commercial-grade pressure washers, as well as a variety of cleaning solutions, spray wands and adapters. You can purchase your own or rent one from your local Home Depot Tool Rental Center.
• Begin by giving your home’s exterior a good once over to loosen dirt that the sun has baked on all summer.
• You can add mold and mildew cleaners, concrete degreasers and all-purpose cleaners specifically designed for use in pressure washers to remove stubborn stains and get better cleaning results.
• Next, give your driveway, walkway, patio, porch and deck a thorough cleaning.
• You can also pressure wash your patio furniture, but make sure you select a gentle setting. Once clean and dry, cover your furniture with furniture covers or store them in your garage or shed for safekeeping. You can store the cushions in a deck box for easy access next spring.
• Before retiring your grill for the winter, give it a thorough cleaning. If you have a gas grill, this will require removing some of the parts.
• Remove the cooking grates and set them aside.
• Clean the metal undercarriage of the grill, including the sides around the burners.
• Scoop out burnt food remnants, grease dirt and grime. Get as much of it as you can with a spatula and dump into a trash can.
• Spray the undercarriage with an all-purpose cleaner to help cut through the grease and grime. Thoroughly wipe away the remaining residue with an old sponge or towel.
• You should also clean and inspect the burners to make sure they aren’t compromised.
• With a good stiff wire brush, scrape off any caked-on food particles. Use a mixture of warm water and soap to clean off the grease and grime with a scrub brush. Let them air dry or use an old towel.
• Once the grates are clean and dry, give them a light coat of oil to keep them from rusting over the winter.
• Use glass cleaner or stainless steel cleaning spray to polish the grill’s exterior and side trays. Make sure you use a soft cloth to avoid scratching the grill.
• Take an old broom and wipe away any grime that has accumulated outside of the drip pan.
• Lastly, cover the grill so it will be ready to go next spring.
• Remove any grass clippings, leaves, dirt, mud and grime from your rake, shovel, garden hoe or any other tool that you’ve used in your projects.
• Apply a light coat of oil to keep them from rusting over winter. Store them in your garage or shed for safekeeping until they are needed again.
• Wipe down your machinery with an old wet towel to remove any dirt or debris.
• Once clean and dry, store them in your garage or shed for safekeeping.
Tips: Gasoline left in place over the winter will deteriorate over time and gum up your engine. If you run old gasoline through an engine, it could potentially ruin the carburetor and end up being expensive to repair or replace.
You can either use up the gas in your tank or drain it before storing your equipment, or leave the gas in place and add a fuel stabilizer. These additives will stabilize fuel through the winter and prevent the formation of gums and solids that will clog fuel injectors and carburetors in the spring.
• Doors and windows are the primary sources for wasted energy in most homes. Apply caulk, weather stripping and insulation inside and outside of the home to ensure you don’t waste any energy – or see increased energy bills – by letting heat leak out.
• By applying caulk outside your home around the frames of your windows and doors, you’ll get a tight seal and end up conserving energy and saving money. In fact, you can add caulk just about anywhere you find a crack, loose seam, or opening where cold air can creep in.
• Apply weather stripping around the openings in doors and windows. There are many different types and they all help eliminate costly drafts and lost heat.
• Make sure your home has enough insulation to keep your heating and cooling bills low by meeting the R-value for your region. R-value indicates how well insulation resists heat transfer and varies based on the type, thickness and density of the insulation.
• The most effective place to add insulation is the attic. Regardless of where you live, your attic insulation should equal a total R-value of between R-30 and R-60. To check your level, simply look for the R-value on your existing insulation. It’s clearly labeled on the paper moisture barrier backing.
• You can also measure insulation’s effectiveness by how how deep it is. For rolled fiberglass insulation, your goal is at least 11 inches. But the simplest way to determine if you need more is to simply look for your joists. If they’re exposed, you should probably add a layer, and when you do, be sure to use unfaced insulation. That’s insulation without a paper backing.
• Also make sure your pipes are insulated as water vapor can accumulate on pipes and contribute to corrosion and possibly frozen pipes in winter. Tubular insulation is designed specifically for this purpose, and can also reduce heat loss to keep water temperatures a few degrees warmer.
• Cover outdoor water spigots with inexpensive spigot covers to help prevent them from freezing.