Seasonal Maintenance Tips and Tricks

You can feel it every morning. Fall is in the air.  



Fall and winter maintenance is one of those things that everyone knows they should do, but it is often difficult to find time or energy to get done right.  



There are nice-to-do maintenance items and the must-do items – This month, we’ll address the must-dos that help prevent damage to your home and cover a few of the nice-to-dos, as well. Remember: if just reading these steps seems overwhelming, know you can always call Ace Handyman Services and we’ll tackle them for you. Click on this link, enter your zip code and get in touch with us to get the help you need: 

https://www.acehandymanservices.com  

Yards

Not many homeowners enjoy sacrificing a beautiful fall weekend to rake, clean gutters and do a full fall yard cleanup, but it is truly necessary. The importance of clearing debris away from your yard before a deep freeze or snowfall hits is pivotal for your backyard oasis to come back early and healthy next spring.   



Here are some Craftsmen-Approved lists that can make your end-of-season maintenance chores go faster and smoother. And always remember, if these tasks seem too daunting, or you’re too busy to get them done, give your local Ace Handyman Services a call and we can take care of your seasonal cleanup for you.  

MUST DO: Leaf Removal  

Grass won’t tolerate the thick layers of leaves or pine needles that start piling up when the fall breezes come through. If you want a healthy and lush lawn next year, you need to break out the rake. Leaving a thick layer of fallen leaves on top of your lawn prevents sunshine from reaching the turf and it provides a cozy area for mold, bacteria, pests, and weed seeds. If you don’t deal with the leaves at all, come spring your lawn will be patchy, and you’ll be looking at more work to get it healthy. 



FIRST: Care for yourself

To begin, ensuring you have the right tools to execute this task can make the process more efficient. As simple as it sounds, a short rake equals an aching back. Make sure your rake handle is long enough to prevent unnecessary and constant bending over. Make sure the handle is either cushioned or well-painted to avoid splinters and blisters. Ace Hardware has what you need. 



NEXT: Save time

Most homeowners find that a leaf blower is a big help. Ace Hardware has lots of choices, from cordless to electric; either will make the task go faster and more efficiently. If possible, team up, with one person on the rake and the other on the blower. You might be surprised at how much more quickly you’ll be finished – for most, it’s three times as fast. 

To find the right tools, head to your local Ace Hardware and check out their selection of rakes and leaf blowers: 

Rakes: https://www.acehardware.com/departments/lawn-and-garden/gardening-tools/rakes  

Leaf Blowers: https://www.acehardware.com/departments/lawn-and-garden/outdoor-power-equipment/leaf-blowers 



  • As you begin to rake, be efficient – use quick, small reaching movements to drag the leaves. 
  • Create small piles (around a larger yard) so you avoid having one large pile that will be difficult to move later. 
  • Once you have your leaves in piles, rake them onto a tarp to easily move the piled leaves to where you want them.  
  • For the lucky folks who don’t have a lot of leaves in their yard, these can be mowed and mulched, adding nutrients to the soil. 


PRO TIP: To speed up the raking, using a leaf mulching vacuum makes the job go even more quickly and is easier on your back. It also saves on trash bags and helps the environment.  The mulch can be used in your landscaping or garden. 

MUST DO: Gutter Cleaning

It’s time to look up now – and get out the ladder 



FIRST: Care for yourself

Fall leaves don’t all end up on the ground. So, it’s time to get on the ladder. Make sure you have the right one for the job; an extension ladder is probably the safest, most appropriate for the job.  



In the US last year, more than 164,000 people ended up in emergency rooms from ladder falls. Ask yourself: should you invest in an extension ladder, or call Ace Handyman Services and have a professional Craftsman tackle the job for you? 



Another safety measure you must take is wearing a protective set of work gloves. These will protect your hands from any sharp edges on the gutters or any hazardous debris that may have ended up in your gutters. There are many options you can choose from at your local Ace Hardware:  https://www.acehardware.com/departments/tools/workwear-and-safety-gear/work-gloves . 



Leaves, water, and debris sitting in your gutters can freeze when the colder weather moves in, causing backups and additional weight that can cause wear and tear, as well as pulling your gutters down. Gutter cleaning is not difficult, it’s just risky – if your gutters are hard to reach or you don’t feel comfortable on a ladder, book one of our Multi-Skilled Craftsmen to handle the job.  



  • Safety is the most important aspect of cleaning your gutters. Make sure someone knows you’re up on the ladder. Better yet, have them with you, holding it secure from the lower steps. 
  • Most falls are a result of “overreaching.” Take the time to continually move your extension ladder to keep your center of gravity over the ladder, and not out to the side, where you put yourself at greater risk. 


NEXT: Get the leaves out and make certain water flows freely

  • Once safely up on the ladder, start removing debris from the gutters (use your gloved hands to scoop out the debris)  
  • Finally, take a garden hose and flush the water through the gutters to remove lingering debris and to ensure water flows freely out the downspout, away from your foundation. 


By cleaning your gutters and executing proper maintenance, they can last up to 30 years. Clogged gutters cause significant damage to homes that results in major, costly home repair. 



PRO TIP: Do not forget about the downspouts! If these are clogged, you still have a big problem. It may be necessary to disconnect them to access the jam that is typically at an elbow and to remove any additional lodged materials.



PRO TIP: The purpose of gutters is to get drainage far from your house and foundation. So in addition to water flow, make sure no gutter sections are damaged and no pieces are missing, including the extensions at the bottom that divert water away from your home’s foundation.

MUST DO: Clearing Out Sprinkler System Lines

As colder temperatures set in, you’ll need to blow out your sprinkler system, to prevent frozen water from causing serious damage.  



Here are the steps to ensure your sprinkler system is properly winterized: 

  • Shut down/turn off the timer/so that it stops cycling 
  • Find the main water supply valve and shut it off 
  • Find the spigot closest to the manifold 
  • Hook up air hose adapter 
  • Hook up the air hose from your compressor 
  • Adjust compressor to 80 psi (minimum) and build up pressure 
  • Manually open the zone valve for the zone you are on 
  • Let the air run to force the water out – you will see when the the water stops running 
  • Close that zone valve 
  • Move on to the next zone and repeat, until all zones are clear of water 
  • Drain the back flow preventer
  • Shut down/turn off the timer/so that it stops cycling 
  • Find the main water supply valve and shut it off 
  • Find the spigot closest to the manifold 
  • Hook up air hose adapter 
  • Hook up the air hose from your compressor 
  • Adjust compressor to 80 psi (minimum) and build up pressure 
  • Manually open the zone valve for the zone you are on 
  • Let the air run to force the water out – you will see when the the water stops running 
  • Close that zone valve 
  • Move on to the next zone and repeat, until all zones are clear of water 
  • Drain the back flow preventer  
  • (if this list is overwhelming, call Ace Handman Services and we’ll help you with that!) 


PRO TIP: The backflow preventer is a vital part of the system and is very expensive to replace so it is worth the extra steps to remove the vent cap dome and diaphragm below to make sure you break the vacuum seal and all water has drained from the device. 

NICE TO DO: Fertilize Your Lawn

Once your lawn is leaf free, this is a great time to care for your grass—so by next spring it’s the greenest in the neighborhood. Fall’s cooler temperatures and morning dew provide the perfect weather to fertilize your lawn to regain its strength from that summer heat.  



Jessica, Brand Ambassador at Scotts® says, “Fall is the best time to fertilize as it helps your lawn develop a stronger root system over the winter months for a thicker, more vigorous lawn the following spring. Watering is optional [after fertilizing], but it will activate the fertilizer and begin the feeding process. You can simply wait until the next rainfall unless your daytime temperatures will exceed 85 degrees. If temperatures are extremely high, we do recommend watering immediately after application.”  



You can find Scotts fertilizer, and more options, at your local Ace Hardware:  https://www.acehardware.com/departments/lawn-and-garden/scotts/scotts-lawn-fertilizer  



PRO TIP:  If you can time spreading the fertilizer just before a rain or snow fall, that can yield best results, ensuring little blows away or concerns of pets or kids in the yard. Also using a quality spreader is key to providing an accurate and even coat.  

NICE TO DO: Garden Maintenance

Caring for your garden now will make a huge difference next spring. Before the ground gets too hard from the colder temperatures, remove weeds and debris. This will deter insects from creating a home in your garden throughout the winter. If you have perennials throughout your garden, make sure you cut back all the dead growth to give the plant a fresh start for the following spring.  



Just reading these must-dos and nice-to-do list can make any homeowner feel overwhelmed. Fall and winter maintenance is an important seasonal task for any home, whether it be in the coldest zones in the northern US or even down in Texas, where hard freezes occurred in 2020, resulting $130 billion in damage.   



We want to do all we can to help you avoid putting these maintenance steps off, either by assisting you in doing some of these things yourself or by picking up the phone and calling Ace Handyman Services – we are here for our neighbors so you can have a worry-free changing of the season. We can help you with that!