While some projects should be left for the experts - like cleaning out the chimney - there are several most homeowners can accomplish themselves. These projects are easy to tackle, and the end result will make a huge difference to your home all winter long and into the spring months.
* Flushing gutters - Leaves and small tree branches often fall onto the roof of your home during the summer months, and then wash into the gutters when it rains. Sometimes they'll flush out, but other times this debris can build up, and prevent the water from draining down the gutter pipe. In winter, this water can back up and freeze, causing an ice dam, which can then damage the roof shingles, and cause leaks into the home and garage when it rains. Be sure to flush the gutters clean, and if you've noticed icicles in certain areas in the past, consider installing a heating cable to help keep the water melted and moving down the gutter and into the yard.
* Sealing concrete cracks - When water gets into cracks in your sidewalk or driveway and freezes, it can expand, creating a much larger crack come spring. Over time, large cracks will eventually turn into damaged concrete, requiring complete replacement. Tiny cracks that appear shortly after the concrete is poured are not a problem, but those that appear over time and continue to grow are good candidates for repair. There are a variety of patching materials from Sakrete that can be used to repair cracks. Small narrow cracks can be filled with latex, polyurethane or other products typically found in caulk type tubes or plastic squeeze bottles. They have the advantage of not requiring mixing and being applied directly into the crack. Sakrete Top n Bond is a much more versatile product that can be used to repair any cracks ranging anywhere from extremely fine to several inches across. In addition, Top n Bond is a portland cement-based product just like the concrete slab. This allows for a better blending of the both the existing slab and the repair material. Should the need or desire to completely resurface the slab arise in the future, the Top n Bond will easily bond to the surface for a 'like new' surface.
* Repairing potholes - Any missed cracks in past years with asphalt driveways probably have become potholes by now thanks to the freezing and thawing of water during the winter month. But you don't need to replace the entire driveway to take care of these problems. Sakrete U.S. Cold Patch is a strong patch product made from 95 percent recycled materials with no odor or mess. Just sweep the area in and around your pothole, pour in the patching mixture, and roll over the area with a car tire, allowing you to use the driveway immediately. Make certain the entire hole is completely filled and tamped down to prevent water from seeping into the patch. Because U.S. Cold Patch doesn't contain solvents and raw asphalt, there is no danger of tracking the material into the house or garage.
* Extra insulation against heat loss - Colder temperatures affect pipes, doorways and windows. Protect pipes from freezing by wrapping any pipes exposed to the cold with pipe insulation. Also check your doors and windows for leaks or gaps. Find gaps by lighting a candle and holding the flame near the closed window and door seams. If the flame flickers, air is moving through the seam where there is a gap. Fill those gaps with caulk or weather stripping to form a better barrier against the cold.
These home DIY projects don't take a lot of time to accomplish, and will benefit your home and property during the winter months and as spring arrives. Be sure to put them on your home winterization to-do list each fall, so you can enjoy the winter in comfort.