19 Great Outdoor Winter Preparation Tips
Brought to you by Hingham Realtor Alice Pierce
Now that fall is in full swing, and winter is inevitable, it is time to prepare our South Shore homes for what lies ahead. We still have plenty of temperate days left to take care of simple outdoor maintenance tasks and therefore make the cooler months more carefree.
We all want our homes to run smoothly and to avoid costly and preventible repairs. Changes in temperature are the primary cause of wear and tear on a home and being proactive now can stave off a host of issues.
You might already have noticed a few minor cracks in the cement areas of the lower portion of your house. Common places for cracks to occur are where the wires and pipes enter the home, and around windows and doors. Simple sealing or caulking will help with heat leaking out of your house during the cold, winter months. Additionally, during all of the snow and melting, water can enter into cracked concrete or degraded caulking and sealant. If water enters, freezes and thaws, mold can become a problem. This is the type of repair than any of us can perform, and the cost is minimal.
Install your storm windows and doors and remove your screens. If it is warm enough, it is simple just to rinse those screens, give them a little Windex, and rinse again before storing them. Make sure they are wiped down and have had time to dry our before storing them in a dry area of the basement or garage.
3) Outside Walls
Have you noticed any paint that is wearing or peeling? If so, then this is a symptom that the paint finish no insufficient to protect the siding of your home and once exposed to the outside environment the siding material will eventually disintegrate and result in expensive repairs. Many of us don’t realize that paint is not only an aesthetic but a protective film to whatever is underneath it.
The topic of roof inspection, maintenance and repair was covered in its own separate article about how to make small repairs to your roof, but it still bears mention again. Take a look from different vantage points so that you can be assured that all the shingles are secure and healthy. When the elements of ice, rain, snow and freezing become a regular occurrence, any shingles that are curled or loose will come off. The roof over our heads is what protects the integrity of our real estate and once that has even a small breach, water damage begins, as does the deterioration of protective insulation, wood and drywall. Further problems with our electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems are not far behind.
Once you are fairly certain that the majority of surrounding canopy trees have dropped their leaves, get to those gutters. It is one of those tasks that most of us would rather forget, but the pay off is well worth it. All of the gutter pathways need to freely deliver the water flow from your roof. After you remove the leaves, twigs and other debris, give each gutter line a good rinse with the hose. This cleans out remaining decomposed leaves and also is a diagnostic that can assure you that all is working properly. Check out all of the gutter line brackets and joints, tightening where needed. If there are any damaged sections, be sure to replace these before the snow falls, and consider installing gutters with leaf guards.
6) Swimming Pool
If you have a swimming pool, you already know how much goes into the regular maintenance. After the seasonal routine is complete and the pool is all closed up, give that pool cover one last look to make sure there are no lose spots. The last thing you want is a ripped cover, or winter debris inside your pool in the spring time.
7) Garage Area
Most people don’t think to install a simple weather seal to the bottom of the garage doors but this does wonders for our garage. It keeps small animals out, and also keeps the inside of your garage dry preventing water damage. When you are out there installing the weatherstripping you can also attend to a coupe of other things. Do a quick organization in your garage because once it gets really cold you won’t want to do this. Also look around the driveway surface for cracks so that you can give them a quick seal with a commercial product.
8) Outside Tools
Bring all the garden and yard tools in and hang them n your shed or garage. Leaving them out could render them useless once the spring comes. Be sure your check your garden areas for stray hand tools. If you have large outdoor equipment like mowers, blowers and weed whackers drain the remaining fuel from them before storing them.
Did you know that one of the best times to plant lawn seed is in the fall? This is because weeds are less likely to take over your seeding efforts leaving you with a nice green lawn that is established and strong for the spring. Get the leaves off the lawn and if you want, plant some spring bulbs. Get some high phosphorous lawn fertilizer to help with the health of your spring lawn.
10) Snow Equipment
Now is the time to make sure any snow blowers are actually working by revving them up. There is nothing worse during a snowfall than having to get out to a store and then try to find the specific parts your equipment needs. Find your shovels, roof rakes, and car clearing stuff and put them somewhere easy to get to. Remember that even though things like snow blowers handle the cold, it is best to keep them somewhere indoors where they will maintain some protection. If the cold temperatures become extreme the fuel may not vaporize causing it to not reach the proper areas of your engine.
Once a frost is imminent and hearty, attend to all of your outdoor hoses. Remove them from the valves and fully drain them by running them down a hill or hanging them over something high enough to allow all of the water to flow out. Loop them and hang them inside your shed or garage. Shut off your water valves so that any leftover moisture and water won’t freeze and burst your pipes.
12) Bird Feeders
Decide which feeders are coming in for the winter and which ones aren’t. Bird feeders need regular cleaning since the seed inside is exposed to moisture and eventually rots and grows bacteria to grow inside. Clean all the feeders at once (it is a messy job) by taking them apart, soaking parts in warm water and dish soap, rinse thoroughly and then let dry before putting them back together.
See that all of the railings and stairs are secure and that the handrails will bear the extra weight of supporting people making their way down with snow and ice.
14) Outdoor Furniture
It is so nice to take the patio or deck furniture out in the spring, knowing it is nice and clean already. The in depth process of readying your outside furnishings for use is covered in another article about how to prepare for summer entertaining, and much of the information in that can be applied before you store chairs, tables, and sofas for the winter months. It is a good idea to always cover items before storing, and once they are clean and completely dry.
Many people in the Hingham area continue to use their outdoor grills in the wintertime. If you are not likely to do this, don’t forget to perform the proper maintenance on your outdoor grill now. Disconnect the propane tank and close the valve firmly before storing it in a safe place. Remove all the food left inside the grilling compartment and threw away the grease pan left after a summertime of grilling. If you don’t do this, animals will find a way to it. Give the components a good clean, including the knobs. Many parts can fit into your dishwasher, making the clean up easier. Cover your grill, even if it is going into an enclosed space. If you are likely to brave the cold for grilling purposes, you might want to reposition the grill to protect it, and you, from north winds, and always keep it covered when it is outside.
16) Potted Plants
Empty soil from any pots or containers that are outside because the soil holds moisture and this will eventually freeze, leaving you with cracked pots.
Many people forget this task and end up with a damage irrigation system in the spring. There are many companies that will come and drain your system before it gets shut off, or you can perform this yourself. To do this, shut off the main water valve and the automatic controls to the irrigation system. Open your drain valves and remove any of the sprinkler heads that are above the ground so you can manually shake water from them before putting them back. Without drain valves, or without knowing where the are, you will have to hire a professional company to get the job done.
Late fall is the healthiest time to prune plants and trees because they have stopped growing. The purpose of pruning is to keep any branches and tree limbs about 3 or 4 feet from your house. When trees and bushes are too close to your home, melting water will drip onto your roof or exterior walls which can damage your home. Additionally, trees can cause significant damage if they are loaded with the weight of ice or wet snow, or if high winds break limbs.
19) Christmas Lights
Too many of us wait too long before we put up outdoor holiday lighting. There is no reason to suffer in the freezing cold when you can get them up and ready to turn on now.
Fall is an ideal time to start looking for homes in Hingham MA. There is no better Realtor to show you what the South Shore of Massachusetts has to offer than one of the South Shore’s top real estate agents, Alice Pierce. Alice is native to Hingham MA and can talk to you about Hingham’s neighborhoods and their distinctive characteristics, as well as Cohasset, Hull, Scituate, Norwell, Hanover, Marshfield, Duxbury and all of the South Shore towns.
You can also call her cell phone at 781-724-7622 anytime, night or day.