It’s that time of year again. The leaves are changing color and the air is getting colder. You will need to prepare siding for these changes as well. Winter weather can quickly exploit weaknesses in your home’s exterior resulting in costly repairs to the exterior and interior of your home. However, with a little preparation and routine maintenance you can ensure your home stays protected, helping you to avoid any unwanted surprises in spring.
MAKE NECESSARY REPAIRS
If your siding is damaged, you will need to repair or replace it. Damage could be caused by physical elements like wind, ice, and rain. It could also be caused by pests like bugs or rodents chewing on the wood. You can usually tell when the damage is due to insects because there are little piles of sawdust at the base of damaged sections.
It’s important that you act quickly to fix the damage. Untreated issues could lead to moisture seeping behind the protective layers of your home resulting in rotting, mold and mildew growth that may cause health problems for your family. If you choose to fix or replace the damaged pieces of siding, always use materials that are similar in appearance and quality as those used originally for better aesthetics and durability.
SEAL THOSE TROUBLE SPOTS
You should seal any gaps or cracks around windows and doors, as well as all penetrations through the exterior wall such as plumbing pipes, vents, and electrical outlets. You can use caulk or another sealant to do this. If you cannot reach certain areas of your exterior wall easily, you’ll need to hire a siding contractor. However, there are some things that you can do yourself before calling in a professional.
Begin by sweeping or pressure washing any dirt, leaves or debris that has accumulated on the siding. This will help prevent insects from making their way inside your home.
Next, check for water penetration by looking for discoloration of paint near joints and seams where the panels meet each other.
Finally, use a brush to remove any mildew or algae that may have started to grow on the siding.
PROTECT YOUR SIDING
Before winter arrives, you can apply a good quality paint primer/sealer along with a top layer of paint in order to protect against moisture intrusion. It’s important that your siding is properly sealed, because cold weather combined with snow and ice could cause water damage. This will help keep your exterior wall intact for as long as possible so it won’t need to be repaired or replaced for several years.
Make sure the paint goes all the way down to the sheathing, which is typically plywood or oriented strand board (OSB). These materials are better at preventing water from traveling behind the siding because they are dense, making them a good choice for sheathing in areas with high winds and heavy rains.
If you have vinyl siding, it may already have a paint coating that acts as a primer. You can apply another layer of paint on top of the existing paint to add extra protection from moisture intrusion.
CLEAN YOUR GUTTERS
If your gutters are clogged with debris, water could back up behind your siding and cause damage when the weather gets cold. Homes in coastal areas will be most vulnerable to flooding from backed-up gutters, especially after hurricanes or tropical storms because coarse material like sand that is carried by the wind into drainage systems may get stuck there. You can easily inspect your gutters this time of year; just look for any cracks or holes that need to be patched.
Also, make sure you clear your gutters of debris before winter so that water can move freely through the drainage system.
Check the guttering along with your roof vents to ensure they are open so warm air doesn’t become trapped inside your attic during cold months.
Consider installing screens over them to keep out animals like squirrels and birds who might try to find shelter there during the winter season.