Published on Realtor.com Sep 25, 2019 By Jamie Wiebe
Autumn brings pumpkins and—love 'em or hate 'em—pumpkin spice lattes, sweater weather, and spooky skeletons. But most importantly, fall brings an end to a summer of outdoor adventures—and tedious yard tasks like weeding, mowing, and watering the lawn.
But just because the weather's cooling off doesn't mean your to-do list will, too. Before busting out the cinnamon spice and mulled wine, take on a few home maintenance tasks that will put you in good standing once temperatures dip.
"It's easier to prepare for a winter emergency in the fall," says Jericho McClellan, who works in construction management.
But fear not: We've got you covered with our checklist of home maintenance chores to tackle this season. Read on for details about where to start, and whom to call if you need backup.
1. Properly store your yard equipment
One of the best parts about fall: You can usually put your lawn mower into hibernation mode until spring.
But before you forget about that pesky piece of machinery entirely, remember this: Spring will suck if you don't prep your equipment this fall. That's because gasoline reacts with the air in the tank if left long enough, causing oxidation, which creates small deposits that can affect the performance of your mower.
And it's not just gas-powered equipment that needs a fall refresh.
Lester Poole, Lowe's live-nursery specialist, recommends running pressurized air through your pressure washers to remove any remaining water in the system, which will prevent freeze damage to the pumping mechanisms.
If your winter is particularly snowy and gritty, you'll be glad to have your pressure washer on high alert.
DIY: This project is easy to do yourself—just get rid of any spare gasoline. Many cities and counties have hazardous-waste programs, or your local auto parts store might take the old gas for you, too.
2. Protect your pipes
When temps dip below freezing, unprotected pipes can burst from exposure. Guard against burst pipes by wrapping them in foam insulation, closing foundation vents (more on that below), and opening cabinet doors under sinks to allow warm air to flow around supply lines. And make sure to keep your thermostat at 60 degrees or higher overnight.
If you haven't tracked down your home's water shut-offs yet, now's the time. They might be located outside your house or in your crawl space. Once you've found them, give them a test.
"The winter is not a fun time to try to figure that out, especially should a pipe burst," McClellan says. (More on that, too, in a minute.)
Now's also a good time to drain all of your exterior water hoses to prevent an icy emergency.
DIY: If your pipes do freeze, leave the affected faucets on and turn off your water supply, says Jenny Popis, a Lowe's Home Improvement spokeswoman. Then locate the freeze point by feeling the length of frozen pipes to determine which area is coldest. You can attempt to thaw it by wrapping the frozen section in washcloths soaked in hot water—then thaw until you have full water pressure.
Call in the pros: If you can't locate the freeze point or your pipes have burst, call in a licensed plumber, which will run $150 to $600 on average(depending on the severity of the leak).
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