Fall Outside Maintenance

Autumn Roof Care: Fall roof care is particularly important for a couple of reasons.

First, your roof and gutters are rapidly being inundated with falling leaves, which can easily clog your roof’s drainage system. It’s critical that you keep your gutters and roof clean as you head into the cold winter months in order to prevent ice from accumulating on your roof.

Second, winter is the worst time of the year to be dealing with roof issues, so you’ll certainly want to ensure your roof is ready to do battle with Old Man Winter when he arrives so ensure your roof does its job all season long with these winter roof maintenance tips:

Inspect your roof for signs of damage or decay. From a safe spot, closely examine your roof with a pair of binoculars, looking for areas of concern. If you spot any, give us a call so we can come out and take a closer look.

Prepare properly! Before freezing temps arrive, ensure your attic is well-insulated, as the two biggest winter roof problems—icicles and ice dams–are the result of a too-warm roof! Icicles and ice dams form at the edges of your roof and in your gutters, respectively, because ice and snow is melting too quickly from your roof (because your home’s heat is rapidly escaping). Once the relatively warm water reaches your gutters and roof-line, it refreezes since it’s no longer coming in contact with your home’s too-warm roof. There, it can form large icicles and ice dams.

Trim back branches that are hanging over your roof. Doing so prevents high winds and snow from knocking down limbs and causing roof damage come winter.

Clean your gutters: (video) A clogged gutter can overflow and break, putting strain on the roof itself. It can also fill with ice, which will cause thawing damage and strains the guttering. This will ensure melting ice and snow flows easily through gutters and away from your foundation once the cold weather arrives. Gutter guards often aren’t worth bothering with. They can make your gutters impossible to clean, which is more hassle than it’s worth.

Check your basement for water damage stains and your attic for mildew. Both mildew and water damage indicates that your drainage system isn’t taking the water far away enough from your home.

If water is getting back into your foundation, your attic and basement will start showing signs of dampness. To fix this, try extending your downspout to direct the water further away.

Check Your Window Wells: Window wells are a great way to let natural light into your basement and provide ventilation. They also help keep soil away from the window fixtures. But if they are not maintained well, they can put your basement at risk.

One of the major reasons for window well flooding is liner failure. If your liner becomes detached from the foundation wall, soil pressure can widen the gap between the loose liner and the wall. This gives water an opportunity to penetrate when the soil becomes over-saturated.

Before winter sets in, check your window wells. This is the time of the year where the problem can be at its worst. Inspect the liner and replace any that have become loose.

Prepare for Winter Storms: Winter brings freezing rain, Sleet, and blizzards. Get prepared ahead of time so that the next big storm doesn’t leave you in trouble.

If you have a generator, you want to make sure that it’s working. Also, keep a stash of batteries for lanterns and flashlights in case of power outages and blackouts.

Another good tip is to keep a solar-powered or battery-operated radio in your home. This means that if cellphone reception goes out, you can keep up to date with the news and weather.

Check the condition of your snow shovels, gloves, and window scrapers. Store any heavy snow supplies near the door where you can get quick access to them.

Finally, a buildup of heavy snow on a tree limb can increase the risk of them breaking off. This poses a threat of injury to people and property damage. Also, brush snow off tree limbs after each big snowfall. You can use a broom or roof rake to extend you reach.

Winterize the Air Conditioning System: Often neglected is one of the most important components of a cooling system–the condensing unit outside that churns away in the heat of summer. This component needs a little TLC as winter approaches.

Clean the condensing unit of debris using a hose with the spray-head set to the highest pressure, clean the fan blades and condensing coils clear of debris and dirt. Let the unit dry completely before covering it for the winter. Left unprotected, the condensing unity can be damaged by wet leaves and debris that contribute to rusting and freezing of internal components. Although these units are designed for outdoor use, covering them with a breathable waterproof cover made for that purpose goes a long way to extending the life and efficient performance of the unit.

Prepare Your Hoses and Yard: If you’re a devoted gardener, you probably try to take good care of your tools and equipment. Some things are easy to forget, though. For instance, you might not put too much thought into maintaining your water hose, but when it’s left out in the cold all winter, it can experience some serious damage. While that’s good news for heavy duty garden hose makers come springtime, its bad news for forgetful gardeners.

When a hose freezes, the water inside expands, causing holes to develop, and ultimately weakening the hose’s lining. The damage can be even worse if the frozen garden hose is still connected to the house because it can lead to issues with the water pressure in the pipes and water lines.

To prevent this kind of disaster, here is a step-by-step guide on how to keep your hose from freezing over the winter:

Step 1: Shut off the water spigot to stop the flow of water to the hose.
Step 2: Straighten out any kinks to allow the water to flow freely through the hose.
Step 3: Release the remaining water from the hose. Make sure it is completely empty by removing attachments, such as sprinkler heads, and dumping every last drop of water.
Step 4: Disconnect the hose from the water spigot.
Step 5: Make sure no more water is remaining in the end of the hose closest to the spigot. Garden hoses can be as short as 25 feet or as long as 100 feet, so make sure you walk the entire length of the hose, lifting every section as you go, to ensure that no water is left in the middle.
Step 6: Wind the garden hose up into a circular shape to prevent any kinks from forming during the storage period. Each loop should be roughly three feet in diameter.
Step 7:Make sure the hose maintains its coiled shape so that it doesn’t develop any kinks while in storage.
A high quality garden hose typically lasts between five and 10 years. Of course, if it is not well maintained, its lifespan will be a lot shorter. Any devoted gardener knows that a hose is a critical tool for any kind of gardening or yard work. Take good care of yours.

Yard and Garden: Batten down the hatches for winter with these tips for your yard and gardens.

Fall is a glorious time of year with that crisp clean fresh smell, and the combination of shorter days and tumbling temperatures remind us to get our outdoor affairs in order before winter comes knocking.

Leaf removal occupies a major chunk of outdoor chore time, and rightly so. Leaves that pile up can harm grass and turn sidewalks and driveways into a slippery mess. Taking care of a few simple things in fall can save hundreds-if not thousands—of dollars when winter puts us knee-deep in snow and ice.

Buy Ice Melt: The time to lay in a supply of ice melt is before there’s ice on the way. For a pet-friendly ice melt use magnesium chloride, this will not burn the pads of their feet. It is also recommended not using salt blends on concrete and especially not new concrete. Using sand for traction is still the safest choice for concrete.

Clean and Cover Outdoor Furniture: Clean and cover outdoor furniture, making sure it’s snug and secure for winter.

Keep Grilling: Grill as long as you can. Many homeowners move a grill closer to the house for winter, but choose your location carefully to avoid fire or melted siding.

Check Outdoor Lighting: This is especially important with lights that require stepladders for bulb changes.

Cut Grass: Mow your lawn to at least 4 inches to protect grass from freeze and snow. Leave it to long and it may mat up and develop snow mold disease, which cause bare spots next spring. Trim your perennials down.

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