I'm sure you'll join me in a collective big sigh of relief after the last few weeks of rain! Now that we are in November, why not try to be a smarter homeowner this year and take some time now to get ahead of the coming cold weather and all the havoc it can wreak on your house and yard?
Here are 10 things that should be on your to-do list, to get your property ready for winter.
1. Order firewood. Ask friends and neighbors for suggestions on good sources in your community. Any hardwood, such as oak, maple, beech or elm, will work fine for firewood. You want seasoned firewood that’s at least a year old. Ash is the only wood that you can burn “green,” right after it’s cut down.
2. Clean gutters. If you can’t get on a ladder yourself, hire someone. Wait until all the leaves are down, like after a big rain storm, then do it once (unless, of course, they're already overflowing when it rains). So many water-in-the-basement problems are because of clogged gutters.
3. Get water away from the house. Same as above. Even if your gutters are clean, rainwater may be pouring down the leader pipes and emptying right at the corner of your house (and into the basement or crawlspace). You may need to hire someone to dig trenches and install underground drain pipes to pull roof water away from the house. Make sure that all landscaping is pitched away from the house.
4. Seal up masonry. Repair any broken joints or cracks in walkways, steps and stonework. And if you have a home in the Sierras, make sure you have clear, shovel-friendly paths to all doors.
5. Cut down on heating costs. Make your house more energy efficient by adding insulation, caulking around windows and doors and new storm windows. Repair any cracked or broken windows. Maybe you have enough sun and roof space for solar panels? Take advantage of your good fortune!
6. Don’t rake your leaves. Instead, just leave them where they fall and run them over with a mulching lawn mower. You'll be amazed at how one of these powerful machines can turn a pile of leaves into a million little pieces. Plus, they add valuable organic matter to your lawn. Similarly, leave grass clippings on the lawn.
7. Hire a chimney sweep. If you haven’t had your chimneys cleaned in a while, it’s probably time. If you have 40 to 50 woodburning fires a winter, or about three times a week, you should clean it every year. If it's a couple of times a week, every other year is fine. Only on Sunday? Then every third year will do. Gas – you may still have internal water damage. Best to inspect. Even if they look fine, there may be internal water damage to the bricks that you can't see.
8. Call in an arborist. Many winter tree catastrophes are preventable. Get a certified arborist to walk around your yard with you to look for rotting trees or damaged or dangling limbs that may come down in the next storm.
9. Get your furnace and boiler inspected. Instead of begging for service when your boiler blows on a dead-cold January night, sign a contract now with a reputable heating company. Many are happy to bring you on board with an annual service contract. It’s worth it.
10. Time for a generator? Raise your hand if you spent a few days or more in a dark, cold house after a storm or in a brown out. Or after a torrential rainstorm with flooding! If a big storm is forecast or upon us, no one will have a generator with your name on it. So think long and hard now about whether it’s time to finally spring for one. But consider your neighbors, too, and where you’re going to put it. Generators are LOUD.
For more articles about buying, selling and living in Marin County, I invite you to visit my blog site. If you'd like to tell me what you do for winter prep, call me, Tracy Curtis, Coldwell Banker Realty, 415-910 0599.