Five home-maintenance jobs to tackle in Autumn
Get your place ready for winter with Walt Collins’ maintenance tips.
With more time confined at home, TV presenter and carpenter Walt Collins says he’s planning to prepare for winter.
As the co-host of Channel 10’s Healthy Homes Australia and house and land series Buy to Build, Walt also knows there are important but often neglected home-maintenance jobs that people should consider at this time of year. With this in mind, he highlights five jobs to tackle in Autumn that will save you time and money in the long run.
Five easy home maintenance projects to tackle in Autumn
Prepare your barbecue for winter hibernation
We love our barbecues in summer, but come winter many people tend to cover up the barbecue and wait until spring to clean it. I have an annual ritual of cleaning my barbecue every Easter weekend. It’s not fun exactly, but it can prolong its life and efficiency.
The first step is to remove the gas bottle and store it safely. I like to carefully insert a big blob of Blu Tack into the outlet of the gas bottle. This stops dust and bugs calling it home. When you remove the Blu Tack in spring, any debris left inside is removed with the adhesive. I also use a strip of electrician’s tape to protect the regulator nozzle.
The next step is to remove the burned-on carbon, grease, food debris and old marinade, which can become corrosive during the damp, cold winter months. Some people soak the grill and cooling racks in caustic chemicals. I prefer to use an environmentally friendly method that still kills bacteria – a quality steam cleaner. Clean the nooks and cracks of the grills with the correct brush tool. This will bring the metal surfaces back to life. Clean around the control dial and inside the lid. You’ll have it gleaming in under an hour. Imagine how good you’ll feel when you remove the cover on the first day of spring.
Tradie’s tip: Spray hot steam over each area before using the scrubbing tool on the steamer. This will give the burned-on gunk time to break down and it will be easier to get off.
Watch out for: Try to avoid excess water and steam in and around the burners. With some brands, the metal isn’t designed to get wet and can rust over winter. Make sure your gas bottle is turned off tightly and stored safely. I store mine in the cupboard area of the barbecue.
Check your decks and balconies to prevent disaster
It’s important to do a full check of your decking or balcony at the end of summer. In the past few years, balcony and decking collapses have resulted in a number of injuries and even deaths. Carefully examine the support beams, posts and decking for any damage. Timber dries, cracks, moves, expands, shrinks and all the stuff in between. Over a season, fixings (bolts, nails, screws or plates) can loosen and supports can crack, putting you and your family at risk.
Start at the bottom and look for cracks, mould, rot or excess discolouration around the concrete foundations. Follow the timber legs up, running your eye and hands up the timber. Feel for any movement and look for cracks or bends and check the fixings attached to the actual balcony. Give it all a firm shake. In most cases, the balcony or deck (if raised) will be fixed to the side of the house, often by what’s called a waling plate, which is a long piece of timber that’s bolted to your house. Again, check for cracks, rot, movement, and rusty or aged fixings.
Next check the joists – the long, wide timbers turned on their edges which the decking boards sit on. Check for cracks, rot, dampness and bends. Make sure it’s rock solid. Often water runs down the house and on to your joists and over time this can cause hidden rot.
Finally check the decking boards, balustrades and handrails for movement, rotting and ageing timbers.
If you spot any damage or if you’re concerned, contact a qualified professional such as a registered builder or experienced carpenter, to visit and do a thorough strength check. Don’t rely on a handyman for this one.
Tradie’s tip: Use a spirit level on the key areas to see if anything has moved out of plumb or is not vertical.
Watch out for: Be careful if you need to use a ladder to do these checks. Get somebody to support the base of the ladder. Also watch out for spiders.