Fall chore checklist

It's time to blow our your sprinkler systems, winterize your evaporative coolers and get your furnances ready for the cold

It’s fall, and there’s a short list of household chores that can’t be put off much longer without consequences in the spring.

If you have irrigation water and a sprinkler system, schedule or plan to blow out your sprinklers using an air compressor near the time when the ditch water stops flowing.

Most homeowners can blow out their systems before the water disappears, although if someone has a system that can’t be isolated from the communal irrigation water, they should wait until the irrigation water stops flowing.

Redlands Irrigation will shut the water off on Oct. 18; Orchard Mesa, Palisade and Mesa County will shut off the water on Oct. 29, Grand Valley Water Users will shut the water off Oct. 25 for urban users and sometime in early November for agricultural users, and Grand Valley Irrigation will shut down the week of Nov. 1. Those who rely on tap water for sprinkler systems also need to blow out sprinklers.

Although the soil generally remains above 40 degrees until sometime in November, the average killing frost here in the Grand Valley is Oct. 25.

Those who want to know without a doubt that their pipes won’t freeze should blow out sprinklers before that date; those who want to live a little on the edge and trust that we won’t get a sudden Arctic blast in early November can wait until later.

Some homeowners prefer to blow out their own sprinklers with a small air compressor, while others prefer to pay someone else to take care of it. Check the service directory in the Daily Sentinel Classified section to find someone with the correct equipment; there are usually 10 – 15 different lawn care maintenance companies advertising their services.

The advantage to hiring someone with a large compressor is a matter of time. It may take half a day for a homeowner with a small compressor to blow out the sprinkler system, whereas it may take only half an hour for someone with the right equipment.

Spending the money to make sure it’s done properly is cost effective when compared to the cost of fixing broken pipes and sprinklers next spring.

“I had a lot of pipes to fix this spring, from people who didn’t do it right,” said Dan Smith, owner of Dan’s Lawn & Handyman Service.

While you’re outside puttering on the lawn, remember to fertilize one more time before winter.

“After the middle of October, people should fertilize heavily with nitrogen,” said Susan Rose with the CSU Tri-River Extension Office.  “A late season fertilization program really works, homeowners can apply up to two pounds per thousand square feet, twice the strength it says on the bag. We have information at the office for homeowners.”

For homeowners with evaporative cooling systems, it’s essential to winterize the swamp cooler. Although heating and cooling companies like Comfort Air are happy to come out and perform the chore for homeowners and combine it with an inspection of the furnace as part of an energy savings maintenance agreement, maintenance on a swamp cooler isn’t rocket science. It does involve climbing up on the roof, however, so paying someone else to do it might be a good option for the less nimble.

After disconnecting the water lines at the water source and the cooler, homeowners need to blow through the line to make sure no water remains. If there is any water left in a copper water line, the line may burst during the winter, even if the line is in a crawl space.

Kari Fennell with Comfort Air says to be sure and cover the rooftop unit with a heavy canvas cover and put a cover on the drop in the house, too.

Air-conditioners, on the other hand, need only be disconnected to prevent them from accidentally being turned on in the winter. It’s not necessary to cover the unit, unless there is a potential for water and ice to build up on top of the compressor.

This is a good time to get your furnace or boiler serviced by a professional. A yearly service not only helps the heating system perform at an optimum level, it’s also a good way to spot potential problems before they malfunction in the middle of a December snowstorm with a houseful of guests.

This is a good time of year to check and change the filter on your furnace. Filters should be changed whenever they get dirty, regardless of how long the filter is supposed to last.

“Filters may need changing every month or every two months,” said Fennell. Leaving a dirty filter in place could reduce the air quality in the house and it could also wear out the motor on the furnace.

If you find yourself up on the roof putting the cover on your swamp cooler, don’t forget to clean out the gutters. In fact, you might need to make a special trip up a ladder to clean out the gutters after the leaves are completely fallen to make sure you get them all. Clogged gutters can cause water damage to the outside of the house and in some cases, can lead to water damage inside the home, as well.

Cleaning the garage, washing windows or touching up the trim can all be put off for another day, but the chores above need to get done before the freezing weather arrives. If your schedule’s too busy, look for help from the professionals advertising in this section or in the Daily Sentinel Classified Service Directory.

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