We’ve even enjoyed a fleeting, but ever-so-lovely, “nip” in the air. And my sunglasses have stopped fogging up when I walk outside from an air-conditioned building. All the telltale signs are there, so I’m starting to believe that we might actually be on the cusp of autumn in Florida – to the extent that seasons change in the Sunshine State.

We’re fortunate that, unlike our neighbors up north, we don’t have to take on a lengthy laundry list of chores to prep our homes for fall – or, even worse, “winterize” our homes – but there are a few basic home maintenance tasks Florida homeowners should perform as we transition from summer’s blazing 90+ degree days to snowbird-friendly temperatures in the 70s.

Prep Your House for Cooler Weather

  • Florida’s rainy season puts your gutter cleaning to the test – and our soggy summer is followed by another gutter-busting time of year…fall’s falling foliage. It’s important for you not to “leaf” your home’s drainage system clogged – if the water is unable to flow smoothly through your gutter, it could leak into the ceiling and walls of your house, among other problems. If you’re reluctant to tackle this task yourself, consider contacting a roofing or siding contractor, or general handyman – but make sure the person you choose is appropriately insured! 
  • Just in case Jack Frost has plans for us this year, make sure your doors and windows are tightly sealed to keep him from nipping at your nose. A simple sheet of paper can help you test for drafts: close a door or window on a piece of paper; if the paper slides easily, you need to add some weather stripping or caulk to seal the gaps. Now’s also the time to have your furnace inspected for leaks and to make sure it’s working correctly. Don’t forget to change your furnace filters frequently to keep your furnace at peak operating efficiency.

Home Fire Safety Tips

  • Jack-o-lanterns, turkey fryers, Christmas lights, and trees – the upcoming months pose fire hazards a’ plenty. Before the merriment and frenzy of the holiday season begins, now's a great time to dust off your home fire safety plan: test (or install!) smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers and review your family's fire evacuation plan:
    • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: Replace the batteries and test by pressing the test button or holding a smoke source (like a blown-out candle) near the unit.
    • Fire extinguishers: Make sure it’s rated for all fire types (look for an A-B-C rating). Review the indicator on the pressure gauge to make sure the extinguisher is charged. Ensure that the lock pin is firmly in place and that the discharge nozzle is not clogged. Fire extinguishers should be replaced every six years.
    • Fire evacuation plan: Determine an exit path for every bedroom, and make provisions (rope ladders, etc.) for bedrooms that are not on the main floor of the home. Establish a location away from the house where everyone should meet.
  • Speaking of fire hazards: if you have a fireplace, check the chimney and flue for soot or creosote (a flammable by-product of burning wood) build-up. Check the flue for blockage and use a chimney to cap to prevent birds of a feather from flocking together (and building nests) at the top of your unprotected flue. You should also test the damper (the metal plate that opens and closes the flue just above the firebox) to make sure it’s working properly. It’s best to have a reputable chimney sweep clean and inspect your fireplace each year, to be on the safe side.

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Related Post:  How to Clean Your Home's Gutters

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