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Sprucing up for fall

Get these chores out of the way before holdiay season sneaks up on you

Posted: September 19, 2008 9:06 p.m.
Updated: November 21, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Green applies putty to the sink drain.

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So, we've had a small break in the heat lately, and whether it was a result of the changing seasons or only a temporary invasion from the beach, there was a hint of cool fall in the air. With that as a nudge, and with the calendar indicating that autumn begins Monday, it's really time to think about your fall home chores. Those chores await inside and outside your home and include both maintenance and cleaning.

Fall cleaning
You will probably have no trouble remembering the usual fall cleaning chores, including washing your windows inside and out, vacuuming and cleaning your bedding, but there are many others that a little cruise on the Internet will apprise you of. For example, when was the last time you cleaned the lint out of your clothes dryer hose? When, if ever, have you cleaned the dust out of the light-diffusing bowls on your light fixtures? And you probably haven't cleaned the lint from your refrigerator's coils in a long time.

Our chore checklist will give you a good starting point for interior and exterior cleaning projects, with a few maintenance projects tossed in. But remember, there are many, many others.

Fall maintenance
When it comes to maintenance around your home, who better to offer advice than someone who does this kind of thing for a living? Claes (pronounced "Klaus") Green is the general manager of 24 Hour Handyman Service. Born is Sweden, he came to the United States in 1994, and to the SCV in April 2006. He said that being handy around the house was always in the family.

"My dad was handy doing everything, and I learned from him," Green said.

Green took a look at our chores list and offered his thoughts.

On storing patio furniture - "You can buy plastic storage sheds that are very sturdy and easy to clean," Green said. You can store your patio furniture and umbrellas there.

On touching up trim paint - Green said that touching up paint can save you a lot of money. "Otherwise you might have to replace the wood," he said. Preparation includes a light sanding and, sometimes caulking. He noted that it's good to clean off the dust that collects on outdoor wood, as this dust helps attract and hold moisture. You can use high pressure spray from your garden hose to wash off the dust.

About external doors - Green felt it is good to inspect your wooden doors and perform necessary maintenance before the wood starts to crack. "If you wait too long you have to scrape and varnish the whole door."

Green noted that the screws in door hinges often become loose. Sometimes they can't be tightened because the wood they bite into is damaged. In such cases he recommends using longer replacement screws that can get a good bite into new wood.

For wood that is really bad, he offered a special trick that a locksmith taught him. You drill out the wood and glue-in a golf tee. When the glue has set you cut off the excess tee and drill it for a new screw hole.

On exterior windows - Green said that one of the biggest problems with cleaning exterior windows is the scale that builds up on them from the water oversprayed by sprinklers. "It's almost impossible to get off," he said, and explained that preventing the overspray in the first place is better than trying to clean the windows of scale later.

In the SCV professional window washers will often use commercial lime scale removing products to help rid windows of scale.

Other window issues include possible leaks. You can look for these when you are washing the windows. It's best to fix the problem now, before the rains come.

Hoses - Green said that freezing isn't a big problem with garden hoses in the SCV, but damage caused by sunlight is. This sun damage will lead to weak spots and kinks, followed by leaks. He recommends hoses be wound up in reel houses and protected from the sun.

Gutters - Green said that keeping your rain gutters clean and free of leaves is a very important fall and winter task.

"Even if you don't have big trees, your neighbor might," he said. He added that the sand washing into the gutters from asphalt shingles also needs to be cleaned out. And don't forget the downspout. "When the downspout clogs up, you have water running everywhere - down walls and down your neck."

Green said that special hook-shaped extensions are available for your garden hose. Using one of these you can wash out your gutters while you stand safely on the ground.

Chimneys - Green said that, if you burn a lot of wood in your fireplace, it is a good idea to hire a chimney service to clean out the accumulated soot, yearly at least.

HVAC system - "Do a filter change for your HVAC as recommended," Green said. He said that the filters usually have specifications on them on how often they should be replaced.

Water heater drain - "Remember to turn off the flame before draining your water heater," Green said, "And keep it off until the tank has filled up again."

Smoke detectors - "When the time changes, check the batteries in your smoke alarms."

Plumbing leaks-"Check the plumbing under sinks for leaks. Water can damage your framing and drywall."

Tile grout - Green said that, especially in high-traffic areas, use grout sealer to prevent dirt from working its way into the grout. Around shower pans and sinks you can use a good caulk to prevent leaks. "You don't want water to get under the tiles."

Install ceiling fans - Green noted that using ceiling fans can lower your energy bills in summer or winter. But remember to reverse their direction for winter.

Adjust air vents - Because warm air rises, you should open your downstairs heater vents wider than those upstairs during the winter.

Whatever maintenance you attempt, safety is your first concern and your ability to do the job well is your second.

While Green can do most anything, he knows his own limits.

"I usually go to a job site, take a look, and see if it is something I can complete without doing any damage," he said.
And it all has to be within reach of a six-foot A-frame ladder.

You can contact Claes Green at 24 Hour Handyman Service at (661) 296-0806 or HandymanService24Hours@Yahoo.com.

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