AUTUMN CHECKLIST – 5 EXTERIOR TO-DOS

autumn-home 3Back-to-school, shorter days, much cooler nights – for New England homeowners the seasonal roll-over from summer to autumn means more than a wardrobe change, it means “Get ready for winter”.  It’s that time of year, therefore, for us to offer our 2-part Autumn Checklist, with ‘5 Exterior To-Dos’ leading off followed by ‘7 Interior To-Dos’ .

Start With A Thorough Exterior Inspection

Preparing your home for winter begins on the exterior, which is your first line of defense against the rigors of cold temperatures, wind, snow, and ice.  The objective here is preventative maintenance – finding & fixing an exterior issue in September or October is way easier and more pleasant than doing it in January or February, not to mention, way cheaper.

Your first task, therefore, is to conduct a thorough inspection of exterior areas that can cause the biggest problems.  Here’s a breakdown of some critical major areas you should be inspecting:

Roofroof1

Starting at the top of your house, take a hard look at the condition of your roof.  First, you are looking for missing or loose shingles, and if you find any you can rest assured that winter winds and ice will find them too.  In other words, fix them – NOW.

Next, once you’re sure the roof is at least intact and functional, take the next step and inspect the condition of the shingles.  If they are beginning to deteriorate – mold, algae, brittle, splits – your decision boils down to answering the question, “Can these make it to next spring?” Don’t roll the dice if you’re in doubt.

clogged-gutter-2Gutters & Downspouts

First, make sure all your gutters are securely attached to the house.  The weight-stress on gutters from snow, ice, melting, re-freezing can be significant, so make sure the entire gutter run is tightly secured to the eaves.  Also make sure all the downspouts are securely connected and clog-free.

Second, confirm that the gutters will be able to perform their drainage function during harsh winter conditions, i.e., that the gutters are clear and sloped properly. This will almost always mean that built-up gunk and leaves have to be removed, a nasty job that should wait until the leaves have fallen.

 

Siding 

siding & trimNext on your Autumn Checklist is your home’s siding and trim.  Particularly in older homes, look closely for rotting boards or shingles and any evidence of insect infestation.  Once again, if you find anything, fix it now since it will be too late when the snow is flying.

Also, it’s well known that Autumn is the best time for exterior painting, so if you find heavy paint wear or chipping on the siding or trim, consider having it repainted now since it’s only going to get worse during the winter.

Home Access

Walking into your house or driving into your garage is pretty straightforward during warm moths but can become a potentially dangerous challenge in winter.

image_23531Cracks in your sidewalk or steps will expand during the many freeze/melt/freeze cycles ahead, so a little bit of attention now can help prevent a big (and dangerous) problem later.  Also, if you have railings – which all tend to loosen over time – make sure they are tightly anchored and won’t give way just when you need them most.

Of course the garage door will open – until it doesn’t, most likely during a howling snow storm.  Make sure it’s working properly and maintained as required.  Also, if it’s attached, make sure to weather seal both the garage door itself and the interior door to the house.

BOTTOM LINE

Fall is the best time of the year to take stock of your home’s exterior and plug any gaps that you find.  The weather is still nice enough for you or your contractor to get fix-up projects out of the way quickly & cheaply so that you’ll be able to sleep soundly during those long winter nights around the corner.

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