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Checklist: October To-Dos for Homeowners

October is synonymous with cooler weather, changing leaves, apple harvests and trick-or-treat. It’s also a great time for homeowners to prep their houses for a long winter snooze. Check this handy list of home maintenance tasks to complete before sweater weather is over and overcoats are required.

  • Winterize lawn equipment. After using your power lawn equipment for the last time of the season, pour leftover gasoline into a gasoline can for the winter. Clean air filters, and sharpen any dulled blades so you’ll be ready to go in the spring.
  • Store outdoor recreation and yard items. If you haven’t already, choose a sunny day to pack and store outdoor recreational gear such as volleyball nets and croquet sets. Cover or store outdoor furniture. Clean and cover the grill. Drain and store garden hoses and put insulating covers on faucets. In the coldest climates, September might be a better month to complete this task. In the deep South, you can oftentimes get away with waiting until nearly Thanksgiving.
  • Rake and compost leaves. When the leaves have finished dropping, rake them together and mulch in your flowerbeds. Mulch provides an insulating cover for the roots of your landscape plants.
  • Mulch beds. If you don’t have enough leaves to rake into the flowerbeds, put down a three to four-inch layer of bagged mulch to insulate roots and preserve moisture.
  • Roof and gutters. Using a ladder (or binoculars from the ground), inspect your roof. Hire a licensed and insured professional to secure any loose shingles and flashing. Clear debris by sweeping valleys and behind chimneys. Clear gutters of leaves and twigs. Seal any openings around eaves and flashing to prevent animals from nesting in your chimney or attic.
  • Furnace inspection.  Make sure the heater is ready to perform for the cold months ahead by scheduling a visit from a heating specialist. He or she will inspect the heat exchanger, furnace burners and air handler for readiness. (Many companies offer an annual package deal that includes the fall check along with a similar spring tune-up of the air conditioning unit.) Depending on where you call home, this chore can be done in September, October or November.
  • Caulking and weather stripping.  Inspect the caulking around the outside of windows and doors and check the weather stripping. This is especially important in older homes. Replace any caulk or stripping that is old, cracked and pulling away from the frame. Open windows and vacuum out the bottoms of the frames. Do it yourself or call in a professional, depending on your level of expertise.
  • Smoke alarms. October is the perfect time to test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and install a fresh set of batteries in each one. (You’ll do this chore again in the spring.)
  • Toilets. October is also a great time to test toilets for a leaky tank. (Do this chore once per quarter and you’ll be sure to conserve water and save money.) Drop a small amount of food coloring in the reserve tank. Wait 30 minutes before flushing. If the color shows up in the bowl, the flapper valve at the bottom of the tank is leaking and needs replacing, a quick, easy and cheap fix.
  • Make sure snow equipment is ready. If a snowblower is part of your winter life, test it to make sure it’s in working order. Schedule any needed repairs. Put fresh gas in the tank and make sure the air filter is clean. Replenish your supply of deicer and make sure your snow shovel is in good shape.

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