Pennsylvania is one of the best states in the country to enjoy autumn thanks to its many spectacularly lush seasonal forests. Watching the leaves change and enjoying comfortable weather are great experiences, but fall is also a good time for necessary home maintenance. Pennsylvania autumns can be enjoyable, but the winters typically bring very cold temperatures and lots of snow and ice. To protect your home this winter, take time during the fall to handle some exterior home maintenance so you can face the cold with greater confidence.
Touch Up Masonry
If your Pennsylvania home has a masonry exterior, inspect it for any cracks, crumbling mortar, or damaged bricks. These issues can allow cold air to enter your home, driving up heating costs during the winter. Additionally, the winter precipitation can cause them to worsen. When snow or ice accumulates in the cracks in your masonry, temperature changes will cause it to freeze and expand, only to melt and then refreeze. This can worsen cracks and potentially lead to water damage in the underlying layers under the masonry. Replace damaged grout or contact a contractor to inspect and seal the masonry around your home before winter arrives.
The windows of your Pennsylvania home are the most likely places that heat will escape and cold air will enter. If you have a particularly chilly fall day this year, take time to feel around your windows to locate places where cold air seems to seep into your home. You can use a variety of methods to seal these places, such as silicone sealant around windows, installing weather stripping, or even replacing broken door jambs and window frames. These repairs will go a long way toward making your home more comfortable during the coming winter.
Clean Your Gutters
The gutters around your home divert rainwater and melted snow off your roof and away from your home. Check your gutters for any blockages and clean them thoroughly. Pennsylvania is known for its trees, so your gutters are likely full of leaves, twigs, and other debris that can cause blockages. A blocked gutter may overflow or even collapse. When water cannot travel through the gutter unimpeded it can start to seep into the roof bed, leading to extensive water damage that will worsen over time. Ultimately, the key is to make sure rainwater is moving away from your home.
Drain or Shut Off Fountains and Other Water Fixtures
If you have any type of fountain or decorative water fixture around your Pennsylvania home, it’s best to drain it before the winter weather arrives. Whether it using your home’s plumbing system or has its own internal water pump and reservoir, the cold weather can cause freezing inside of the structure and damage it.
It’s also a good idea to shut off all your exterior spigots. If you have a garden hose attached to a spigot, drain it completely and then store it for the winter. Make sure your exterior valves are completely shut off to avoid freezing and damaged or burst pipes during the winter.
Trim Your Trees and Shrubbery
You may love the foliage around your Pennsylvania home, but fall is the best time of the year to trim it as best as you can before winter snows arrive. If you have tall trees around your home, it’s a good idea to call a local tree trimming service to cut back overhanging branches. If your area experiences a heavy snowfall, overladen branches can snap and fall onto your home, potentially causing significant property damage or injuries. If a fallen branch damages your roof, this could lead to leaks and serious water damage inside your home.
Raking leaves is part of living in Pennsylvania in the fall. Most areas throughout the state have lots of deciduous trees that start shedding their leaves in early October until winter starts. While jumping in piles of leaves may be fun for the kids, you don’t want to allow piles of fallen leaves to linger on your yard for very long.
Fallen leaves that become soaked by the rain are not only more difficult to clean up, but they are also breeding grounds for insects and other pests. Piles of wet leaves can also damage your grass. If the leaves linger long enough to start decomposing, this can cause fungal growth and attract additional pests who will soon try to seek shelter from the cold inside your nearby home. Let your children play in the leaves on cleanup day, and consider turning your leaf raking into a fun activity for the whole family.
Seal Exterior Wood Surfaces
If you have any wood structures around your home or recently built anything using untreated wood, it’s a good idea to seal it before the winter weather arrives. Any precipitation will soak into the wood, expanding and contracting and repeatedly freezing with temperature changes. This can not only warp the wood and distort the structure but also lead to rot and leave the wood vulnerable to insect infestation or fungal growth.
Check Your Walkways
The walkways around your home could freeze over after a snowfall followed by a thaw, potentially causing a serious slip and fall hazard for you, your family, and visitors to your home. If you are concerned about shoveling and placing deicer on your walkways, you may want to use gardening stakes to mark the edges of your walkways and driveway so you can more easily navigate through the snow and shovel effectively without damaging your lawn.
Have Your HVAC System Serviced
Your home is going to need an operating heating system during the cold Pennsylvania winter, so arrange for an inspection and/or repair during the fall. This way you can ensure your heating system is in working order before you need to rely on it every day. If your HVAC technician notices any major problems, it may be worth upgrading to a new furnace before winter arrives.
These tips can help your home withstand the Pennsylvania winter better, potentially saving you tremendous amounts of money in repair and cleaning costs once the snow melts in the early spring. From top to bottom, it’s essential to protect the exterior of your home to prevent the weather from negatively influencing the interior, so you and your family can enjoy the winter and the holiday season with peace of mind.