Wisconsin winters can be rough. Fall is when you need to show the exterior of your home some love and prepare it for winter. Making time for home maintenance can help prevent expensive repairs and preserve the value of your home. The following five tasks are essential to prepare your home for winter, but they are easy and inexpensive so get out your gloves and let’s get started!
- Clean your gutters. Clogged gutters cause roof leaks and basement leaks. When gutters overflow the water can damage your soffit, fascia, siding and landscaping. In addition, the excess weight of the standing water stresses the entire gutter system. During winter, any water in the gutter will freeze solid, damaging your shingles and creating an ice dam. A leaf blower makes the job go quickly if it’s dry out. If not, all you need is a pair of gloves. Scoop leaves and debris out of the gutter with your hands and give the gutters a good rinse with a hose to make sure the downspouts are clear. If you only do one task this fall, this is the one. It’s that important.
- Check your mulch. Sometimes water flows up, instead of down. Walk around your house and make sure you have 6 inches of clearance between the ground and your siding. The bottom of your siding should not touch anything. If it does, moisture from the ground will wick up into your siding and cause rot and damage. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen so if you find this – don’t panic! Fix it and be thankful you were able to prevent an expensive repair.
- Inspect your roof. Unless you’re a roofer, you probably don’t really look at your roof. But you don’t have to be a roofer to spot trouble. Just look up. If you’re ambitious or extra handy, get out a ladder for a closer look. If you prefer to keep both feet on the ground, that works too. Just take a few minutes to slowly look over the entire roof. You’re looking for missing shingles, shingles that are lifted or sticking up, a dip or bulge in the roof, or anything that just looks weird. A picture is worth a thousand words so if you’re not sure about something you see on your roof, snap a picture with your phone and email it to a contractor and ask their opinion. We love it when customers send us pictures!
- Inspect your caulk. Shingles have lifetime warranties. HardiePlank siding has a 50 year product warranty. Caulk unfortunately, does not. Caulk is a wear item that will last 5-10 years. It’s an important part of your home’s siding so be sure to look for gaps, cracks and missing caulk. Use a caulk that’s appropriate for your type of siding and re-caulk the siding right away. It’s critical to keeping water out of your house, but relatively easy and inexpensive to fix.
- Look at your siding. Being in the sun, wind, and rain all day takes a toll on your siding. Check for loose or missing pieces of siding and trim. Inspect the areas that get the most sun, and if you have cedar siding or fiber cement siding, repaint or re-stain them as needed. Maybe it’s just a few boards, maybe it’s a whole wall. Don’t get overwhelmed thinking you have to do the entire house all at once. As long as you’re not changing colors, you don’t! If you see specific areas that are rotting or notice peeling finish, especially when the rest of the house looks good, take note. It’s likely that water is going where it’s not supposed to be and you should contact a professional contractor.
Re-roofing or re-siding your home is a big project and a big expense. Maintenance will take time, and occasionally money, but it’s money well spent. Maintaining the exterior of your home allows you to maximize the lifespan of your shingles, siding and gutters. The longer they last, the lower your overall cost of ownership will be. Plus, well maintained homes show pride of ownership, retain their value and are more attractive to buyers.
These maintenance tips are simple enough that the whole family can help out, even little ones, so spend the day outside together. Making time for these simple tasks now will help prevent damage during the winter and the need for expensive repairs.