Winterize in the Fall, Not the Winter: Tips for Homeowners
It’s September, which means there’s a hint of fall in the air in many parts of the United States. The advent of fall also means you’re probably putting together yet another fantasy football roster and listening to the kids grouse about homework and early bedtimes. Fall is also an excellent opportunity to take care of those home maintenance tasks that prepare your property for the wear and tear of winter weather. In many parts of the country, it’s your last chance to winterize before wet, windy and cold weather sets in and seriously reduces your motivation to do anything but sit by the fire and plan next summer’s vacation. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do in the fall to protect against damage and make your home energy-efficient.
Fall is also a good time to winterize the trees in your yard. Cut away dead branches or anything that looks like a high wind or layer of snow could bring it crashing down on your roof in the dead of winter. It’ll protect your home and make it easier on the tree when new spring growth finally makes an appearance. Wait until spring to plant anything new since root systems may struggle to get established late in the year, and consider having an arborist apply fungicide injections now to ward off disease and rot.
Cleaning gutters and downspouts is another unpleasant outdoor job that shouldn’t be neglected. Leaves tend to pile up quickly and can clog gutters, preventing rain and snowmelt from draining properly. That produces pooling and overflowing water that can damage your roof and siding and eat away at your home’s foundation. There are tools on the market that can make it easier to extract leaves from your gutters, but if you have a multi-level home, you’ll need to get yourself a good ladder and climb up on the roof to get at each length of gutter.
If heights give you trouble, consider hiring a gutter cleaning service. The cost of hiring a gutter/downspout cleaning service in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, ranges from $84 to $153, though the height of your home, number of gutters, and their condition can all factor into your costs. Most gutter/downspout cleaning jobs can be done within a few hours depending on the size of your home and gutter system.
The “L” Word
Yes, that’s a reference to leaves — raking leaves, to be precise. Not many of us enjoy it (except for kids who like to jump in them), but it’s a task that needs to be done before the wet and the cold make it impossible. Ignoring leaves can do serious damage to your lawn, inhibiting new growth, and rotting leaves can produce mold and fungus. If you absolutely dread raking leaves, consider calling a local lawn service. Or, get yourself a few lightweight rakes, a lot of leaf bags, and a handheld leaf scoop or two to make bagging easier, and knock it out while the weather’s still warm enough to get volunteers within your family to venture outside.
Keep Critters Out
The onset of winter means all those hungry little critters out there will be looking to enter your warm and happy home and take advantage of your hospitality and your food. Mice can get into your home through the smallest opening, so make a close inspection of your home’s exterior. Make sure any ground-level windows are shut tight and sealed, and fill exterior gaps in siding with heavy-duty hardware cloth to keep the rodents where they belong.
Do yourself a favor this fall. DVR those football games so you can enjoy them later, and spend some time getting your home ready for the onslaught of winter weather. It’ll save you time, money, and a very cold and unpleasant last-minute home maintenance experience later on.
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