Expert tips to help you prepare for Iowa’s tough winter weather. If your home could thank you, it would!
We all set goals for ourselves — or at least we try to. But when it comes to chores like cleaning out gutters or replacing air filters, it’s easy to get side-tracked and forget.
Did you know you’re more likely to accomplish a goal or finish a task just by writing it down? It may seem too good or too easy to be true, but this simple technique consistently works. Not only does putting your plans to ink help you remember them in the first place — it holds you accountable to your goals. That’s why home maintenance checklists are so effective.
Why It Pays to Have a Winter Checklist
There are so many tasks that come with owning a home that it can be overwhelming trying to keep up. But when you have a plan in place to guide you along, it’s easy to stay on track. Without one, you could be putting your home and your savings at risk.
Just consider all the damage you can do by not cleaning your gutters. When leaves and debris are allowed to build up, rain and snow can’t move freely into the downpipe. When that happens, backed-up water can damage your shingles, or worse — travel into the walls of your home causing flooding, mold, rot and other problems. It’s a steep price to pay for a little forgetfulness!
By following a maintenance schedule (and making a habit of sticking to it), you can add years to your roof, siding or deck. Not to mention — it feels good checking something off your to-do list!
To make things easier on you, we’ve put together a list of the five most important exterior maintenance tasks to complete every fall. If you use a virtual calendar, we recommend using it to “schedule” each of these items as re-occurring yearly tasks.
The 5 Most Important Home Exterior Maintenance Tasks
1. Clean Your Gutters
When: Twice a year in the spring and fall
Cleaning out gutters is no one’s favorite chore, but as we mentioned earlier, it’s one of the most important. Thankfully, if you don’t like climbing up a ladder and sticking your hand in a pile of mush, you can hire a professional to handle the dirty work for you.
Alternatively, you can make the job a little easier by installing gutter guards that keep leaves and other large debris out. At Tri-County, we’re big fans of LeafSolution, which offers top-of-the-line mesh guards that can be added to existing systems to make life easier.
2. Have Your Roof Inspected
When: Once a year in the late fall; as needed after major storms
The only thing worse than finding pests in your attack is waking up to water dripping onto your face and pillow — two scenarios you can avoid with a quick and simple annual roof inspection.
When Tri-County inspects your roof, we’re able to make minor repairs on the spot to keep it in the best shape possible. If there is major damage that requires a full roof replacement, we can get you on our schedule even in the late fall/early winter months, so your home has the best protection from snow, wind and other elements.
3. Recaulk Windows & Doors
When: In the fall, as needed (once every 1-3 years)
Drafty windows and doors aren’t just a mood killer — they can send your energy bills through the roof!
The easiest way to make old windows more efficient is to reapply caulk or replace your weatherstripping when the temperatures start to dip. You can also try wrapping them in a plastic film, though it’s not a popular choice for many homeowners since the plastic is noticeable and distracting. It will also at least partially obscure your view to the outside.
If you want to get serious about energy savings, consider replacing your windows with something newer and more efficient — just look for the Energy Star seal of approval. (As a bonus for going green, you may even be eligible for federal tax credits!) You’ll want windows that are triple-pane insulated with a dual Low-E coating for maximum energy efficiency.
Lindsay Pinnacle Windows are a favorite at Tri-County, but we carry a variety of brands and styles to fit your home and budget.
4. Shut Off Exterior Faucets
When: Once a year before temperatures freeze
Whether you ran your hose every week in the spring and summer or just once, you’ll want to shut off your home’s exterior water valve before the first freeze of the season. If not, you could be looking at burst pipes and a hefty plumber’s bill.
To do this, first you’ll need to remove any hoses and drain out the water. Inside your home, locate the individual shutoff valve for each faucet’s supply line and turn them off. Afterwards, open your faucets once more to drain any excess water, then close.
If you’re not up for the DIY task, you can always call a seasoned plumber to help you out — the cost of a quick visit will be nothing compared to the cost of dealing with water in your walls!
5. Clean & Seal Your Deck
When: Sweep and wash at least twice a year in the spring and fall; reseal once a year in the spring or fall
The quickest way to shorten the lifespan of a wooden deck is to skip annual resealing — an important task that protects it from damage caused by rain, snow, temperature fluctuations, pests and the sun’s rays. While some types of wood like Cedar offer better natural protection than others, sealing is especially important if you have a deck made from pressure-treated yellow pine — one of the most common decking types.
If you dread this time-consuming chore, consider replacing your wooden deck with a natural-looking composite option like Trex Decking. Moso Bamboo Decking is another great choice — even though it’s a completely natural material, bamboo doesn’t require regular sanding and sealing like its wooden counterparts.