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We often think of spring as a time to clean and prepare for summer, but what about fall?

Fall is a great time to clean the house and prepare it for winter.  From windows and screens to chimneys and sidewalks there is much to be done before winter.  Below is a basic checklist of simple household tasks and preventative steps to take before winter rolls in.

#1 Remove screens and clean windows

Remove screens from windows. Clean screens.  They are easy to hose off and wipe down with a soft cloth.  Store for winter.  Clean windows or hire a professional to do the job.

#2 Check the fireplace

Look up the chimney.  It is a good idea to make sure no critters have moved in.  Look for birds and bird nests.  Make sure the flue is in good working order.  Look for creosote (black coating on chimney walls).  If there is anything that seems questionable don’t hesitate to call a professional.  Having the chimney swept and inspected by a certified chimney sweep is always a good idea. Make sure to have firewood delivered so it can be stacked and ready for those cooler evenings.

#3 Check the furnace or primary heat source.

Clean or replace filters.  It is also a good idea to have an HVAC contractor inspect and service the heating system.

#4 Clean Gutters and inspect the roof.

Clean the gutters once all of the leaves have fallen.  Remove any debris that has built up in the gutters and downspouts.  Inspect the gutters for sagging and make sure they are attached and not damaged.  Since you are already up on a ladder now is a good time to look at the roof.  Look for any loose, missing or damaged shingles.  Any areas of concern should be addressed by a certified roofing contractor.  Going into winter with a potentially leaky roof could lead to further damage to the home.

Photo 2#5 Check walkways, steps and driveways.

Before temperatures dip and cause freezing it is good to repair any broken or cracked steps.  Seal cracks in the driveway and in the walkways.

#6 Store the lawn mower.

Now is a good time to clean the mower, make sure to get underneath.  Change the blades so you have sharp ones when spring rolls around.  Remove gas from mower.  Remove the spark plug and pour a capful of oil (engine) into the spark plug hole. Pull the starter cord a few times to distribute the oil, this will lubricate the pistons.

#7 Disconnect hoses and drain irrigation systems

Disconnect hoses and store for winter.  Turn off any shutoff valves on water lines that led to exterior faucets.  For irrigation systems shut off the system at the main valve.  Shut off any automatic controllers.  Open drain valves and remove any water that is in the system.  Remove sprinkler heads and shake out any excess water.

#8 Cut back plants and plant bulbs for spring.

Cut back flowering shrubs and trees in the fall after the summer growth cycle has ended.  Prune anything close to your home.  It is a good idea to keep limbs at least 3 feet from your home to prevent damage in storms with rain and high winds.  Fall is also a good time to plant bulbs for spring flowers.  The best time is September to October once soil temperatures have cooled.  Think only spring flowers such as daffodils and tulips.

#9 Think safety.

Make sure that smoke detectors and CO monitors are in good working order.  Test batteries and replace any that are not working or are out of date.  Make sure to inspect fire extinguishers.  Review any fire escape plans with your family.

Local News


Paoli Train Station Improvements – Public Open House
Construction is set to begin this summer to improve ADA accessibility at the Paoli Train Station. A public open house will be held at the Paoli Train station on Wednesday, June 8th from 4:00 – 7:00pm. Representatives from the project team will be on hand to discuss the project, distribute informational materials, and answer questions. View the flyer.

Paoli Train Station

13th Annual Build a House Build a Dream



Build a Dream what an amazing event! This weekend Vaughan & Sautter Builders were able to help out as Judges for the 13th Annual Build a House Build a Dream for Kids. This is a contest put on by Habitat for Humanity Chester County and has been for the last 13 years. It is open to all 5th Graders. They are instructed to build a three dimensional model of their dream home. The homes are then judged on four criteria. Originality and creativity, Use of materials, Appearance and design, Independent effort. DSC_3194-289x300

The amount of thought and creativity that went into the homes these kids created was amazing. Some built to scale while others let their imaginations run wild.  Perhaps the most interesting to me was a castle whose stone was made from egg cartons dyed with tea. Pieces of the egg carton were then set in drywall compound to mimic the pointing of real stone. The most fun was listening to them describe their homes and the process of creating them. Picking winners and losers was no easy task.


Thanks to Fox and Roach Charities for inviting us. You can be sure we will be coming back for more next year. For more information on how to enter next year visit

13th Annual Build A House…Build A Dream for Kids – March 19, 2016 – Fox & Roach Charities