SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2022
Feel that nip in the air? Fall has arrived! Here's how to get your home and yard ready for winter before it's too late.
An old plastic spatula makes a great tool for cleaning debris from gutters! It doesn't scratch up the gutter, and you can cut it to fit gutter contours with snips. Grime wipes right off the spatula too, making cleanup a breeze. Don't feel like putting in that much elbow grease? Consider a gutter cleaning robot!
Check Your Detectors
Your lawn still needs water
in autumn, even though the leaves are changing, the growing season is winding down and your grass isn't growing as fast. Fall watering helps your lawn recover from summer stress and gain strength for the winter ahead. Also, if you fertilize in the fall, watering is necessary for the fertilizer to dissolve and soak into the ground where it's needed. So don't put your hoses or sprinklers away until the ground starts to freeze — your fall grass still needs the water.
Aerate the Soil
Aerating' simply means making holes in the ground by removing plugs of soil. And it's the single most important task you can perform to maintain a healthy, good-looking lawn
. It relieves compaction caused by foot traffic and creates extra pore space in the soil, allowing air, nutrients and water to enter. All of that helps roots to thrive. Aerate your lawn at least once a year, preferably in the fall. Or do it twice or even three times each year if you can. You can rent a lawn aerator at any home and garden equipment rental store. Be sure to get one that actually removes plugs of soil rather than one that just pokes holes in the ground.
Paint doesn't handle extreme temperatures very well. So, if you live in a cold climate, add this to your fall chore list: Bring the latex/acrylic paint into the house. And while you're at it, don't forget the latex caulk. Freezing ruins both latex paint and caulk.
Another temperature-related painting mistake is painting when it's going to freeze. Paint can't dry properly in freezing temps. It will only dry partway and will easily come off when touched. At the other end of the thermometer, painting a hot surface is also a bad idea. The paint starts to dry before you can spread it evenly and can bubble and slough off. Plan your painting to avoid direct sun if possible. Or at least try to paint south-facing walls in the morning or evening when the sun is less intense.
Keep Window Wells Clean or Risk a Broken Window and Wet Basement
If you've never had a problem with water in a window well, you may never think to clean it out. Here's what happened to one homeowner who neglected his window wells. After an average rainfall, not even a heavy downpour, a clogged gutter dumped a lot of water next to his house and into his window well. The leaves in the well acted like a pool liner, preventing drainage, and the water level rose higher and higher until the pressure broke the basement windows. Gallons and gallons of water poured into the basement, ruining everything in sight. Unfortunately, he had no insurance coverage for that type of flood. Don't let this happen to you. Keep window wells clean with a cover, available at home centers.
Fertilize in the Fall
If you want the best lawn in town, fertilize four times a year. But if you can only bother to fertilize once a year, you still have a great lawn if you only fertilize in the fall. Choose a fertilizer that's labeled 4-1-2. (Those numbers refer to the percentages of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the fertilizer.) Better yet, ask an expert at a garden center for advice about the best fertilizer blend for your fall grass type and local soil conditions. Apply the fertilizer about three weeks before the last mowing of the season. Fertilizing in the fall provides energy and nutrients for the grass roots as they multiply in cooler weather before the grass goes dormant. The roots store food for the winter as well, which gives the grass an initial growth spurt when it emerges from dormancy in the spring.
Ice coming off your roof can bend the spikes that secure your gutters to the fascia board. One simple way to straighten them without removing them is to use a 2-ft. length of angle iron and a link of heavy metal chain. The angle iron and chain link provide sufficient leverage to straighten the spike and pull the gutter back into alignment. Get more easy DIY gutter fixes.
This is an ongoing fall chore that you shouldn't overlook — clean all those wet autumn leaves from gutter spouts before the blockages damage your gutters. Your plumber's snake is a great tool for pulling clumps of wet leaves out of clogged downspouts. Check out more gutter-cleaning tips here.
Cut Grass Short
First, rake and remove all of those dead leaves
before the snow flies. Otherwise they'll be sodden mats in the spring and smother the sprouting grass below. (Plus it's lots easier to rake dry leaves!) Then, just this one time of the year, set your mower to cut your grass short, at 1-1/2 or 2-inches. In cold climates, it will reduce the chance of snow mold forming. And tall grass blades won't lie down and smother the new grass next spring.
Winterize Your Sprinkler System
You don't have to pay someone to blow out your sprinkler system
. You can do it with your own compressor, but be aware that even the largest home compressor isn't powerful enough to blow out the entire system at once. If you like number crunching and you have the original irrigation layout showing the gallons per minute (gpm) of each sprinkler head, divide the gpm of each zone by 7.5. That'll give you the cubic feet per minute (cfm) you need to blow it out. Otherwise, rent a 10-cfm compressor and hose from a tool rental center. Set the compressor air pressure regulator to a maximum of 80 psi for rigid PVC pipe systems, or 50 psi for flexible black polyethylene pipe. Then turn off the water supply and set the system timer to open just one zone. Next, open the manual drain valve at the end of that zone (if equipped). Then, connect the air line to the blow-out port, as shown. Close off both valves on the backflow preventer. Then remove the plug on the blow-out port and screw in a quick-connect hose adapter. Snap on the air hose and connect the other end to the compressor. Now blow out the line. The heads should pop up and spit out water. Disconnect the hose as soon as they run dry.
Don't overdo the blow-out—without water cooling the plastic gears, they can melt in less than a minute. Move on to the next zone and allow the heads to cool. Then go back and blow out each zone a second time.
Drain Garden Hoses or Waste Money on Replacements
I sometimes neglect to drain garden hoses before putting them away for the winter. Usually, it's not a problem. But every once in a while, freezing water splits a hose open. I've lost a few cheap hoses this way and a super-expensive one (ouch!). That's just wasted money because draining hoses is so quick and easy: Blast out the water with an air compressor or stretch them out on a sloped yard or driveway. If you need to buy a new garden hose, learn how to do a simple test, right in the store, to see if the hose will be kink-free
Clean Your Chimney
How often do you need to have your chimney cleaned? It depends on the moisture content of the wood you burn. If you burn mostly green (wet) logs, have your chimney cleaned or inspected every 50 burns. If you see moisture bubbling out the ends of the logs when they're burning, the wood is wet. This green wood doesn't burn cleanly and sends a lot of unburned particles (smoke) up the chimney, where they build up as creosote and soot. Dry hardwoods, such as oak and birch, burn hotter and cleaner. With them, have your chimney cleaned or inspected every 70 burns. A chimney cleaning costs $225 to $400.
Change Your Furnace Filter
Changing your furnace filter
is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your furnace in good shape. If you haven't changed it in a while, make sure you have a fresh one before your turn your furnace on for the first time.
Make a Winter Driving Kit
Get Your Property Ready for Snow
Before the snow flies and you start using your snowblower, take a few minutes to inspect your property. Remove rocks, dog tie-out cable, extension cords, holiday light cords and garden hoses. Then stake out paths that run near gardens so you don't accidentally suck up rocks and garden edging. Mark your walk and driveway perimeters by pounding in driveway markers. If the ground is frozen, just drill a hole using a masonry bit and your battery-powered drill.
As we move into colder weather, its important to take the necessary steps to mitigate colder weather risks! It also may be a good time to review your current policies to determine if your adequately covered for such winter risks. Call Insurance Planning or visit us in person to learn more!
Posted 10:01 AM
Margaret Whittington said...
VERY HELPFUL INFORMATION. THANK YOU.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12 2022 5:14 PM
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