Fall to-do list, from planting to cleaning

Summer is nearly over, but that does not mean homeowners can rest on their laurels. Transitional seasons are an important time for homes and homeowners, so take care of these must-do tasks during the month ahead.

1. Dispose of old paint

When the garage starts to look more like a paint store than a place to park a car, it is time to discard some old cans of paint. Keeping leftover paint for minor touch-ups is a good idea, but paint does not last forever.

The lifespan of paint will vary by type and storage conditions, but if it is more than a few years old, it should probably go.

Check the label and with local government for disposal instructions before pitching any cans of paint in the garbage. Latex and oil-based paints can be returned year-round to participating local paint retailers in Oregon, and several local communities in the area hold hazardous waste recycling days each year.

Check out the Jackson County Recycling Directory at www.jcsmartworks.org/directory.html.

2. Give windows a thorough cleaning

The summer can be hard on windows, but with some cleaning solution, a little elbow grease and maybe a squeegee, they can look like new in no time. Windows are magnets for dirt, dust and pollen, and it is important to keep these from becoming caked on the window's exterior.

Clean windows are not only easier to see out of, but they also greatly enhance the home's curb appeal and keep the exterior looking clean and well maintained. Tip: Wash the west- and south-facing windows early in the morning before it gets too hot. It's much harder to get windows clean when the hot sun is beating on them.

3. Insulate pipes to prevent condensation

Insulation does more than keep pipes from bursting during the winter. It also keeps pipes from sweating during warm months. Cold-water pipes that are not insulated will produce condensation. These water droplets may seem insignificant, but they can damage ceilings and walls. If left unchecked, condensation can also lead to mold.

4. Start fall plantings

Fall is an ideal time for planting, so get outdoors and give that green thumb some exercise. Perennials that are put in the ground during the fall will get a head start on developing their root system, and they will also have fewer problems with pests and weeds.

Aim for having your plants in the ground six weeks before the first expected frost.

5. Winterize the lawnmower

Winterizing a lawnmower involves more than just hosing it off at the end of the season.

To properly winterize the mower, pour fuel stabilizer into the gas tank, check oil levels, inspect the spark plugs and air filter and ensure the blade is balanced and sharpened. If damage or problems are found, take it to a small-engine specialist for repairs.

Clint Briscoe writes for www.kudzu.com, a site that helps homeowners plan projects, solve problems and find highly rated contractors.

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