That carpet of fall leaves is just weeks from landing on your lawn. But while warm temps and sunny skies still dominate our Northwest weather, now's your chance to take care of important fall maintenance best done in dry conditions.
These five to-dos should top your September home-maintenance list:
- Caulking and painting or staining. Exposed wood is vulnerable wood. If you have siding or a deck that needs repainting or staining, do it during our September "sweet spot" when temps usually don't go above 90 degrees or drop below 50. That's the optimal zone for paint adhesion, reducing the chances it will blister, crack or peel. (Signs you should pick another day: If your siding or deck is so hot that you can't hold your palm on it comfortably for more than a few seconds, it's likely too hot. And if there's a heavy coating of morning dew, water in the paint will evaporate too slowly, resulting in a poor cure.) Ideal temps for latex caulking are similar – no hotter than 80 degrees, no colder than 40. You can apply silicone caulking during freezing temperatures, as long as the surface is frost-free and the weather's dry.
- Remove dangerous trees. Trees vulnerable to snapping or uprooting in a windstorm often give tell-tale clues, including signs of rot, disease or insect activity and pushed-up soil at the base. If in doubt, consult an arborist. Be wary, though, of tree services that recommend topping or wind-sailing a tree. Both techniques have fallen out of favor in recent years because they can weaken trees. Also, before cutting, verify property lines, any restrictions from your homeowners association, whether the tree is near eagle habitat (which has significant restrictions) and if a permit is needed. Before hiring a tree-removal contractor, verify their license and insurance. Tree-cutting is dangerous work, especially in close-quarters city and suburban settings.
- Repair roofs. Curling shingles or missing flashing could mean leaks – and potential structural damage or mold – during fall and winter storms. If you're unsure how to fix them or simply nervous on a ladder, this job is best left to roofing professionals.
- Schedule chimney cleaning. If you burn more than half a cord of wood annually, clean your chimney every year to remove creosote, a flammable by-product of wood-burning that can build up inside your chimney and start a chimney fire. (Consider doing it more often if you heat with wood, burn unseasoned wood or burn with your wood stove's damper partially closed.) September is a great time to schedule a professional cleaning because contractors aren't yet fully booked, and if they notice a problem with your chimney, there's still plenty of time to get it fixed before burning season starts.
- Schedule furnace service. While DIY filter changes every three months is a great start, most furnaces also need professional annual maintenance (see your owner's manual for recommendations). Besides ensuring your furnace isn't headed for a breakdown, furnace professionals also check for any signs of damage or gas leaks. Schedule now to avoid the rush. Furnace contractors often are swamped when homeowners realize their furnace isn't working after the first cold snap.
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