Even if the last bout of spring cleaning is still a vivid memory, homeowners heading into fall have three end-of-summer cleaning projects to contend with. What are they, and why could it spell disaster if they are left undone?
1. Clean the furnace (and call a professional for a more intricate service option). It might still be balmy outside, but the weather is sure to turn cold in just a few short weeks. Get the heater ready for winter use by cleaning around the appliance, vacuuming up cobwebs, and ensuring that nobody used the area around the heater as storage for toys. If the heating system calls for air filters, it is time to put a clean one in and have a few spare ones as backup. Now is also the time to call a heating and air-conditioning professional for the more intricate cleaning and maintenance checks. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star experts suggest an annual inspection of gas connections, gas pressure measurements, and burner cleanliness.
2. Have the fireplace inspected (and cleaned, if needed). The Chimney Safety Institute of America warns that homeowners should have chimneys, fireplaces, and vents inspected once a year . Homeowners who didn't address this during spring cleaning should do so in fall before cold weather arrives. Even if the fireplace burns gas, there is still the chance that a leftover bird nest or some leaf debris clogs the chimney. In addition, the professional doing the inspection will provide the invaluable service of ensuring that the fireplace -- while in use -- does not allow dangerous levels of carbon monoxide to enter the home.
3. Retire the gardening tools for the season. Excluding those who reside in places where mowing the grass is a year-round preoccupation, homeowners should prepare their gardening tools for a season of rest. Clean and oil pruning shears and other blade tools. Apply linseed oil to the wood handles of shovels and rakes. Consumer Reports urges the hobbyist gardener with a gasoline-powered mower to add some stabilizer to the gardening tool's fuel tank and then "let the engine run until fuel runs out." This is also the time to cycle a bit of oil through the system, and replace or clean any engine filters. Also consider getting any blades sharpened so they are ready for use when you retrieve them again in the spring.