Falling leaves are not only a sign that autumn is here, but also a sign you need to prepare your home for cold weather. This includes making sure the exterior is in tip-top shape and that all vents and gutters are clean and functioning properly.
Here are five things you can do now to winterize your home’s exterior.
Clean the gutters and downspouts
Downspouts that are clogged with weeds, leaves and other debris can lead to rust and rotted wood, loosening a home’s foundation and causing flooding in the basement. North Bethesda real estate agent Jody Goren with Weichert Realtors said weeds that have sprouted in gutters during the summer are a red flag for homeowners at this time of year.
Clogged gutters can also result in mildew building up under the roof, according to thespruce.com. In some cases, the backup of water can cause downspouts to pull away from the fascia, where it attaches to the roof.
Inspect the dryer vents
Goren recommends cleaning out the clothes dryer vent to prevent the buildup of lint and dust. The vent is usually on the outside of the house, close to where the dryer is inside.
“It’s usually a little silver, slanted dome cover,” she said. “If it gets clogged up periodically, it’s a fire hazard.”
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that about 5,000 house fires occur every year as a result of clogged dryer vents due to restricted airflow that causes gases to become trapped inside the vent.
Thespruce.com advises against planting shrubs or other plants in front of the vent because they obstruct airflow. It also suggests that homeowners check the vent four times a year to make sure there are no cracks.
Winterize your garden hose
Winterizing your garden hose involves emptying it of water left from the warm months. But Goren said it also means draining any faucets and valves of water to protect the pipes from freezing during the cold months.
Thespruce.com advises shutting off your outside water line and protecting your outside faucets with a foam cover, which will keep the faucet from freezing.
Protect outside surfaces against the cold
Now is a good time change your screen doors back to glass and to weatherize parts of the exterior, Goren said. She advised making sure all windows and doors fit tightly in their frames. She recommended looking for areas that develop rust or cracks as a result of weather exposure. Small cracks can be repaired with caulk.
Also, homeowners may want to apply a wood finish treatment to deck surfaces.
Don’t forget the plants
“It’s a good idea to protect your cold-sensitive plants,” Goren said. “Some plants you should bring indoors.”
Plants typically freeze when the temperature drops below 32 degrees, according to todayshomeowner.com. The most vulnerable are tropical and frost-tender plants that tend to grow in warmer climates. The site suggests watering them beforehand to prevent drying or bringing them inside. Using a flower pot or layer of mulch to cover the plants can also be a good protection method.
Follow these suggestions, and enjoy the outside of your home right through Thanksgiving and Chanukah.