One Day I Will Rule the World

World Domination, Babies and Middle Eastern Dance

October 9, 2012

Thanksgiving Weekend Winterizing

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving. We had a pretty low-key Thanksgiving weekend with my (in-town) family over for supper on Saturday, a drive out to Ian’s grandmother’s house for his family’s supper on Sunday, and today Ethan and Rachel had supper with their dad and their step-mom’s family.

The weather’s turning crisp here, for real now, too. So we’ve been kicked into high gear with regard to prepping the house for winter.

Last year was our weather-stripping and insulation year. This year is our siding and exterior trim year. We haven’t managed to seal and insulate everything that we’ve identified that we “should” – this is an old house, after all. But we have seen a consistent reduction in our heating costs every year that we’ve been here, and when the snow falls and we’re out of time (or we lose the will to keep going with the caulking gun), we tell ourselves we can finish it in the spring. Having lasted this long, I’m pretty sure that one more year with a crappy doorsweep or a crack in a piece of clapboard won’t be the year that does the house in.

Another big thing I’m trying to tackle this year is the build up of dirt and detritus. I’m just trying to remove any grime that’s accumulating in any crevices. Not because I’m a neat freak, in fact I’m charmed as all get-out by things like piles of decomposed leaves in corners around the porch or collections of leaves and seeds drifted along the lines of our shingles, but those things collect and hold moisture next to your siding, shingles and foundation; and moisture is the real enemy.

Close-up of our deck. Larch needles, cracked paint and all.

So basically I’m doing my first round with a broom, a rag and a caulking gun, just sweeping out the corners, wiping down anywhere that’s collecting dirt, cobwebs or leaves in the siding. For example, our side deck sits under a larch and ends up with layers of larch needles in all the crevices between the deck and the house. After a vigourous sweeping of the deck and then carefully loosening the guck out of the crevices with a paint scraper, I can tell that there’s been a lot of moisture and friction where the deck meets the house. So far it’s just cost us layers of paint and nothing’s rotten – so that’s good for us this year. But I’m going to re-paint those areas this year and I’ll definitely be carefully monitoring and cleaning there every year from now on.

Once my surfaces are clean, I’ll caulk up any cracks that seem to need it. Places where the trim has pulled away from the siding, around windows, etc.

As I go, I tackle any small repairs that I spot. Mostly that amounts to driving in an occasional nail to hold something that’s come loose. But I did break today to get some new flashing at Home Depot, because I discovered that the trim above our dining room window is in a sad state and so some of that needs replacing or at least reinforcing. I’ve also been reading up on repairing cracked clapboard, but I think that’ll have to wait for next year. It’s a little late in the season to be pulling boards out of our siding.

Once the cleaning, sealing and major repairs are done, then I’ll make my second round with the paintbrush. There’s peeling paint on our fences, as well as edges of trim on the house and around the wood windows that I want to cover up.

I actually recommend starting a list of the things you want to reinforce, insulate or repair. If your house is old enough, I can almost guarantee that there will be more than you can reasonably tackle in one season. And a list will help you prioritize (which is the key to not feeling too badly when you can’t do it all; you’ll just have to remind yourself that you did as much as you had time for and you did the important stuff first).

It took me a while to figure out what my ideal “kit” is to bring with me for these weatherproofing perimeter checks, but here’s my list as it stands today:

A few sizes of nails
Screwdriver with selection of bits
Expanding foam (for larger gaps)
Caulking gun and clear-drying exterior caulk
sandwich bag for setting the caulking gun down on between runs
a roll of paper towels or shop towels for wiping caulking off everything
Garbage bags
Dry rags for dusting surfaces off before you caulk
Broom (nice for swiping cobwebs off your trim as well as sweeping off decks)
Paint scraper

There have been times I thought it would be nice to have a can of compressed air (or, Ian would say, just bring the air compressor from the garage) for blowing dust out of corners, or even the water hose if it were a touch nicer out. But mostly I do okay with a rag and a broom.

And, of course, don’t forget your work-gloves, band-aids and pain-killers. You may be surprised at the number of things you manage to trip yourself over, snag yourself on and bump yourself into just in trying to walk around your yard.

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