Clarification: The information regarding propane tank storage was unclear and has been updated.

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Where did summer go? That’s the real question. Seems only yesterday we were dusting off the patio furniture and unpacking our barbecues.

Now Labor Day’s sneaked up on us. Time to get serious; the window for many home maintenance tasks has narrowed. What can - and should - you do, post-Labor Day, to put your house in shape?

House painting

Q. Is it too late to paint my house?

A. Nope. In fact, autumn lends itself beautifully to house painting. If you’re painting interiors, in most US locales you can leave the windows open for ventilation till round about Halloween. And for exterior paint jobs, fall is ideal. Not only will the milder sun make working outdoors easier, it’ll also prevent your paint from drying too fast.

Fallen leaves

Q. Do I really have to get rid of all those leaves?

A. You know it’s coming - the annual display of colorful fall leaves, followed by the fall of fall leaves, all over your property.

So yes, you will have to get rid of lots of fallen leaves - the quicker the better, before they stain your patio, clog gutters and window wells, and provide a cozy hiding place for ticks.

One place you might want some leaves to remain is on your lawn, but in the form of mulch. Left whole, they could choke out the grass.

Outdoor Appliances

Q. Can I safely leave appliances outside through the winter? I don’t have room for them all in my house!

A. Grill: Yes, if you store the propane tank safely inside a garage - not your home - if there is proper ventilation, which generally means a detached garage or shed (and keep out of reach of children and away from heat or sparks).

Outdoor kitchen: Yes. Shut off and drain water supply; open drain valves to your outdoor sink and ice maker so the pipes won’t freeze. Clean and unplug the fridge. Disconnect gas or electrical power to your stove.

Pressure washer: No. Empty any water and store the pressure washer indoors preferably in a heated location.

Lawn mower: No. Drain the fuel tank or add fuel stabilizer to a gas lawn mower. For an electric mower, remove the battery. Cover the machine and store in a clean, dry location, such as a shed.

Heating

Q. My furnace worked fine last year. Do I honestly need to worry about it this fall?

A. Maybe yes, maybe no. Has your furnace had its annual exam? If not, schedule soon, before heating repair pros are swamped with work. And check the filter, in case you forgot to change it after last heating season. Knowing your furnace is working safely and energy-efficiently brings peace of mind.

Air conditioning

Q. I’m busy planning to replace my furnace. Must I bother with A/C maintenance right now?

A. Yes, if you want hassle-free air conditioning next spring. Window A/C units should be removed - or at least covered. For central air, turn off the power switch on the outside (condenser) unit. Prune overhanging shrubbery and clear the condenser of leaves, twigs and dirt. If there's a risk of falling ice, protect the unit with a board.

Winter supplies

Q. Before I do the heavy lifting of fall home maintenance, I’d like to start simply by ordering supplies we’ll need for winter. Care to share your shopping list?

A. Sure:

- Snow melt

- Snow shovels for sidewalk and vehicle(s)

- Ice scrapers

- Snow blower and fuel - or better yet, book a snow removal service in advance

- Battery powered lamps

- Humidifier to counteract the drying effect of your furnace

- Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms (always essential but especially when the house is sealed up for the winter)

Landscaping

Q. Wait. I’m not ready to give up landscaping yet. What are some steps to take care of my yard?

A. From September until a week or two before the first predicted frost, you can plant bulbs, clean up and add compost to garden beds, and reseed your lawn. And, of course, plan next year’s garden layout.

Fall home maintenance job No. 1

Q. What’s the most important fall home maintenance task?

A. Seal holes, gaps, and cracks in your roof, walls, foundation, etc. This safeguards your home against water leaks, helps you stay warm, and keeps out pests like mice and raccoons … companions you definitely don’t want to spend the winter with.

Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.