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It's that time of year again. Kids are heading back to school, it's getting a little bit cooler at night, and the days are getting shorter. While you soak in the last days of summer, keep in mind that there are things you'll need to do soon in order to get your house fall-worthy.

Michael Farmer, a certified arborist and biologist in Sacramento, CA., said there are some key things every homeowner can do to prepare their landscape for the coming months.

"Regular tree care helps identify problems before they happen," Farmer said. "It increases the safety of your property, increases the tree's health and may even increase its longevity."

Farmer recommends contacting the International Society of Arboriculture to find a certified arborist in your area.

As for your lawn, Farmer says two things are key:

"First, either rake fallen leaves or mulch dry leaves by mowing them," he said. "Second, once your lawn slows its growth -- usually in October or November -- drop your mower's height setting two notches over the course of two to three weeks to reduce your lawn's overall height."

Farmer said tree leaves can smother your lawn if they mat down on top of the grass, and that mowing closer in late fall and winter helps thicken tall fescue and other cool-season grass lawns. It also helps reduce thatch buildup.

The City of Sacramento, CA., Department of Utilities, also recommends adjusting the timing of your sprinklers as seasonal rainfall patterns change, because as air temperature drops, plants use less water.

There are a number of indoor maintenance projects to add to you list, too.

While the U.S. doesn't have regulations mandating regularly scheduled chimney inspections and cleaning, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Fire Protection Association and the American Lung Association all recommend regular maintenance of home heating systems and chimneys.

Therefore, a good chimney sweep should be a regular member of your home safety team. The role of a chimney sweep is to install, clean and maintain your systems, evaluate performance, offer suggestions to improve performance, educate you about safe and efficient operation, as well as sweep the chimney.

Be sure your sweep is certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) Certified Chimney Sweep Program, where he is required to demonstrate knowledge about the evaluation and maintenance of chimney and venting systems.

Some additional maintenance tips from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the Government of Canada's national housing agency, include:

Examine the forced air furnace fan belt for wear, looseness or noise, and clean fan blades of any dirt buildup (after disconnecting the electricity to the motor first).

Turn on the gas furnace pilot light.

Vacuum the electric baseboard heaters to remove dust.

Remove the grills on forced air systems and vacuum inside the ducts.

Ensure all doors to the outside shut tightly, and check other doors for ease of use. Replace door weather-stripping if required.

Check the adjustment of the self-closing device on the door between your house and garage to ensure it closes the door completely.

Ensure windows and skylights close tightly and replace weather-stripping if necessary.

Cover outside of the air conditioning unit.

Drain and store outdoor hoses. Close valve to outdoor hose connection and drain the hose bib (exterior faucet), unless your house has frost proof hose bibs.

Winterize landscaping. For example, store outdoor furniture, prepare gardens and, if necessary, protect young trees or bushes for winter. The American Lung Association says you should also plan on changing your furnace filter. Breathing in particles -- made up of pollen, plant and mold spores, pet dander, lint, bacteria and other contaminants -- can have a negative impact on your health, ranging from irritation of the eyes and/or respiratory tissues to the potential of more serious long-term effects, such as decreased lung function and cancer. They can also trigger allergic reactions, asthma attacks and infectious diseases.

Using good air filters and changing them regularly can help reduce the particle count.

To change the filter, remove it from its slot next to the furnace. Filters should be changed when needed, which could be monthly or every few months.

There you have it -- a short list of chores to prepare your home for the fall. By getting a jump on it now, you'll be able to enjoy the cool days ahead.

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