AUTUMN is here and that means there are a few home maintenance tasks we should do now to prepare our properties for the fall months ahead.

Regular home maintenance can be time-consuming but performing these seasonal tasks ensures your property is up-to-date, potentially saving you from future problems or wasted money.

And don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with this handy autumn home maintenance checklist so you can get started now and relax, knowing your home is ready for the season ahead.

Let’s get started:

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1. Change your smoke alarm batteries

April 1 is the day the Department of Fire and Emergency Services encourages all Aussies with smoke alarms powered by a 9V alkaline battery, to change the batteries.

While all smoke alarms should be tested monthly, the DFES uses April Fool’s Day to remind us all to change our smoke alarm batteries annually.

It is required that all 9V alkaline battery-powered smoke alarms have their batteries replaced every year, using a high-quality, long-life battery.

Once the battery has been changed, always test your smoke alarm is operating by holding down the test button until you hear a loud alert tone.

Smoke alarms that make a ’beep’ or ‘chirping’ sound may have a low battery or be faulty.

All smoke alarms also have a red light that flashes momentarily every 40-60 seconds to visually indicate they are operating. This same red-light flashes continuously when the smoke alarm has been activated.

Not all smoke alarms need their battery replaced.

Smoke alarms powered by a 10-year non-removable lithium battery do not require a change of battery each year.

Smoke alarms with a non-replaceable battery may have a warning that the battery is not replaceable so always check the manufacturer’s instructions before replacing the battery and do not try to remove these batteries.

Hard wired smoke alarms are powered by mains power, an external power source. These alarms have a battery back-up for periods of a mains power outage and many models have a rechargeable (non-removable) battery and do not need replacement. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions to see if you need to change the battery.

Mains powered smoke alarms may also make a ’beep’ or ‘chirping’ sound after periods of an extended mains power outage. If this happens and your smoke alarm has a replaceable battery, you will need to change your battery.

Mains powered smoke alarms are required to have a green “Power ON” LED indicator. This will light up when the alarm is connected to the mains power. If there are interconnected smoke alarms the fast-flashing red light will indicate which smoke alarm initiated the alarm.

Regardless of the type, all smoke alarms require regular maintenance and a full replacement every 10 years.

Only working smoke alarms save lives.

2. Get your gas stove serviced

If you have a gas stove, regular maintenance and servicing can help ensure safety, improve efficiency and reliability.

While any maintenance or servicing needs to be done by a qualified and licenced gas fitter, there are a few things you can do to help look after your gas stove and gauge when it isn’t running right (and call in the professionals).

One, keep your gas oven and stove-top burners clean of built-up fat or burned food using hot, soapy water and a soft cloth. Promptly wipe up any spills and use a paste of bicarb soda to remove stubborn spills.

When the oven is in use, use a thermometer to check it is heating correctly and inspect door seals to make sure it isn’t losing heat.

Two, check the appearance of the visible flame when in use. Pilot lights and main burners should produce a blue flame. Call the manufacturer or a licensed gas fitter if the flame is yellow or red.

Three, natural gas has an odour so a gas leak can be detected by smell. If you can smell gas inside or around your home, there might be a gas leak. Immediately turn off the gas at the source and call a licensed gasfitter to have your stove and installation checked.

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3. Clean your gutters

Deciduous trees shed their mature leaves once a year, usually in autumn, to conserve energy during the winter months.

Even in Mackay, where the average winter temperature is around 22 degrees during the day, our deciduous trees will start losing their leaves over the next three months, creating another autumn home maintenance task: cleaning gutters.

All of that excess leaf matter can get blown onto our roofs and compacted in our gutters.
Gutters essentially manage the flow of moving rainwater away from our homes during a downpour and if they are full of leaves, the water can’t get away as it should and can potentially cause damage to a home.

During the autumn months, where possible and safe to do so, try to clear some of these excess leaves from your gutters to prevent an overspill in the next (and often unexpected) downpour.

Or, get someone professional, like the team at Budget Guys, to come in and clean your gutters for you.

4. Service your hot water heater

In order to be prepared for the colder months ahead – and to not be caught out in a cold shower, literally! – have your water heater checked and serviced in autumn.

Again, servicing your hot water system is a job for a professional and licenced plumber or gas fitter but there are a few things you can do to check it is in working order.

One, check your system for water leaks. If you have a large leak, this could be a sign you need to have your system serviced or replaced.

Two, if your system has a digital controller, check the settings to make sure the water temperature is set to the level you have chosen. If you use a continuous flow hot water system and the temperature is fluctuating, get the system checked by a qualified service technician as this could be a sign it needs to be replaced.
Three, test your water heater’s pressure relief valve as this will prevent mineral and corrosion build-up and help make your heater run more efficiently and potentially prevent leaks.

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5. Misc. kitchen tasks

Lastly, on the list of our autumn, home maintenance checklist is a few miscellaneous kitchen tasks.

Such as one, clean your refrigerator coils. Running continuously, your fridge uses a large chunk of your home’s total power so you want it to run as efficiently as possible. Over time, dirt and dust build-up on the coils which are found at the back or at the bottom of your refrigerator, essentially requiring more power to run it. To clean the coils, use a brush to remove the dirt then suck it up with your vacuum. This is a quick and simple task that could save you money on your electricity bills.

Two, inspect your fire extinguisher. If you have one stored on the wall or under the sink – somewhere in easy access – take it out and check the gauge shows adequate pressure and there are no obvious signs of wear or tear.

Three, give your dishwasher a thorough clean. While this isn’t necessarily an autumn task, it is one that should be done every few months. So, if you didn’t do it last season, do it this season by clearing the drain and running a cleaning agent (as per manufacturing specifications) through it.