Tomorrow, September 23, marks the first day of the autumnal equinox, otherwise known as autumn. Typically we think of autumn—or fall—as the transition to winter. Our days will have fewer hours of sunlight and temperatures will get cooler. Vegetation that was once in full bloom dies back and leaves from trees turn bright colors and then fall to the ground.
Ironically winter wheat is being planted and farmers pray for the right balance of rain and snow to produce the best effects to kill weeds, provide erosion protection and give the soil strong organic material for good crops in the spring.
We’re not as agrarian as we used to be in southern Kansas. In today’s culture, we mark the change in seasons with back to school sales to buy warmer clothes and boots to prepare for cold, slushy days. Just as we’ve prepared our bodies for the changes to come, we also need to prepare the places in which we live for the cooler temperatures and blustery winds to come.
Most of these ideas can be done with little to no cost and without hiring professionals.
1. As gutters are filling with leaves that have fallen, be sure they are inspected and cleaned regularly. Inspect them to be sure they are not loose or broken off at curves or downspouts.
Also be sure they are clean from tree debris so water doesn’t get stuck and potentially freeze. Home improvement expert Bob Vila warns that water logged gutters can become heavy with frozen water and possibly break away from the house, resulting in costly repairs.
Sure, autumn doesn’t bring freezing temperatures, but why wait until it’s cold outside to do repairs?
2. Check your windows and door framing. Take a screwdriver and gently poke along the trim to ensure seals are tight and ready for the winter. Use caulk to fill in holes and replace wood that has rotted.
3. Does the coat your house is wearing (paint) look dreary? Fall is a great time to paint the exterior. The humidity is lower and the temperatures haven’t become too cold.
4. Inspect your roof. This might be a good time to call in an expert. He will know what to look for and can recommend a repair or total replacement. Check with your insurance company in case they will pay for any damage. You won’t want leaks around sunlights, pipes and chimneys to cause leaks in the middle of winter.
Remember that autumn is a transition time to winter.
5. Check along your house’s foundation outside. A great time to do this is when you update your garden beds. (See #8.) Are the walls bulging? Do you see obvious cracks? Small cracks can be covered with a concrete waterproof paint.
Also check inside for foundation issues. Do windows stick when you try to open or close them? Is there a crack in the flooring? Inspect periodically after applying the paint to make sure the cracks have not returned or have increased in size. For major damage, check with an expert.
Earthquakes have been reported in Kansas. Although they haven’t been severe, they might have been enough to cause damage.
6. Check your chimney. Again, an expert chimney sweep would be the one to call. Make sure everything is clean to prevent fires in the chimney or carbon monoxide poisoning.
7. Change filters in your furnace. The filter needs to remain clean so the full power of air can get through to help warm your house.
8. As you purchase pumpkins and corn stalks for decoration, this is a good time to check on your garden beds. Annuals will die after the first hard freeze, and perennials will appear to die as well. Mulch will provide warmth for perennials. The best time to apply is after that first hard frost. The Kansas State Research and Extension predicts that will be October 25 in Wichita. You have time, but that day will get here before we know it.
Autumn is a time of reflection and transition. Enjoy the cooler temperatures to the fullest.
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