A lot of homeowners don’t know as much about caring for the outside of their homes as they should, particularly in adverse weather conditions. But Vince Clingenpeel has put together this video to show how to take care of the outside of your home, and in particular preparing it for the rigors of winter weather.
Check it out
The first thing that Clingenpeel recommends is that you take a walk around the house and take a thorough look at it. Pretend that it’s not a day-in, day-out familiar sight; look at the house as though you were seeing it for the first time, as though you didn’t live there. Clingenpeel says that he’s surprised how many people are actually oblivious to what is happening in and around their houses.
What are you looking for? First of all, you’re looking for means of access. As the weather gets colder, you’re not the only one who wants to spend time inside. Squirrels, mice, raccoons, even birds will want to seek shelter from the cold, and as homeowner it’s your job to keep them out. So look for any places where it looks like they might be able to get in, because you’ll want to seal those means of access.
You also are looking at the overall condition of your house. Houses need constant ongoing maintenance, and keeping on top of your home’s needs on a regular basis will reduce the possibility of things getting to the stage where they’re a crisis; an emergency fix is always more expensive than a routine one.
Pay attention to windows
One of the most important things for you to check is your windows. Homes lose heat and invite in cold air through windows that aren’t properly sealed, so you’re really examining your windows to make sure that they all have a nice tight fit and weather sealing.
You also want to think about your windows’ security. What’s going to happen if your area experiences a major winter storm? Are you ready to protect your windows? You may already have storm shutters; if you do, that’s the best protection you can get. But you don’t have to go out and buy them if you don’t; if you measure your windows and seal up a piece of plywood that fits snugly over them, you can use that instead. Just make sure that you label every piece of plywood in terms of which window it goes with! Use stainless steel screws to screw the plywood in place when you hear the storm warnings and you’ll be good to go.
Don’t neglect doors
Another place where air currents and security are both an issue is your doors. Again, make sure that they’re sealed and that there’s no air flow around them. Just a bad-fitting door can end up costing you hundreds of dollars!
In terms of security, pay attention to your doorjamb. Clingenpeel gives an example of doors with flimsy attachments (two screws, one small plate) that are easy to breach. He shows instead a door with a heavy backer plate that’s accompanied by a 3-inch screw. This is the kind of security that you’re looking for.
Up on the roof
And then there’s the chimney. Take the time to go up on your roof and check your chimney’s cap (masonry wash that keeps water out). If you have a bad cap, it’s going to leak, and your troubles will just be starting. If the het isn’t on properly, it’s another place where animals (and often especially birds) will be able to get in. If you know how to fix and replace the cap and hat, do it; but if you don’t, this is well worth the expense of having a professional in.
And be sure to check out your gutters while you’re up there. Gutters can get jammed up with leaves and sticks and don’t allow for proper water flow. Make sure that they’re ready for whatever the winter can throw at them!