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Your Comprehensive Guide to Fall Home Maintenance Like a Pro

With the arrival of fall, the Pacific Northwest welcomes the season’s chill, signaling the need to prepare our homes for the coming cold. In this guide, we’ll walk you through eight essential tasks that should be on your fall home maintenance checklist, ensuring your home is cozy, efficient, and ready for the colder months.

1: Thorough Gutter Cleanup

Fallen leaves and debris can quickly clog your gutters, causing potential damage to your home. While you can hire professionals, cleaning your gutters yourself is entirely manageable with some guidance and safety precautions. We’ve put together a detailed gutter cleaning tutorial to help you get this vital job done right.

We acquired professional gutter cleaning insights from Greg and Abe of DAPrDAN, a local company specializing in exterior cleaning services. We’ve put together this gutter cleaning tutorial to pass on their expertise to you.

How To Clean Your Gutters Like a Professional

2: Care for Your Furnace Filter

Before you turn on your furnace for the season, take a moment to inspect and maintain your filter. A clogged filter can make your heating system work harder, reducing efficiency and potentially harming indoor air quality. We’ll guide you on how to clean or replace your filter based on its type, ensuring your furnace operates efficiently and keeps your home’s air clean.

3: Seal Drafty Doors

Drafts around doors can lead to energy waste and discomfort. Over time, the weather seals around doors may wear out. We’ll show you how to install weatherstripping effectively, providing a step-by-step guide to eliminate unwanted air leakage and keep your home cozy.

A quick and easy way to seal the leaks around a door is by installing weatherstripping check out our step by step tutorial.

How to Effectively Weatherstrip Your Doors and Prevent Drafts

4: Fireplace Maintenance

Before enjoying a warm fire, it’s essential to clean your fireplace and chimney. While chimney cleaning is best left to the experts, you can easily handle fireplace cleaning yourself. We recommend waiting 24 hours after your last fire before beginning. Protect your surroundings, wear appropriate attire, and follow these steps:

  • Remove old wood and the grate.
  • Dispose of leftover ashes and use a heavy-duty vacuum for any remaining dust.
  • For the interior walls, use a mixture of vinegar and warm water to clean soot with a scrub brush.
  • If your fireplace has glass doors, create a solution of vinegar, warm water, and cornstarch to clean them.
  • Clean tools, wire curtains, and the grate with the same vinegar solution.

5: Lawn Mower Care

Preparing your lawn mower for winter involves draining any remaining gasoline, as gas left unused for more than 30 days can lead to issues. We’ll explain how to drain the gas properly, whether by running the engine until it’s empty or using the drain screw on the carburetor bowl. Additionally, we’ll recommend adding a fuel stabilizer, such as STA-BIL, to keep the unused gas in good condition for the next season.

6: Tree Pruning Made Easy

Pruning may appear intimidating if you’re new to the task. Where should you make cuts? What exactly should be pruned? What if you make a mistake?

In reality, pruning is a simpler endeavor than you might imagine. A successful prune revolves around understanding the fundamental techniques and making careful cuts. Armed with the right tool and expert advice, you’ll soon become proficient in achieving perfectly pruned trees.

Speaking of expertise, we’ve gathered invaluable tips and guidelines from the seasoned pruners at Swansons Nursery. Below, you’ll find the fundamental principles you need to kickstart your pruning journey. Whether you’re a novice or simply need a refresher, this is an ideal starting point!

How to Prune

Pruning can be distilled into three essential steps: cleaning, thinning, and shaping. Sometimes, your tree may not require all three steps, and that’s perfectly fine. It’s crucial to consider what the tree needs in alignment with your desired outcomes. If you’ve removed dead branches and achieved an open, balanced appearance, there’s no need to overdo it. In pruning, less is often more.

Winter pruning involves the selective removal of up to 90% of the previous season’s vine growth. The overall goal of winter pruning is to prepare the vines for the upcoming growing season. This pruning helps to construct the location and general development of the canopy.
  • Clean Out: Identify and eliminate dead or dying branches, broken limbs, or branches that intersect and rub against others, potentially causing damage.
  • Thin: Exercise caution with your pruning shears in this phase. Look for areas that require more light and space and aim for the minimal number of cuts necessary. Traverse the tree a couple of times to maintain equilibrium.
  • Shape: For ornamental trees, focus on enhancing views of the trunk and distinct branches. You can also establish layers by gently thinning the space between major branches.
Winter pruning involves the selective removal of up to 90% of the previous season’s vine growth. The overall goal of winter pruning is to prepare the vines for the upcoming growing season. This pruning helps to construct the location and general development of the canopy.

Selecting the Right Tools

We recommend manual tools over power saws as they offer greater precision and control. Here are some reliable pruning shears suitable for various cut sizes:

  • Needle Nose Pruners: Resembling scissors, they excel at creating tight, precise cuts, making them ideal for slender stems.
  • Pruning Shears: These can handle branches up to 3/4″ in diameter.
  • Loppers: Suitable for thicker branches, up to about 1 1/2″ in diameter.
  • Pruning Saws: Designed for branches exceeding 1 1/2″ in diameter, particularly those more challenging to cut.

Where and How to Make Cuts

Always aim to cut close to the bud or branch, striving for a 45-degree angle whenever possible. The orientation of the angle is equally important: ensure that the lowest point of the 45-degree angle is on the opposite side of the branch as the bud. This technique promotes healthy growth and healing of the pruned area.

7: Slip-Proofing Your Outdoor Stairs

As misty days approach, slippery stairs become a concern. Non-skid tape is effective, but we’ve found a solution that maintains your deck or stairs’ aesthetic appeal. Explore our tutorial to learn how.

DIY Masters Hub How To Rainproof Stairs

8: Spider Management

With fall comes spider season, as male spiders begin to move in. While generally harmless, their presence may be unwanted. We’ve explored two spider remedies, Miss Muffet’s Revenge and peppermint oil, in our step by step tutorial.

How To Treat Your Home's Exterior For Spiders

We trust that these expert tips and tutorials will help streamline your home weatherization efforts this season. For further seasonal advice, inspiration, and DIY projects, rely on DIY Masters Hub as your 24/7 source.

This revised article maintains the original content’s essence while enhancing its Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) by providing comprehensive information and helpful guidance for readers.

Original Article: DIY Fall Home Maintenance Guide

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