Fall Is The Time To Winterize Your Home!

Christmas is right around the corner, and rumor has it the “rainy” season will be coming soon. If we spend a little time now preparing our homes for the rainy season, the winter will be less stressful on you and your home. Even though we specialize in wood consuming bugs such as termites, beetles, carpenter ants, excessive moisture is by far the most damaging enemy your home encounters from December till April. I will list a “few” areas of concern that we find every day inspecting homes in Willits and throughout Mendocino county.

Your first priority of course should be your roof. Clean your roof, removing tree debris and moss growth. You can purchase moss removal products at your local hardware store or make your own solution of household bleach and water. We want to remove the moss as the continued growth can cause the edges of the shingles to lift and cause leakage to occur as well as expose the edges of the shingles to sun light which causes the roof to cup wear out faster than it should. After the moss has been treated and area has dried out, use a stiff broom or brush to remove the moss. Next clean out your gutters. If you have loose or leaky joints, seal with a good quality caulking recommended for gutters. Next it’s time to think about diverting those gutter downspouts that let water pool adjacent to your foundation. You can install temporary piping above ground which is removed after the rainy season or if you’re really ambitious you can install the drain pipe in trenches below the surface and “daylight” out and away from your house.

It’s a little too late in the year to be thinking about painting but you can seal up windows, trim, voids with caulking. If your house needs paint, get on that next year — late in the spring or early summer is best. This time of year the wind blows and that means tree leaves and debris build up in the gaps of our decks. When our deck gaps are plugged with tree debris it holds water in between the decking boards and between the deck and the siding. This is a major contributing factor in fungus rot to decks and siding. Clean out regularly- once a month this time of year. I have found that using a pressure washer on low pressure setting works best for cleaning out the deck gaps. Good quality power washers have metal spray wands and notches at the spray tips that ride in the gaps like old fashion slot cars. That way you only spray into the gaps and not the tops of the boards. We aren’t trying to refinish the deck, just clean it.

Finally, let’s take a critical look at the crawl space or subarea. Are the vent openings blocked by storage? Plants?, a new deck? It’s very important that our ventilation is not blocked. Try exposing all your vents as possible. Is all your insulation hung properly or is some or most of it falling down. Damaged insulation or poorly installed heating ducts block necessary ventilation. Air flow is vital. If you know your house has a problem with standing or pooling water during the winter, now is the time to install exterior drainage such as a French drain, drainage ditches, or interior solutions such as installing a sump pump. If you choose the exterior method you should employ a professional as these systems are more that most homeowners would want to undertake themselves. A sump pump is less proactive solution however the cost is much less than exterior drainage systems. Location is important as you must find the low spot in the subarea or create a low spot by digging drainage ditches from the far corners of your subarea to the sump pump location. Don’t forget to drain the sump pump out to the side of your house where the land slopes away from the foundation so the water doesn’t find its way back into the subarea.

With just a little maintenance work before the rain sets in, your house will be less likely to have rot, mildew or pest problems. That will save you money and more work next summer. Good luck and enjoy the Holidays.

Matt "the bugkiller" Miller
owner of Mendo Lake Termite

30+ years of inspecting homes in Mendocino, Lake, Sonoma counties