Homeowners winter check list
This list is not inclusive. Each house has individual items that need to be checked. If you are in doubt or have questions about a repair or procedure, contact a qualified person for assistance.
If you have any lawn and garden equipment (mowers, edgers, etc.) it is important that you take precautions to winterize those items. Equipment should be cleaned, degreased and dry before storage. Greasing all applicable areas helps to remove moisture from that part. Blades from mowers should be sharpened and gasoline should be treated for storage with the appropriate additives.
1. The foundation is the first place to start. Walk around the house and look for any cracks in the foundation. The cracks need to be patched to prevent further damage. Moisture entering the cracks freezes and breaks them foundation. Patching concrete in a tube is the quickest and easiest.
2. Make sure that there is a nice buildup of dirt around the foundation. The current recommended slope is about 5 percent. That is a drop of about 6 inches in a distance of about 10 feet. Home Inspectors and builders estimate that over 75 percent of the moisture problems in basement can be corrected with proper grading and drainage.
3. Any blockage in the gutters and down spouts will allow ice dams to form and force moisture under the roofing material and siding. Make sure the gutters are clean. Drainage from the gutters and down spouts needs to be directed away from the foundation. If your down spouts do not have extensions add them to achieve a drainage distance of about 5 feet from the foundation. Make sure that the drainage doesn't put puddles of water in areas that will be used for walking. Warm weather thawing and then refreeze will create dangerous ice spots.
4. Check around all the windows and doors for caulking. If there are gaps or cracks, the existing caulking needs to be removed and replaced. Make sure the storm windows fit tight and there are no airgaps. You might also check the glazing on the windows. Glazing is the material that holds the glass panes in the window frame. This material can dry up and fall out and needs to be replaced.
5. Replace your screens with storm windows and storm doors. Inspect the screens and make plans to replace or patch any damaged.
6. Check your porch and/or deck for damaged or loose boards. While your under the deck look for cracks in the foundation and the anchors for the deck supports. Might be a good time to apply additional sealer to the support post at the bases. They may be covered in snow and moisture for a significant period of time.
7. This would also be a good time to treat you deck with a water sealant. There are a number of new products out that can be applied while the deck is still wet. This will help prevent the wood from being damaged under prolong exposure to the moisture of snow sleet and rain.
8. Check the roof for damaged or loose shingles. Loose shingles can be glued down with asphalt cement and missing or damage shingles can be replaced. If over 50 percent of the roofing material is damaged, consider a new roof. Most roofers aren't happy working on a roof during cold winter months. If you have to hire a roofer, start the job early. Any loose or damage areas will be made worse by snow and freezing moisture. The wind will blow the snow and moisture under the shingles, freezing and possibly cracking the shingle.
9. Check the flashing for rust or damage. Any moisture that gets between the flashing can freeze and expand, damaging the flashing and the structure that the flashing is attached to. Flashing is usually tar paper or metal and put where the roof meets the chimney, windows and edges.
10. Make sure that the chimney caps are attached and the screens are in place. No caps or screens allow moisture and animals to enter the chimney. This would be the time for a call to a qualified chimney sweep for an inspection and cleaning.
11. Check the siding reattaching and repairing any bad area. Soft siding is absorbing moisture and needs to be replaced. Bare spots should be sealed, primed and painted.
12. Check all of the exterior hydrants (hose faucets) and make sure that they are the freeze proof type. Do not leave hoses attached to the hydrant. One evening of freezing temperatures can ruin the hydrant and cause moisture damage to the house from broken pipes.
13. If you have an lawn sprinkler system, you need to have a service company flush the system and winterize it.