The end of September marks the start of fall. For your home, autumn is the beginning of attacks launched by weather and pests. Fall home maintenance ensures that the abode is up to par. In fact, following expert advice on these five must-do home and yard maintenance projects for this season can actually save you a good bit of cash.
1. Pave your driveway. You have meant to pave the driveway with asphalt ever since summer started. Vacation got in the way and now the end of September is looming large. Take advantage of Indian summer days and get the job done. The National Asphalt Pavement Association warns that you are quickly entering the territory where working with asphalt becomes too difficult to guarantee good results. The target air and surface temperatures should be 70 degrees Fahrenheit for an asphalt application.
2. Plant your trees. New Jersey's Chatham Township will have you know that a landscape of strategically placed trees has the potential to reduce your utility bills by as much as 50 percent. The Morton Arboretum's manager of plant production encourages you to make the trip to the nursery today, since fall is the premier time for planting "evergreen and deciduous trees, shrubs, perennials, and ornamental grasses, as well as spring bulbs." Giving the trees a head start in the still-warm and moist soil encourages root growth, even as the visible portions of the tree seem to be dormant. Come spring, your tree will be well established and healthy -- ready to produce a bounty of foliage.
3. Keep out fall pests. Crickets, centipedes, cockroaches, ants, and other insects are expanding their search for food, water, and a warm place to stay as the weather cools down. Unless you want to volunteer your home as an insect sanctuary, follow the advice of the experts at the University of Nebraska. They strongly suggest that you control the leaf litter and dying vegetation around your home, inspect the walls for cracks and caulk around doors and windows to close off possible entryways for insects.
4. Upgrade attic insulation. Could you pick out the appropriate type of attic insulation in a lineup? More importantly, do you know what kind of attic insulation you currently have in place? Since the answers to both questions are probably "no," visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star website for information on the recommended levels of insulation broken down by state and even county. Stay warm this winter without wasting money because of insufficient insulation. (While you are poking around the insulation, look for evidence of pest invasions, rot, and obstructed air vents.)
5. Caulk around doors and windows. Experts from the University of Illinois warn that fall may very well be the final opportunity for the homeowner to get the beadings of caulk laid down. Since caulking adheres best at temperatures well above 45 degrees to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, waiting until October may be a fool's bargain if you live in a cold climate. Add rain to the equation, and the end of September may truly be your final opportunity to caulk around windows and doors to keep warm air -- and cash savings -- in, while cold air stays out.