The Critical Eye!
Winter Prep - Do It While The Weather Is Still Good!
MICHAEL'S "TOP 10 WINTER PREPARATION TIPS"
OCTOBER 7, 2014 - The weather is fabulous outside and most of us are wanting to do everything other than house and yard work. But let's face it, there is a dusting of snow on Mt. Timpanogos and the cold winter weather is coming. So with that reality as our primary mindset, let's buck up to the task and get the following things done while the weather is warmer. The following "Top 10" list comes from my own experiences and also what I see on a day to day basis while inspecting homes in Northern Utah. Please help me and Like, Share, Re-Tweet, and Forward to your friends, co-workers, family members and circle of influence.
1) RAIN GUTTER CLEANOUT & REPAIR - Rain gutters are a great invention and when they work, we give them no thought. When they suffer from a few years of neglect, then we notice them with great irritation. In our new older home there is a leak directly over our front entry and another at the corner of the garage where we keep the trash can. This means that when it rains we get extra wet leaving the front door and drenched as we raise the lid for the trash can. It is important to clean out the debris and then take some good silicone caulk and seal the leaking joints. It may also require getting a small piece of sheet metal and sealing it to the inside metal of the gutter to stop the leak. NOTE: If you are to that point, then new gutters should make it into your family budget for either this year or next. Look for leak stains at the gutter and downspout joints, as they will tell you where the repairs are needed.
2) HOSE BIBS - It is important to prepare your spigots (hose bibs) and hoses for the freezing weather ahead. Make sure that you disconnect garden hoses so that water does not freeze back up through the hose and into the wall, ultimately freezing up the hose bib. Modern spigots are called anti-freeze hose bibs, but what they actually should be called are "Freeze up about every 10 year hose bibs." Yep, even the modern hose bibs will freeze up, but due to their design you will not realize it happened until you use the faucet in the spring. There are two sure sources of protection: 1) Disconnect the hose from the spigot 2) Go to the hardware store and buy those cheap $2 foam covers and use them through the freezing season. Follow these two steps and you will avoid the heartache of frozen hose bibs and water damage inside the home.
3) SPRINKLERS - It is important to shut down the sprinkler system and drain the water lines. It they were installed correctly, they are sloped and have self-draining fittings at the lowest points. But since I rarely ever see them installed with great care, it is good advice to shut off the water to the system and blow out the lines. Failure to do so can result in fractured pipes that manifest themselves as huge bulges in the yard in the spring when that station is cycled. NOTE: If you live in Orem, the best I can say is "Good Luck!" Due to the stacked rock soil, most sprinkler systems are installed far too shallow and they are prone to pipe ruptures regardless of what you do to prepare. For the last 20 plus years I have lived in Orem I have budgeted a full Saturday and lots of money every Spring as I get my sprinklers back on line.
4) CHRISTMAS LIGHTS - I have a good friend named Mark Stanley and his wife absolutely loves Christmas lights. Mark will spend every free moment with good weather in October and November preparing for the Christmas season to arrive. And just like Clark Griswold, when Mark flips the switch his wife's eyes light up with glee and his power meter spins throughout the night as he sends the glow of the season to his neighbors and to the astronauts orbiting the earth. He is a smart man to do all of his ladder work in dry warm weather, unlike the rest of us usually wait until the last minute to hang our lights. So pair this task up with cleaning the gutters and then you only have to climb the ladder one afternoon. NOTE: Please abide by the rule to not turn on your Christmas lights until after the Thanksgiving turkey has been feasted upon.:-)
5) CAULKING - The fall is a good time to creak out the caulking gun armed with the best clear silicone you can afford, and get busy touching up gaps that allow water entry and unnecessary air flow. Before you start applying it is important to prep the area first by removing any dirt/debris and any old caulk, and then have at it. Seal any gaps, as well as penetrations from faucets, pipes, air conditioner lines, and ducts, vents, and louvers. NOTE: Do not cover the bleeder holes at the bottom of windows, as this will back up water inside the window frame and can be the source of inner wall water damage.
6) WEATHERSTRIPPING - Weatherstripping is often overlooked as needing to be replaced, yet is often a huge source of energy waste and inflated energy bills. Look for worn/missing weatherstripping and replace as needed. You should also look for daylight around exterior doors that might require readjusting the door latch strike plate for a tighter door fit. If there are gaps, then you are losing money... Don't overlook this huge waste of energy!
7) PAINT TRIMS - Paint looks good, but it is also a protector. As a home inspector I am amazed at how lazy the majority of Northern Utah homeowners are when it comes to keeping their trim work painted. We get lazy because of the dry low humidity climate that allows for painting negligence without immediate rot damage. Please, please, please, buy a quart of paint and touch up your wood door frames and other wood trims.
8) DECK INSPECTION & STAINING - Decks are also neglected in Northern Utah. Invest in new stain for your deck and you will greatly extend its life. I also recommend that you visit my website www.DeckFailure.com and see what to look for regarding deck stability. When decks fail there is often damage to the home and injuries and death to those on the deck when it collapses. Call and hire me to inspect your deck if you are not sure what you are looking for so that repairs can be performed and damage/injury avoided.
9) EXTERIOR DRAINS - It is important to clean away debris from any outside drains. These are typically at the bottom of exterior basement stairways and driveways. You need to be aware that these do not flow into the homes sewer drain. Instead, outside drains flow directly into the soil. It is important to make sure they are not clogged and if prolonged wet weather happens and the ground fully saturates then you may need a portable pump and hose to get the water away from the area where it may cause flooding into the home.
10) ROOF & TRIMS - For many homeowners, the thought of getting up on your roof scares you. This fear is founded by many stories of people falling off their roofs. So if you are not comfortable (and willing to accept liability), then hire a professional to inspect your roof for damages, neglect, and normal needed maintenance. Your roof may have sustained wind shingle blow away damage. There may also be rotted plumbing vent pipe seal rings. It is better to repair them before the rain and snow comes than it is to wait until there is water damage, rot, and mold inside the home.
So there you have it, ten great tips to help prepare for the inevitable cold winds, rain, and deep frigid snowfalls. If you want to hire a professional to look at all the above items and more, then call me, Michael Leavitt, and schedule your inspection today.
Do you have any great tips to add to the list?
Make it a great day!
Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah - Michael@TheHomeInspector.com - 801-636-6816