Rochester homeowners enjoy warm, comfortable weather during the spring and summer followed by a comfortable fall before a colder winter. This year, take time during the agreeable autumn weather to prepare the exterior of your home for the winter. Making time to handle a few simple exterior maintenance tasks will keep your home safer and ready to handle the snow and ice once winter arrives.
Clean Your Gutters and Downspouts
Gutters can accumulate lots of twigs, dust, dirt, leaves, and other debris. If you have lots of coniferous trees around your Rochester property, pinecones and needles can collect in your home’s gutter system. This debris can eventually block downspouts, preventing the gutter system from efficiently moving water off and away from your home. Eventually, this can lead to water damage if the gutter back up and allow rainwater to seep into the underlayment below the roof.
Gutter shields are great investments for Rochester homeowners with lots of trees on their properties. Gutter shields fit on top of gutters to allow rain to enter while preventing leaves and other debris from accumulating inside the gutter.
Seal Masonry and Other Hard Surfaces
If your home’s masonry or other load-bearing structures have any surface damage, it is essential to repair these issues as soon as possible. Cracks in your brickwork, damaged drywall, and other types of damage can allow heat to escape, which is something you do not want to experience during the harsh Rochester winter. They can also make attractive places for unwanted critters seeking warmth. Inspect your masonry and other hard surfaces of your home for any cracks and seal them. If you do not know the best way to seal a masonry crack or similar issue, look up a reliable contractor in your area to help.
Drain Bird Baths and Fountains
If you have water fixtures outside your home, fall is the perfect time to drain them to avoid freezing damage during the winter. If you leave your bird baths or fountains full of water as the temperature starts to drop, water seeped into the cracks of these fixtures will freeze, melt, and then refreeze, expanding cracks and opening the door to mold, mildew, and algae growth in the spring when the temperature rises. Eventually, water damage can expand cracks enough to shatter these fixtures, so draining them in the fall should be a winter preparation priority.
Check and Care for Trees and Shrubs
Fall can be a great time to prune and trim the trees and shrubs on your property. Look up pruning tips for the different types of trees on your property so you can tailor their growth to your preferences. It’s also wise to trim away branches that extend over your home. During winter snowstorms, these branches could become overladen with snow and ice and come crashing into your home’s roof. Most species of shrubs are generally easier to manage, just make sure you don’t trim them so much that they cannot survive the winter.
Leaves left on your lawn will accumulate moisture and begin to decompose fairly quickly after falling from trees. Once the trees on your property have shed their leaves for the season, be sure to rake the leaves off your grass. Leaving them to cover the grass deprives the grass of much-needed sunlight before the darker winter months, and wet mounds of leaves are also breeding grounds for bacteria and pests.
Consider starting a compost pile with your raked leaves. If you grow herbs or vegetables in your house, fresh compost is a great nutrient booster that you can start gathering for next year’s planting season.
Paint, Caulk and Seal Exterior Wood
If your home has any type of exterior wood surfaces, they should be painted, caulked, and sealed to prevent moisture damage and wood rot. Wood also contracts and expands in different temperatures and different levels of moisture exposure. If you see any spots on your exterior wood surfaces that look vulnerable to water, take time to patch them appropriately before the cold weather starts.
Inspect Walkways, Railings, Stairs, and the Driveway for Safety
When the Rochester area is covered in snow, even a short walk to your mailbox or from the car to the front door can be hazardous. Make sure the walking paths around your home are free of weeds and other debris that can accumulate ice, and purchase some ice melt for quick thawing. Check railings and stairwells around the outside of your property to ensure they are sturdy and ready to use during the winter.
Keep the driveway as clean as possible before the first snowfalls. A wide bristle brush can push away dirt, dust, and other particles. This makes it much harder for ice to accumulate on the driveway and makes shoveling snow easier, which helps keep you, your family, and your winter visitors safe. You could also consider planting markers of some kind at the corners of your driveway, walking paths, and stairway landings so you know exactly where to shovel after a heavy snowfall.
Shut Off Exterior Faucets and Hoses
Make sure every exterior faucet outside of your home is shut off before the winter. Allowing water to linger in these fixtures or within an attached hose could lead to freezing issues or even water damage to the lowest levels of your home. Drain your exterior hoses and store them indoors, preferably in a storage shed or garage if available.
Add Weather Stripping
Weather stripping is lightweight adhesive material that fits around windows to form airtight seals when closed. It’s inexpensive and a great way to ensure better heat retention during the cold winter months. When you close a door or window, the weather stripping compresses to form an airtight seal. Simply measure the openings you want to seal, cut the weather stripping, apply it, and remove, adjust, or reapply as needed.
These tips can help you prepare for the harsh incoming Rochester winter. The area generally receives lots of snowfall and experiences very cold temperatures, so taking time to prepare during the more comfortable autumn weather is a wise choice.