Fall cleaning: Tips for getting your house ready for winter

2009-08-28T00:30:00Z 2013-12-11T11:45:15Z Fall cleaning: Tips for getting your house ready for winterMARCI LAEHR TENUTA mtenuta@journaltimes.com Journal Times

When the first warm breezes start to wind their way through the county, a lot of people throw open their windows, roll up their sleeves and dig in for a big spring cleaning.

What feels better than freshening up the house after a long winter stuck inside? Except maybe, to do a thorough house cleaning before that cold season spent indoors.

There's plenty of household tasks that it just makes sense to tackle in a fall, including some regular maintenance jobs.

If you're going to spend the majority of time over the next seven months inside, why not make it a comfortable, energy-efficient and organized one?

Local cleaning and home maintenance experts say there is plenty to do around the house in the fall.

Fall cleanup

Any deep cleaning you didn't get to this spring should probably be done this fall, said Chris Miller of Household Help Inc.

She suggests doing tasks such as:

  • Turning over your mattress and washing all of your bedding, including comforters and blankets.
  • Getting your carpets professionally cleaned. Think of all the sand and grass clippings that have been walked in on your flip-flops this summer.
  • Cleaning your windows, inside and out, including in between the sills. Miller said many new windows have UV filters and aren't supposed to be cleaned with glass cleaners. Instead, she suggests buying some microfiber towels. She gets them at the dollar store. "Take a microfiber cloth and get it damp with warm water," Miller said. "Wipe the window, then use a dry microfiber cloth to dry it. That's the way I clean all my windows.

Other deep-cleaning ideas for the fall from the Web site organizedhome.com include:

  • Cleaning your house from top to bottom, focusing on public rooms such as the living room, family room, entryway and guest bath.
  • Get out the vacuum. Vacuum the drapes, window treatments, baseboards and in the corners. Move furniture and vacuum beneath and behind it. Vacuum upholstered furniture, or have professionally cleaned if needed. Pull the refrigerator away from the wall, and vacuum the condenser coils. For bottom-mounted coils, use a long, narrow brush to clean coils of dust and debris.

Home maintenance

Before the chilly weather of fall begins, make sure your furnace is tuned up for the winter and change the filter, said Miller. She said homeowners with a fireplace should check the flue and have the fireplace cleaned if it is wood burning.

Fall is also a good time to have your air ducts cleaned, she said.

Greg Kruchko, the owner of the local Mr. Handyman, said one of the biggest must-do tasks of the season is to clean your home's gutters. If you don't clean out your gutters, you run the risk of water building up in them during cold weather. This can cause "ice damming," Kruchko said. "That will ruin a roof."

It's also a great time to install gutter protectors that keep debris, like falling leaves, out of the gutters, he said.

Other home maintenance tasks for the fall include:

  • Examining your chimney for any damage, Kruchko suggests.
  • Covering up your air conditioning unit to protect it from ice and snow.
  • Putting away summer equipment, such as outdoor tables and chairs, umbrellas, grills and children's toys.
  • Touching up paint on and decks, trim and railings, says organizedhome.com. Use a wire brush to remove flaking paint; prime bare wood first.
  • Draining and storing garden hoses, the site recommends. Install insulating covers on exterior spigots and have sprinkler systems blown free of water.
  • Inspecting washing machine hoses for bulges, cracks or splits. Replace them every other year.
  • Checking the dryer exhaust tube and vent for built-up lint, debris or birds' nests. Make sure the exterior vent door closes tightly when not in use.

Beware of bugs

Cindy Wysocki, owner of Maid in Racine, said she finds more cobwebs in homes in the fall, because the spiders are coming in to get out of the cold.

Bugs and mice are looking for a warm place to stay for the winter, Kruchko said. It's probably a good time to look for rotted, cracked or damaged wood around the house, which is the perfect entrance for critters into your home.

"A lot of people neglect the wood," he said. "Look at the trim around the garage door. It's typically weathered at the bottom. Wood is like a straw. It sucks the water up."

That causes rot, splitting and damage.

Kruchko said it's important to keep wood on a home painted, sealed and caulked. He also suggests replacing wood trim with PVC material trim that requires no maintenance and can be painted.

"Keep the water out and make sure the house is sealed well," Kruchko said.

Energy-saving fall ideas

Fall is the time to get your house sealed up and ready for the cold, said Kruchko. He suggests caulking around windows and doors. This will keep the chilly air and bugs out, and keep the heat in.

Although caulking is something newer homes might not require, according to Kruchko, all homeowners should also be checking weather-stripping and door sweeps.

Other energy saving maintenance ideas for the fall include:

  • Installing ceiling fans, which Kruchko said might sound like a strange autumn task. However, he said with the fan blades tipped to push warm air down, homeowners can help save on heating bills and make themselves more comfortable.
  • Using a hot water heater blanket.
  • Insulating and wrapping pipes.
  • Checking the attic insulation and adding more if necessary.
  • Replacing windows, which, if you can afford it now, can really help save with energy costs, Kruchko said.
  • Have an energy audit done, which will tell you where heat is escaping your home and costing you money.

Copyright 2015 Journal Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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