As fall rolls in and the weather starts to cool down, it’s time to make sure the exterior of your home and yard are ready for winter. Whether you live in a climate where you’re just expecting a small change of temperature or a place where you’re expecting lots of snow, preparing your home and yard for winter is important for all homeowners. If you’re ready to get a head start on outdoor home maintenance in preparation for winter, here is your all-inclusive checklist to make sure your home is ready for the cold season.
The first task on your outdoor home maintenance checklist should be removing any furniture or decorations that won’t do well in the winter weather. Roughly 40% of homeowners used their outdoor areas for entertainment in 2017 and the number has surely risen since then. If you’ve got an outdoor entertaining space, make sure you remove any furniture that could rust or rot from exposure to winter weather, pillows or chair covers made of fabric, outdoor rugs, and any other decor that could be compromised. Make sure to store them in a space that is dry, such as a garage or storage unit. It’s important to do this task first as you will want the space cleared for other maintenance and winter prep checklist items.
Arguably the most important item on your outdoor home maintenance checklist for winter prep is roof maintenance. If you have any issues with your roof that are not solved before winter, you’ll surely face issues like leaks or pests. You will want to schedule roof repairs and maintenance early in fall before the weather starts to freeze. Getting roof maintenance done before winter will help it hold up to wet weather, ice, and extra weight from the snow.
As you are having roofing services done, you will also want to check out the gutters on your home. Winter tends to mean more wet weather, like rain, slush, and snow. Your gutter may be full of leaves, so clearing them out now will help to prevent overflow and further damage to your actual roof. You may also consider installing covers over your gutter. With the freezing weather, your gutters have the chance of filling with ice which puts further damage on them and your roof. It also poses a dangerous hazard as the extra weight could cause them to fall and break a window or fall one someone passing by.
Another important item on your outdoor home maintenance checklist for winter preparation is to pest-proof your home. Winter is one of the worst times for pests, especially rodents. They are trying to find warm places and unfortunately, your home tends to be one of the easiest options. If you haven’t taken the proper steps to prevent them from getting into your home, you may have the unfortunate experience of having to find ways to get them out of your home.
Here are some of the top pest control tips for your home during winter:
- Seal holes and cracks around the outside of your home.
- Add filters to pipes to keep rodents from crawling up to your roof through them. Install a screen on your chimney to prevent rodents from getting into your home there.
- Store firewood at least 20 feet away from your home. Wood piles are one of the number one places rodents and insects gather.
- Keep the space around your home clutter-free. Rodents and bugs hide in trash and clutter so removing them will create one less space for them to hide.
- Repair screens and install door sweeps to prevent pests from entering there.
You should also keep an eye out for any nests or signs of pests. Some pests go dormant during winter, like hornets. But if you’re able to clear away their nests now while they’re gone, that will prevent them from coming back when the weather warms up.
Next on your outdoor home maintenance list should be checking the siding on your home. This is something you should do periodically regardless to make sure your home is in good order, but checking before winter hits is extremely important. Damaged siding can cause expensive and extensive damage to your interior walls and insulation. If you fix damaged siding quickly enough you can avoid any water damage or mold growth.
Fixing any damaged siding is also important to do before winter as it helps to reinforce your HVAC systems energy-efficiency. This will help you save money as you turn your heater up during the cooler weather. Damages in your siding mean that the warm air is escaping, cool air is coming in, and your system has to work harder to warm up your home. The sooner your find any issues and get them fixed, the less damage you’ll have to fix, the less money you will end up paying, and the better off you’ll be when cold winter comes rolling in.
Driveway And Sidewalk Repair
You will surely want to add driveway and sidewalk repair to your outdoor home maintenance checklist. While cracks and potholes may not be a huge issue during warmer months, they pose a big threat during winter. When the snow melts into cracks and potholes and then freezes, it can cause the crack or hole to expand, creating more damage and more expensive repairs. Even a small crack can become a huge issue by the time the weather starts to warm up again. Cracks and holes can also pose a fall risk, which is the added element of ice becomes even more dangerous. Before the weather starts to get too wet or cold, you should schedule an asphalt delivery and hire a handyman to fill in the cracks and holes in your driveway and pavement areas.
Each homeowner has different needs as far as outdoor home maintenance. Some homeowners have fences they need to fix, others have structures such as sheds to repair. This task will look different on every homeowner’s list, but make sure to notate the need for basic repairs around your home to prepare for winter.
If you’ve got a fence around your home, winter is a good time to make sure it’s strong and secure. Snowstorms and other harsh weather can quickly deteriorate a fence and if it’s not already in good shape to start, you may be looking at much more than basic repairs by the time spring comes again. If your fence needs to help, hire a fence installation and repair team to come to check out the stability of your fence and make and repairs that are necessary to ensure it lasts through the winter.
If you have any structures on your property, besides your home, of course, this is also a great time to make sure they are in good shape. Sheds, separated garages, play toys, and anything else in your space should be checked over for the winter. This would include checking for damage to the structure, making sure they’re water-proofed, and making any repairs that are necessary to help them stay stable.
You may also want to include some basic outdoor home maintenance tasks to your checklist, such as turning exterior faucets and storing any hoses that won’t be used and having the chimney swept so it will vent better when you’re ready to start using it during the winter.
Landscaping is one of the outdoor home maintenance tasks homeowners spend the most time on as they prepare for winter to roll in. If you don’t take the right steps to make sure your lawn, plants, and trees are all prepared for the harsh weather in winter, you will have a lot of work to do come spring.
Your lawn is one of the areas you will want to pay a lot of attention to. Some of the best things you can do to help your lawn stay as healthy as possible during winter are:
- Aerate to allow oxygen and water to properly reach the roots.
- Fertilize to give your lawn good nutrients in preparation for winter.
- Rake leaves to allow sun to reach your grass.
- Give your lawn one final mow.
Once you’ve prepared your lawn, you’ll want to move onto shrub and tree care. You might rake the leaves and debris around your shrubs and trees to allow for good oxygen flow to the roots. This also reduces the risk of disease and insects getting to your healthy plants. Trim large tree branches back that are hanging near your home. This will keep your roof and home safe if there are any storms that knock branches off of trees.
Finally, you should move any plants that you plan to “winter over” to your garage. This would include hanging or potted plants. Trim them back well and make sure they don’t get too cold. Tips may vary based on the specific plant, so take some time to research your specific plants before you make any changes.
Window And Door Repairs
Another important item on your outdoor home maintenance checklist is to perform window and door repairs. This will help you through the winter in quite a few ways. It can help to keep pests out, keep water from leaking into your home, keep warm air in that lowers your utility bills, and more.
While you will surely check the doors on your home, don’t forget your garage door. Quite a few homeowners are unfortunate enough to discover that their garage door doesn’t close properly or has a faulty seal after the water has already leaked into their space and damaged things. Make sure to get a garage door service done to ensure that yours will close and seal properly.
You may want to install weatherstripping to your windows as extra security to make sure they are keeping the cold air out and the warm air in. Different window materials allow for an easier installment of weatherstripping, so check what material you have before you purchase yours. You will also want to remove any window a/c units as you do this maintenance. You won’t need throughout the winter and you can get a better seal without them in your window.
Fall is a great time to get HVAC maintenance checked off your list of outdoor home maintenance tasks. There is a lot you can do on the exterior of your home to ensure that your HVAC system is in the best condition to run well during winter. Homeowners tend to find that their utility bills are already higher during winter as they turn their heater up, so you’ll want to do all you can to make sure your system is running well and isn’t costing you more than it should.
The first and easiest thing you can do to prepare your HVAC system to run better is simply clear the space around your outdoor unit. Make sure there is nothing within three feet of the actual unit so it can get the best airflow and prevent any fire hazards.
As previously mentioned, you should double-check that your roof and siding are all damage-free. These are two areas where warm air can escape and cooler air can leak in, meaning your HVAC system would have to work double to keep the inside of your home warm. You’ll also want to make sure there aren’t any gaps around your doors or windows for the same reason.
There are quite a few important tasks on the homeowner’s outdoor home maintenance checklist. Weatherproofing your home before the weather turns harsh is important not only to make sure your family is safe in your home but also to save you money and stress from having to make repairs during winter. Don’t skimp on outdoor home maintenance for winter prep, the more effort you put into it ahead of time, the more peace of mind and comfort you’ll have in your home during winter.