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Fall home maintenance tips: Start now

Pumpkins and mums: signs that it's time for fall home maintenanceOctober brings beautiful fall colors, Halloween pumpkins and changing weather. These are signs that it’s time for some fall home maintenance before winter arrives. Home improvement specialist Bob Vila has a to-do list for homeowners to complete before October ends.

1) Check your smoke detector batteries. Install new ones if needed. October is Fire Prevention Month, and it’s a good time to make sure you have a smoke detector installed on every floor. The Omaha Fire Department will install detectors for free. as will the Bellevue Fire Department. Also, test the batteries to make sure they’re still working.

2) Tuck in your lawn. Clean up fall leaves with a lawn mower to mulch them, or rake them up and add them to your compost pile. Add a thin layer of fertilizer to the grass to feed it over the winter. If the weather stays nice and you start right away, you might have time to reseed grass in the thin areas of your lawn.

3) Switch your ceiling fans. For winter, fans should turn clockwise so they push hot air down and help heat circulate better.

4) Inspect the fireplace. Repair chips or cracks. Make sure doors seal tightly. Clean the soot buildup, or call a professional chimney sweeper.

5) Prepare for snowy boots. Check your mudroom to see if you need added storage for boots, coats, hats and mittens. If you don’t have a mudroom, add a boot rack or extra mat in your entryways, and make room in the hall closet for bigger coats.

6) Clean your carpets. Not only will they look nicer for holiday entertaining, but clean carpets will mean better breathing for you and your family while the house is closed up.

7) Patch up paint that’s peeling. Those open spots are vulnerable to water damage, and it could cost much more to repair them in spring.

8) Insulate and seal. Caulk windows and trim doors with weather stripping to keep warm air in and cold air out. Check the attic to make sure it has enough insulation.

Once your to-do list is complete, don’t forget to decorate a pumpkin for Halloween! Carve it, paint it or leave it bare. Or, you can get out your power tools and drill a design. Have fun!

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