Winterize Lawn Equipment: Before cold weather arrives, winterize your lawn mower and other gas-powered lawn equipment, like string trimmers, edgers, and blowers. Start by running the mower (or trimmer) out of gas, or add fuel stabilizer to the gas in the tank. Remove the spark plug wire to prevent the engine from starting while you're working on it. Next, drain the oil out of the engine, and clean the equipment by brushing off debris and wiping the surfaces. Use a garden hose to clean the underside of the lawn mower deck, and clean or replace the air filter and spark plug. Finally, reattach the spark plug wire, and store your lawn equipment in a clean, dry place.
Inspect Roof: Before winter arrives clean and inspect your roof. Begin by cleaning away leaves and branches on the roof, paying particular attention to the chimney and valleys. Inspect the roof and replace any damaged shingles. Next, examine the flashing around your chimney, as well as the mortar on the chimney bricks or stone. Repair any flashing gaps or cracks with masonry caulk. If the flashing is in bad condition, make a quick fix with urethane caulk, then call a roofing contractor to for a more permanent repair.
Garage Door: A little maintenance to your garage door will keep it running smoothly and quietly. First, clean the door itself, and wipe any dirt and debris out of the tracks of the garage door opener. Next, use a small amount of engine oil to lightly lubricate the hinges, bearings, and springs. Finally, if your door has metal rollers, lightly lubricate them with motor oil and raise and lower the door a few times to distribute the lubricant. (If your door has nylon rollers, don't apply oil or they will slip).
Storm Windows: If you've been enjoying opening your windows this summer, be sure to close the storm windows before cold weather arrives. If your home has removable screens, this is the time to take them down, clean and store them, and put up your storm windows for the winter. You can also install plastic window insulation kits on the inside of your windows to make them more energy efficient during cold weather.
If the late-winter blues have you begging for spring, try bringing some spring-flowering branches indoors for a bit of early color. Here are some tips for successfully forcing spring branches to bloom early in your house.