Homes need people. They deteriorate quickly when they’re not getting attention. Take time to protect your investment. September is a really good time to begin preparing your home and yard for winter.
Here are a few items that you can do to get ready for the winter and help keep your home happy:
Check your home’s heating and air conditioning system
At the very least, change your filters. Consider having the system inspected by a reputable HVAC contractor. Check into an annual maintenance agreement. Make sure your heat is going to work when you need it. It’s much better to find an HVAC problem in the moderate temperatures of the fall than it is to find your furnace doesn’t work on a frigid winter day.
Paint, caulk and seal exterior wood
Wood trim on the exterior of your home should be protected from the elements. Most wood trim around exterior doors and windows is thin pine board that deteriorates very quickly in harsh weather elements.
Even though your deck is made of treated or rot-resistant wood, it still needs protection. Staining and sealing your deck every year if often not necessary, but it should be checked. How?
Pour some water on it. If the water beads up, then you’re good. If the wood absorbs the water, it’s time to clean and seal your deck.
Seal your masonry, drive and walk ways, and hard surfaces
Concrete patios, driveways, and walkways need regular sealing. All concrete flatwork eventually develops cracks. Good masons strategically place control joints in your concrete to try to ensure cracking is limited. Inspect your concrete and fill in any cracks before you apply sealer so that water cannot get in and freeze over the winter. This should ensure your expensive concrete work lasts a very long time.
If you have an asphalt driveway, now is the time to think about resealing that as well. It’s not very expensive to have a company come and give it a quick spray of sealer, or you can simply buy a bucket of sealer and roll it on yourself. If your driveway has developed cracks, then patch those before sealing.
Check your drainage
Make sure the soil around your foundation hasn’t settled, creating areas for water to pool at your foundation. If you find a low spot, fill it in with soil. Then go around and check your rain gutter downspouts. Make sure water is getting moved away from the home. Add downspout extenders if necessary. Saturated soil around a foundation can create real problems as it freezes and thaws throughout the winter months.
Clean your gutters
Once the leaves are pretty much off the trees, it’s time to clean those gutters. When your gutters back up, they overflow, and when they overflow, that water runs down your home, speeding up the deterioration of your exterior. It can also lead to deterioration of your foundation, water infiltration in the basement and to settling under your concrete porches and walks, which creates all kinds of problems.
Clean your chimney and order firewood
Have your fireplace cleaned and inspected before you start building cozy fires. A good chimney sweep company will make he fireplace is safe to use, and identify maintenance problems.
Order your load of firewood. Stack and cover the wood in a good location in the yard. Do it neatly for your neighbors' sakes. Make sure that old firewood isn’t rotten and move it away from your home. It can be an eyesore.
Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Winter is the time most house fires happen. We are also much more likely to have our home closed up tight, so carbon monoxide is also a huge hazard. Check all of your smoke detectors to make sure they are working and that they have functioning batteries. If your home is not equipped with carbon monoxide detectors, they should be. Install them now. The HVAC inspection will also ensure your furnace and water heater are properly vented - also sources of carbon monoxide.
Shut down the sprinkler system and/or pool and drain outside faucets and hoses
Make sure your pool is properly shut down and prepare the system for winter. Hiring a pool company is well worth the cost. Fall is a good time to get pool work done if a problem is discovered. Pool contractors tend to get busy in the spring.
Make sure your sprinkler system is properly shut down for the season. Again, it’s well worth the cost for a professional. A professional winterizing is way cheaper than replacing a bunch of broken lines next spring.
Don't let your faucet freeze over the winter leading to split water lines inside the home, flooding the basement. In less extreme cases, outside faucets develop nasty leaks. Do a basic drain of the line. Shut off the water valve to your outside spigot, then go outside and open the exterior spigot valve and let the water drain out of the line. You don’t have to get every drop out. Now if the water in there freezes, it has plenty of room to expand without breaking pipes or seals. Leave the water shut off to the faucet until you need to use the hose next spring. Drain and store your hoses as well.
Prepare your lawn for winter and set it up for a great spring
If you want that beautiful spring lawn, you have to give it attention in the fall. New grass does not grow when it’s too hot or too cold. If you want new grass to grow, you really only have September and October, then April and May to do it. If you neglect the fall, then you’ve cut your time in half. There are differing opinions on when you should overseed. Many prefer fall. Once the heat breaks, your lawn can get some great growing time. So around late September, aerate the lawn and overseed it. Then in about late October or November, apply fertilizer with winterizer.
Check your trees
Before all of the leaves fall, take a look at your trees and make sure they’re still healthy, especially trees that could fall on your home or a neighbor’s home. Don’t think a dying tree will be obvious. Sometimes you really won’t notice, especially if you have a lot of trees. Fall isn’t typically an optimal time to trim your trees, but if there are branches up against your house, it’s a good idea to trim them away. Don’t have ice-coated branches near or brushing against your siding or windows.
Make sure your attic doesn’t become a critter hotel
Cold weather season prompts squirrels and birds in search of the perfect winter home. Critters can cause a lot of damage and potentially heath problems. Trim trees well away from the house, and make sure gable vents are intact. Tack a screen up behind your gable vent just in case. Walk around your home and look up at your soffit and fascia. Make sure there are no holes that will allow bats or birds to get in.
Do a quick energy audit
A professional energy audit is a good investment. Some companies regularly provide them today. Check your door seals anyway. Make sure you’re not seeing daylight around your exterior doors, and take a can of spray foam insulation and fill in around those drafty outlets and light switches. It might also be time to re-insulate your home.
Prep your expensive lawn and yard care equipment
Before you put your lawn equipment away for the season, drain the gas. Gas goes bad, and come springtime old gas can plug up fuel filters and make your equipment run poorly. Consider pouring shed gas cans into your vehicles and purchase fresh gas in the spring. Another option is to use/pour fuel stabilizer into the gas.
Your weed eater probably uses two-stroke gas so you can’t put that into your car. It’s best to plan for that early and make sure you don’t have a lot of fuel left over at the end of the year. Plan to do one really good trim job at the end of the season to run the fuel out of the weed eater.
If you used your pressure washer this year, then make sure the gas is out of that as well. Run some pump-protecting antifreeze through the system. There is a special product just for this. All this equipment is expensive; take the time to protect it.
Cover your patio furniture
Get your patio furniture protected, but make sure you wait until a clear, warm day to cover it so you don’t trap moisture on it.
Prepare for snow removal
Dig out the snowblower and fire it up before the big one hits. Make sure it’s ready for that snowy morning. If it’s not, then get it repaired now. Also take inventory of your salt and shovel situation. You know you won’t be able to find a shovel after the big snowstorm hits.
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