A Random List of Homeowner To-Do’s for Winter

Real Estate Sales Representative with William Raveis Real Estate

Each fall throughout the years, I have given various tips for preparing for the long, cold winter ahead, and among them, here are some that are top of mind.

For the lawn, rather than gathering leaves and lawn clippings in bags, cut the leaves while dry with your lawnmower into dime-sized pieces. They will fall among the blades of grass where they will decompose and nourish the lawn over the winter. Bagging them is such a waste of nutrients!

Also outside, remember to disconnect all garden hoses and drain the water that remains in the faucets. Water that remains can freeze and cause pipes to burst as the ice expands. If you don’t have frost-proof faucets, turn off the shut-off valve inside your home.

Remember, your roof is your first line of defense in protecting your home throughout the winter season. Without your roof functioning in good condition, water damage can occur which in turn can cause deterioration to insulation, wood and drywall, making electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems vulnerable. It’s better to proactively deal with repairs in the fall than to discover a leaky roof during a snowstorm.

When all the leaves have fallen, it’s time to clean out gutters and downspouts, flush them with water, inspect joints, and tighten brackets if needed. Clogged gutters are one of the major causes of ice dams. Replace old or damaged gutters with new ones that have built-in leaf guards.

This kind of advice is easy to dole out, but very honestly, for safety’s sake, I have never once been on a ladder to the second story of any home I’ve owned. Scratch that. It’s not for safety’s sake. It’s my fear of heights. No matter the reason, it’s always a good idea to have a roofing professional or handyman check out the condition of your roof.

It’s also a good idea to extend downspouts three or four feet to take water away from the foundation of the house.

On ground level, I have checked weather stripping and caulking on doors and windows, walking around examining the areas where window, door, and corner trim meet the siding, caulking any gaps I’ve found.

Inside the home, winter’s goal is having a home that is well-insulated, devoid of drafts which occur when cold air seeps in from the outside or when warm air exits. Having always lived in older homes, I’ve probably used every trick in the book to supplement inadequate insulation until it could be upgraded. Among them, and my favorite, has been the frequent use of draft snakes at the foot of doors to keep drafts at bay between rooms.

The draft snake was adopted during the Great Depression era as one of the easiest ways to cut back on energy waste. You can make one on your own by simply rolling up a towel or filling up a pouch of fabric with either sand or kitty litter. There are many on the market, however, which can lend craft charm to the winter indoor landscape, even though you have to nudge them out of the way when that door has to be opened and closed. It’s worth the bother in heat saving, however.

To read the rest of this column, click here. Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., the longest running public relations agency in Westchester (www.PrimaveraPR.com). His real estate site is www.PrimaveraRealEstate.com, and his blog is www.TheHomeGuru.com. To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call (914) 522-2076.


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Rosemarie Heindel
Harry Norman Realtors - Big Canoe, GA
Rosemarie Heindel

Wow what a very thorough list you have put together here. Thanks for all your hard work. My father used to tell me not to bag leaves but to use the lawn mower like you have suggested. Some of my neighbors through the years were not very happy with this ebcause they liked clean looking lawns with NO leaves. But you are right, that is a waste of nutrients, as well as time!

Oct 19, 2015 02:43 AM #1
Peter C

Hi Bill,Thanks for a such a concise list of to-do's. I would like to offer a couple of other tips. The first is- that if you need to rake, make sure that last mowing is at a short level. It helps Soo-oo much when raking/blowing, etc. That said, I really like the idea of preserving nutrients in your own vicinity instead of having the Town or other entity take them away. Secondly, frost-free faucets are wonderful, but one must remember that they need to drain to the outside, so when the temperature drops below freezing, the water won't collect inside the pipe and burst. The same thing will happen if you keep your outside valve closed! OPEN those outside valves and disconnect the hoses for those frost free faucets to work. I left a hose on my frost free last year and it froze, breaking a pipe inside the house (!!!). Yeah, I was mopping for a while.So let those frost free faucets have a free drain to the outside. Thanks, P

Oct 20, 2015 05:51 AM #2
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

Great advice, Bill! As we speak, my poor gutters are filled with leaves, and it's time to mulch the leaves that have fallen in the yard. Thanks for providing such a comprehensive list of things to do to get ready for winter. Brrr!

Nov 02, 2015 08:03 AM #3
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