Preparing Your Home for the Winter Season

Weather-proofing your house before winter begins will not only keep you warm and dry, it will also help you save money. Take a few simple, protective measures today to prepare your home for winter. Just a little bit of effort can go a long way towards sparing yourself the hassle and expense of having to remodel your home later.

Clear Your Rain Gutters Before Winter Hits

Check your rain gutters and down spouts to ensure that they are clean and have a clear passageway. If your gutter does not drain smoothly, it can overflow and direct water to unprotected areas of the home. Gutters with water and debris will rot sooner, ultimately resulting in a shorter life span. Also, see that your down spout is located in an area that can handle approximately 50 gallons an hour, depending on the pitch of your roof, that heavy downpours can cause. (The pitch of your roof is approximately how much water can run off in an hour.)

Trim Your Greenery

Trim your shrubs so that they are at least twelve inches away from your house. Also take care to trim the trees that surround your home. While planting trees, ensure that they are at a safe distance from your house. These preventative steps will not only thwart moisture build up on the exterior of your home, it will also reduce the number of bugs and spiders that enter your home.

Rats and other such varmints use overhanging trees and shrubs to reach rooftops and find their way into your attic. By simply cutting them back or installing a copper band around trees such as Canary Island Date Palms, you will be able to eradicate this problem. Small animals find it hard to get a good grip on such metal bands, thereby preventing them from climbing the tree.

Regularly prune your trees and remove heavy branches. This protective measure can help limit the damage that trees can cause during natural calamities. If you are unfamiliar with a particular tree, be sure to ask the advice of a qualified tree arborist before pruning. Depending upon the season, tree type, and your location, improper trimming can send trees into shock.

Check Your Flowerbeds

Your flowerbed should be a minimum of 4 inches below the bottom of your screed, plaster or brick line. Water build up in your flowerbed can overflow over the plate line of your home, which is the two by four or two by six base that your house actually rests upon. This can bring excessive water into the house, which can have disastrous effects upon your interiors. It can ruin wood floors, drywall and cause mold to buildup. If neglected, your plate will eventually rot, causing the structure of your home to sag or collapse.

We once repaired a home where the sill plate near the front door had rotted away and the door would no longer open. After completely stripping the plaster, we realized that both the plate as well as the supporting studs had to be replaced. The project came with an expense of over $6,000. This could very easily have been avoided years ago a mere two hours of digging and removing dirt from the flowerbed.

Clear Your Home’s Outdoor Drains

Some homes have a grill drain in front of the garage door and driveway. Sweep, vacuum or hose the drain till it is clean. Make sure that all your drains are clear and that any existing debris is removed from the drain grates. This is very important, during a heavy rain, clogged drains could flood your garage.

Seal that Woodwork!

Dry Outdoor Patios from Moisture

Dry rot is the decay of timber, typically caused by fungal growth. It is important to take steps to prevent this. Check any areas that are likely to hold stagnant water after a rain. A perfect example is the tops of patio covers, which typically have bolts to support it to the beam. When it rains, a reservoir is often created around the bolt, which is a major cause for dry rot.

Seal Your Home Windows & Doors

Check the flashing at the top of windows and doors and make sure that there is no metal deterioration. Check the caulking around all windows and doors. As a result of regular wear and tear, trims and sidings tend to pull away, exposing cracks of about 1/8 to 1/4 inch. If water continues to penetrate the side of the trim or siding, it will start to rot.

Reseal Thresholds

The threshold is the part that secures the bottom frame of your door jamb. If your threshold is made of wood, it is important to reseal it. Pay close attention to the area where the frame meets the top of the sill. If there is a gap, caulk it with a material like latex or silicon. I once went to a dinner at an associate’s house that was 300 yards from the beach. He had remodeled the home eight years earlier, yet the home seemed immaculate and in great shape. He told me that the secret to his home’s timelessness was his regular preventative maintenance. He routinely checked the caulking around every part of his home, from the windows to the stairs.

Winterize Your Roof

Walk your roof if it is possible. Check the transition areas between the venting pipes for heaters, plumbing, and stove vents. Also look at the points where your chimney exits your roof. Clean any skylights and remove debris. Debris around your skylights can cause corrosion and eventually break down the lens cover and the surrounding metal. Be sure to clean the valleys of your roof – the areas where the two elevations of your roof come together. You would be surprised at the articles that collect on the rooftop, from leaves, seeds, to even animal carcasses. Such debris will increase the rate of deterioration of your roof asphalt shingles. Through such routine examinations, you can prevent leaks before they occur. If you are unable to check your roof, have a qualified roofer check it for you periodically.

Paint Peeling Surfaces

If you see any peeling surfaces in your home, the best thing to do is paint it! First take a careful look to make sure that that termites were not the cause of the peeling. Then scrape the loose paint, prime the area and apply two coats of paint. Keep in mind that it is not advisable to paint after a heavy rain, instead wait a few days for the existing moisture to evaporate from the your wood surfaces.

If you have some trim that needs replacing, it is a good idea to back prime it, as this can double its lifespan. This means to apply a couple of coats of primer on the backside of the trim install it, and then paint the front. Using good quality wood like redwood for the trim can also help extend its lifespan.

When you are using screws to attach your trim, be sure to counter-sink your screws. This refers to the method of pre-drilling your screws such that the head is below the finished surface. Then cover it with a wood filler that is approved for exterior use – we usually use BONDO. Finally sand, prime and paint the trim.

Remember that just a little bit of water can cause disastrous damage, in a relatively short amount of time. Preventative measures will help you preserve your home and keep it in pristine condition.

Author: Dean Jones

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