As the weather turns cooler, itâ€™s time for homeowners to take prudent steps to protect their houses and propertyâ€”so that th
After the damage caused by last winterâ€™s nasty weather and this yearâ€™s floods, thereâ€™s no reason to delay or to hope that nothing happens this time around.
Homeowners should â€œsit down and think about what some of the challenges from last winter were and try to stay ahead of those this year,â€ advises Dave Palmer of Palmer Brothers hardware in River Edge, N.J. â€œA little planning goes a long way, and it can save you money in the long run.
Letâ€™s take a look at what can be done.
Ignore this, and there can be costly damage â€” in and out â€” caused by water and ice backing up from the gutters.
Gutters must be cleaned and flushed, with water running away from the home. Use a splash pan, patio block or small stones at the exit point to help disburse the water.
Fasten leaders, elbows and leader straps with hex-head screws (at least Â¾-inch length; No. 8 thickness). Use caution with ladders, and if not comfortable, hire a pro.
Inspect for missing/damaged shingles and areas that donâ€™t look right, says Stan Reczkowski of SR Roofing in Paramus, N.J. Also, look for brownish stains at the soffit and fascia areas below gutters.
â€œAny repairs on the roof or above the gutter line should be done by a pro,â€ Reczkowski says. â€œJust before (Hurricane) Irene hit, while on the golf course my fellow player received a phone call that his uncle had fallen off the roof. I hear about these homeowner accidents all the time.â€
Reczkowski says roofing should be done by a contractor who does nothing else but that, and adds roofers do work through the winter (weather permitting).
Chimney sweep Keith Donaldson says to look for loose/missing bricks and mortar (the gray material between the bricks). Also check the chimney top (crown).
â€œYou have to keep after the crownâ€”thatâ€™s the most important part of the chimney,â€ warns Donaldson, of Lucky Duckâ€™s Chimney Sweep in West Milford and River Edge. â€œIf you donâ€™t take care of the crown, water can penetrate.â€
This is not for the weekend warrior; hire a sweep or mason. Add a cap ($125 and up) to keep debris, animals and precipitation out.
Homeowners who have a high-efficiency furnace that is vented out of the side of the house should make sure it is positioned so that snow does not clog those pipes, says Palmer.
Trimâ€”often the aluminum pieces seen dangling after stormsâ€”should be secured with finishing nails.
Store outdoor furniture and toys, if possible. If not, cover with tarp and stack or lay items in such a way to minimize the chance that they will be lifted in a strong wind. Nothing, including wood piles, should come in contact with the home. Place a cover on central A/C units, and install insulated covers on water spigots.
Soil should slope away from the home to facilitate drainage. If needed, add top soil to near the foundation, then taper with a rake to create slope. Top off with landscape rock to prevent erosion.
Loose paint on wood should be scraped/sanded. Apply primer, then top coat.
Look for damaged, weak and diseased trees, which can damage power lines, homes and cars.
â€œBranches shouldnâ€™t be by the chimney, period,â€ says Donaldson, who adds that overhanging branches give warmth-seeking animals access to winter quarters.
This is no job for amateurs. Call a reputable tree surgeon, get proof of insurance from his agent and stay indoors during the work.