Top 10 Fall Maintenance Projects You Can Do in 30 Minutes or Less

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Fast and easy ways to prepare your home for winter
As the days get shorter and temperatures dip lower, it’s wise to spend a few precious DIY hours ensuring your home’s readiness for winter. This time of year, the top ten tasks are all about protecting your home and preserving safety and comfort indoors. Grab a few tools and a half an hour now to tackle one of the following chores, and you’ll

Fast and easy ways to prepare your home for winter

As the days get shorter and temperatures dip lower, it’s wise to spend a few precious DIY hours ensuring your home’s readiness for winter. This time of year, the top ten tasks are all about protecting your home and preserving safety and comfort indoors. Grab a few tools and a half an hour now to tackle one of the following chores, and you’ll thank yourself warmly a few months down the line.

  1. style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>Find

    your valves. Water emergencies and

    holiday entertaining are a bad combination, and you’ll enter a whole new

    dimension of stress and property damage if too much time is spent hunting down

    the valves that’ll stop an indoor tidal wave. Use half an hour now to

    locate and label every important water valve in your home,

    including the main water valve, water heater valve, hose valves and

    icemaker valves. Familiarize other family members with their locations and operation in case you’re away when disaster strikes.

If

you are heading out of town for a few days, get in the habit of turning off

your main water valve on the way out the door, to limit any pipe breaks to the

water in the pipe, as opposed to the water in the local reservoir!

style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>

  1. style='font-family:Arial'>Drain the water heater.

    style='font-family:Arial'> Your family will be depending on an efficient,

    consistent hot water supply in the coming

    style='font-family:Arial'>mont

    style='font-family:Arial'>hs, so prepare your hot water heater for duty.

    Sediment buildup on a water heater’s bottom can interfere with performance.

    style='mso-spacerun:yes'>  Every six months, use the tank’s drain

    valve to carefully discharge a few gallons of the hot water inside.

    style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>

  2. style='font-family:Arial'>Lubricate locks and hinges.

    style='font-family:Arial'> Creaky hinges and sticking locks can spook you

    at exactly the wrong moment, so make the rounds with a can of WD-40. It’ll

    clean and lubricate metal mechanisms in one shot.

  3. style='font-family:Arial'>Clean and reverse ceiling fans.

    style='font-family:Arial'> Now that they’re done spinning out cool comfort,

    it’s time to reset fans for the winter routine. Give fan blades a thorough

    dusting, and then switch them to a clockwise spin in order to push warm

    air downward from the ceiling. 

    style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>

  4. style='font-family:Arial'>Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

    style='font-family:Arial'> This biannual task is especially important as

    we arrive at a season spent around the hearth. Vacuum detectors to remove

    excess dust, replace the batteries, and get in the habit of using the devices’

    test buttons to check their function once a

    style='font-family:Arial'>mont

    style='font-family:Arial'>h.

  5. style='font-family:Arial'>Clean the humidifier.

    style='font-family:Arial'> Indoor heat makes for a dry environment, and

    your home’s humidifier needs to be ready to balance things out. Over time,

    humidifiers can get clogged and stop working, or even worse, send bacteria

    and mold throughout the house. So go through the cleaning routine as

    recommended by your unit’s manufacturer. Soaking the evaporator pad in a

    solution of white vinegar and water often works well to dissolve mineral

    salts left behind as water evaporates; just be sure to rinse well after

    the soak so your home doesn’t end up smelling like a big salad.

    style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>

  6. style='font-family:Arial'>Check for roof leaks.

    style='font-family:Arial'> Winter rains are comforting until they start

    landing inside your home, so check and protect the most likely leak points

    in your roof. After the first big autumn rain, grab a

    style='font-family:Arial'>fla

    style='font-family:Arial'>shlight and inspect areas where protrusions such

    as chimneys and plumbing vent pipes meet the roof. Then pick up your

    binoculars and inspect the same spots from the outside, also scanning for

    missing shingles and loose

    style='font-family:Arial'>fla

    style='font-family:Arial'>shing that require replacement.

    style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>

  7. style='font-family:Arial'>Quiet kitchen cabinets.

    style='font-family:Arial'> Your kitchen will soon be bustling with holiday

    dinners, baking projects, and houseguests, so don’t let little annoyances

    get in the way of big plans. Clean and lubricate drawers and hinges on

    kitchen cabinets, and replace any catches that no longer catch.

    style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>

  8. style='font-family:Arial'>Steady all handrails.

    style='font-family:Arial'> Negotiating a snowy step or a busy indoor

    staircase is tricky enough without wondering if the handrail will hold

    steady. Make sure all inside and outside handrails are secure, and repair

    loose railings, posts and spindles.

    style='font-family:Arial'>Ind

    style='font-family:Arial'>oors, loose wood spindles can be repaired by

    dipping a wooden toothpick in glue and wedging it in where the spindle goes

    into the handrail. Once the glue is dry,

    style='font-family:Arial'>brea

    style='font-family:Arial'>k off the excess toothpick or trim it away with

    a utility knife.

  9. style='font-family:Arial'> Caulk the

    chimney crown. You can avoid major

    repair costs with a little attention to your masonry chimney’s

    crown─that cement area between the outside edge of the brick and the

    terra-cotta clay chimney liner. Cracks in the crown allow water to leak

    into the chimney, where it can cause bricks to freeze and

    style='font-family:Arial'>brea

    style='font-family:Arial'>k. An annual dose of caulking will prevent such

    an expensive disaster and help maintain the chimney’s structural

    integrity.

Note: Tom Kraeutler is the Home Improvement Editor for AOL and host of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated home improvement radio program. To find a local radio station, download the show’s podcast or sign-up for Tom’s free weeklye-newsletter, visit the program’s website.


Tom's latest book,

href="http://www.myhomemymoneypit.com/">My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to

Every Home Improvement Adventure, is available in bookstores everywhere

and online.

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