The Winter season is a time for holiday cheer, but it also brings snow, ice, and powerful winds. This may mean that the exterior of your home needs some extra attention to get ready for the cold. Here are a few easy steps you can take to help prepare your home for winter and go into the holiday season with peace of mind.
Caulk and Seal
As the temperature drops outside, knowing your house is properly sealed and protected from the elements can go a long way towards helping you handle the cold. Check your home over to identify any areas that need to be re-caulked or sealed, giving particular attention to exterior wood trims around your doors and windows as most are not pressure-treated and could rot easily.
Your concrete patio and driveways need extra care too. Inspect those areas for cracks and patch those before applying a sealer to keep the water out. In addition, the areas around your doors and windows should be inspected for gaps. Use weatherstripping or caulk to seal them up.
While you can take the DIY route on these tasks, you should consider hiring a professional to inspect and make the necessary repairs if the problem is severe already—for example if the wood trim is rotting or the gaps and cracks have gotten too big.
Clean the Gutter
Something as simple as cleaning the gutter can help prevent a host of problems. For one, this can reduce the risk of water getting clogged up, overflowing, and wreaking havoc on your house facade. A clogged gutter could also lead to water damage in various parts of your home, which includes its foundation, siding, basement, and wood trim.
You can take off all these potential worries by hiring a professional to clean or repair the gutter before winter comes full throttle.
Check the Roof
Walk around your house’s perimeter and check for any signs of roof damage from the ground. If you suspect something is amiss, hire a professional roof inspector to follow up with a thorough check of your roof. It may be a simple case of a few loose shingles or it could be something that requires an extensive fix. What’s important is that your roof is getting the necessary repair before the cold sets in.
If you have a flat roof, you may also need to blow off or rake the leaves and other debris as they could hold moisture, which causes roof deterioration over time.
Protect the Foundation
Your house is only as strong and secure as its foundation. And nothing poses more hazard to your home’s foundation than the plummeting temperature. Winter brings about frost heaves and excessive moisture—two things that could imperil the integrity of your house’ structure.
To help prevent these from causing damage, you need to make sure that there is proper drainage so that water won’t pool in the areas surrounding the foundation. You can also install a downspout extender to divert water away from the foundation.
In addition, hiring a professional to install polystyrene insulation in the ground could reduce the risk of foundation damage.
Drain and Turn Off Faucets and Irrigation System
The freezing temperature can cause problems for your pipes and sprinkler system. The pipes could freeze up and subsequently burst from all that pressure. Not only will you have to face the problem of a high water bill, but you’ll also have to shell out serious money to cover repairs. To avoid these host of problems come springtime, you have to turn off exterior faucets and the controller of your irrigation system. You will also have to drain the pipes using an automatic or manual drain valve.
If your irrigation system has aboveground pipes, these need to be protected from the sub-zero temperature. You can use an insulating tape or tube for this purpose. Or better yet, bury the pipes, if possible.
Trim Your Trees
Dead tree limbs are no match for powerful winds so it’s best to take preemptive actions by trimming them in advance before they cause problems. To do this, start by inspecting trees within your property and identify possible problematic branches. Hire an arborist to do this if you’re not sure how to identify those tree limbs and branches that have to be removed.
Aside from dead branches, include those healthy ones that are too close to your house as these could be the perfect bridge for rodents to your rooftop. Three to six feet gap from the roofline to the tree limb is a good rule of thumb you can follow.
If you have to remove an entire tree or large tree limbs, hire a professional to do the job for you. Aside from safety reasons, they can do a much better job of improving your landscape by maintaining unkempt trees.
Call a Chimney Sweep
Wintertime is the time of the year when you’ll thank the heavens for the warmth of your fireplace. But a well-functioning fireplace doesn’t just happen by accident. Before the temperature plummets, hire the services of a chimney sweep to make sure your chimney and fireplace are up to the task of providing continuous warmth inside your house.
The chimney sweep will check for cracks and remove debris as well as creosote build-up, which are potential fire hazards. If your chimney or fireplace needs some repair, it’s best to have it fixed before winter strikes.
Store Outdoor Furniture, Tools, and Equipment
The cold is also going to be hard on your outdoor furniture and equipment. Since you’re not going to use them anyway, stow your mower, trimmer, blower, and other power tools in the safety of your shed or garage. But before you store them, make sure you prep gasoline-fueled equipment for proper storage by draining the gasoline or adding fuel stabilizer.
Gasoline degrades in the cold weather, leaving deposits that could clog up the equipment’s fuel system. Fuel stabilizers prevent this degradation, keeping gasoline fresh until it’s time to put it to work again.
The same goes for your other outdoor tools like rake and shears. Apply a light coating of vegetable oil on those tools before storing them to prevent them from getting rusty.
If you have lawn or patio furniture, you can either store them temporarily if you have space in your shed or inside the house. Otherwise, you just have to make do with a protective cover like a heavy tarp.
Be Prepared for the Snow
While you won’t be using some equipment during this season, other types of equipment in your shed would sure come handy. Make sure your snowblower is prepped for the task at hand by changing the oil and replacing its spark plug, if necessary.
Place this equipment along with other tools like shovels, roof rakes, and salt spreaders in a readily accessible area. These will be handy during winter and you’ll have to make sure you have well-functioning equipment during those critical times that you need them. And for good measure, stock up on salt, sand, or ice melt. These will make your job way easier when it’s time to take those shovels and remove snow in the driveway.
Love it or hate it, winter always comes around, bringing along with it the powerful forces of nature. And while these exterior maintenance tips can seem like a lot of work, it’s always better to be prepared. When the snow comes and you’ll have to contend with the coldness, you’ll thank yourself for putting in the work to winterize your home.