With summer retreating and seasons changing, September’s home improvement chores focus on getting your home ready for the cooler weather ahead. From servicing your HVAC system to keeping your fireplace in top shape, these home maintenance tasks will get you in the mood to relax with some hot apple cider and your favorite sweater.
So take advantage of these last warm, sunny days to tackle these important tasks in and around your home. Read on to find more, and for a printable list of September home maintenance tasks for your home.
To-Do #1: Service Heating and Cooling System
As the days get cooler, you may find yourself making that first switch of the thermostat from AC to heat. To make sure your heating system will keep you warm this winter, call in a licensed HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) professional to inspect and service the HVAC system in your home. In addition to changing your air filter, an HVAC professional can:
- Test the safety controls that help prevent fires.
- Clean the blower and motor and make sure they’re in good repair.
- Test the furnace burner, switches, and thermostat.
- Check the unit and ductwork for leaks.
You can also inspect the ductwork and seal ductwork cracks and leaks yourself. This is especially important if your ducts are in the attic, where they can accidentally get stepped on. Minor leaks can be sealed with special metallic duct sealing tape and duct mastic.
If your home doesn’t already have a programmable thermostat, now is a good time to have one installed or install it yourself.
A programmable thermostat can be set to automatically adjust your home’s temperature when you’re away or sleeping, which can save on both heating and cooling costs. For information about do-it-yourself installation, check out our video on Installing a Programmable Thermostat.
To-Do #2: Inspect and Repair Roof
With hurricane season in full swing, it’s important to inspect your roof regularly for damaged shingles and leaks. If you can access your attic, check under your roof during or just after a rainstorm to see if any water is entering your home. Pay particular attention around the chimney, where leaks are the most common.
Next, inspect your roof from the outside, either using a ladder to climb up on the roof or with binoculars from the ground. If you’re on the roof, sweep away any leaves and debris to prevent water or snow buildup and to get a better look at the condition of your roof.
Examine your shingles closely to see if any are missing, bent, loose, or broken. You can do basic DIY roof repairs yourself, or hire a roofing contractor to do them for you.
Inspect your chimney for loose or damaged flashing and missing mortar. Seal small cracks where the flashing meets the chimney with masonry caulk, and repair and reattach loose flashing with roofing cement.
Watch our video on How to Repair Leaking Chimney Flashing to find out more.
To-Do #3: Inspect and Clean Fireplace and Chimney
Cold weather’s coming, which means warming up next to a cozy fireplace is on the way! Before lighting a fire in your fireplace, it’s a good idea to have a chimney sweep inspect the fireplace and chimney and clean it if needed.
Make sure the chimney sweep is certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America. Even better, look for someone who’s a F.I.R.E. (Fireplace Investigation, Repair, and Education) Certified Inspector. That way you can feel confident the person is qualified to assess and repair both chimney and fireplace problems and also to spot potential fire dangers in and around the unit.
Fireplace inspections should be done every year, as well as when purchasing a home, especially if you don’t know the condition of the fireplace.
After performing the inspection, the chimney sweep will make recommendations for repair or cleaning. Generally, chimneys should be cleaned when the creosote buildup reaches 1/4″ or more.
To-Do #4: Trim Tree Limbs Near Roof and Chimney
In addition to inspecting and cleaning your fireplace and chimney, trim tree limbs growing close to it to prevent fires and chimney damage.
Make sure you have at least ten feet of clearance around all sides of the chimney flue.
Trim any branches growing near your roof, especially dead branches that overhang it. Not only are dead branches more flammable than live ones, but they’re also more likely to fall in a wind or snow storm and cause considerable damage to your roof, chimney, and gutters.
To-Do #5: Check Fire Extinguishers
Every home should be equipped with several ABC-rated fire extinguishers that are within easy reach of your fireplace and kitchen stove. Inspect your fire extinguishers so they’re ready in case you need them, checking to make sure:
- They’re easily visible and not blocked by any objects or furniture.
- Check the expiration date on the unit, and replace the fire extinguisher if it’s out of date.
- Inspect the pull pin and make sure the tamper seal is intact.
- If your fire extinguisher has a hose, inspect it for cracks or holes.
- Make sure the nozzle isn’t clogged, and clean out any dirt, spiderwebs, or grease.
- Look for outward signs of rust, corrosion, dents, or damage; and replace damaged fire extinguishers. Corrosion on the outside of the tank is usually a sign of a leak and should be replaced immediately.
- Look at the pressure gauge on dry chemical fire extinguishers to make sure it’s in the green or operable zone, and give the canister a shake to loosen the chemical before placing it back in its spot.
- CO2 extinguishers shouldn’t be shaken and need to be weighed in order to check the pressure. The unit should be labeled according to its weight (which corresponds to the pressure), with the most common sizes being 5, 10, 15, and 20 pounds.
To-Do #6: Cut and Stack Firewood
Enjoy the last warm days of the season by stocking up on firewood and splitting and stacking it neatly in your yard.
For the safest and best fires, and to reduce creosote buildup in your chimney, burn only hardwood logs that have been dried and aged for at least a year.
Not all fireplaces are created equal, so cut your firewood to a length that will easily fit inside your fireplace. Split it into manageable sizes, saving smaller pieces for kindling.
You can buy a rack to hold your firewood or stack it in old-fashioned cords. Whatever you choose, locate your woodpile away from your home to help prevent insects, rodents, and snakes from moving indoors for the winter.
Even though it’s often called a “woodpile,” make sure your firewood is stacked neatly and safely so that you don’t trip in the dark and it doesn’t fall over on a child.
You may also want to put a tarp over the stack to keep it dry and ready to use in all kinds of weather.
To-Do #7: Clean and Lubricate Garage Door
A neglected garage door can soon become jittery and noisy.
Give your garage door a little maintenance and cleaning this month so that your comings and goings won’t wake the neighbors.
Follow these steps:
- Give the door itself a good cleaning to remove grime and mildew from the summer’s heat and lawn chores.
- Use a rag to wipe dirt and debris out of the garage door tracks.
- Lightly lubricate the hinges, bearings, and springs with engine oil.
- If your door has metal rollers, you can also apply a little motor oil to them as well. If your door has nylon rollers, skip this step or else they may slip.
- Raise and lower the garage door a few times to distribute the lubrication, and you’re all set!