Winter home maintenance chores are not warm weather projects for me because I can’t seem to get into the right frame of mind to work when the temperature is in the 80’s. Winter preparedness projects should be done in cool weather, so you can feel just a hint of the conditions for which you’re preparing.
We’re expecting the first frost of the year tonight, so I guess I should bring in any surviving delicate plants that have somehow managed to live through a miserably hot summer. Everything else can wait until after tonight’s chill.
Clean up the yard. Disconnect the garden hose and store it in the garage, garden shed or under the floor. Concrete bird baths should be taken down and turned upside down so that water won’t pool and freeze, eroding the surface of the basin. Anything else that might be harmed by freezing weather should be stored someplace where they are protected.
Chairs and tables that are going to be left out in the winter weather should be covered. I wrap thick black plastic over my grills and lawn furniture and secure it with firewood chunks I have taken from my stack of wood that I bought for the fireplace.
Check for air leaks around windows and doors. If any caulking has become brittle and is pulling away from the frames of the openings, it’s best to dig that out and replace it with new material.
Threshold strips under doorways at my house usually need to be adjusted or replace. Cold air can really run up the utility bill if they’re not positioned correctly, to say nothing of the mice that slip through even the smallest crack.
Any pipes that are exposed to the elements should be insulated. Mine are clothed in foam insulation that can be purchased at just about any hardware store. If you have discovered anything else that should be protected from the cold, like a bare spot where the wind has blown the insulation aside near a louver or vent, then buy the appropriate kind of covering.
Check the chimney to make sure you won’t burn the house down when you light the first fire of the winter. Most of us don’t have the necessary wire brushes and pole extensions to clean a chimney and fireplace. I don’t feel comfortable about my ability to remove all the creosote and soot left in the chimney and firebox from last year’s fires with makeshift tools. If a chimney sweep is not in your telephone book, your hardware store should know one.
Get out your ladder. Fallen leaves which have compacted can dislodge even the tightest hung gutters and make it a hassle to put back in the spring. Even those with gutter covers somehow seem to eventually become clogged with trash. Clean those gutters before winter.
While you have the ladder out, raise it a few feet, climb up on your roof to see if you have any loose shingles or cracks in the valleys; especially the coverings around the bathroom and kitchen vents. These are places that always seem to give me trouble in the winter.
If you have trees close to the house, make sure limbs are cut far enough away from the structure to avoid damaging it when cold winds blow. It doesn’t take much of a wind to lift up a shingle or pull the nails out of a piece of vinyl siding.
There are many other things you can do to winterize your home on the inside. Just thinking about the work I have waiting for me on the outside makes me tired.