Now that the fall season is well under way, now seemed to be the perfect time to give some thought to weatherizing the places we call home. I believe its reasonably safe to say that our triple digit temperatures are gone until next summer. In light of this educated guess, I've come up with a list of tips and "how to's" that will go a long way toward keeping the weather out (Yes, we do have weather in our arid southern California climate; ask those who live in the higher elevations), and that won't break the bank in the process. This list is by no means exhaustive. It seems that there is always something more we can do to strengthen the armor between our fortresses and the unceasing barrage of the elements. If there is something that seems reasonable (i.e. budget friendly) that you see isn't on my list, feel free to email me your suggestion. I will give it my careful consideration for inclusion in my next newsletter.
Tip #1: Clean or blow off any debris (leaves, branches, ect.) off your roof. Pay careful attention to the valleys and the high side of your chimney. This debris can hold moisture which does an amazing job of deteriorating roofing shingles, tar paper and the wood substrate underneath. Obviously you want to exercise extreme caution if you intend to tackle this job yourself. Never do this alone. In many cases a job like this should be done by a professional who carries the proper insurance, in case of an accident. And always wear a properly secured safety harness. If you are unsure, hire a professional.
Tip #2: Inspect and re-seal any cracked roofing sealant around chimneys, vent pipes, exhaust ducting and anything that penetrates your roofing. Repair or replace any cracked or missing roofing shingles. The same rules apply here for safety as in tip #1.
Tip #3: Clean out debris from your rain gutters and downspouts...BEFORE it rains! Gardening trowels work well for this, as well as quart-size milk containers. Carry a small bucket with you to put debris in. Again, safety, safety, safety! Have somebody hold your ladder. While up there, check for loose fasteners, joints, couplings, etc. and tighten or seal as necessary. Your rain gutters need to slope toward the downspouts to do their jobs properly. If you're not confident in your ability to determine this, hire a professional.
Tip #4: Check and replace weather stripping around exterior doors and windows. Many types can be replaced by ones readily available at hardware stores and building centers. Others are manufacturer specific. If this is the case, you may need to determine the particular brand of your door or window or hire someone who can.
Tip #5: Caulking. Take a Saturday morning or afternoon and slowly walk around the outside of your house with your fully loaded caulk gun and fill in any gaps you see around your windows, doors, vents, ect. I like to use a good, quality, exterior grade Latex caulk made specifically for doors and windows. Latex is paintable, unlike silicone, and is easily workable. I typically use white or clear color, but other colors are available. It helps to carry a small bucket of water with a smooth rag to clean your caulk joints as you go along. And you don't have to use huge gobs of it to get a good seal. It's better to apply it in multiple small applications as necessary than to have to clean a big mess by applying too much.
Tip #6: Trim back trees, bushes, shrubs, ect. This will typically allow more light in through your windows and have a warming effect. It also allows the sun to assist in the drying process of your siding, wood, windows and trim. Mold and termites LOVE wet wood.
Tip #7: Touch up any cracked or peeling paint, especially on wood windows, trim, eaves, etc. Unprotected wood tends to crack, split and warp.
So there you have it! Following these few simple tips will help keep you and your family comfortable in the short-term, and will help maintain the value of your home in the long-term. Not to mention the savings you will see in your utility bills and the potentially very costly repair/rebuild charges that come sooner or later as a result of neglecting the basic maintenance that comes with any house. We have a phrase in our industry, "You can pay a little now (usually in time more than money) or a lot later (usually in money)."