Early winter of 2015-2016 has been unseasonably warm here in Eastern CT, but that’s what we had last year until we got hit with a Blizzard and 3 Polar vortexes that put us into a deep freeze with temps struggling to get out of the teens early last February.
Getting busy outside your home NOW will pay dividends in reduced hassles and may even avoid expensive repairs. Here’s a quick things to double check before outside temps plunge sapping your enthusiasm to get things done.
- Check for positive grade away from foundation. If the ground settled anywhere and there’s a chance that water can puddle against your foundation, make a change NOW before your basement becomes flooded in the spring. I’ve seen mulch at the planting beads look like there’s pitch away from the home, but then if you pulled back the mulch (which floats!) the soil actually pitches toward the foundation of a home. You can buy small bags of soil and then regrade next to your foundation BEFORE the ground freezes. This can help minimize foundation leaks during storms.
- Make sure footing/gutter drains daylight terminations (if you have one) are clear of leaves and yard debris. You might think that’s obviously something that you wouldn’t let happen, but I’ve had clients find those terminations covered and frozen after trying to figure out why a previously dry basement all of a sudden became flooded during a major storm event.
- Seal Driveway Cracks – To prevent water flowing into them as that causes frost heaves and will accelerate your driveway’s deterioration.
- Look at where rain waters flow NOW before snow is on the ground. Snow drifts can impede the flow of water in the swales around your home and the end result can be water flooding your basement! Knowing what areas of your yard which should be cleared if we get a deep snow pack is important. A great video on that topic is HERE:
- Check and confirm your gutters are clear of leaves. Remember the ice damning that you or others may have had last year? Clogged gutters are a start to creating an ice damning problem. Their root cause is often the lack of insulation and air sealing in older homes along with lack of “water & ice” barrier under the roofing.
- Check Caulking At Windows/Doors/Penetrations – Caulking deteriorates over time. If you see caulking that’s cracked it’s only going to allow driving rain to enter the home AND it’s going to be a source of drafts.
- Remove hoses from outside faucets – Frost-free faucets are NOT freeze proof unless a hose is disconnected to allow the water to flow out of the valve.
- Have Ice Melt Available – You should not apply “Rock Salt” to concrete walks, porches and driveways as the salt will break down the concrete! That’s a great product for asphalt driveways but not concrete surfaces. Use Calcium Chloride on concrete surfaces.
- Snow Removal Resource – If you plan on having snow removal done by a contractor, have those arrangements made NOW before a storm hits. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone to do snow removal right after a blizzard and you’ll pay a lot more if you are not a regular customer for the contractor removing the snow.
- Heating System Annual Service – That should be done every year for oil burning furnaces and boilers. Change air filters and turn on humidifiers
- Windows – All windows should be locked. If you have storm windows, they should all be now closed so that there’s storm window’s glass at top/bottom sashes. If you still have your window A/C unit in your window, you are in serious need of a home maintenance plan! Get it out of the window and stored as it’s just a big hole in your wall costing you money due to heat loss and the room it is in will feel a lot cooler than the rest of your home.
- Frozen Pipes – You should really never have them. If you are on vacation, set your thermostat no lower than 50 degrees. HERE are some tips if you ever get a frozen pipe.
- Smoke Detectors – New Years celebration is always a milestone that we all can relate to. It’s also a good time to replace your smoke detector’s batteries every year!
I hope this info helps you get your house in order so that you can cut back what needs to be done when we finally see Old Man Winter again here in CT! Happy New Year!