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With fall comes a lot of work to do around the house. That’s because the weather will soon be cold, putting a strain on the structure of the home. Doing some simple maintenance will help save you money and protect your investment from further damages.

The following lists what every homeowner should do before the end of the fall season. If you need help, reach out to a Home Handyman.

  1. Tidy up the yard

Take the time to tidy up the yard before the season is over. Trim back your bushes, vines, and hedges. Mow the lawn, pull weeds, and rake the leaves. Pick up all your leaves and trimmings and bag them up for collection. Make sure that you don’t leave any debris in window wells or along the walls of the home. Insects will hide there and make their way into the house when the weather cools.

Clean the deck and put your patio furniture away once it gets too cold. Protect them with waterproof covers. You should also clean the barbecue and cover it so that it doesn’t get dirty or rusty over the winter.

  1. Deep clean the kitchen and pantry

Deep cleaning isn’t only for spring. Tidying up the kitchen now will help prepare you for back-to-school and holiday gatherings. It will also help to keep mice and other pests away.

Vacuum the dust behind your large appliances, like the oven and the fridge. Then, wipe these areas down to get rid of grease. Soak the range hood filter in hot, soapy water, then scrub it clean. Clean out the inside of the oven and the fridge. You should also empty out your cupboards and wipe them clean so there are no crumbs. Throw out everything that has expired and organize the pantry in a way that makes sense to you. Disinfect the garbage can to remove odours.

  1. Unclog the drains and clean your shower heads

Now is a good time to give your bathroom drains some TLC. First, remove hair and debris from them manually, then pour a cup of boiling water down each drain. Add about a cup of baking soda, then pour a cup of white vinegar. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, then finish with another pot of boiling water. Repeat the process if the drain is still clogged.

Shower heads get clogged with hard minerals, so it is good to descale them every now and then. Remove your shower heads and soak them in a container of white vinegar overnight. If you can’t remove them, tie a plastic bag of vinegar around them. In the morning, scrub them clean with a brush and rinse them off. You can also use a toothpick to clean out the little spouts. Your shower heads will perform a lot better.

  1. Change HVAC filter

Your HVAC filter should be changed every few months so that it doesn’t get clogged with dust, dirt, and other particles in the air. The dirtier it gets, the harder the system will work to push the air through, driving up your energy bills.

Check out your system now before the temperature drops. First, shut off the HVAC, then remove the access panel. Pull out the filter. If it needs replacing, insert a new one that has the same dimensions. Make sure it is facing the right direction. If you have a washable filter, take it outside or into the shower, then spray it clean. Put the filter back into the HVAC, close the access panel, and turn the system back on. Having a clean filter will save you money this winter.

  1. Fix drafty windows

Check your windows for drafts by lighting a candle and holding it near your windows. If the flame moves while you are standing still, there is a draft. Check your window frames for cracks and seal them with silicone caulking or gap filler. Inside, try installing more locks. These will seal the gaps better when the windows are closed. You can also add weatherstripping to your windows for the same effect.

If your windows do not insulate well, but you do not want to replace them just yet, consider covering them with a plastic insulation kit. You can find these at the hardware store. Layer your windows with curtains and heavy drapes for the winter.

  1. Clean the gutters and check on the roof

This is a straightforward task that should be done once or twice a year. Using a ladder, check on your gutters and clean them of debris. Scoop everything out, then run a hose through the downspouts to make sure that they are not blocked. Gutters that are well maintained will allow the snow to melt off the roof and the rain to pour without damaging the home.

While you are cleaning the gutters, take a look at the shingles on the roof. If they are cracking, curling, or wearing off, you may need to have them replaced. Asphalt shingle roofs usually last for 20 to 25 years. Check the edges of the roof for openings, as well. Lift the shingles gently and run your fingers along the drip line of the roof. If you find a gap, seal it with metal flashing or mesh. Squirrels will use these openings to nest in the attic.

  1. Maintain the attic

The attic insulates the home from the winter’s cold. If you can, go check up on it. Look for signs of moisture or pest activity. The attic is a popular nesting spot for squirrels, mice, and raccoons. A telltale sign of an infestation is the presence of feces. The insulation in the attic should be clean, dry, and fluffy. Check the vents for blockages – air needs to circulate in and out of the attic to prevent condensation.

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