Countertop Trends

Winterizing Your Home
Last winter was especially cold and long. If you can believe the Farmer’s Almanac, which is as reliable as any prognosticator, then this winter will be colder than last. While the weather is still moderate enough, it’s time to start to think about winterizing your home before the first snow flies. Getting your house ready for cold, blowing winds, snow and ice is essential for making sure your home stays warm and comfortable on the inside. This has the added benefit of lowering energy bills and extending the lifespan of the parts of your house that are susceptible to weather damage.
There are many little things that you can do that don’t require a contractor. Many you can detect just by walking around the outside of your home and taking a good, close look. You wouldn’t think of driving a car that hadn’t been winterized with antifreeze, new windshield wiper blades and a thorough check of tire treads and pressure. Your home needs the same attention so that it can perform for you all winter long, too.
Remodeling Your Kitchen
We’ve prepared a checklist of things you can do inside and outside to keep ahead of the storms that are certainly coming our way. You can even involve your children in the examination process. Teaching your kids about home maintenance will serve them well in the future and their “eagle eyes” may spot a few places Mom or Dad might miss.
Windows, Bricks and Doors
• Small leaks around your windows and door frames can cause major damage to the interior of your home. There are many types of exterior caulk and you’ll want to use the right product for each application. Caulk should last a few years when applied properly so every window or door won’t need it every year. If there is weather stripping that has degraded over time, replace it so that your windows are not only sealed well, but will look good, too.
• The same attention should be paid to brick mortar which has cracked or broken off over the years. For small gaps, there is a caulk that will work for your particular repair.
• Don’t forget basement windows. Basement windows without window wells are particularly vulnerable to water and wind damage. Check for places air and water can penetrate around your basement windows and caulk in those locations.
• During the winter, you will want to keep snow away from entry doors and your garage doors so it doesn’t damage the wood and penetrate into your home.
Garden, Lawn and Deck
• Inspect your deck for excessive splintering, decay and damage from insects. Treat these areas so that they don’t deteriorate even more over the winter.
• Leaves, dirt and tree needles can accumulate between deck planking. They will promote mold and mildew growth if left over the winter so you will want to clean these out of the crevices before the first snowfall.
• Turn off your hose bibs from the inside so they don’t freeze and burst in the excessively cold weather which is forecast. Drain water from outdoor pipes, valves and sprinkler heads.
• Now is a good time to aerate your lawn and reseed bare areas. You can apply a winterizing fertilizer to your grass now to encourage root growth in the spring.
• Clean, dry and store your patio furniture in a shed or covered area to protect it from the elements this winter.
• Empty clay pots and other planters and store them in your garage. Clay is susceptible to damage over the winter if it is wet and freezes. The best way to store clay pots is on their sides in a cardboard or wood carton.
• Water your shrubs throughout the fall and up until the ground freezes. Winter winds are drying and will suck all the moisture out of the leaves so you will want to hydrate your plants while you can.
• To protect your arborvitae and other shrubbery from snow damage, tie up the branches with jute twine so that snow cannot blow open the top. An alternative is to create a wind barrier using burlap for your shrubs which is also recommended for new plantings.
• Mulching with bark mulch will insulate your plants and keep the ground much warmer for as long as possible.
• Professionals recommend spraying all shrub leaves with an anti-desiccant every month until the temperatures get to below 40⁰ F. This will give each leaf a waxy coating that will prevent drying out when applied to the top and bottom of the leaf. This is easily done with a garden pump sprayer starting in November.
Gutters, Roof and Drains
• Clean leaves and debris from your gutters to avoid backups. Check to make sure that all gutters and downspouts are fastened securely as snow and ice will pull loose gutters away from the house. Downspounts should discharge at least 5 feet from the foundation of your home to keep water away from your home.
• Examine your roof for missing or broken shingles and replace them before a leak starts.
• Roof flashing around chimneys, walls and skylights is susceptible to loose joints. Using roofing cement or caulk, seal any joints where water can penetrate.
• Lawn drainage pipes should be cleared of debris to prevent blockages during the winter.
• Any vent pipes or other openings should have secured screening to prevent animals from nesting in your chimneys, bathroom vents or exhaust pipes.
The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is certainly applicable when it comes to preparing your home for winter. Take time to fix small issues before they become big ones and you will stay warmer and more comfortable all winter long indoors and enjoy the wintery scene outside your windows without worrying about winter damage to your landscape.