Today marks the first day of fall, which means that you only have a few months to complete your outdoor fall maintenance tasks before it becomes too cold and too dark to even think about it. Leaves are already falling and winter will be here before you know it.
This in-between period is the perfect time to get your home ready for fall/winter by finishing these 5 essential outdoor maintenance tasks.
Outdoor Maintenance Tasks for Fall
Trim Trees, Shrubs, and Bushes
Before it gets too cold, trim back shrubs and trees. Look around for any dead tree branches that could pose a hazard to people or your home during heavy winds and storms. If necessary, call a tree expert to conduct an inspection and remove any dangerous trees or tree limbs.
Outdoor HVAC Unit
As you may know, there should be a minimum 2-foot clearance around your outdoor HVAC unit for proper airflow. Check your outdoor condenser unit for any encroaching grass, bushes, and shrubs. Trim them back to they aren’t growing into your expensive HVAC unit. This is also a good time to consider erecting a barrier around your outdoor condenser unit to keeps pets and animals from urinating near it. The acidity of urine can eat away at your machine. Just make sure the fence or barrier is at least 24 inches from the unit and there is enough clearance for your HVAC technician to conduct maintenance and repairs.
Trees are the number 1 source of power outages. In addition to interfering with power distribution, they can also cause hazardous situations that can lead to downed power lines and power poles, leading to injury or death. It’s important to visually inspect trees and branches that may pose a hazard to the power lines near your home. Winter causes While you should NEVER cut tree limbs yourself, it’s important to remain vigilant against the danger they pose.
If you are thinking about planting any trees this fall, make sure that to never plant them near power lines. While they may start out small, they can spread tall and wide.
Warning: NEVER attempt to work near power lines or climb trees near power lines. Keep ladders, antennas, kites, and poles away from power poles and lines. Contact your local power company to trim trees near power lines. If you live in Alabama, contact the local Power Delivery Line Cleaning personnel at 1-800-245-2244 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clean Your HVAC Condenser Unit (Or Hire a Pro to Do It for You)
Over summer, a lot of leaves, dirt, and debris have blown around your outdoor condenser unit. Before even more leaves and debris start clogging it, clean and rinse it with a garden hose. Outdoor condenser units should be cleaned at least twice a year.
- First, turn off power to the unit from the outdoor power switch and/or electrical panel. Make sure power is completely off before proceeding.
- Next, using gloved hands, remove any large pieces of debris from around the unit, such as garbage, twigs, and leaves.
- After removing the larger items, hose down the outside of your unit with a garden hose. Just make sure the pressure from the hose isn’t too great as this can inadvertently bend and damage the delicate condenser fins.
- Bent condenser fins can severely restrict airflow and cause other problems with your HVAC system. If you notice bent fins, you can use an HVAC fin comb to straighten them (NEVER use a knife, screwdriver, or other crude object).
While you can help to keep your HVAC system clean by following the aforementioned steps, it’s best to call in a professional for the job. A good HVAC company will clean your entire HVAC system, inside and out, during annual HVAC tune-ups (once in the fall for heating and once in the spring for cooling).
Consider protecting your air conditioner during the winter by placing a piece of plywood over your outdoor air conditioning unit and weighing it down with some bricks. While it’s generally a bad idea to wrap your outdoor unit for winter, placing a piece of wood over the top can prevent damage cause by falling limbs and icicles.
If, however, you have a heat pump that provides you with heat during the winter, do NOT cover it. Find out if you have a heat pump or an air conditioner.
Add or Replace Weatherstripping Around Exterior Doors
You can test air leaks around your doors by feeling around the perimeter for any air movement and drafts. You can also use a lit incense stick or thin piece of toilet paper to visualize air movement.
If there is air escaping, you probably have missing or damaged weatherstripping. However, you may also need to tighten hinge screws.
Clean Your Gutters and Extend Downspouts
Clogged gutters can cause foundation damage, wood damage, landscape damage, ice dams, and basement flooding. Needless to say, it’s a good idea to clean your gutters every fall and spring to avoid more expensive repairs down the road.
While there are home service companies that will clean and clear your gutters for you, it’s also a task you can complete yourself. While you are cleaning leaves and debris from your gutter, check to make sure none of your gutters are damaged, sagging, or hanging.
- Use gloves hands and an old plastic spatula for cleaning debris from gutters.
- Make sure your downspouts extend at least 5 feet away from the house to prevent water damage, cracks, and leaks. If they don’t, consider adding downspout extenders.
Inspect and Clean Outdoor Dryer and HVAC Vents
A clogged or plugged dryer or HVAC vent is not only inefficient, but it’s also dangerous. Lint is a common clog in dryer vents. Sometimes birds will choose to create nests in them as well. It’s important to periodically clean your HVAC and dryer vents from the inside and outside to prevent fire and carbon monoxide hazards.
Don’t forget to schedule your annual furnace tune-up from a qualified professional and change your furnace filters every 30-60 days!
Use this handy infographic from Houselogic for more fall maintenance tasks:
- Is It Time to Replace Your Furnace?
- How to Extend the Lifespan of Your HVAC System
- The Dangers of DIY Furnace Repair
- How to Tell If You Need a New Furnace
SERVICE ON TIME OR WE PAY YOU $59!
For HVAC, ventilation, and humidification solutions in the Birmingham area, contact OnTime Service at 205-942-1405.
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