Blog :: 10-2020

Preparing Your Home for Late Fall and Winter 

Fall is here. The days are shorter, and we are well on our way to the dreaded (for some) Winter months. There are a number of things you can do to prepare your home, your property and yourself for the next several months.

Rhonda Kayson, from The New York Times offers the following tips. To read the full article, click here.

FALL

Preparing Your Property

Garden. You may be weary of gardening by early fall, but it is a great season to plant perennials, like peonies, columbine or hydrangea. Fall is also a good time to plant trees and shrubs and reseed your lawn. Be sure to give new plants plenty of water before they go dormant, and by spring you may get a first bloom, depending on the variety. Plant bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and hyacinth anytime before the ground freezes. Those hours spent digging little holes and burying bulbs will be well worth your sore knees when they bloom in all their glory in early spring.

Raking leaves. If fall could be summed up in a word, it would be “leaves.” Once the leaves start falling, the season of raking begins. Aside from annoying your neighbors, a thick bed of leaves atop your grass could smother your lawn and lead to mold growth. But do you need to scorch the earth clean of any remnants of leaves? No. A light layer of leaves under your shrubs and trees will provide a natural mulch, protecting the roots over the winter and providing refuge for insects and wildlife. If you plan to rake and bag the rest, enlist the kids to help, luring them with a chance to jump on the pile when they’re done. But there are alternatives to raking. Researchers at Michigan State University have found that mowing over the leaves once a week breaks them down, provides nutrients and does the job. Some communities now encourage mowing rather than bagging leaves.

The Outside of Your Home

Gutters. Once the leaves fall, call your gutter company to get those gutters cleaned and inspected. Any repairs that need to be done on the gutters or downspouts should happen before winter sets in. Your workers should also inspect the roof for any loose or broken tiles. Schedule the job before you get a heavy snow, which could leave frozen leaves and debris in the gutters.Faucets and hoses. Before the first freeze, drain and shut off your outdoor faucets so that they do not freeze. Roll up your hoses, and store them for winter.

Sprinklers. If you live in a cold climate, you need to shut your sprinkler system for the winter to protect it from harsh weather. Skip this step now, and come springtime you could have a hefty repair bill.

  1. Shut off the water supply to your irrigation system before freezing weather arrives.
  2. Insulate the main shut off valve and any above- ground piping.
  3. Shut down the timer, if you have an automatic system.
  4. Drain the remaining water from the system.

Firewood. If you plan to use your fireplace this winter, stock up on seasoned firewood in the fall. Stack it on pallets, so it does not sit on the moist ground. Don’t pack the wood to tightly, or fungus could grow. Cover the wood with plastic sheeting, making sure it does not touch the ground, either. Wood can be stored in an unheated garage, but don’t keep logs in your house for more than a week, as they could attract insects, according to Michigan State University Extension.

Pool. Once the sweaters come out of the closet, it is time to accept the fact that pool season is over. Clean, close and cover your pool for winter, or call your pool maintenance company to do the job for you.

Inside Your Home

Air-conditioning. If you have central air, get the system serviced (you can do this at the same time that you service your furnace). Window units can stay in the window year round if they are sealed with no gaps. Cover the inside and the outside of the appliance to prevent drafts, provide insulation and protect the equipment from the elements. There are even some decorative options out there. But if you’d like your window back, or have concerns about drafts, remove the unit and store it for winter. A window unit is heavy and unwieldy, so take it slowly. Store it upright, not on its side.

Furnace and HVAC. Get your furnace and ductwork serviced. A clean system will be more energy efficient, and an inspection will alert you to problems. Check and replace air filters, as necessary. Test your thermostat to make sure it works properly. Make sure heating vents are open and nothing is blocking them.

Boilers and radiators. For homes heated with steam heat, the boiler is the tank that holds and heats the water. Call the plumber for its annual checkup. You should also drain water from the boiler to remove sediment that has collected and settled in the tank. Make sure the tank is refilled before you turn it on. A plumber or heating specialist can also check your radiators to make sure the valves are working properly and have not worn out. Check your thermostat, too.

Chimney. If you did not get your chimney cleaned and inspected in the spring, call a chimney sweep now and have it done before you start using your fireplace or your furnace.

Windows and doors. Walk around the house and check windows and doors for drafts. Caulk door and window frames where necessary. In late fall, install storm windows and the glass panel on storm doors to keep the heat in and the cold out.

Dryer vent. Clothes dryers cause 2,900 fires a year, with many fires happening in the fall and winter, according to the United States Fire Administration. Lint is a major culprit, so have your dryer vent inspected and cleaned annually by an HVAC specialist who specializes in ductwork or dryer vents.

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. There’s no harm in checking your detectors twice a year, so when you turn your clocks back to standard time, check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, too. Change the batteries as needed.

Inside projects. Planning to update the bathroom, or paint the living room? Fall is a good time to get moving on those projects: The temperature is usually moderate and many contractors have wrapped up their outdoor projects for the year.

WINTER

For the most part, we hunker down in the winter, as the weather is often too cold and unpredictable to tackle major home improvement projects. Make sure your home is prepared for the harsh weather.

Your Grounds

Bring out the snow blower. Make sure your snow blower is in good working order before it snows. You do not want to be caught in the first major storm with only an orange shovel to dig you out, Send the snow blower to a small-engine repair company for a tune-up. Some companies will pick up and drop off your equipment for you. Expect to spend $60 to $200, depending on the size of your blower, according to Angie’s List. Make sure you have gasoline and motor oil. 

Stock up on supplies. Stock up on ice melt before the Weather Channel tells you a storm is coming. Pet owners and parents should shop carefully, as the chemicals in ice melt can harm pets and people alike, if ingested. Look for brands free of salt or chloride. But even products billed as “pet safe” can still harm your pet, so wipe their paws and don’t let them lick treated snow. Ice-melting products can also damage your foliage, so use sparingly. Make sure your shovel survived last winter because you will need to dig out of stairways and narrow pathways, even if you have a blower.

Ice dams. When ice accumulates along the eaves of your roof, it can cause a dam that can damage gutters, shingles and siding. As water leaks into your house, it can wreak havoc on your paint, your floors and your insulation. Throughout the winter, inspect the exterior of your home regularly for signs of ice dams. Look for icicles, because the same forces create dams. Consider buying a roof rake. The $30 tool will help keep ice off your roof in the first place by removing fresh snow from your roof after a storm. Do not hack away at the ice, as that could harm you or your roof

Inside Your Home

Heating systems. Check and change filters on your heating system, as filters need to be replaced anywhere from twice a year to once a month.Keep an eye on the water levels in your boiler to make sure they do not fall too low.

Frozen pipes. When water freezes in pipes, it expands, damaging or cracking the pipes. When the ice melts, and the pipe bursts, your home fills with water. Pipes near the outside of your home are at greatest risk, like outdoor faucets, pipes in an unheated garage or swimming pool supply lines. A few tips:

  • Shut off and drain outdoor faucets before the cold weather hits.
  • Insulate pipes where you can.
  • On cold days and nights, keep the cabinets below sinks open to let warm air in.
  • You can also run the faucet at a drip to keep water moving.
  • Keep the thermostat set at a steady temperature.
  • If you go away, set the thermostat to a minimum of 55 degrees, according to the American Red Cross.

Generator. A portable generator can provide you with a lifeline in a blackout. Power it up every three months, and have it serviced twice a year (even if you never use it). Keep fuel and motor oil on hand in the event of a storm. Do not let fuel sit in the tank for long periods of time, as that can damage it. Check it regularly for corrosion and wear.

Winter storm prep. A heavy winter storm can leave you housebound for days. Stock up on wood for the fireplace, gas for the snow blower and canned food and bottled water, in case you lose power. Check your emergency supply kit for batteries, a radio, a first-aid kit and any medicines you may need. Check in on neighbors who may need help shoveling out (a little camaraderie in a storm goes a long way).

 

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    How to Acclimate to Your New Neighborhood After a Move

    This is part of Molisse Realty Group's new, guest blog series designed to provide outside, expert perspectives for helping you find your dream property, settle into your new space, improve your home, or just simply enjoy the little things in life.

    If you are moving to a new house, you likely have a long to-do list. If you are not only moving to a new home but also an entirely new town, that checklist gets even longer. In addition to dealing with packing, organizing, and cleaning, you also have to figure out the basic essentials of daily life—like finding a plumber to call when emergencies strike or figuring out which supermarket near you offers the best deals. We at Molisse Realty Group hope these pointers help you on your transitional journey as you get settled in your new neighborhood.

    Do your local research before you make the move

    A successful move starts before you've even packed the first box. Before you arrive, start researching your future neighborhood. Pinpoint basic needs like schools, banks, dentists, and doctors as well as emergency services from electricians to plumbers. If you are moving across state lines, you may need new car insurance because requirements vary by state. 

    Start with the essentials when unpacking and then move on to aesthetic touches

    When you pack for your move, set aside one box with essentials you will need on the first night, and make sure these items are easily accessible. Include items like a small vacuum, toilet paper, toothpaste, and prescription medications. Use color-coded sticky notes to easily label boxes based on which room they belong in, and ask the movers to place them in the according rooms once you arrive. Finally, before you settle in for the first night, do a safety check and ensure you have a working smoke and carbon monoxide detector. Once these basics are taken care of, you can go on to deal with aesthetic touches like color coordinating your interiors.

    Ensure that kids and pets are making a smooth transition

    Whether it's an animal or a child, you will have to ensure their comfort both during and after the move. If you have a dog, for instance, help them transition to a new home by making sure they have access to familiar sights and smells like their favorite dog bed and their food bowl. Let them sleep near you in their crate if they are having anxiety following the move. 

    When it comes to helping your kids settle in the new area, reach out to neighboring families to see if they have children in the same age range. You can also encourage little ones to find playmates by getting them involved in activities like sports or art classes.

    Make the extra effort to get social and meet new people

    Finally, for your entire family—from yourself to your children and your pets—a big part of a successful move is about connecting with the community. Check out your local coffee shop and visit the area visitors center or library to discover events you can participate in. Take your dog for a walk, and you're sure to meet other dog-owners and their canines—or bring your child to the park to meet new parents with kids. Meet your neighbors and invite them over for a barbecue to introduce yourselves. Before hosting, pick out a new grill, spruce up your patio, or build a DIY fire pit. Such interaction is part of what will allow you all to feel comfortable in your new community. 

    Keep in mind that you won’t feel “at home” overnight after your move. Give yourself time to transition and acclimate to your new surroundings. WIth the above tips to help you, you can get settled and make new friends. Socializing not only allows you to feel connected, it’s also shown to make you happier overall.

    At Molisse Realty Group, we understand that moving to a new location can be fraught with challenges, and we hope the above tips can help you settle into your new home. 

    On the other hand, if you’re just now looking to relocate to Massachusetts, let the experts at Molisse Realty Group help you find the perfect home for your family. Reach out today to get started!

    To read more great insights by Natalie Jones, visit homeownerbliss.info!