A lot of things change after Labor Day. We all seem to quickly switch out of summer mode into something a bit more serious. Around your home, it’s almost time to start to thinking about this year’s fall clean up.
Not to say you’re going to do it right now, you’ve got other priorities like getting the kids back to school or work projects ramping up again. But you can start to check out certain things like gutters and windows. This way, you can put a mental list together of the projects you’ll have to take on soon. This might wind up saving you money, too. You be more likely to watch for sales on what you’ll need to buy to get the chores done right.
Don’t see signs of trouble? Great! Knock them off your fall clean up list early and you won’t wind up shopping for things you don’t need later on.
Fall Clean Up Checklist
Fall Clean Up Around the Patio, Deck or Pool
- Clean your patio furniture. An oxygen bleach like Stain Solver can help to get light deck furniture clean. Make sure to check all the cushions for greasy, grimy marks from summer barbecues. Wash according to manufacturer’s suggestions so stains don’t set in. Cover your furniture if you have to store it outdoors, or bring everything indoors if you have the space.
- Clean your deck or patio. While power washing isn’t recommended on soft deck woods (oxygen bleach is a good alternative), it does make sense to clean your deck and patio as needed, especially if there hasn’t been a lot of rain. Food and drink spills leave stains, so pay particular attention next to grills (where grease is the biggest issue), dining tables and anywhere you or your guests tended to sit.
- Fall clean up also involves some painting. Touch up paint on railings and decks. Brush with a wire brush to remove flaking paint, prime and then repaint.
- Clean your barbecue. If you don’t grill year round, start buy turning your grill on high for 15 minutes. Most residue will burn away. Check drip pans and replace them. It’s likely a lot has collected over the summer. Degrease the grill top, any side tables and burner switches. It’ll clean much easier now than next year.
- Drain and close your pool as part of your early fall clean up. That includes vacuuming, skimming off floating debris, adding an algaecide and shocking your pool and making sure the water chemistry is balanced. You’ll drain it so the water level is 4-6 inches lower than in the summer, allowing you to close valves, drain lines and plug them accordingly. Filling the skimmer line with antifreeze and adding a skimmer guard will stop ice from forming; this prevents costly damage. Lastly a cover will protect your pool until you’re ready to reopen it next spring.
Fall Clean Up Around Your House
- Check the caulk around your windows and doors. You can lose a lot of heat once you turn on your furnace with poor caulking. It’s one of the most inexpensive projects with the highest returns. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations to re-caulk if needed.
- Do your doors exposed to the elements close tightly? This includes garage doors and the door from your house to the garage. Install weather-stripping or door thresholds, if needed. Don’t forget that storm doors count, as well as mail slots– are they a way for heat to escape your home this winter?
- Summer thunderstorms left their mark on your windows. Time to wash them.
- Drain and bring in garden hoses. On your exterior spigots, consider adding an insulating cover. If you have a sprinkler system and you live in a hard freeze area, have it blown free of water.
- How many fires did you have last winter? Did you clean your chimney last spring? If not, have your chimneys and flues inspected and cleaned if necessary.
- While you’re checking out the paint and trim on your deck, do a once over on your house, too, and take care of any peeling paint.
- Fall clean up means preparing for shorter days. Replace any burned out bulbs on your exterior lighting, you’ll be using it more regularly soon.
- Our favorite fall clean up project: Check your gutters and downspouts and clean them. Do you see places around your home where some landscaping has been washed away? You’ve likely got a gutter issue that’s causing water to overflow. If you live under heavy tree cover, leaves have likely started to fall early this year in many parts of the country because of the drought. You may have to clean your gutters more often this year. If that’s not what you want to do, consider installing a gutter guard like MasterShield. If you live in an area where you get snow, consider Ice Shield, the heated version of MasterShield.
Fall Clean Up for Your Lawn and Landscaping
- Time to get ready to fertilize. First, while the days are getting cooler, reseed and touch up any bare spots. Then plan on fertilizing in late October so you give the roots a boost for next spring.
- Plant spring bulbs. Get them planted now to develop good roots before the soil cools.
- Trim and prune. Now’s the time to cut back shrubs and trim trees of dead branches.
- Put your lawn equipment and tools to bed. Empty gas and oil from mowers, trimmers and edgers. Grease all lubrication points. Scrape off dirt from hand tools, then wash them. Take an oiled rag and wipe metal surfaces. Linseed oil on wooden handles will help from cracking. Bladed tools should be sharpened and sprayed with oil.
Think you’re ready for fall clean up this year? Post this list in your garage or by your workbench and tick items off as you finish them. The list will grow shorter if you take on a project or two about every two weeks.