Chapter One: External Cleaning Checklist For Your Home & Gutters
Things start ramping up into high gear during the fall. Kids return back to school, new events and sports schedules kick into high gear leaving less time available for the must-be-done projects on your to-do list which just keeps getting longer. But there is one item that should not be procrastinated: your exterior fall clean up. This type of cleaning is not only for the spring and getting it done while timing it right during the fall months will avoid potential home exterior problems once freezing temperatures hit.
We have all the tips you need to have a quick and smooth fall cleaning to keep your home in tip top shape as the year draws to a close.
Fall Preparation: Remember to Clean your Patio and Pool
- Cleaning Patio Furniture To get the longest life out of your patio furniture, use oxygen bleach like Stain Solver. Take a look at your cushions for grease and grimy marks caused by our summer barbecues and outdoor parties. If you are storing your furniture outside, make sure to properly cover them to avoid damage from potential storms.
- Cleaning the Grill For homes that don’t barbecue year around, turn your grill on high for 15 minutes to burn off any residue that might be caked onto the grill from previous events. Take a look at the drip pans and change them if necessary. It’s important to de-grease the grill top, burners and side tables since the grease will remove easier the sooner it’s done. No one wants to go through the stress of de-greasing year old grease off grill knobs.
- Cleaning Decks and Patios With family celebrations and outdoor play, spills are a given for your decks and patios. These spills and messes can leave unwanted stains on your beautiful decks/patios, so we recommend being proactive about the cleaning. Pay close attention to the area around grills and dining tables. Don’t forget to look at areas where guests tend to sit, since this is another place where messes are frequent.
- Cleaning the Pool We all want to relive the summertime pool parties with the family, but the fall is the time to start cleaning it out to avoid damages and potential problems. Make sure to skim off floating debris and add algaecide. Drain the pool so the water level is 4-6 inches than your regular summertime water level. We suggest adding a skimmer guard and filling the skimmer line with antifreeze to prevent potential ice from forming during the colder months. Lastly, don’t forget to cover your pool to protect your pool until the following spring.
Cleaning Around Your Home
- Check Your Gutters Fall is one of the most important times to check and clean your gutters. Spring debris and fall leaves are big issues which, if left unattended, can clog your gutters and potentially cause damages to your home’s infrastructure. We will give you detailed information on how to clean your gutters later on.
- Check Your Windows As the months get colder, it’s important to keep the heat from inside your home from escaping through small cracks and crevices. Make sure to check the caulk around your windows to do this. Caulk is the waterproof sealant that borders your windows to ensure heat remains in your home. This small and inexpensive project can prevent higher heat costs and who doesn’t want to save on their utilities?
- Check Your Doors Make sure to pay attention to doors, especially those that connect your home’s interior to your garage. Homeowners rarely heat their garages which means that the temperature in your garage is fairly similar to the temperature outside. Make sure the door that leads to your garage closes tightly. Some of you might find a door threshold to be a good investment. For home entrances, keep in mind that a mail slot in your door or wall can let cold air in the house as well. A storm door may act as a barrier against heat loss in this instance.
- Cleaning the Chimney When was the last time you cleaned or checked your chimney? For many of you, it’s probably been a while since your last chimney cleaning but clean chimneys increase heat efficiency while preventing costly repairs. Chimney cleaning is an important ventilation system and proper maintenance can keep your family and home safe. Best to do it in the fall before thinking about fires in the colder weather.
- Check the Exterior Lights Days get shorter during the fall. As a result, your exterior lights turn on earlier in the day. We recommend checking the bulbs on your exterior lights before daylight savings begins and replacing those which are burnt out with high efficiency LED bulbs.
Cleaning Up the Lawn and Landscaping
The fall is the perfect time to prepare your gardens for the winter so they are ready to bloom in the spring. Here are some tips we recommend to ensure your garden survives the colder weather.
- Fertilize You want to take the early months of the fall as the perfect time to fertilize your garden bed. We recommend reseeding and touching up and bare spots and spreading your fertilizers during the latter half of October. Doing this will give the roots the boost that they need to flourish when spring comes.
- Plant and Prune Plant your spring bulbs in the earlier part of the fall so roots develop well before the temperature gets colder and the soil cools. Tulips and daffodils are just some of the flowers that should be planted in fall so they are ready to blossom come the springtime. Don’t forget to trim and prune your shrubs or tree to get rid of dead branches. This will better prepare your plants to deal with the colder weather.
- Pack Up the Tools Eventually, you’ll put the lawn equipment to bed for the winter. During the final weeks of the fall make sure to empty out gas and oil from tools like mowers, trimmers, and edgers. Remember to scrape off the dirt from previously used hand tools. We also recommend sharpening bladed tools and spraying them with oil so they are ready to use the next time you need them.
Six Tips to Cleaning Your Gutters
Many homeowners procrastinate on cleaning their gutters, while others don’t clean their gutters at all. However, this a very important task which, if left on checked, can lead to big and costly issues. Cleaning your gutters should not take too long to do, but getting it done is the key to ensure your home remains strong and your gutters maintained.
- Clean Your Gutters Semiannually You should clean gutters twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. Depending on where you live or if you live near a lot of trees, you may want to consider cleaning your gutters more often.
Clean gutters prevent costly water damages, and problems to your foundation or landscaping.
Here are some tips to properly, safely, and efficiently clean your gutters:
Tip 1: Use proper ladder safety!!
Have a sturdy ladder and make sure that you’re physically capable of climbing up and cleaning your gutters. If your home is over one story high, consider hiring a professional. Use caution when setting up the ladder since leaning the ladder on a gutter can bend or damage it.
Tip 2: Work on a day where there is no risk of rain, high winds, snow or ice.
Make sure the weather conditions are suitable to be on a ladder. If your roof is wet or icy, or there are very windy conditions, consider waiting for another day to clean your gutters. Ladders get slippery when your feet or the rungs are wet.
Tip 3: Wear long sleeve clothes and good rubber work or gardening gloves.
This is an important step since gutters can sometimes be very mess and filled with wet debris. It’s often handy to have bucket to collect the debris.
Tip 4: Use a plastic scoop to remove gunk.
These tools are rarely expensive so you should be able to find one for cheap.
Tip 5: Remove any debris on your roof as best you can
Again, use caution when doing this, but debris on your roof is only going to make it down and into the gutters you’re cleaning.
Tip 6: Work from by moving away from the downspout.
You don’t want gunk reclogging your downspout, so start here and clean your gutters by moving away from this location.
Tip 7: Remove any remaining residue by spraying the hose through the gutters and down the downspouts.
After all the gross stuff is out, make sure to clear out any remaining residue by spraying the hose through the gutters and down the downspouts. Not only will this clean out the gutters but it will help point out leaks, if there are any.
The cost to have your gutters cleaned can be anywhere between $50 (this tends to be an advertised cost but not what you’ll wind up paying) and $500. This price varies greatly based on the size of your home, the height of your gutters and the amount of work that needs to be done.
We suggest investing in gutter guards which help minimize these costs in the long run and help maintain the health and effectiveness of your gutters. Gutter guards can be attached to your existing gutters and help prevent clogs.
Why It’s Important to Clean Your Gutters
Proper gutter maintenance is key to maintain the integrity of your home’s foundation.
Here are some issues that you will avoid if you clean your gutters as instructed.
- Avoids Water Damage Water from the roof can pour over your gutters and will fall near your home’s foundation; this can cause erosion and leaks into your basement. Backed up gutters can also cause damage to your shingles and cause water to get into your home where it may ruin your home’s interior. Keep in mind, water always follows the path of least resistance!
- Avoids Mold Mold and mildew can grow in places where water has not evaporated fast enough. These are issues that become challenging, can affect your health and are expensive to correct. Avoid them by cleaning out your gutters.
- Avoids Rotting Wood If water can’t properly drain away, the water can seep into the wooden parts of your home and cause the wood to rot. Too much rotting damage can cause structural damage and lead to expensive and difficult repairs.
Cleaning your gutters also allow you to:
- See If Repairs Need to Be Made Take note of any potential damage on your gutters and get them repaired as soon as possible to prevent increased problems during storms and weather threats. Take note if there are any uneven sections, leaks, or loose brackets. Ensure that your gutters are securely attached to your roof. These repairs or the problems that stem from clogged gutters can be costly so we want to avoid them as best we can.
- Keep Critters Away Some homeowners find rodents like mice, squirrels and small raccoons, take shelter in their gutters. The concave shape of the gutters and easy access to the ground (through the downspout), make your gutters a great nesting place for little animals. If this is an issue you face consider getting downspout screens (install them at ground level) with some humane rodent repellent nearby to keep animals from using the downspout as an elevator to the warmth of your attic.
Mosquitoes and other like pests can also become a problem if enough debris builds up to hold enough water. This can become a serious issue and, in a worst case scenario, can make your family and pets vulnerable to illnesses like West Nile or Zika and, at best, annoy your family outdoor gatherings with bug bites.
Dealing with Annoying Acorns
With over 200 species of oak trees in North America, acorns are a common problem. How many times have you walked outside your home and seen tons of acorns scattered around your lawn? Have you noticed that some years there are even more acorns in than the year before?
We have definitely noticed this phenomenon because it makes gutter cleaning more annoying, and increases the number of times that season your gutters will need to be cleaned.
The increase in acorns is a consequence of Mother Nature’s actions in the prior seasons. As it turns out, oak trees have an irregular production years. The real reason is unclear but some speculate that oak trees release more acorns the years they want to increase new tree growth. By flooding their environment with acorns, the chance of new tree growth increases. This is because more acorns fall than there are small critters, like squirrels, to eat them. The excess acorns are left and would theoretically plant more trees. This explains why every 2-5 years you see this sudden increase in acorns.
Although this is like Christmas to the animals around your yard and home, the increase in acorns creates a huge problem for gutters.
Unprotected gutters get filled to the brim with acorns (and of course the caps separate from the acorn leading to even more stuff to pile in and subsequently clean out) and prevent your gutters from working properly. If you don’t clean your gutters regularly enough, you can face very costly problems and repairs. Proper gutter cleaning is a must when dealing with overactive oak trees and acorns.
Save yourself the time, money, and trouble and get a MasterShield gutter guard. With our patented technology, your acorn issues will be a thing in the past.