Appliance tip of the week...

Autumn will soon be here. Check out our fall-prep checklist below to get your home ready.

1. Clean kitchen appliances. * Refrigerator/freezer: Toss out expired items and wipe out the interior. Remove dust and dirt from condenser coils - the radiator-like coils located on the back or beneath the unit - with a bristle brush and vacuum. * Range/oven/cooktop: Use the self-cleaning feature. For models without a self-cleaning feature, use an oven cleaner spray. (Never use an oven cleaner spray on models with a self-cleaning feature) * Garbage disposer: Use biodegradable deodorizing pellets to freshen.

2. Inspect window and external door frames for caulking cracks and re-seal. Replace torn weather-stripping as needed.

3. Get heating systems ready for the season. * Look for register blockage. Make sure furniture, rugs and curtains are not obstructing air flow. * Replace furnace air filter and stock up on a supply for the season. * Schedule professional air duct cleaning.

4. Clean out central air conditioning system condenser units. Consider purchasing a manufacturer-designed, off-season cover. Using a tarp or other material is not advised, as it will restrict important air flow and possibly lead to problems and expensive repairs.

5. Examine appliances for proper functioning. Stock up on maintenance products. Replace broken, damaged or worn parts.

6. Organize garages and safely dispose of bottles and cans containing residual amounts of unneeded chemicals.

7. Clear lint buildup from dryer venting systems. To reduce energy consumption and prevent a fire, clean out the inside of a dryer to its outside vents cap at least once per year. This is a D.I.Y. project that can be completed by using a 20-foot cleaning brush.

8. Remove debris from gutters and downspouts.

9. Wash home siding with a pressure washer (a.k.a. power washer). "Thorough pressure washing of home siding is often mistaken for a fresh coat of paint," said Chris Hall, appliance repair specialist and president co-founder. "Pressure washers are available for rental from home improvement stores for about 40 dollars per day. It's a good idea to do this before temperatures drop."

10. Stock up on fuel stabilizer, air filters, spark plugs and other maintenance items to prepare outdoor power equipment for off-season storage. Replace broken, damaged or worn parts. Inspect leaf blowers and other fall yard equipment and get tune-up supplies ready.

11. Schedule professional winterizing work for irrigation systems.

12. Ready the water heaters. Adjust water heater temperature settings to ensure it's appropriate for home needs, colder city or well water in the winter means longer recovery times for the water heater. Follow the owner's manual instructions for flushing out sediment buildup to prevent future problems.

13. Check sidewalks, walkways and driveways for cracks and repair as needed. Water that seeps into the cracks will freeze and expand - making the cracks larger. Concrete cracks can be repaired with a concrete-resurfacing product available at most home improvement stores.