Homeowner Helpers: 3 early fall home maintenance tasks

Homeowner HelpersSummer is over (sorry, but it really is!), so it’s time to get on with those early fall home maintenance tasks.

We’ve lined up three that will make you happy that you took care of these things this fall.

Better yet, none of these jobs require special expertise.

Pack up the barbecue

Putting away a clean, protected barbecue means you’ll be ready to start sizzling steaks and burgers again next season with a problem-free appliance.

Once you’ve given the barbecue a thorough cleaning, including burning and scraping gunk off the grills and sweeping out the inside, coat the grills with a light coat of oil to prevent rust-inducing moisture from getting at them as temperatures fluctuate in the coming months.

Remove and oil the burner as well, wrapping it in a plastic or other protective material to stop spiders from nesting in the gas tubes, a common cause of faulty operation when you start barbecuing again.

Do not store the propane tank inside your garage or even your garden shed. An almost unnoticeable leak can cause an explosion in a small space. Instead, store it outside, covering the gas line with a bag to stop nesting insects.

Spread a little grass seed

Now is the time to get your lawn in shape for next season by spreading grass and clover seed over thin and bald patches.

“You probably have one or two weeks to get it down,” says Mike Ritchie of Ritchie Feed & Seed. “Grass seed needs about 15 degree Celsius in the air and ground to get going. The ground temperature is the more important one and it’s still warm from the summer.”

He notes that there’s also dew at this time of the year and usually a little more rain, so you don’t have to water the seed as much to get it to sprout.

“You need about three weeks to get it fully established so it can deal with the frost and the winter. So now is a good time.”

When you are picking up grass seed, don’t forget to ask for some Dutch clover. It thickens beautifully, fixes nitrogen in the soil, doesn’t grow high and provides food for bees and other pollinators. Your gardening centre will tell you how much clover seed you should spread.

When planting grass seed, first cut the lawn short then loosen the top quarter inch of soil and spread a little clean, black soil. Spread your seed evenly and tamp or roll it into the soil. Adding a little starter grass fertilizer gives the seed a boost. Water and wait for it to sprout.

It’s as simple as that.

More ideas on planting grass seed in the fall.

Get the snowblower ready for that first big dump

Before it gets too cold to work comfortably outside, bring your snowblower up to speed by oiling and greasing moving parts (your owner’s manual will tell you what needs to be done), changing the spark plug (consult your owner’s manual for the correct plug), touching up scratches and scrapes with fresh paint, and checking the air pressure in the tires.

You should also check belt tightness and adjust cables so they are taut.

Next item: gas. If you forgot to drain the gas or run your snowblower dry in the spring, you now have stale gas in the tank. That gas can foul your engine, so get it out by either draining the gas line or pumping out the tank with a siphon hose, available at retailers like Canadian Tire. Then refill the tank with fresh gas and start the snowblower to ensure it’s running smoothly.

The final step is taking care of the oil. If you didn’t change it last fall, do so now while it’s warm from running the engine and will flow easily. Again, your manual will tell you what kind of oil and how much you will need.

Take the used oil to a hazardous waste collection day or to one of the multiple drop-off sites around the city.

Tip: If your snowblower starts giving you grief this winter and you can’t find a solution in the owner’s manual, do a YouTube search for your make and model; someone has almost certainly made a helpful video.

Sources: familyhandyman.com, searshomeservices.com

Got a maintenance task you’re not sure how to do?
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