How to Winterize Your Waterfront Property

After the long days of summer have come and gone and fall is ending, it’s time to begin preparations for winterizing your home. When temperatures begin to dip, your lakeside cabin, seaside cottage or mountain lodge will need some extra TLC to make it through the colder months until spring comes around again. Whether your waterfront property is your vacation home or a primary residence, it’s important to properly winterize it in order to avoid potential damage and to save you time and money.

How to Winterize Your Waterfront Property

Pipes and Plumbing

Burst pipes are often the cause of water damage. Prevent a water damage emergency at your waterfront property this winter by being proactive.

If your waterfront home is your summer getaway, then disconnect your hoses from outside pipes to prevent them from freezing and breaking. If you plan to turn the heat off for the winter, turn off your main water supply and open your faucets. Any water left in your hoses can cause damage, so be sure to drain the hoses connected to your dishwasher, washer, and any other appliances.

If you’ll be calling your waterfront property home for the winter, thoroughly inspect the insulation for both your interior and exterior pipes. Any areas where insulation is lacking could lead to a cracked pipe, which has the potential to cause serious damage and could end up costing a significant amount of money to repair.

Roof and Gutters

Properly winterizing your roof and gutters will help to avoid a buildup of rain, snow, or debris turning into a structural issue. For homeowners with a shingle roof, this is the time to check your roof for any signs of damage and make repairs accordingly. Cracked shingles can be carried off by high winds, torn off in a winter storm, or may fall to the ground after being struck by a fell branch, leaving your roof vulnerable to leaks.

This is especially important if you will be away from your waterfront property all winter. Since you won’t be around, you may not be aware that your roof has been damaged until it’s too late.

For metal roofs, check to make sure everything is screwed down tight. Clear your gutters of leaves and debris. The heavier your gutters become, the more prone they are to leaks, and could potentially rip away from your roof. Keep your gutters clear throughout the winter. Any blockages of leaves, twigs, or ice could lead to a leak, damaging your walls and insulation.

Other Areas

Once your plumbing, pipes, roof, and gutters are properly winterized, look to other areas of your property to prepare for the winter ahead. Check all windows and doors to identify any air leaks. If you identify a leak, be sure to patch it before you take off for the winter—or if you’re staying in the home for the season, before temperatures start to dip. Inspect your home’s insulation and weatherstripping and make replacements as needed.

Bring your patio furniture inside and store them in a safe space to keep them in good condition until spring. Inspect your boat lift and dock. Consider investing in a bubbler or agitator system to keep ice away from your dock if you’re expecting freezing temperatures throughout the winter. Follow proper winterizing guidelines for your boat and any other watercraft you have before covering them or placing them in winter storage.

For more tips on home maintenance throughout the seasons and much more, visit the Living section of our blog.

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5 Tips for Swimming Pool Maintenance

A swimming pool can turn a backyard into a grotto, an oasis, an at-home vacation spot. But to let the poolside good times roll, they require maintenance. Your local climate can often dictate how much you use your pool. For some homeowners, you may be swimming in your pool year-round. For others, the pool may be a summer ritual, only to close it up once fall temperatures start to plummet. No matter how often you use your pool, these tips will help you keep it in tip-top shape.

5 Tips for Swimming Pool Maintenance

1. Keep Your Pool Water Balanced

A well-balanced pool maintains the correct levels of chemicals and, through filtration and disinfection, avoids having to change the pool water year after year. The main levels of concern are pH, total alkalinity, chlorine levels and calcium hardness. Aim to keep these levels within the following parameters:

  • pH: 7.2 – 7.8
  • Total alkalinity: 80 – 120 ppm
  • Chlorine levels: 1 – 3 ppm
  • Calcium hardness: 180 – 200 ppm

2. Routine Cleaning

Regardless of the season, keeping your pool water crystal clear requires routine cleaning. Weekly tasks include vacuuming, backwashing the pool filter, applying algaecide and chlorine, and cleaning the skimmer baskets. Running the circulation system is a daily task, which keeps the pool water fresh. Pool walls are a commonly missed cleaning spot. Brush them routinely to prevent algae growth and to eliminate chemical buildup.

3. Closing Your Pool

If you don’t use your pool year-round, you’ll have to go through the steps of proper decommission to avoid any hang-ups when it’s time to open it back up. Stow all equipment including ladders, lights, and thermometers before cleaning and vacuuming the pool. After you’ve balanced the pool water, let the system run for up to twenty-four hours before adding winterizing chemicals. Once the chemicals have run through for a few hours, remove the pool equipment, and drain. Finally, cover your pool to protect it from debris during the offseason.

4. Opening Your Pool

For those who user their pools seasonally, the day you reopen your pool is cause for celebration. But before you draft up any pool party invitations, you’ll need to give it some TLC. If you use a removable pool cover be sure to store it in a safe, protected place. Fill the pool back up to the maximum fill line and clear any debris from the water’s surface. Once you’ve tested the water and properly balanced the levels, remove any winterizing plugs to get water flowing into the plumbing system again. Once you’ve tested all systems to make sure the water is being properly heated and pumped, cleaned the walls, vacuumed the floor, there’s only one thing left to do—cannonball!

5. Pool Offseason

Even when your pool is not being used it requires a watchful eye. Besides keeping your pool ready for when you open it back up, offseason maintenance will help to avoid any major repairs due to neglect. Check your pool water occasionally. Even if your pool is covered, it’s possible for leaves, sticks, and needles to make their way inside. Continue to monitor the balance of your pool water by checking the levels weekly and adjusting as needed. Check the pump, heater, and plumbing for any signs of damage and clean the filter regularly.

For more information on keeping your home and the systems in it well-maintained, read more on our blog:

Home Maintenance

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Preparing Your Home for Summer Heat and Wildfires

Summer is the season for spending long days in the yard, taking dips in the pool, and sitting in the shade to beat the heat. In the midst of these sun-filled adventures, though, lies the potential for heat waves, smoke, and wildfires. Every homeowner should be ready for these emergencies as well as the damaging effects they can have on their home. The following information will help you prepare your home for the hottest days of the year.

 

Preparing Your Home for Summer Heat

As temperatures soar, it’s important to make sure that your methods of cooling your home are as effective as possible. Adding insulation may not be the first thing that comes to mind when prepping your home for the summer heat, but it will help prevent cool air from leaking outside and hot air from entering. If your insulation is out of date, now is the time to make replacements as needed. Windows are another culprit for air leaks, which commonly form between the window frame and the frame of the house. Fill these cracks with caulking between the frame and the exterior siding. If your windows are exposed to prolonged periods of direct sunlight, consider placing an awning or screen shades above the exterior side to provide some relief from the radiating heat.

Air conditioning can be a lifesaver during summer. There are two main options when it comes to air conditioning: either a window unit or central cooling. Window units are the least expensive option and offer portability. It’s important to choose a unit that is the right size for your home or the room you’re trying to cool. One that’s too big will quickly cool your space and then shut off completely. This can increase your energy bills and put unnecessary wear on the unit. An undersized unit simply won’t cool your home and will constantly run to try to reach the target temperature. With central air conditioning, homeowners can expect much higher startup costs. But once installed, central AC provides short- and long-term comfort and adds to your home’s value.

Summer is a good time to check your HVAC unit’s air filters. Turn the unit off before performing any maintenance. If any devices that give off heat are close enough to the thermostat that regulates the AC, they could generate an incorrect reading, which could throw off your air conditioning efficiency. For maximum efficiency, place these devices away from the thermostat.

 

Preparing Your Home for Wildfires

The first step in preparing your home for wildfires is to have an emergency plan. Make sure everyone in your household is aware of what to do in the event of a wildfire. Pack an emergency kit to bring with you in the event of an evacuation. For homeowners who live outside a fire zone, consider buying an air purifier to protect yourself from smoke.

To give yourself the best chances of keeping wildfires from getting too close to your home, keep all flammable objects away from the house, preferably at least thirty feet. Clear your gutters of debris such as leaves, twigs, sticks, and the like. These materials are tinder for fire. Any flammable vegetation within five feet of the home should be cleared away, and any trees that overhang close to the home should be cut back to a distance of ten feet. Remove any dead plants or vegetation from your yard and keep your lawn short. Install mesh screens over exterior vents to prevent embers from entering your home. 

This may seem like a daunting list, but these preparatory measures are worth it to protect your home and loved ones this wildfire season. Once you’ve taken these steps, you can enjoy your summer days at home knowing you’re prepared.

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6 Commonly Missed Cleaning Spots

It’s easy to get into a routine when cleaning your home season after season, year after year. While simply going over the same spots may make your home feel cleaner, at the same time, it allows the neglected areas to become dirtier. Here are six commonly missed spots around the home that, once given the attention they deserve, will help make your home feel completely clean.

6 Commonly Missed Cleaning Spots

1. Underneath & Behind Furniture

Dirt and dust love to hide in tough-to-reach, tucked-away spots like behind your nightstand, under your bed frame, and on the underside of your tables, chairs, and couches. Cleaning these areas may require some heavy lifting and rearranging but it’s worth your while. If enough dust and grime have accumulated over the years that your vacuum can’t remove the buildup, try using a washcloth to loosen the sediment.

2. Vents and Fans

Vents and fans not only collect dust, but they also distribute it around your home. Ceiling fans are one of the hardest spots in your home to reach, so you may need to use a ladder and an extended duster to clean them. Clean your vent grates with a dusting brush or a wire brush depending on the thickness of the buildup. If your home has central air, remember to replace your air filters periodically. A clean ventilation system is key to protecting your home’s air quality.

3. Bathroom Surfaces

We all know the feeling of picking up a rarely used shampoo bottle in the shower to discover a grimy ring underneath it. Wipe off your bottles and surfaces in the shower to keep it sparkling clean. Scrub away the debris from your shower head and soak it in a mixture of water and white vinegar to cleanse the device and to prevent a buildup of mineral deposits. To reach behind the toilet, you may need knee pads and an extended cleaning tool. Use a disinfectant-water mixture to prevent the spread of germs. Tackling chores like these will help make your bathroom feel brand new in no time.

 

Image Source: Getty Images

 

4. Switches & Handles

Light switches, door handles, drawer pulls, and knobs are all hotbeds for germs and dirt and can easily be forgotten while cleaning your home. Take a two-step approach to cleaning these high-touch surfaces: first clean, then disinfect. Cleaning will get rid of contaminants, while disinfecting targets pathogens. The combination of the two will help make your home feel cleaner while reducing the spread of germs. Other high-touch surfaces such as keyboards, phones, tablets, and other devices require regular cleaning as well.

5. Appliances

It’s easy to think of your appliances strictly as devices that help your home stay clean and organized, but they are magnets for dirt and gunk, too. After cleaning out the refrigerator and scrubbing down the shelves, find the coils and clean them of debris with a vacuum or a brush. The floor underneath your refrigerator can be a seriously grimy spot, so a quick mop of that area is worth your while. Give your dishwasher a good cleanse to prevent mold buildup and bad odors. Remember to clean out the filter occasionally with soap and water. Cleaning your appliances routinely can help avoid repairs and can even extend their life expectancy.

6. Baseboards

Baseboards are the perfect settling point for dirt and dust. The space between your walls and floors is an easy trap for buildup, and upon closer inspection, you’ll find some combination of scuffs, dust, food remnants and scratch marks. To thoroughly clean your baseboards, you may need to move your furniture away from the walls but be careful not to scratch the floor or damage the baseboards. Wipe away the dust before cleaning the surface. Use either a mix of soap and water, water and vinegar, or the proper wood cleaner for wooden baseboards. 

For more information on cleaning your home, seasonal maintenance, and more, visit the Living section of our blog.

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Your Winter Home Maintenance Checklist

Winter is a magical season to spend at home. We all want to be able to enjoy the shorter days and longer nights from the comfort of our homes while we watch the season change.

 

To truly enjoy this winter at home with peace of mind, you’ll want to complete a home maintenance checklist to prevent unexpected costs, ensure your family’s safety and warmth, and keep your home in the best shape for the winter season ahead.

 

1. Weatherproof Windows & Doors

 

One of the best preparatory measures you can take to keep the cold from infiltrating your home is to weatherproof your windows and doors. Any leaks or cracks could lead to a chilly household and increased heating costs. Either weatherstripping or caulking will do the trick for minor leakage issues, but for any severe problems you may want to consider a replacement.

 

2. Protect Your Pipes from Freezing

 

Burst pipes can be disastrous regardless of the season, but winter temperatures pose a greater risk than any other time of the year. Be sure to wrap interior pipes to provide them some insulation against the change in temperature. You’ll want to bring all hoses inside but remember to turn off your exterior water source before you do.

 

3. Prepare for a Winter Storm

 

Being fully prepared for the winter ahead includes completing both preventative home maintenance and disaster preparedness tasks. Keep a supply of flashlights and batteries handy in case a power outage should occur. If you have a fireplace, stock up on firewood so you’ll have plenty of fuel for your heat source. It’s best for your family to put together an emergency kit and evacuation plan so you’re prepared for any local weather emergencies.

 

4. Chimney Sweep and Fireplace Maintenance

 

We become more reliant on fireplaces, wood burning stoves, and chimneys to heat our homes during the winter. Accordingly, it’s crucial to prepare for the uptick in their usage. Clear out your air vents before your daily fires begin. When your fireplace is not in use, be sure to close the damper to save energy. Clogged chimneys can lead to house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Investing in a chimney sweep can save you money in the long run, while avoiding health scares.

 

5. Clean Out Your Gutters

 

After all the leaves, pinecones, pine needles, and other autumnal debris have fallen, it’s best to clean out your gutters in preparation for winter. By keeping your gutters clean you’ll avoid gutter damage from melted snow draining improperly. Make sure your downspouts are pointing away from your home’s foundation to prevent basement leaks and flooding.

 

6. Heating System Maintenance

 

Keeping up on your heating system’s efficiency is an integral part of winter home maintenance. If you use a furnace, be sure to clean out your air filters and ducts, making replacements as needed. Covering your HVAC system can help to prevent damage from any debris or moisture getting in. To protect against heat loss, seal your ducts with mastic tape or foil tape.

 

7. Reverse Your Ceiling Fans

 

If you have ceilings fans in your home, there is a handy trick you can use to improve your home’s heating efficiency. By reversing the direction of your ceiling fan—running the blades in a clockwise direction—you’ll create a slight updraft, forcing warm air near the ceiling downward.

 

8. Bring Your Plants Inside

 

The winter season usually spells trouble for your potted plants. However, there are methods to keep them alive indoors through the winter months. You’ll want to provide continual air circulation, so keep a fan blowing in the direction of the plants. It’s best to mirror the conditions the plants will face outdoors, so you can afford to keep watering to a minimum. Since it is a harsher season, keep a close eye on your plants as the winter progresses.

 

After your checklist is completely crossed off, you’ll be able to kick back, relax, and enjoy your winter at home in comfort knowing your home is primed and ready for the winter season ahead.

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