With winter fast approaching, now is a great time to start thinking about winterizing your home. Start by taking a good look at the exterior of your house with close attention to the roof, eavestroughs, downspouts, grading and windows. All of these areas require a little TLC before the cold winter sets in.
The brunt of weather abuse is taken by your roof since accumulated snow can be very heavy. In order to check your roof you are going to need a ladder, a pair of binoculars, or a trusted roofing expert. If you have a sloped roof, look for shingles that are cracked, curled, loose, damaged, or missing. Once located, repair them. If you have a flat roof, clean off leaves and branches, and cut back overhanging tree limbs. On the roof membrane, look for bulges, worn spots, or split seams.
Regardless of the type of roof, you should also pay attention to the junctions between the roof and chimneys, pipes and walls. Often you’ll find that the metal flashings need to be re-secured or re-caulked. Again, if it’s damaged, fix it as soon as possible.
If you decide to personally check out your roof, take a look at the chimney, if you have one. Brick chimneys may have missing mortar or loose bricks, and should have a screen to keep animals out. Metal chimneys should be free from rust. If getting up on a roof isn’t your thing, contact a local roofing professional and they’ll take a look for you.
Eavestroughs and Downspouts
While at roof level, be sure to clean and re-secure the eavestroughs. We can’t overemphasize the importance free flowing, leak free gutters and downspouts have on the overall health of the house, especially the basement. If your eavestroughs can’t control the rain or melting snow, the ground will get soaked. If the ground is soaked around your house, there is a much higher risk of a leaky basement. We’re pretty sure this is something you want to avoid; especially in the winter!
You should also follow the downspouts to ground level to double check where they dump the water. Above ground spouts should be well connected at the elbow and discharge at least six feet away from the nearest wall, or at a point where run-off will be carried away from the house.
For any house older than 40 years that has downspouts draining below ground, homeowners should consider disconnecting them from the below grade pipe system and extending the drain above ground. This is an easy and surprisingly effective basement leakage cure in many older houses.
Since you’re finally off the roof and on the ground, take a walk around your house to check how the ground directs the flow of water. Any and all surfaces next to the walls should be sloped away from the house to move water away from the foundation.
Poor grading is another common and preventable cause of basement leakage. For more information on proper grading, click here. This is exponentially more important on warm winter days since melting snow runs quickly across the surface of still frozen ground. If the grading is poor, it will flow directly to the foundation of the home and may cause basement flooding. Now is the time to grab a shovel and re-slope the grass, or call a paving contractor or handy person to correct a negatively sloping driveway or walkway.
During your exterior walkabout, check the windows and doors for any wood in need of paint and any joints that need re-caulking. Also check the caulking at pipes, vents, and other wall penetrations. Touch up these areas before it gets too cold – this can also help save you money on your energy bills.
While these cover the major areas outside of your home, there are still many other items that you should consider taking a look at inside the house.
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