September Weekend Projects: Tips on Preparing for the Fall

Get your home in tip top shape for the Fall season

As summer turns to Fall, so begins the Goldilocks Season for home improvement.  It's not too hot and not too cold--it's just right, so September is the time to get lots of home improvement projects done around the house!

Weekend #1: Enjoy Labor Day.  Over 100 years ago the first Labor Day was observed in the United States of America. Labor Day was a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well being of our country. While there is some doubt as to who had this great idea, many believe that it was Peter J. McGuire, the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor. According to the Department of Labor, Peter J. McGuire felt we should have a day to honor those who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.

Therefore, we here at the Money Pit think this is the perfect weekend for all home improvement enthusiasts who have bravely created the environment they love to take this last weekend of summer to relax and enjoy the day. Have a restful weekend. Fall is right around the corner, and you know what that means. Lots of home improvement projects this September!

September Weekend Projects


Weekend #2:  Water heater maintenance. 
Maintenance to your hot water this September weekend will have you enjoying hot showers all winter long. Regardless if you have a gas or electric water heater, they develop a build up of sediment at the bottom of the tank. The buildup can cause your water heater to operate inefficiently and shorten the life span of the water heater. To keep the water heater working properly you should drain two gallons of water from the tank twice a year. It is very important that when you are doing this maintenance that you make sure the water heater is turned off and that you protect yourself from a potential burn. Wear thick gloves, long sleeves, and safety goggles. Do not touch the water draining out of the tank. Turn the water heater off for one hour before you begin to reduce the temperature of the water in the tank. 

There are two valves on your water heater.  The one near the top is a safety valve that releases pressure--DON'T TOUCH IT. The one near the bottom is for draining and the only one that should be opened for this purpose. Connect a hose to the water heater drain valve and set it to drain into a sink, or outside where the hot water can not hurt anyone. Once the hose is safely in place, turn counter clockwise to open the drain. Remember, the water is going to be very hot!  In a few gallons, the water will become clear as the sediment washes out. Close the valve by turning clockwise and make sure you close it completely so there are no drips. Turn the water heater back on and continue enjoying your hot water.

Weekend #3: Change furnace filters.  We are about to enter the heating season, and changing your furnace filters is one of those September projects that will help to keep your family healthy all winter long. Once the cold winter weather rolls around, nothing is nicer than enjoying your family indoors while playing games and hanging out. That is, all great except the more time you spend indoors the more susceptible you are to indoor allergens. To breathe easy and sneeze less, it is very important to change your furnace filter regularly. 

The furnace filter will be located in the main return grill near the furnace or inside the furnace near the blower. Remove the old filter and replace it with the most efficient model you can find for your system. The more efficient the furnace filter is, the more particulates it will remove from the air. Install the new filter by making sure the arrow, which indicates air flow, points toward the blower. The furnace filter should be changed every month; or for a more long term solution, install a whole house air cleaner like Aprilaire's Model 5000 Electronic Air Cleaner, which was ranked tops by Consumer Reports for the last three years.

Weekend #4: Clean, naturally.  Vinegar and water is a great natural cleanser that will work on windows and wood floors. A mix of salt and baking soda makes a great scouring cleanser. For a natural drain cleaner, try pouring ½ cup baking soda followed by ½ cup vinegar down the drain; after 20 minutes pour boiling water down to clear things up. Test this natural furniture polish in hidden area just to be safe, but olive oil and lemon juice do a great job of polishing furniture. Once the house is sparkling clean, add rich autumn toned throw blankets and pillows to your seating, and place brown and orange tone glass candle holders to get you into the spirit of the season. 

Bonus Project!  The winter season can be very harsh on flower beds that are getting their rest in preparation to bloom for you come springtime. Regardless of the seasonal temperature differences in your part of the country, flower beds should be mulched all year. Mulch helps provide protection to the plantings, provides organic matter for the soil, and keeps moisture on the bed to continually nurture the garden. Spend this weekend working on your yard, so you can enjoy the beauty next spring.

If you live in a part of the United States where the fall and winter gets colder than others, you want to place a thicker layer of mulch during those seasons. All year round you should have about two to three layers of mulch. If the winter is really cold, go for four layers of mulch. 

As the leaves start to fall, be sure to clear them from the flower bed so they do not smother growing plantings or encourage rot growth. 

Finally, one last of the September projects is to fertilize your lawn before the ground becomes frozen and reseed any patchy areas. Protect the seedings with a layer of hay to encourage the taking of the seeds.