With Summer 2016 in the history books, hot weather is slowly giving way to Georgia’s beautiful fall season. Autumn is an ideal time to prepare homes for winter and the cold, wet weather it often brings. Take advantage of the cooler, drier air of the coming season to spend time outside while repairing, cleaning, and winterizing homes.
Get your mind in the gutter. Gutters divert thousands of gallons of water away from eaves and foundations, but when they become clogged with leaves and other debris they could force water into a home, instead of away from it. Inspect and clean roof drainage systems. If cleaning gutters is too difficult, dangerous or time-consuming, hire a professional. Consider installing mesh guards or a gutter system designed to require less maintenance.
Add Storm Windows. Old, single-pane windows leak warm air out, and allow chilly air into a home. Storm windows can dramatically reduce drafts, and can yield energy savings of up to 13 percent. If windows must be replaced, buy energy efficient models with low-E glass, multiple glass panes, warm-edge spacers between the panes, and gas fillers such as argon or krypton.
Remove creepers. Get rid of aggressive vines from your home’s exterior. On brick homes, vines can pull lime out of the mortar, creating entry points for water. Vines also hold moisture against walls. On wood siding, that can cause rot and can even push apart planks. Pull off any vines growing on a home’s façade, cut them at the base, and dig out the roots.
Review Your Roof. Check roofs for leaks, and make needed repairs before winter weather sets in. Catching a leak before it happens can save hundreds on the cost of repairing a ceiling or wall and potentially thousands of dollars in mold remediation. From the ground with binoculars, or while standing on a ladder, look for broken or misplaced shingles and other damage that needs attention.
Check the driveway. Small cracks and holes in driveways can quickly expand into large gaps and potholes if snow and ice get into them. In addition to being unattractive, cracked cement and crumbling asphalt may present dangerous conditions for pedestrians. Hire a pro to ensure driveway damage is repaired properly, so the damage doesn’t return or get worse.
Switch it up. The shorter days of fall and winter require more outdoor lighting. Take this opportunity to switch burned-out incandescent bulbs for LEDs, which screw right into existing fixtures. While pricey, LED bulbs are more durable and use 75 percent less energy than incandescents. They can also last 22 years or more.
Touch Up Paint. No time for a full-blown exterior painting project? Hit the trouble spots, such as the cut ends of boards, where paint peels first. If time permits, apply a coat of fresh paint to all trim pieces.
Winterize faucets and pipes. Even in the sunny South, most exterior plumbing must be insulated to prevent freezing and bursting. Many homeowners can winterize most exterior pipes, but more complex projects, such as sprinkler systems or outdoor fountains, are best left to a professional.
If your fall home fix-ups exceed your budget, consider getting a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC), or a Home Equity Loan. Both options give you the latitude to pay later, for important fall fix-ups that are needed right now.