I grew up in California, so I’ve lived through mudslides, floods, brush fires, Santa Ana winds, and yes, even earthquakes. Pair that with living in New York City for over a decade, and I’ve become quite the expert at keeping my home clean, safe, and efficient. Here are some affordable, useful tips to keep your home—and your sanity! —intact during the chilly months ahead.
1. Keep your gutters clean. Whether you own or rent, the experts at HomeAdvisor recommend that you inspect and clean your gutters every fall. Gutters that get clogged with leaves and other debris can cause the water from rain or melted snow to overflow, which can lead to roof damage and flooding around the foundation of your home.
2. Maintain your sump pump. To prevent flooding and water damage to your home, test your sump pump every year — especially if you live in a place where flash floods are common.
3. Let your grass grow longer. Ideally, it should be about three- to four-inches-high going into winter, says Bryan Ostlund of Grass Seed USA, a national coalition of grass seed farmers. If you cut it too short, you risk losing it entirely over the winter; longer grass tends to lie dormant in the winter, bouncing back fully in the spring with little or no re-seeding. Short grass is more likely to die off.
4. Seal your Driveway. Concrete expands in the cold and contracts in the heat, which can lead to cracks as the seasons change. Help keep your driveway smooth by adding a sealant before winter strikes. Here’s how to DIY, according to Natalie Turner of home improvement store Lowe’s: Mix sealer thoroughly, dip a paint brush in it, and mark around the edges of your driveway. With an asphalt driveway brush, apply two thin coats of sealer, one that runs horizontally and then a second that’s applied vertically from left to right. (Use a squeegee to even it out, if necessary.) Allow the sealer to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
5. Look for (and repair) leaks. Your roof is a fine place to start, but you also want to check your windows, doors, chimney, plumbing, and attic vents every fall, according to Weather.com experts. Look for peeling paint, a sign that water has gotten into the wood behind it. Also keep an eye out for discoloration of paint or caulking and swelling around a window frame or door frame. If the leak is minor, use a sealant to repair; call in the experts for major leaks.
*This post is sponsored by American Family Insurance.