Getting your home ready for the cold season is imperative when it comes to taking good care of your property. Every diligent home owner wants a house that’s running well from top to bottom, keeping everyone safe and cozy.
From heating systems to storm drains, there are a lot of items to check off in preparation for winter. Because the list can get lengthy, we’ve broken this discussion into two parts: indoor chores and outdoor chores. For this article, we will focus on what you need to get done outside to keep your home in good condition.
For the rest of the story, read Winter Home Maintenance: Indoor Checklist.
Protect Your Outdoor Decor
You may not move every single hose or piece of patio furniture inside this winter, but you want to make sure nothing is left vulnerable to weather-related damage. Planters, light tools, and patio furniture should either be covered or moved into storage if you know a harsh storm is coming. Doing so helps prevent damage from ice, rust, and stagnant water.
As for larger machinery, it is especially important to keep them safe during winter weather. Not only do you want to avoid rust on the moving parts of your tools, you want to be sure no moisture gets into any pipes or fuel tanks. Water can contaminate fuel-powered engines, and ice and cause cracks in softer components made from plastic or rubber.
Cover Your A/C Unit
While they are built to be weather hardy, your air conditioning unit is still somewhat vulnerable to ice damage. A simple piece of plywood, weighted down by rocks or spare bricks, will offer some extra coverage through the winter. Just remember to remove it once spring arrives.
Trim Your Limbs
Winter is a great time to do a bit of outdoor landscaping on a dry and sunny day. Most trees have shed their leaves, making it easier to spot dead and diseased branches that need pruning. This isn’t just an aesthetic issue; neither your yard or your roof should bear the weight of fallen limbs.
Neglected debris can harm your lawn come springtime, and a diseased tree branch left to rot and fall off can cause some pretty hefty roof damage. You can easily avoid costly repairs with a bit of winter landscaping. Take advantage of a nice day to remove any limbs that post a hazard to your lawn, roof, or nearby power lines.
Inspect Your Roof
Speaking of roofs, it’s time to inspect your gutters, shingles, and eaves. Make note of clogs and sagging areas in your rain gutters and downspouts, as you don’t want the weight of buildup to tear up your siding. All facets of your runoff system should have a smooth path off of your roof and away from your home’s structure, so as to avoid damage caused by pooling water.
Additionally, you need to check for broken shingles that may lead to leaks. If you have flat roof, be on the lookout for heavy debris that could create dips or cracks. Again, the surface should be uncompromised so that it protects your home from the elements.
Check Your Lighting and Walkways
No one wants to replace a dead bulb in their lamppost when it’s 28 degrees outside, or deal with a cracked sidewalk right after those holiday expenses hit the bank account. Take a moment to check for cracks, old bulbs, and any outdoor electrical issues that may need to be addressed. Remember that minor foundational cracks can quickly worsen quickly when ice is involved.
Protect Your Pipes
We all know that water expands when it freezes, and the resulting pressure can be strong enough to crack metal pipes. Find out which pipes are fully external (e.g. leading only to outside hoses and sprinkler systems) and simply shut them off before a hard freeze. Don’t forget to set your indoor water faucets at a drip, as an extra measure.
As for exposed pipes that are either outside or adjacent to an external wall- such as those in your kitchen and bathroom- take a moment to look them over for leaks. You can always request the help of a professional to trouble-shoot ways to protect your pipes, but many smaller issues can be addressed with insulating tape in the meantime.