The holiday season is upon us, and cold weather is setting in across the country. Now is the time to make one final pass around the exterior of your property to make sure your home will be safe and accessible all winter. Organize unheated garages and sheds to prepare for the damage that freezing temperatures can cause. You’ll be ready for winter, and spring will be that much better when you go looking for that spade shovel and don’t find a nasty surprise instead. Here’s what to do.
Walks, Patios and Driveways A paved outdoor surface in the summer can get away with a lot of flaws — cracks, loose pavers, missing mortar. When you can see where you’re going, you can step around the flaws, but once the first snow falls and you’re shoveling the walk and the shovel keeps hitting the edge of that loose paver, making it even worse and slowing you down, you’ll wish you had taken the time to set it back in place.
Any crack or hole where water can pool and freeze in your hardscaping is going to become bigger when water, which expands when it freezes, settles in for a cold night.
What to do: For pavers set in sand, get some paver sand and a rubber mallet and reset loose pavers. If mortar is missing, mix some up and place it with a margin trowel. For small joints you can also get a tube of mortar repair (I like Quikrete), which you can apply with a standard caulk gun.
Garages and Sheds If you have a garage or shed where you store tools and supplies, a couple of housekeeping tasks are in order.
What to do:Make sure any things you’ll need for the winter — shovel, snowblower, rock salt — are easily accessible. That way when you’re late for work and need to clear the driveway, you won’t waste time digging through bikes, rakes and a volleyball net.
Look for liquids stored in the garage that will be harmed by freezing temperatures. Latex paint should not be allowed to freeze. Open it up and if it still seems good enough to keep, move it to the basement.
If you don’t run your gas- or diesel-powered equipment dry, put a fuel stabilizer like Sta-Bil in the tank to protect the fuel over the winter. Turn off the water supply to exterior hose bibs and open the spigot outside in case there is water left in the pipe. Detach hoses from the spigot, then coil and store them in the shed.
Decks Even if you swept your deck at the end of fall, there will probably still be built-up organic material between the boards. This can lead to rotting of the boards and the structural framing.
What to do:Clean the stuff out with a stiff bristle broom or a pressure washer. Check your outdoor lighting, too. Replace bulbs as needed. When the sun goes down early and there is potential for icy paths and steps, good lighting is important.