How to Prepare for Winter

Prepare for Winter

Prepare for Winter

For many people living in Mid Coast Maine, as well as any other cold-weather state, they are already covering their ears with mittened hands after hearing all the dire predictions for another wicked Winter season.

When the Spring thaw finally occurred this year, did you go outside your home and find any consequences resulting from your poor preparation for the Winter weather after the brutal Winter of 2013-2014?  It would be no surprise, because even the well-prepared homeowner could never have fathomed what Mother Nature had up her sleeve last year.

You’ve probably already created a checklist in your mind of the various items to do before the first frost, and definitely before the first snowflakes hit the ground.  The checklist entails some procedures both inside and outside of your home, but we’ll concentrate on the exterior of your home for now.

Put your pool to bed

First and foremost, after the end-of-Summer pool party and well before the first frost hits, you should have taken care of winterizing your pool to avoid cracks and fissures, as well as structural damage.  If you’ve put the pool to bed once, it will be child’s play going forward, but if this is your first year with an in-ground pool, you should assemble the necessary items to winterize your pool before you begin.  The list would include:  the pool cover and net, water tubes and loops and the necessary chemicals to treat the water and keep it algae- and scale-free.  Consult the manual that accompanied the pool installation to ensure you follow the directions to the letter.

Turn off the water

In conjunction with turning off the outside water spigots at your home, it is time to pack away the water systems and disconnect and drain the hose and store it in the garage until Spring.  The water should be turned off in the basement and the tap(s) fully opened outside.  Check periodically to ensure that no water is still dripping from the outside spigots, as perhaps you did not turn the handle off hard enough.  Once the outside spigots are no longer dripping, you can wrap them up to keep them insulated over the Winter. There are soft insulated wraps or large Styrofoam caps; both styles snug up to the faucet and fasten securely and are good for protecting it from the cold.

Roof and and Gutters

It is a good time to check out the integrity of your roof before the Winter weather settles in.  Any gusty winds could have sent a shingle flying down the street, or an errant firecracker from an exuberant 4th of July neighbor’s fireworks extravaganza might have burnt one of your shingles.  It is important to repair the shingle damage before the weight of the snow, or the melting snow, causes the remaining shingles to deteriorate resulting in water damage inside your home.  It has become popular the last few years to use a snow rake after a heavy snowfall to try and pull down some of the snow off the roof, so that the weight of the snow does not damage the roof.  If you are concerned with roof damage due to heavy snow, you can consult with a roofing contractor to ensure your roof can sustain the weight of a heavy snowfall. A roofing expert can advise you whether it would be worthwhile to have a water-repellent membrane installed under your roof covering.

Hopefully the last of the leaves have fluttered to the ground before a thin layer of ice settles over the leaves that have collected in the gutters.  Dig into the collection of leaves, twigs and/or debris in the gutters by using a long, narrow scoop (like the one you use to dole out wild birdseed to your fine-feathered backyard friends).  This ensures that the gutters are clear and will allow water or melted snow to flow freely thus preventing ice dams.

Check the bricks

With your “loaded” caulking gun in hand, slowly walk the perimeter of your house, checking for small holes or cracks in the spaces between the bricks caused over time from weathering or decay.  You should also use a ladder to check higher than eye level or knee level for similar decay.  The process of covering over the openings in the bricks is called “pointing” or “repointing” and being proactive by covering the openings prevents water from entering and causing damage from frost and freezing temperatures.  It is important to do this every Fall.

If you’ve still got some caulking left, now is the time to do a semi-annual inspection for loose caulking or empty spaces around the windows and doors and provide a new weather stripping seal if necessary.  This is important to prevent drafts of cold air from entering the windows and doors thus making your home colder and then your furnace must work harder.  Checking for window and door perimeter leaks is also a good practice before the Summer heat because spaces will permit the hot air to leak in causing your air conditioning unit to run non-stop in an effort to cool down the house.

Trim Tree Branches

Now that the trees are bare, it is easy to do a quick pruning, especially if branches are growing so large they might become entangled in power lines.  Also remember to tend to your large trees, by cutting off any dead branches or wayward branches, which, if weighted down by ice or snow, might come crashing down through your roof.

Cover the air-conditioner unit

Air conditioner manufacturers give different opinions on whether your outside A/C unit should be covered for the Winter in a cold-weather state.  Some manufacturers suggest that the unit is made for all-weather conditions and needs no protective covering, while others advise just putting a 3 X 3 foot piece of plywood over the A/C grille to protect it from excess debris, twigs and/or ice damage.  Still others advise covering the unit but leaving at least a six-inch space from the ground open so that the covering is not airtight which would cause rust damage to the A/C unit.

By being proactive, you have protected your home from the brunt of the brutal Winter weather and you can rest a little easier now.  If you detected any damage while performing this preventive ritual, it is best to contact a professional home remodeling contractor in Mid Coast Maine, who can assist you in correcting the problem before the Winter weather settles in for good.