Now that those gorgeous fall colors have started to fade and chilly temperatures have set in, it’s clear that winter is right around the corner. You know you need to get your home ready for the cold weather ahead, but where should you start? From cleaning the gutters to winterizing the deck, find out why you should complete these five fall projects before winter.
Cleaning the Gutters
Whether your gutters have sprouted their own ecosystem or they look perfectly fine from the ground below, it’s important to clean gutters before winter arrives. Fallen leaves and other natural debris tend to accumulate in gutters throughout the summer and fall. Not only can this look unsightly, but it also poses risks to your home and health. When gutters clog, they often lead to ice dams, which can result in water leaking into your home. Even if they don’t clog, the rotting debris can allow mosquitos and other pests to thrive.
To clean your gutters, suit up with water-resistant gloves, safety goggles, and a dust mask for good measure. Use an extendable ladder and a ladder stabilizer to reach your gutters safely without damaging them. Remove the debris by hand and place it in a yard waste bag. Then use your garden hose to clean any remaining debris, and be sure to clear out the downspouts. (For more in depth instructions, check out our step by step guide here: how to clean your gutters.)
Keep in mind that you can install gutter covers after cleaning to keep most of the leaves and twigs away. However, you’ll still need to clear off the covers before winter starts. Your return on investment (ROI) for this project is priceless, as cleaning the gutters could save you thousands of dollars in damage.
Storing and Covering Patio Furniture
Think your patio furniture can handle the winter weather? If your area tends to experience freezing temperatures, ice, or snow, it’s in your best interest to pack up your patio furniture and store it safely for the season. Naturally, exposing furniture to the elements can cause damage or decrease its lifespan. By storing your patio furniture for the winter, you’ll help it last longer so you can enjoy it for many seasons to come.
To store your furniture during cold weather, start by washing it thoroughly. After all, most patio furniture accumulates dirt, dust, and natural debris over the course of the summer. You can use the garden hose and a microfiber cloth to clean most furniture, but you should check the manufacturer’s instructions before cleaning any fabric or upholstered components.
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Keep in mind that you’ll need to let each piece dry thoroughly, and then you should apply a protective coating to metal or wooden furniture. Finally, store everything securely in a sheltered area, such as the garage or a backyard shed.
If your patio furniture is made of a weatherproof material, or advertised as “winter proof” it’s still a good idea to cover it up outside when it’s not in use. This can prolong the life of furniture made of even the hearties materials like cast iron. You can get up to 100 percent ROI on this project.
Winterizing the Deck
Don’t wait until the snow starts falling to give your deck the maintenance it needs to survive the winter. Minor structural problems can easily escalate during several months of ice and freezing temperatures, so winterizing your deck helps it last longer without needing major repairs.
To winterize your deck, start by removing patio furniture and plants, and give it a thorough sweep. Next, use a pressure washer to remove accumulated dirt, pollen, mildew, and other debris. If you have a wooden deck, consider staining and sealing it before the weather cools down. You only need to do this every two or three years, but if the deck has lost its water resistance, it’s in your best interest to complete this step now.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to stain or seal composite decks. This quick and easy project can provide up to 120 percent ROI.
Winterizing the Hot Tub
Hot tubs tend to need minimal maintenance during the summer, but you’ll want to give it a deep clean and close it properly before winter weather arrives. When you winterize your hot tub, you’ll help to ensure that it runs properly when warm weather returns, and you’ll do your part to prevent weather-related damage.
To winterize your spa, disconnect the power and drain the tub. You may need to use a sump pump to remove the water. Once the tub is drained, use a wet vacuum to dry the hot tub liners and any fittings. Reconnect the power briefly to let the air blowers run until they’re also completely dry. Next, soak and clean the filters so they’re in prime condition next spring. Finally, close the cover to keep it clean and dry until warm weather returns.
Keep in mind that if you’re planning to use your hot tub during the winter months, you’ll want to keep it running as-is. Just be sure to check on it a few times a month to make sure everything is running as normal. This project has up to 100 percent ROI.
Cleaning Exterior Doors
Over the course of the year, you might not realize just how much dirt your exterior doors accumulate. Take the time to clean your front door, back door, and garage door before the temperature dips below freezing, and you’ll ensure that your home’s exterior looks sharp throughout the winter.
To clean exterior doors, start by dusting or vacuuming the surface thoroughly. Next, use a gentle cleanser and a microfiber cloth to remove any remaining debris. Use a glass cleaner to polish the windows, and use a metal cleaner that’s appropriate for the hardware. If you notice any paint cracking or peeling, consider giving the doors a fresh coat of paint, too.
Keep in mind that if you’re planning to paint any exterior doors, you’ll want to do this on a clear day when the temperature is in the 60s. Cold weather can compromise paint’s ability to dry properly. The ROI for this project ranges from 80 to 140 percent.
Not sure which project to start first? Consider beginning with the job that offers the highest ROI to ensure that you’re protecting your investments. With these five projects checked off your to-do list, you’ll be ready to welcome winter.