Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Winter for the outside of your home.

Hear is some information on protecting the outside of your house.  Winter will be here before we know it.

Exterior Work

There are plenty of tasks that need to be done involving the exterior of your home to prepare for the winter, ranging from your rooftop to your lawn.

Gutters: Inspecting and cleaning out your gutters is an important chore, because clogged gutters can result in flooding of the basement and major damage to your roof and walls when the snow begins to melt. Check your gutters for leaks and check the drainage by making sure the downspouts are not discharging water at the base of the foundation. You can unclog downspouts by placing a garden hose in the opening and gently spraying. In addition, check the soil that immediately surrounds the house to make sure it is graded for drainage.
Use safe and thorough methods to clear out the leaves and debris from your gutters. Access your roof with a sturdy ladder, making sure to not lean against a downspout or gutter to avoid causing damage. You can remove the debris by hand, with a spatula, a large spoon, a gutter scoop, or small trowel. Dirt that is caked on can be wet with a hose to make it easier to remove. Also use the hose to flush out the gutters a final time after they have been cleaned, and check for leaks. To cut down on debris, you may want to cover your gutters with wire or plastic mesh.

Inspect your roof for any missing or damaged shingles and have them replaced. You can have a professional come, or you can attempt to inspect your roof yourself, using binoculars to inspect the shingles and flashing on your roof without having to even get up on it.
Plants should be pruned back before the winter in order to encourage healthy growth in the spring. Most of the pruning should be done after the leaves have changed color, as this signifies that the plant is dormant. When you are pruning, make a clear cut about 1/4 inch from the branch at a slight angle. Sensitive shrubs and plants should be wrapped in burlap for protection and you can also spread a layer of mulch around the base of your plants for insulation.

Tree limbs should also be cut back for the winter, especially branches that are potential problems. Trees in your yard should be cut away from power lines, the roof of your house, and your driveway. During the winter, tree limbs can be weighed down by the snow and snap, damaging your property or getting in the way. Dead trees and branches should also be removed. If you know what you are doing you can do this yourself, otherwise you would be better off consulting a professional.
Lawn: There are quite a few steps to take care of your lawn and prepare it to survive the harsh winter. You should keep raking up leaves and clearing your lawn of debris throughout the season. If leaves are left in place they block air from getting into the soil, drying up the grass and making it prone to "snow mold disease." You should also keep mowing your lawn regularly, your last mow taking place before the first frost. If grass is left too long it will be flattened over itself with the pressure of a snow cover, resulting in similar problems as leaf cover.

 You should go through the process of winterizing your lawn, which is fertilizing and reseeding it twice before the winter to keep the grass strong and reserving food for over the winter. Purchase a quality winterize for your lawn and be sure to apply it to your lawn before the frost of the winter to keep it healthy, thriving, and ready to be green in the spring. Drain out your outdoors hoses and sprinklers and bring them inside so they cannot freeze or crack. Also drain out the water in birdbaths and cover them. Again, drain and shut off all outdoor water faucets.
Clean and then store your outdoor lawn and patio furniture to protect them from winter damage.
Now is a good time for a major garage clean-out in order to make storage space for equipment coming back inside, as well as for all your winter snow-removal and recreational equipment.

Prepare yourself with quality winter tools. Make sure you have a good snow shovel or two. Stock your home with rock salt and sand for icy surfaces. Get your ice scrapers for windows and cars ready.
If you have a larger yard and driveway, make sure you have an adequate snow blower or snow mobile. Inspect and service your snow blower or snow mobile to ensure they are functioning properly, and stock up on the necessary fuel.

Lay out a mat or rug at the exterior and interior of the entrances to your home to protect the floors of your house from mud, snow, and salt stains. You may also want to place a boot tray by the door for people to place their wet boots and shoes before they enter the home.
Check out the condition of the walkways, steps, and driveway of your home for small holes and cracks. These should be repaired to prevent water from penetrating and freezing, resulting in larger cracks and larger problems in the future. You can repair smaller holes and cracks yourself, but for larger problems consult a professional.

If you have a pool it should thoroughly be prepared for the winter. The water should be drained, and it is essential to have a professional pool cleaner come to clean and winterize your pool. The pool should be covered with a strong cover to keep out leaves, precipitation, and animals during the winter months.

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