In many parts of the country and #Winchester VA, the end of summer is time to stow tools and equipment to protect them from harsh weather, and to prolong life and use. Here is a handy checklist for the transition.
Wheel portable models to inside storage, but keep propane tanks outside, and covered with a plastic bag or tarp. Propane poses an explosion risk indoors. Many homeowners keep BBQ grills outdoors and covered. Be aware that covers can trap moisture, leading to rusted burners, cooking grids and grates.
Sturdy, wooden play equipment anchored in the ground can weather the outdoors, as can heavier plastic models. But wooden play equipment will last longer with water sealer applied in the fall and spring. Check first for splinters and sand rough areas, then apply sealer.
Smaller, lighter-weight units, especially plastic, should go inside to prevent sharp edges caused from freezing.
Tune up the mower at summer's end to avoid the spring rush at the start mowing season. Add a gasoline stabilizer to remaining fuel to preserve it. Follow the same routine for any gas-powered equipment, such as weed trimmers or leaf blowers.
To prevent damage form freezing, unhook garden hoses from spigots, empty water, and store hoses in a garage or shed. Even drained hoses that are left outdoors suffer from exposure, which shortens their use to a couple of years.
Bring leftover paint from summer projects indoors to a basement or heated garage.
Portable, lightweight, plastic lawn furniture should be brought inside. Heavier pieces, such as wrought-iron, can be left outside and protected with manufacturer’s covers or large plastic bags available from most hardware stores or online.
Store cushions in the garage or house.
Pull up dead, potted annuals at summer's end; compost the soil or put in the garden; and store pots in a shed, garage or basement. Otherwise, terracotta pots left outdoors can freeze and plastic pots will wear out in a couple of years from exposure.
Sharpen tools: shears, weeders, pruners, spades and other metal hand tools. Then dip them in sand mixed with motor oil to clean and lubricate before storing.
Winterizing a pool can be complex in climates with freezing temperatures. Consider getting help from a pool professional the first time you winterize. The task can involve partially or fully draining the pool, depending on regional practices. Typically, water is drained from all lines to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting.
If water is left in pools, toss in air pillows, plastic gallon jugs or even logs – these items can be safely crushed by expanding ice to avoid pool damage, especially to more vulnerable large, freestanding vinyl pools.
Cover pools and remove ladders and hoses. Diving boards can be removed or covered. Small children’s pools should be brought indoors.
Your city may have by-laws regarding pool safety and pool coverings. Check to see what your obligations are.