Latest update: October 6th, 2013
It’s hard to believe that it is the beginning of October and the Yomim Tovim are already behind us. But having had everything fall out early this year provides a golden opportunity to enjoy the gorgeous fall weather and all that the crisp air has to offer. Be sure to take the time to go apple picking, visit a corn maze and enjoy the magnificent foliage, but set aside some extra time for a little preventative maintenance that will save you time and money in the long run. Don’t think of it as putting away the summer stuff as much as getting a jump on next year’s warm weather so that you will be ready to roll the minute spring makes its official appearance.
Lawn Furniture: Now is the time to clean off your patio furniture and store it so that it will be in pristine condition come next spring. Wash down everything you can, including your table, chairs, patio umbrella and any outside toys, and try to find a place to store them all for the winter where they will be protected from the elements. No room in your garage, your shed or under your deck? Stack it up to the best of your ability, cover it all with a big blue tarp and use bungee cords to secure everything.
Air Conditioners: If you have window units, now is the time to take them out and put them away so that there is no cold air seeping in, making your heat run overtime. The jury is still out on whether or not outside condenser units should be covered in the winter. While keeping the top of the unit covered with a piece of plywood or a tarp will prevent debris from becoming lodged inside, covering the unit entirely can encourage moisture buildup and make an inviting home for visiting rodents and other uninvited guests, both things you definitely want to avoid. Your best bet? Check with the manufacturer of the unit or your local HVAC guy and see what they recommend.
Grilling Season: While there are those who are happy to stand outside barbequing in six inches of snow, other less brave (and possibly more rational) souls prefer to cook indoors during the cold winter months. Either way, now is a good time to give your grill a serious cleaning. Find a good degreaser and do a thorough job on those icky-sticky racks, then lift them off and tackle the areas underneath, which will be far grimier than you ever imagined. If your grates are really crusted over, put them in a garbage bag with a cup or two of ammonia, tie it shut and let them sit overnight – you should face a much less daunting cleaning job in the morning. Warning: open the bag in a well-ventilated area because those ammonia fumes are seriously powerful. If you aren’t planning on using your grill till spring, then either cover it well if you are storing it outside, or disconnect the propane tank and bring the grill inside for the winter. Note: Propane tanks should never be stored in an enclosed space. If you bring your grill inside your garage or storage shed, leave the gas tank outside, in an upright position, away from dryer and furnace vents!
Dryer Vent: Now would be a good time to make sure that the exterior door at the end of your dryer’s exhaust pipe stays closed to prevent heat from seeping out and cold air from finding its way inside and making your humble abode a rather chilly place. While you are at it, you might as well take the time to vacuum the accumulated lint out of the exhaust pipe, a potential fire hazard, with potentially devastating results.
Outside Water Faucets: Let your hoses drain and then store them indoors to prevent cracking once the temperatures drop. Take the time to shut off all outside water faucets to prevent any drips, icing up and frozen pipes. Turn off the water first on the inside of your house, then go outside and open up all the water faucets, allowing any accumulated water to drain.
Clean Those Gutters: With all those leaves falling, you want to make sure that your gutters stay clear. If you have a fear of heights or mass quantities of slimy foliage, then hire someone else to do the job, but you really want to make sure that when the rain and snow start to fall this winter, the water can drain safely and not back up in your gutters, causing ice dams and leaks inside your home. Be sure that your gutters drain far away from your foundation or you may potentially be creating another set of unwanted problems.
How Does Your Garden Grow? Now is the time to feed your lawn with a slow release fertilizer that will rejuvenate your garden and strengthen root growth, readying it for the cold winter months ahead. Fall fertilizing, preferably with a product formulated specifically for autumn use, isn’t just for your lawn: be sure to feed your perennials, shrubs and trees as well. Plant spring bulbs, like daffodils and tulips, now and be sure to clean all your gardening tools, giving them a light coating of oil to make sure they stay rust free.
Do The Closet Swap: Even if your closet is big enough to hold both your summer and winter wardrobes, you still want to rotate your clothing, so that the fall and winter items are easily accessible. Take a few minutes to go through your spring and summer clothing and make sure everything has been freshly washed so that you aren’t surprised in a few months by mysterious stains that magically appear over time. As you inventory your clothing, pull out anything you haven’t worn in the past year and put it in your giveaway bag. Let’s face it, if you haven’t worn it in the twelve months, chances are good you will never put it on again and you might as well give it to someone who will. Find stuff that is stained, irreparably damaged or otherwise unwearable? Kiss it goodbye and revel in your newly discovered extra closet space. Also, as you pull out your summer stuff, take a minute or two to dust all surfaces and vacuum out those corners that always seem to get neglected. If you don’t have room to store out of season garments in the back of your closet, pack them into plastic storage containers, garment bags or even suitcases and then happy hunting for a place to stash them for the winter. Think under beds, extra bedrooms or any place else you have an extra few inches of space.
Ditto For The Kids: Now is the time to inventory your childrens’ wardrobes as well. Take out anything that is in good condition but no longer fits and find it a good home, either passing it down to a younger child, relative or neighbor or by donating it to charity. You might want to do this when your kids aren’t home if there are particular cherished items that they love to wear but have seriously outgrown. Just sneak them out when they aren’t looking and feign innocence when they demand to know what happened to their favorite jammies.
Safety First: Check out your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure your batteries are fresh and that everything is working well. Nope, this tip isn’t about saving money, it is about saving lives, which is far more important.Sandy Eller
About the Author: Sandy Eller is a freelance writer who writes for numerous websites, newspapers, magazines and many private clients. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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