Maintenance Tips

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Fall Home Maintenance

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Enjoy the long warm fall the weatherman is promising, but keep in mind that cooler weather is just around the corner!

Get a head start on home maintenance to avoid last minute rushes when cold weather threatens.

Here's our handy checklist.

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Vacuum the furnace and clean the filtersHave the furnace serviced for the fall heating season.  You can do it yourself, or purchase the services from your gas or oil heating supplier.  Keep your furnace functioning effectively to reduce your heating costs and prevent safety problems from noxious fumes.  

  • Open the furnace humidifier damper on units with central air conditioning and clean it by vacuuming the coils.

  • Check to see if the pilot light is on for furnaces that don't have the electric ignition.  If there is no flame, you might need to call the gas or oil company to turn it back on.  In other cases, make sure ventilation is VERY good, then light a long match and turn on the fuel.  Use the match to quickly ignite the fuel to restart the pilot.  If it doesn't start, let the fumes dissipate before trying it again.

  • Clean and/or change your air filters.  Clean filters will allow air to circulate more freely and reduce smells in the house.  The reusable ones will also need a good washing.  Vacuum them first, then put them into the dishwasher or soak in a hot solution of water and dishwashing liquid.  Swish them around to help loosen the soil.  Rinse well and air dry.

  • If you have an electronic air cleaner, now is the time to give it a good wash.  You can put the cells into the dishwasher, or use something like a window cleaner or "formula 409" to loosen the soil before soaking them in a hot solution of dishwasher detergent.  Plunge them up and down in the solution, and for stubborn bits, try one of those narrow brushes for cleaning teapot spouts to get in between the fins.  

  • Avoid touching the fine wire that is between the fins on one side of the air cleaner cells.  If these are broken, they must be replaced or the unit will short out instead of zap the solids out of the air.  Also ensure that the other side which has the narrow metal plates visible has no point at which the plates are touching each other.  Use long nosed pliers to straighten any bent spots if required.  

  • Rinse them well and air dry, or put them into the unit without turning it on.  If you have your fan on, the circulating air will dry the cells in a few hours.  

  • Note that every 5-10 years, you should send the cells out for an "acid bath" to really clean the metal fins. Soil and oxidation build up over time and will decrease the effectiveness of your electronic air cleaner.

Fireplaces and Wood Stoves


iconIf you plan to cozy up to the fire in the fall, then clean the chimneys on any wood-burning appliance as soon as the summer ends.  Gas or oil burning fireplaces and stoves may require professional servicing to ensure the fuel flows properly and to prevent fumes from entering the house.

Clean the fireplace and stock dry wood to be ready for cozy evenings before the fire.


Humidifiers need a good cleaning tooIn winter, the air is dryer than a desert in the average central heated house.  (That's why you have to mist your houseplants!)  Servicing your humidifier will depend on the type.  

Drum and plate types will need the reservoir, plates, and/or drum and wick filter cleaned or replaced.  Corroded and worn parts should be replaced.  

The type with the constant trickle of water over a large mesh filter will need to be cleaned, as well as having the water supply checked to ensure it is flowing properly.  The large waffle-like filters need replacing every 2-3 years.  If it crumbles on you when you put it in to soak with some vinegar, then it's time to replace it.

Gutters and Eaves


Expect rain!  Clean any debris from the gutters and eaves troughs and downspouts.  Reattach any loose sections and ensure water flows away from the house.  You may need to repeat this once the leaves have all fallen too, as they always seem to end up in your gutters!  

Now is also an excellent time to install gutter covers to keep leaves and debris out!   Consider one of the new "gutter guard" systems available. 

Care for your central and window air conditioners now too.  Vacuum and then wrap the outdoor portion of air conditioning systems to keep them clean.

Yard and Safety

show (1x1 -- 43 bytes)Get a head start on the big fall cleanup by cleaning up spent plants, dead leaves and overgrown plants to remove "hiding places" for night prowlers that may range from dogs and raccoons to burglars!  Make sure there are no hiding places around entry doors and windows to foil the presence of animal droppings AND break-in artists.

Ensure your garden and house lighting is in good working condition - replace bulbs, clean shades and covers.  Replace those outdoor faucets with freeze-proof ones too before it's too cold to work outside.  Get ready to drain your hoses and watering systems to prevent breakage from freezes.

Wrap evergreens and tender shrubs to prevent damage from any heavy accumulation of falling leaves later in autumn.. As we progress into fall, more wrapping will be required to prevent winter snow and wind/sun desiccation damage.

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