10 Maintenance Tips to Get Ready for the Fall

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties DC AB15253

It's that time of the year.  The first cool breezes are waking us up in the morning and promising a change of season.  No one says that you have to start cleaning around your house, but doesn't it make sense? Winter will be here soon with its chilling blasts and damaging effects.   Better get your home ready!  Here are some great suggestions for do it yourself home maintenance projects. 

Gutter Cleaning

This is an obvious home maintenance project for the fall.   An old plastic spatula makes a great tool for cleaning debris from gutters. It doesn't scratch up the gutter, and you can cut it to fit gutter contours with snips. Grime wipes right off the spatula too, making cleanup a breeze. Don't feel like putting in that much elbow grease? 

Straighten Your Gutters

Ice coming off your roof can bend the spikes that secure your gutters to the fascia board. One simple way to straighten them without removing them is to use a 2-ft. length of angle iron and a link of heavy metal chain. The angle iron and chain link provide sufficient leverage to straighten the spike and pull the gutter back into alignment. 

Clean Your Downspouts

This is an ongoing fall chore that you shouldn't overlook — clean all those wet autumn leaves from gutter spouts before the blockages damage your gutters. Your plumber's snake is a great tool for pulling clumps of wet leaves out of clogged downspouts. 

Check Your Smoke Detectors

With furnaces turned on, the windows closed and portable heaters humming along, fall is a great time to make sure your smoke and CO detectors are working. Check batteries and expiration dates.  The new sealed smoke detectors are good for 10 years, and CO detectors last about six years.  You can order packs of three at Costco for less than a single one costs at your local hardware store.  

Water Your Lawn Even in the Fall

Your lawn needs water in autumn, even though the leaves are changing, the growing season is winding down and your grass isn't growing as fast. Fall watering helps your lawn recover from summer stress and gain strength for the winter ahead. Also, if you fertilize in the fall, watering is necessary for the fertilizer to dissolve and soak into the ground where it's needed. So don't put your hoses or sprinklers away until the ground starts to freeze — your fall grass still needs the water.

Fertilize in the Fall

If you want the best lawn in town, fertilize three or four times a year. But if you only want to fertilize once a year, you still can have a great lawn if you fertilize in the fall. Choose a fertilizer that's labeled 4-1-2. (Those numbers refer to the percentages of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the fertilizer.) Better yet, ask an expert at a garden center for advice about the best fertilizer blend for your fall grass type and local soil conditions. Apply the fertilizer about three weeks before the last mowing of the season. Fertilizing in the fall provides energy and nutrients for the grass roots as they multiply in cooler weather before the grass goes dormant. The roots store food for the winter as well, which gives the grass an initial growth spurt when it emerges from dormancy in the spring.

Aerate the Soil

Aerating simply means making holes in the ground by removing plugs of soil. And it's the single most important task you can perform to maintain a healthy lawn.   It relieves compaction caused by foot traffic and creates extra pore space in the soil, allowing air, nutrients and water to enter. All of that helps roots to thrive. Aerate your lawn at least once a year, preferably in the fall. Or do it twice or even three times each year if you can. You can rent a lawn aerator at any home and garden equipment rental store. Be sure to get one that actually removes plugs of soil rather than one that just pokes holes in the ground.

Clean Out Your Window Wells and Put a Cover on Them

If you've never had a problem with water in a window well, you may not think to clean it out.  One homeowner in Washington DC recently learned a hard lesson.  After an average rainfall, not even a heavy downpour, a clogged gutter dumped a lot of water next to his house and into his window well. The leaves in the well matted down under all the rain, preventing drainage, and the water level rose higher and higher until the pressure broke the basement windows. Gallons and gallons of water poured into the basement, ruining everything in sight. The frosting on this cake is that some insurance companies don't provide coverage for that type of flood.  So.... keep window wells clean with a cover, available at home centers.  Be sure to measure your window wells before you head off to Home Depot.   Not all window wells are created equal - as I recently found out.  

Clean and Winterize Your Gas Grill

To me one of the best things about having a gas grill is that you can pop out of your house even in the dead of winter, turn the gas on and cook a delicious dinner.  However, freezing over your steak in January isn't for everyone.  If you're not a winter griller, now's the time to pack away your grill before it's covered with a foot of snow. In addition to giving your grill a thorough cleaning to remove grease and food scraps, take these steps so you are ready to start grilling again next spring.

Shut off the gas at the LP tank, unfasten the burner, slip the gas tubes off the gas lines and lift out the unit. Coat the burners and other metal parts with cooking oil to repel moisture that can build up over the winter and to prevent rust. Then wrap the burner unit in a plastic bag to keep spiders and insects from nesting in the gas tubes during the winter. This is a common problem that can make for balky starts, uneven flames or even a one-alarm fire the next time you light your grill.

If you're storing your grill outside during the winter, just keep the propane tank connected (but shut off) and put a protective cover over the entire grill when you're done cleaning it. If you're storing the grill indoors, don't bring the tank inside, even into the garage or a storage shed. A small gas leak can cause a huge explosion if the tank is stored in an enclosed space. Instead, disconnect the tank and store it outside in an upright position away from dryer and furnace vents and children's play areas. Tape a plastic bag over the grill's gas line opening to prevent insects from nesting.

Change Your Furnace Filter

Changing your filter is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your furnace in good shape. If you haven't changed it in a while, make sure you have a fresh one before your turn your furnace on for the first time.  Better yet, go online and find one of those services that sends you a new filter each month.  The filter will arrive and you will change the filter like clockwork. 

If all this sounds like too much work and suddenly a condo sounds like a better idea, then you should definitely call the Bethesda Condo Queen to start your search.  Whether you are looking for a new condo in Bethesda or anywhere in the DC metro area - or a new single family home or townhouse, just give us a call at 240-401-5577 or email us at Lise@lisehowe.com.  We are looking forward to talking with you! 

Comments (22)

Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

What a fantastic list, Lise. Fall is still a bit away here in Charlotte... so I haven't focused on fall maintenance tips (yet).

Sep 05, 2021 07:49 AM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

Lynnea Miller - I saw a longer list which included tuning up your snow blower and marking your walkways so you can see them in the snow

Sep 05, 2021 08:05 AM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

Nina Hollander, Broker - the lovely thing is that the seasons come and the seasons go! 

Sep 05, 2021 08:05 AM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

Joan Cox - I am ready for the fall to come - it is time to be done with summer! 

Sep 05, 2021 08:06 AM
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


We have had a cool summer that feels like fall.  These are great tips for home maintenance.  Wishing you a delightful week ahead, and I hope you are taking tomorrow off.  A

Sep 05, 2021 08:41 AM
John Pusa
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Crest - Glendale, CA
Your All Time Realtor With Exceptional Service

Hello Lise Howe these are very good helpful list of maintenance tips to get ready for the Fall.

Sep 05, 2021 09:56 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi Lise - these are all important.  With respect to lawns its even better to seed, fertilize and water in the fall.

Sep 05, 2021 10:32 AM
Mark Don McInnes, Sandpoint-Idaho
Sandpoint Realty LLC - Sandpoint, ID
North Idaho Real Estate - 208-255.6227

Lisa, these are some great tips.  Was not aware of the fertilizer during fall.  And I am afraid the ole grill works thru winter as well as summer.  Gots to have that grilled steak from time to time.  M

Sep 05, 2021 11:21 AM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello Lise, Gutter are clean but will have to be clean again in a month and maybe after that.


Sep 05, 2021 11:28 AM
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Hi Lise- hard to believe it but yes it's time for many to prepare for the Fall and then Winter weather. I learned all about winterizing a home when we lived in Leesburg, VA. 

Sep 05, 2021 06:53 PM
James Dray
Fathom Realty - Bentonville, AR
Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results

Morning Lise.

Well there you go, reminding me of the cold that will soon grip my area.  While I did not want to hear it, I know its coming

Sep 06, 2021 12:31 AM
Brian England
Vacasa - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

These are really good tips and all homeowners in the area should listen to what the Bethesda Condo Queen has to say!

Sep 06, 2021 06:18 AM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

Brian England - Thanks for the vote of confidence!  Have a great week! 

Sep 06, 2021 08:01 AM
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

This is timely advice to share. I hope you are enjoying the holiday weekend.

Sep 06, 2021 08:18 AM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Lise Howe - this is the perfect time of the year to tackle all those home maintenance repairs and cleaning projects. Preventative maintenance is a necessity and costs so little compared to what major damage can cause. This is a wonderful blog post and it means so much when people take care of their properties.

Sep 06, 2021 08:47 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

Great tips although I did giggle because in San Diego, so many homes do not have rain gutters due to little rain fall and many now use artificial turf or desert-scape (no lawn) to cutback on water usage. Design a great week!

Sep 07, 2021 06:00 AM
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Good Tuesday morning, Lise.

I hope you had an outstanding holiday weekend.

Sep 07, 2021 07:26 AM
Lawrence "Larry" & Sheila Agranoff. Cell: 631-805-4400
The Top Team @ Charles Rutenberg Realty 255 Executive Dr, Plainview NY 11803 - Plainview, NY
Long Island Condo and Home Specialists

Oh yes Lise, that gutter cleaning chore. Larry had the tall ladder out the other day and cleaned them out right before a heavy rainstorm!

Sep 08, 2021 07:08 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Lise, I need to get this post out when I get back from vacation, you have some GREAT tips.

Sep 13, 2021 06:09 AM
Mark Don McInnes, Sandpoint-Idaho
Sandpoint Realty LLC - Sandpoint, ID
North Idaho Real Estate - 208-255.6227

Top of the morning Lise.  In North Idaho if we do have rain gutters it is best to remove them.  Otherwise snow and ice will take their toll.  Mark

Sep 19, 2021 09:09 AM