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GET READY FOR FALL!

Posted on 07 March 2012 by robwas66

By DEBORAH BROTZ

While you’re still enjoying the warm, sunny days of summer, fall is right around the corner. It’s not too early to be thinking about what you need to do to get your home and garden ready for winter.

If you feel your home could use some fixing up, you might want to check out how to get some financial help for your project from the Neighborhood Energy Connection.

HOME & GARAGE

Gutters and Downspouts

Clean gutters and drain pipes and be sure they drain away from the house. Drain outside faucets.

Be sure water is not coming down behind gutters and that all support brackets are securely in place.

Check to ensure water drains properly and doesn’t pool.

Windows and Doors

Change summer screens to cool weather storm windows and doors.

Inspect and repair any loose or damaged window or door frames.

Install weather stripping or caulking around windows and doors.

Clean and lubricate garage door hinges, rollers, and tracks and be sure screens are tight.

Remove window air-conditioners or put weatherproof covers on them.

Heating Systems

Replace the filter in your furnace.

Have a heating professional check your heating system.

Clean your ducts to better your heating system’s efficiency.

Clean your thermostat’s heat sensor, contact points, and contacts. Lubricate hot water heater’s pump and motor. Bleed air from radiators or convectors.

Drain hot water heater. Remove sediment from the bottom of the tank.

Plumbing

To prevent pipes from freezing and bursting, ensure that the pipes, as well as the wall cavities where they reside, are well insulated.

Be sure that you know how to locate and turn off the water shut-off valve in case pipes freeze.

Chimney and Fireplace

Have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean the flues and check your fireplace damper.

Test your fireplace flue for a tight seal when closed.

Install a carbon monoxide alarm near the fireplace and furnace.

Attic Ventilation

Be sure attic insulation doesn’t cover ventilation vents in the eaves to prevent winter ice dams on the roof.

Be sure ridge vents and vents at eaves are free of plants and debris.

Check bird and rodent screens for attic vents to prevent any unwanted guests.

Roof

Check roof and around vents, skylights and chimneys for leaks.

LAWN & GARDEN

Lawn Care

Fertilize cool season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescue, and perennial ryegrass.

Eliminate broadleaf weeds such as dandelions, broadleaf plantain, and ground ivy with weed killer.

Continue mowing every week or so until grass has stopped growing.

Lay seed so that your lawn gets a head start in the spring. Cover the seeds lightly with straw or mulch to protect from feeding birds.

Dethatch or aerate, or do both to reduce thatch, a layer of dead grass stems and roots that build up faster than they can decompose, accumulating on top of the soil layer and reducing water penetration to the roots.

Run all gas-powered lawn equipment until the fuel tank is empty.

Trees & Shrubs

For cooler regions, plant trees, shrubs, and vines now through the end of October.

This gives most plants a head start in the spring, since roots will grow in still-warm soil long after air temperatures drop.

Protect plants from rodents by keeping mice, voles, and other rodents from feeding on the bark of young trees in winter by wrapping a cylinder of 1/2-inch-mesh hardware cloth around the trunk.

Protect tender evergreens from cold by surrounding these plants with a shelter of burlap or old sheets. Provide additional protection by using an anti-transpirant spray on the foliage after the first hard frost.

Soak soil around trees and shrubs if rainfall has been light to ensure that plants enter winter fully hydrated.

Prune your trees and shrubs after the leaves turn to encourage healthy growth in the spring.

Remove leaves from lawn and planting areas.

Trim any tree limbs that are dangerously close to power lines or the roof of your house.

Flowers & Gardens

Plant bulbs such as crocus, daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, and other spring-flowering bulbs

In cold-winter areas, mulch after a hard freeze. Spread 2 to 3 inches of compost, composted cedar, pine, or fir bark, weed-free straw, or similar material.

In northern areas, dig and store tender bulbs such as tuberous begonias, dahlias, and gladiolus.

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