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Fall Fix-Up Guide

Increase the odds of a happy ending by doing your part

It’s been three weeks since my home-improvement job was finished and I made the final payment.     Now comes the test: In the first rain since replacement, my gutters leaked. I made the call and waited.     Within an hour my call was returned. A few hours later, a craftsman was fixing the problem.     All contractors are responsive when they’re trying to win your business. The good ones remain that way during the job. The exceptional ones return your calls promptly even after the final payment.

Three things you can do

1. Check your smoke detectors     The batteries in your smoke detectors should be replaced every six months. It’s also important to make sure that interconnected systems function properly. Press the test button on any of the smoke detectors in your home and verify that all of the other detectors ring, too.

The seven most dangerous DIY home projects

One in five DIY-ers tackling home renovations ends up in the hospital each year due to accidents, according to the Home Safety Council. Don’t become a statistic; leave these projects to the experts. Tree Trimming and Removal     Trees don’t always fall in a predictable manner. It’s best to consult a certified arborist, no matter how handy you are with power tools.

These little steps can make a big ­difference in comfort

After Jack Frost has moved in, you’ll wish you’d invested a pleasant autumn afternoon in winter-proofing your home. To keep your home and family sound and snug, move these five simple steps to the top of your chore list.

Why recycle when there’s so much art left in that can?

My friend Alice was gleaming with triumph after recycling her closetful of old latex paint. Her pride, far beyond the ordinary atta-girl (or boy) we feel after a successful trip to our county recycling center, reflected the enormity of the task she’d unwittingly taken on.

Find help here for all your fall projects

  Amish Structures for Work and Play

Now’s the time to get to work, says the Bay Gardener

Feeling less than pride and joy in your lawn?     September is a great month for establishing and repairing lawns. Here’s how to get started now on growing rich, green, weed-free grass in 2014. 1. Test Your Soil     How’s your lawn doing?     There’s no way to know without soil testing. Fertilize without testing, and you’re not only throwing your money away but also polluting the Bay.

Five signs you need to insulate

A cool grand. Nearly half a home’s total energy bill — $1,000 annually — is what the average family spends each year on home heating and cooling costs, according to the U.S. government’s Energy Star program.     Improving your insulation could save you hundreds of dollars.     Insulation traps warm air inside a home’s walls — similar to how a fleece sweater does for the body — to regulate a home’s temperature.     How do you know if your home is properly insulated?

Textured wall coverings a popular trend

Textured wall coverings are a popular trend this fall. Options including grasscloths, shagreens and even luxury faux leathers and alligator skins can add the perfect hint of luxe to any room. Use them on an accent wall, on a ceiling or create a sophisticated oasis in a home office or bedroom by applying texture on all four walls. Grasscloths have been the most popular, with an endless amount of weaves and styles to suit any design aesthetic. Tightly woven sisals and neutral grass weaves are great for creating a relaxed and comfortable space.