Preparing for the colder weather starts early in Nova Scotia, and Classic Roofing & Siding Limited is here to make sure you're confident that your home is ready to take on another winter! We know the toll our extreme temperatures and punishing winds take on homes in the maritimes. So, we only use trusted materials we know will perform well in our climate. To get the most benefit out of any building materials, maintenance is key! Use our 12 easy steps to winterize the exterior of your house and property. We might even surprise you with a few details you wouldn't have normally thought of!
1. Seal your exterior wooden trim boards with a coat of paint and caulking.
Wooden trim on the exterior of your house needs protection from harsh elements. The trim around windows and exterior doors can deteriorate quickly if they aren't sealed. On the other hand, just because a board appears old, weathered and the paint is flaking away, doesn't necessarily mean it's rotten. If you're not sure how to check for rotten trim boards and window frames we've got a few pointers on what to look for.
- Inside your home you can check the window sills for any signs of peeling paint, water stains, soft areas, or visible damage. Since the sill sits at the bottom of the window frame water will sit there for a longer period of time if there are any leaks.
- Next, take a look at each of the corners of your interior casing trim, this is where you'll find the mitre joints. You're checking the mitre joints for any gaps. If there is a gap and it's bigger at the bottom than it is at the top, it's a sure sign that the frame sustained water damage that froze once it got colder. Once the water freezes, it expands, which pushes the corners apart.
- Now it's time to go outside and inspect the trim boards visually. If you notice changes in the color of the trim boards and window frame, it may be rotting. If you do have rotten boards it can cause other problems. As the rot spreads it holds onto moisture, allowing fungus, mildew and mold to grow.
- Check each one of your window frames for firmness. When your inspecting the frames and testing them the wood should be consistent and hard. If you find any soft, or crumbling areas in the board it's a sign the trim board is rotting.
When you're doing your visual inspection of your exterior window trim take note of any cracked caulking and flaking paint. To maintain your window frames and trim boards and to keep them looking great, give them a fresh coat of paint and seal them with caulk. To start, scrape the caulk and paint off of the surface. Once it's clean, apply a new coat of paint and caulk the seams. A lot of homeowners choose to do this kind of home maintenance themselves, but we understand that not everybody is able to access all of their windows or has the time! If you need an extra hand getting things done before winter hits, contact us and we'd be happy to help. Also, if you do happen to find any rotten trim boards during your inspection that requires replacement, you’ll want to to hire an experienced trim installer to remove and replace the boards in question. Replacing window trim can tricky, but our expert installers will give your frames a professional finish.
2. Make sure to seal any brick, concrete or asphalt surfaces.
Your driveway, walkways, and concrete patio all need protection against the weather. There are a number of sealants available at your local home hardware store for all different types of stonework, brick asphalt and concrete.
- When your looking to protect brick patios and walls, try to avoid using silicone and acrylic products or waterproof sealants that sit on top of the surface. This can trap unwanted moisture behind the sealant, weakening the brickwork. If you seal a brick wall properly with a non-gloss penetrating clear sealer, it locks out the moisture and protects the brick from water damage.
- Consider applying a concrete sealant to anything with a flat exterior concrete surface. It's inevitable that your concrete flat work will eventually develop cracks. When the concrete is poured it's designed with contraction joints. This feature is meant to keep cracking confined to certain areas. For small cracks that are less than 1/4 inch in width, you can fill them with concrete caulk or liquid filler. For cracks wider than 1/4 inch, it's best to patch and seal it with a concrete patching compound. Most of the time, you mix water in with the patching compound, then you can smooth it out with a trowel, making sure you're blending the edges to the rest of the surface. When you're finished with your concrete repairs, allow time for it to cure completely then thoroughly clean the area before applying sealant. Since your patch won't match the color of your old concrete, after you seal the concrete you can use a concrete (or masonry) paint.
- For asphalt walkways and driveways, this is a great time to think about resealing them too. Asphalt driveways and walkways should be resealed every three years to protect them and maintain their appearance.You can opt to hire a company to spray sealant on any of the asphalt surfaces, or purchase a bucket of asphalt sealant and apply it with a roller yourself. If you notice there are any cracks in the driveway patch them before you apply seal. By following these steps you can prevent any further damage to your asphalt this winter.
3. Repair any damaged or deteriorated roofing, and make sure your roofing system is in good working order.
Did you notice that your home had lots of icicles last winter? Can you visually see any missing roof shingles or damage? To prevent icicles, ice dams, and melt water back-up this time around, you'll need to identify and fix any roof damage, air leaks, poor ventilation or insulation problems. Make sure to inspect your roof frequently or have an experienced roofing company inspect it for leaks, missing shingles, damaged roofing materials, and any other issues. We can send one of our professional Estimators to assess your roof for any repairs that should be completed before the winter. Our roofing installation experts will make sure your house is secured with weather tight roofing for the season. If there's any damage or deterioration to the siding of your house, you might be surprised to learn that repairs and complete siding installations can be done year-round. Only severe rain, wind, extreme temperatures and ice will stop us.
4. Make sure your rain gutters and downspouts are free of any debris and that they're draining properly.
Fall is here, and as the deciduous trees go dormant for the winter their leaves start to fall! When your trees are starting to look bare, you should probably get your gutters cleaned out. If your rain gutters are left with a blockage of debris they'll back-up and overflow. The water spills over, and runs down the side of your home. Over time, this can cause water damage and rot to the exterior wall. As it travels down the wall, instead of being directed away from your home, it can deteriorate the concrete foundation. If the water is able to collect around the foundation at all the water can leak into your basement. To prevent this check to see if the soil around the foundation of your house has settled and fill in any low spots with soil. To make certain the water is directed away from your home, take a look where your downspouts are depositing the water flow. If it's to close to the foundation you can add downspout extenders to the bottom.
5. If you have one, it's time to have your chimney flue or stove pipe inspected and cleaned.
If you plan on using your fire place or wood stove for heating this winter you'll want to have your chimney or stove pipe inspected and cleaned before the winter starts. Hire a professional to ensure your fire place is safe for you and your family to use. When you've got the go ahead from your chimney sweep that your fire place or wood stove is safe, you're ready to order a load of firewood. Stack and cover your wood in an easily accessible area, close to your home. Double-check any of your old firewood, and move any rotten wood away from your house.
6. Keep your roof animal-free this winter by taking some precautions.
When it starts getting colder animals begin looking for a warm place to snuggle up. Unfortunately, they make terrible house guests! Animals can do a lot of damage to your home, and early prevention is best. Below, you'll find a list of hot tips so you can keep unwanted animals from moving into your house.
If you suspect critters have already moved in, one way you can check is to take a look in your crawlspace or attic. If there’s any animals present, you should see signs like droppings, nesting material, and other damage, like chewed insulation and wires. If you see anything out of the ordinary, it’s definitely time to take action. Call your local pest control services to remove any animals from your home safely before following our tips below.
- Cut any tree branches away from your roof.
- Install a chimney cap to keep animals out.
- Confirm that your gable vents are in place.
- Repair any areas with holes or damage.
- Inspect your soffit and fascia. Secure the soffit properly, so that there are no gaps or openings.
- Protect roof vents and other exterior vents by adding covers to prevent animal entry.
7. Inspect the trees located on your property for damage and signs of rot.
Before the leaves are done falling take some time to look at your trees. Making sure to inspect the trees close to your house and along your property line for damage and rot. Trim any branches that come too close to your home away completely. If you do notice any of your trees are endangering the neighboring property, you'll want to have them removed as soon as possible. For more details on tree care check out our blog post 6 Things You Should Know About Tree Damage Prevention
6. Drain your outside faucets.
The water faucet located outside has no protection from the freezing elements. If they're not properly drained, the tap freezes up over in the winter. This can cause your faucet to leak, or even flooding in your basement. Typically located inside your house, locate and shut off the water valve to your outside spigot. Then go outside to open the exterior spigot valve and let the water drain out of the line. Don’t worry about getting every single drop of water. Just letting the water out of the lines allows room for the expansion freezing water within the pipes. Now, it's all set to brave the winter climate until you go to use your hose in the spring.
9. Take care of your yard this fall for a green and lush lawn in next spring!
New grass doesn't grow when the temperatures aren't right. For a full and healthy green lawn to grow in the spring follow these lawn maintenance tips.
- Don't forget to rake your leaves! Fall leaves trap moisture and block sunlight, killing your grass. If you choose to leave them on the ground as fertilizer, mulch them with your lawn mower.
- Grass continues to grow well into the fall, and letting it grow too long can smother the grass below. Keep your grass trimmed until the first hard frost.
- Keep watering throughout the fall, even when there's rain in the forecast. This protects the grasses root system.
- Aerate your lawn once every couple of years.
- Fertilize with a slow release 24-0-10 fertilizer in late fall.
- Spread grass seed over your lawn. Fill in any thin spots or bare patches with a layer of soil along with the seed to allow full contact with the dirt and protect the seed.
10. Get your lawn equipment winter ready.
If you have any gas powered lawn equipment, it's time to drain the gas! Gas goes bad over time, and if you leave the old gas in, it can clog in your lines and fuel filters. Making your tools run improperly. Try to plan your gas usage accordingly coming up to the end of the season, unless you have something you can use it in. Like a snow blower that uses the same type of fuel.
11. Prepare for snow removal
Making sure your prepared for winter means making sure you have everything you need for snow removal and taking care of icy walkways. Make sure your snowblower is ready for that first snowy, cold morning. Check to see if it's up and running so that if it needs the repairs, you can get them done now. Also take a winter inventory and see what you have for fuel, sand, salt and deicer. Keep winter necessities like your snow shovel, ice pick, salt and sand ready by the door for when the snow starts falling.
12. Cover or bring in your outside patio furniture.
Pick a warm, dry day to cover up your patio furniture as not to trap any moisture underneath your cover. Store any cushions inside during the winter. Even if they're weather and waterproof they can still be damaged in severe winter weather. If you notice any rust on your outdoor furniture, remove with steel wool and repaint or seal the metal.
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Classic Roofing & Siding Limited provides Roofing, Fascia, Soffit, Siding, Windows, Cladding, Doors, Trim, Decks, Home Exterior Renovations, in Halifax, Bedford, Dartmouth and the surrounding communities of Nova Scotia.