Fall’s unmistakable chill is in the air, and for those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest, that’s our cue to start the home weatherization process.
To help you prepare your home for cold weather, here are eight home maintenance tips and to-do’s to add to your checklist:
1: Clean out gutters
Cleaning your gutters is an essential fall maintenance task that should never be overlooked. While there are wonderful professionals who can do this for you, it’s often totally doable as a homeowner with the right tips and safety precautions.
We learned how to clean gutters like the pros with Greg and Abe of DAPrDAN, a locally owned company that can provide all your exterior cleaning needs, and created this gutter cleaning tutorial to share with you.
2: Replace (or clean) furnace filters
Before you fire up the furnace for fall, make sure to clean or replace your filter. Clogged furnace filters make your heating system work harder, which stresses the system and makes it less efficient. Dirty air filters also allow dust and debris to circulate throughout your home, which can be unhealthy. Cleaning or replacing your filter is a simple, easy way to ensure your furnace keeps your air cleaner and lasts longer.
First, determine which type of filter you have: reusable or disposable. If yours is reusable, follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. If it’s disposable, look for an arrow printed on the filter denoting the direction air should flow and mark the same arrow directly on the furnace (so you’ll always know which way to install filters in the future). Note the size of the filter and head to your local hardware store to purchase a replacement that will fit correctly.
3: Seal up drafty doors
One of the easiest ways air can be let in—and out—of your home is through leaks in your door when it’s closed. This is where your door’s weather seal comes in handy. But with their frequent use, the weather seal around a door can become worn and need replacing, and air leaks begin to waste energy dollars.
A quick and easy way to seal the leaks around a door is by installing weatherstripping—check out our step-by-step tutorial.
4: Remove soot and scrub the fireplace
Before you start cozying up to a fire, it’s important to clean your fireplace and chimney. While chimney cleaning is best left to the professionals, you can easily DIY the fireplace itself to remove the soot, ash, and other debris.
To clean the fireplace, wait a full 24 hours after your last fire before you begin. This will get messy, so cover the surrounding floors, wear old clothes, and protect your hands and face.
Get rid of any pieces of old wood and remove the grate. Scoop out and sweep up the leftover ashes and throw them away. For any remaining dust, you can use a heavy-duty vacuum to tidy up.
To clean the inside walls, add equal parts vinegar and warm water to a spray bottle; saturate the bricks and scrub away soot with a scrub brush. If your fireplace has glass doors, mix another concoction of vinegar, warm water, and cornstarch together and apply to the glass using a rag. Let sit for at least 30 minutes, then wipe away using newspaper.
For everything else—tools, wire curtain, and grate—use your vinegar spray and scrub using the same technique as with the interior bricks.
5: Drain gas from your lawn mower
Before you stow your lawn mower away for winter, make sure it’s drained of gasoline. Gas left to sit for more than 30 days begins to oxidize and create sediment, which can clog the carburetor and cause it to fail.
To drain, simply turn off the fuel flow (some gas tanks have a switch to turn the flow on and off) and either run the engine until the last of the gas is used, or find the drain screw to drain the remaining gas from the carburetor bowl into a gas can or container. You can also drain the gas entirely from the tank, line, and carburetor. As always, check your user manual for best practices specific to your tool.
If you’d like to keep the unused gas for next season, add a fuel stabilizer, such as STA-BIL, to the gas can to keep it from oxidizing.
6: Prune trees
Pruning can sound like a daunting task if you’ve never done it before. Where to cut? What to cut? What happens if you do it wrong?
Tending to your greenery is an important fall task if you want to keep things growing strong and healthy—and luckily, it’s a lot more straightforward than you might think. We talked to the experts at Swansons Nursery to learn the pruning basics.
7: Rain-proof outdoor stairs
Misty days are in our future—which means slippery steps are, too. Good old non-skid tape always works, but if you don’t want to detract from the aesthetic of your deck or stairs, we found a solution to remove the slip while keeping the beauty intact. To learn how, check out our tutorial.
8: Get rid of spiders
With summer winding down and fall creeping in, so are the spiders. It’s mating season, which means male spiders are on the move—and likely moving in. While they’re generally harmless, spiders are not necessarily wanted everywhere, so we explored two spider remedies: Miss Muffet’s Revenge and peppermint oil. Check out our step-by-step tutorial for both methods!
We hope these tips and tutorials help your home weatherization go a little more smoothly this season. For more seasonal tips, tricks, and project inspiration, Dunn DIY is your source, 24/7.