In the spring, many Wisconsin homeowners get to work sprucing up their homes for the summer. We check the house for winter weather damage and look at any areas that need to be touched up.
But then summer heats up, and plans start to take up our weekends. We’re headed up North one weekend; the next weekend, we’re spending time at the lake. Before we know it, summer is nearing an end, and many of those exterior home maintenance projects have gone by the wayside. But early fall is a great time to prepare your home for the colder months. Follow these five fall home maintenance tips to ensure you’re in good shape for winter.
A Good Time to Prepare Your Home for Fall and Winter
Late summer and early fall are the perfect time to prepare for winter weather. Most of us know it’s time to change the furnace filter and check that our HVAC system is in good condition for cold weather. We might take the time to check smoke alarms and test carbon monoxide detectors to ensure we’re safe. Interior maintenance tasks are often our focus. But the outside of our home should be just as prepared for colder weather. The best way to prepare for cooler temperatures is to check out your exterior now.
1. Check Your Gutters and Downspout
Even if you clean gutters in the spring, it’s a good idea to give them another assessment as we come upon fall. A visual check should be sufficient if you have gutter protection in place. Look at the outside of your gutter. Check for cracks, areas where the gutter pulls away from the fascia (connecting the gutter and roof), or water running down the house. You may need to use garden hoses to test for water leaks (before you take the hoses off your outdoor faucets).
Look at your gutter protection system. Is it in place? Are there any damaged areas? Gutters should be covered and sealed tightly with no leaks or areas where water can get near your home’s foundation. If you notice any standing or slow-moving water in the gutter, you may have a clog. Water should flow away from your home and freely out of the downspout; otherwise, you might face ice dams and other issues come winter.
If you don’t have gutter protection or your gutters are damaged, it’s time to consider gutter replacement. Over time, your gutters can become loose and the seals can give way, especially without proper gutter protection systems. Consider an update as part of your exterior home maintenance to prepare your house for the chilly winter winds coming off Lake Michigan.
Watch this video from Tod & Todd explaining why gutter protection systems are so important.
2. Assess Your Roof
Another item on your fall maintenance checklist is to look at the condition of your roof. Climbing up on a ladder can be dangerous (and you can even damage your shingles), so do a visual inspection from the ground. Look for areas where the shingles are peeling up or curling. If the edges start turning up, it’s a telltale sign your roof may be due for replacement.
Other signs you need a roof replacement include missing shingles or shingles that are loose or falling off. Discoloration and fading are unsightly and can also indicate that your roof has aged. A leaky roof is an emergency–and not one you want to face in the winter. We often think winter is the hardest time on the roof in Wisconsin, but summer also presents hazards. Hailstorms, heat, humidity, and improper ventilation of your home cause serious damage and lead to roof problems that rear their ugly head during cold winters.
Another indication that your roof has aged is to look at the runoff in your gutter. Do you see roofing materials like sand or asphalt pieces accumulating? This sediment indicates that your roof is deteriorating. If you notice these signs, call Weather Tight for an assessment. We use assessment tools to pinpoint any issues you may have with your roof and offer you a no-hassle estimate for roof replacement.
3. Look at Your Windows
One of the most essential exterior home maintenance tips to prepare for winter is to look at your windows. Windows aren’t only your home’s eyes, letting in light and fresh air to beat the summer heat—windows also serve a crucial insulating function in the winter. They keep your house warm and protected from air leaks in the late fall and winter.
Now is the best time to have a professional check your windows and make sure they’re in top form. It will help you keep your heating bills consistent. You want the warm air from your furnace to stay INSIDE your house! A warm home is important as winter sets in.
Windows in good condition should be relatively low maintenance. With regular washing, your windows should stay bright and clear all year round. If you notice cloudiness between panes, a constantly foggy appearance, or mildew and mold growing along the window casing, call our window replacement team! Other indicators that your windows are failing include cracked paint and soft or damp wood anywhere around your windows (indoors or out).
Do you get out the tape and plastic each winter to “seal up” your windows for winter? Believe it or not, this typical Wisconsin winter home maintenance step isn’t at all necessary if you have correctly installed windows. Your windows should be free of air infiltration and leaks. Many of our customers are shocked to find out how much energy they’re losing with leaky windows!
4. Inspect Your Siding and Exterior Finish
Now that you’ve looked at your gutters, roof, and windows, it’s time to take a look at your exterior finish overall. How does your home look from the curb? Is everything in tip-top shape? If you have aluminum siding, are there dents or dings? Has the siding been pitted due to weather or mistreatment? Are there areas where the siding is loose or even falling off? You’ll want everything secure before we face winter storms.
Those with stucco or wood-finish homes should take a look at the paint and finish on your house. Is the paint peeling, or are there signs of mildew, pests, or water damage? Not only do these exterior finish problems detract from the value and curb appeal of your home, but they can indicate much larger (and more expensive) issues on the horizon.
If your home could use a facelift, consider investing in beautiful, low-maintenance vinyl siding! New siding will save you the hassle of painting each year, and it can really increase the look and even the comfort of your home. We remove old siding, and underneath each siding job, we apply a special home wrap that allows your house to “breathe” properly. The new siding is weather-tight to ensure your home stays warm in the winter (and cool in the summer).
5. Don’t Ignore Your Front Door
Finally, the fifth tip for exterior home maintenance is to take a look at your front door. Does your door leak air? Do you have to keep a rug snuggled up to the door (or, worse, a beanbag snake) to block the drafts? Have you ever had snow or frost sneak into the INSIDE of your front door?
A new door keeps the cold air out and improves your home’s look, safety, and security. It may seem like a minor home update, but your front door significantly impacts your house. Unfortunately, many homeowners try to DIY their front door updates. This project can lead to leaks and even security issues if the door isn’t correctly installed.
Leave the front door update to the professionals! A new front door is an affordable way to change your home’s exterior and increase your safety and comfort. We have many great safety features, like our multi-point locking system, to keep you extra secure. If you have a drafty front door, don’t wait another year or suffer through another winter when cooler weather comes. Call us today to discuss your options.
We can do many home exterior updates all year round, so don’t worry about the coming winter months. Our team works in most weather conditions to ensure your home exterior project is completed to your satisfaction. If you notice some areas on your fall checklist that need to be addressed, reach out. We’re happy to help you make the outside of your home just as cozy as the inside. Contact us today and learn just how stress-free home exterior projects can be!