Ten-hut! At-ease season is over, soldier. You've had quite enough time to loll around since the kids went back to school. Now it's time to...

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Ten-hut! At-ease season is over, soldier.

You’ve had quite enough time to loll around since the kids went back to school.

Now it’s time to tackle your fall home work. March!


Go below. Check your crawlspace for standing water, mold or critters. Make sure it’s getting fresh air, and put down a vapor barrier if you don’t already have one.

• Outside investigation. Secure, replace and/or repaint any sad-looking siding or trim; replace damaged bricks; and repair damaged stucco. Also make sure your outdoor electrical receptacles are watertight.

The heat is (almost) on. Have your heating system inspected and serviced, and change the filters. Check pilot lights and burners, too.

• A clean sweep. Have your fireplace flue and liners cleaned to prevent creosote buildup. Wood-burning fireplaces and stoves should be inspected annually and cleaned and repaired as needed.

• Up-high upkeep. Clean your gutters and downspouts, and make sure they’re securely attached. Your roof should be watertight, too, with no missing or cracked shingles or tiles.

• Vent a little. Vacuum dust from vents, baseboard heaters and cold-air returns. (Consider hiring a pro for hard-to-reach ductwork.)

• While the weather is fair … paint inside while you can still leave the windows open — same for shampooing or replacing carpets.

• Insulation information. Insulate, weatherstrip and caulk before winter blows in. Replace old insulation with some made from recycled paper, glass or other recovered materials. Caulk exterior joints around windows, doors, utility-line entrances and vents.

Seals of approval. Got an asphalt driveway? Now’s the time to have it sealed.


• Fill in the blanks. Before the real rains dump on us, fill in any erosion in your yard, fertilize and reseed.

Branch out. Give big trees a checkup. If any are dying or diseased, have them removed now, before winds and rain (and maybe even snow) dismember them. Also trim tree limbs that are close to power lines or your roof.

• Bring ’em in. Clean and store tools, toys and outdoor furniture. Dip garden shears, weeders, pruners, spades and other hand tools in sand mixed with motor oil to clean and lubricate them before storing. (Keep propane tanks outside, though, covered with a plastic bag or tarp.)

• Jack-o’-lantern longevity. Make pumpkin pie, muffins and roasted seeds from your pumpkin’s innards. After Halloween, cut up ole Jack before he spoils, and toss him in the compost bin.

• Pull-ups. Uproot dead potted annuals; throw out the soil; and store the pots in a shed, garage or basement.

• Focus on flowers. Deadhead perennials (leaving some seeds on flowers for the birds). You can plant fall pansies and kale in September and crocus, daffodils and tulips in late October.

• Pre-rain drainage check. Make sure any and all surface water drains away from your house.

Sources: www.bobvila.com; www.hometeaminspection.com; www.weather.com; www.waff.com; www.epa.gov; Mary Robson, retired area horticulture agent for Washington State University/King County Cooperative Extension.

This is a seasonal feature in digs compiled by Sandy Dunham, Seattle Times desk editor.