Time to winterize….. Really?!

The road from Dornbirn to the mountain village...
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With 100+ degrees temperatures this week in theLake Oroville area, it definitely does not feel like fall is upon us!  The trees and the gardens know what time it is though and they are preparing for winter.  I am reminded of this every time I sit on my patio and the acorns are pelting the ground around me making me think maybe a hard hat would be in order.  The foliage is dying back in the veggie garden and the surrounding hills are starting to change their hue and that can mean only one thing…… winter is around the corner.  From a Real Estate professional and homeowner perspective, there are several things that a homeowner needs to do to get ready for the cold season.   Most homeowners are familiar with the basics such as insulating any exposed outside pipes, leaf collection and disposal, clearing drainage areas and mulching the plants, but there are several tips below to help you accomplish your winterizing chores faster and make your winter much more comfortable.  I hope you find them as useful as I have:

*  Use a leaf blower or high pressure air compressor to blow out the (dry) gutters.  My husband stands on the roof to do it, but if a ladder feels safer, then by all means use it!  The leaves come out easily and are ready to be raked up and disposed of. 

*  Propane costs typically go up around the first of October, so fill your tank in September to get a better price.  If you own your tank, shop the suppliers for the best prices.

*  Get your wood early!  If you have a wood stove or fireplace you will want to get your wood while the weather is still good and the prices are lower.  Often the suppliers are willing to deliver and stack the wood in the early part of the season before they get swamped with orders.  Don’t forget to clean the flu in the chimney or stovepipe! This is very important to prevent chimney fires later in the winter.

*  If you live on a rural property like where I live in Bangor, Ca. , you may have a pond or seasonal drainage canals that run through the property.  If so, take the time to cut back any vegetation (like blackberries) that may have grown during the summer to block the outlet.  It is no fun to be out in a downpour in the mud trying to unblock something so you don’t flood.  This can be equally true for homeowners in the city who have sewer grates in front of their homes or other drainage collection systems. 

*  If you are a gardener, you know that this is the time to begin preparing your garden soil for next spring by tossing in some compost or other materials that can compost down over the winter.  Here in Yuba County, we have the huge rice operations and the rice suppliers leave mountains of rice hulls that the public is welcome to take.  My husband and I till several yards into the garden to compost over the winter and the resulting soil is rich and super “fluffy” and if you have ever tried to work the red clay dirt around here, you know that “fluffy” is not a term that is generally used!

* Lastly, check your weatherstripping around windows and doors and replace if it is cracking or dried out. This can be a MAJOR air leak potential in the home.  I also use the vinyl backed drapes on my large picture windows to help with insulation at night in the winter.  It really is impressive how much of the cold air is trapped between the drapes and the window even when the windows are dual pane. 

A little bit of attention now can save a bundle of aggravation later on!  Take it from my husband who did not wrap the pipes one year and had to sit outside in his bathrobe with a blow-dryer at 4am in 28 degree weather trying to un-freeze the pipe so he could take a shower……..

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