President’s Column, Texas Association of REALTORS®
Preparing your home for Texas’ fall and winter weather
Halloween is right around the corner, and the temperatures are beginning to drop. Take advantage of what’s left of the warm weather and make sure your home is ready for winter before the cold air and rain blow in. After all, the last thing you want to be doing during inclement weather is having to take care of a problem, especially a foreseeable one that could have been addressed during warmer times.
It’s never a bad thing to give your house an inspection to look for obvious signs of damage or potential problems. Preventative maintenance is about protecting your investment.
Up on the rooftop
Take a good look at your roof and make sure the lines are straight. Any sagging might signal rotting or structural damage. You or a roofing expert can get on the roof and look for missing, dried or broken shingles. Make sure to check the flashing – those thin metal strips around vents and other roof openings – for any leaks. And look for vents that might have become detached by high winds.
Leave no stone unturned
Loose brick, crumbling mortar joints, and missing caps are signs of neglect on brick or stone construction. Unless you’re really handy, hire a mason for these repairs. You can buy a chimney cap at most home repair stores for about $40 that will go a long way to keep out unwanted moisture. Then, use a flashlight to inspect the inside of your fireplace. The damper should operate freely, and the flue should be free of any creosote buildup. Any problems there and you will want to contact a chimney sweep.
Get your mind on the gutters
It might take some work, but removing leaves from gutters now will mean a drier home when it gets colder. Leaves and other debris can clog gutters and force water from storms or melting ice to seep under the shingles. To remove wet leaves and debris, enlist a friend, your spouse or your child for help. One person works on the ladder, digging the leaves out with a garden trowel or plastic scoop, while the other is at the base of the ladder to hold it steady and help cart away debris. Even better, hire someone to do this job and make sure the company is insured. You also can get that company to repair or replace sagging gutters and reattach loose downspouts.
A bad hangover
Trim branches that hang over the roof or brush up against the exterior of your house. In the name of safety, consider trimming branches that might break with the weight of ice, especially if they hang over your driveway, walk-ways or the street. Again, you know your abilities. Don’t do this work yourself if you can’t do it safely.
A wind blows through it
Caulk and replace worn weatherstripping and broken or cracked glass. Weatherstripping is an inexpensive and effective fix to make your home look better and keep cold wind out of the house.
Water, water everywhere
Insulate exterior faucets and pipes with foam insulation tape at the minimum. There are very few things that can cause as much damage as broken pipes.
If possible, turn off the outside water supply to help avoid pipes bursting in freezing weather. For hoses, either drain them if they’re kept outside or roll them up and store them in a dry place.
Feel the heat
Consider investing in an annual inspection and cleaning by a licensed heating contractor. Though you can do some tasks, like changing filters, a professionally maintained system runs more efficiently and saves money in the long term. Ask the contractor what jobs you can do at home, as well as how often you should change or replace filters. If you don’t have an operator’s manual for your system, write down the model number of your furnace and visit the manufacturer’s Web site.
Make a quick list and get to your local home improvement store. Spend a little money and time now to better prepare yourself and your home for whatever Mother Nature has in store for Texas this winter. Just like mom used to say – “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Submitted by Amy DuBose
Association Executive – San Marcos Area Board of REALTORS®