Yes its still summertime and everyone around you is having fun swimming or hiking or doing the regular things that you do in the summer but if you haven’t started planning for Winter yet you are wasting your Summer.
I normally start working on projects for the next winter as soon as it starts getting nice out in the spring. Yes the predominant amount of work I am doing is for the current season and for the next but I know if I don’t start taking care of those things that I can’t do in the snow and ice right now they may not get done before it starts getting cold out.
Its kinda like saving for retirement or planning a big event. The earlier you start doing some of it in your free time the lighter the load will be just before you need it.
You don’t want to be looking at kids coming to your door for Halloween wondering if there is time to coat the driveway or fix the gutters because at that point you might as well just hang out in your basement and hope you make it through winter.
Gathering Firewood for the winter Chill
Whether you cut your own wood for winter or you hire it out or simply buy it from someone its important enough that you start early. If you were living in Alaska it would be mandatory but if you are living anywhere else in the country you want to keep your eyes open for situations that can reduce your cost and start that supply for the coming winter.
Summer storms are likely to knock down a lot of trees. Whenever someone you know has a problem you want to lend them a hand with your chainsaw then load up your pickup with the branches and rounds.
Not only storms but people working on their yard and construction projects are good sources for timber. Where ever you can find an opportunity take it. This year I saw a town about 25 miles south of where I live was completing a big project for their local parks. They actually listed the availability of wood chips and you know where there are chips there are rounds that you can get.
Preparing the wood early means it will be well seasoned and dry for winter. Split the larger rounds and keep the small stuff to start your fires. Heck there is no rule that you have to use huge logs in your fireplace or wood stove if you have a large stack of dry small stuff you can burn that along with everything else. You just need to burn it during the day when you can watch it and keep it fed.
You do what is right for your home but the fact is there are lots of opportunities out there and if you aren’t watching for them you will let them pass you by. And Free is always better than paying for it in December or January when the supply will be scarce and the price will be way too high.
While you are at it you want to get your fireplace inspected by a professional for creosote and leaks. You should do this every season if you use your fireplace as one of your primary heating sources.
Taking Care of your Driveway
One thing you really need to do is take care of your driveway before you start dumping loads of salt on it and abusing it all winter.
When Asphalt starts getting a little older you need to seal up its cracks. Any cracks that are there during the winter will invite water that will refreeze and cause bigger cracks, potholes and undermining of your base.
Seal off all the larger cracks with an asphalt caulk or liquid crack filler. Anything over an inch will take special effort. Personally I have cured such situations by chopping back an area where roots were growing from a tree and then pouring in concrete and filling it to about a half inch from the top and going over it with crack sealer.
If you have depressions from your tires sitting on the driveway then grab a bag of asphalt at the home store and tamp it in there then coat it with sealer. After a few seasons it will blend in really well but at least this winter you won’t have speed bumps on your driveway.
Inspecting your home for wood rot and damage
Every week you should take a trip around your home and inspect it from top to bottom. I normally do this on days that I cut the grass. I simply move to one side of the house and start at the top of the roof line and look at everything down to the ground.
If you see problems fix them right away if you can and if not plan for fixing them after you pick up whatever parts or materials you need to get it done.
Larger things may take some investment or maybe even help from a contractor so do your planning and get it done before a small thing turns into something larger.
Installing Insulation, Weatherstrip or Caulking for leaks
Unfortunately it can be really hot in your attic in the winter but it can be really cold in your home if you don’t have the right amount of insulation. If you have the chance then you might want to do the work yourself. If not you want to find a contractor that can give you a great deal by scheduling you in any open time they have from late spring to mid fall. You let them pick the time but make sure they cut you a good deal.
Caulking around doors and windows and installing weatherstrip can save you a good amount of money in both the summer and winter but you can only do the work in the summer or when its over about 70f so the caulk will cure correctly.
Place a really large fan in one of your windows pointing out and then closes all your windows and doors. Go around the home and look for leaks around all your windows, doors and outlets and baseboards that are along external walls. I grab some incense sticks at the dollar store that work well. If you are a smoker that will probably work too. Just make sure the fan in the window is creating a pretty good vacuum on the house.
Cleaning your home before winter comes
Every fall I wash my entire house down with a bleach solution to remove all of the mold, fungus and stuff that gets on it. Sometimes I may do this twice a year but normally I do it in the fall because I know I won’t be able to do it all winter.
I came to the realization this is pretty important after a winter where I was stuck looking at a situation I couldn’t fix. Maybe the house will still get debris and other stuff on it during the winter but at least I am giving it a good chance.
You want to wash your gutters and remove the small stone that comes off of your shingles. You also want to make sure they are free of leaves in the fall so you might have to do this more than once depending on your neighborhood.
If you have painted surfaces you want to clean them and let them dry for a week before you paint them. A painter would probably wait a few hours but since you probably have the time and you are probably working on projects on the weekends clean it up then paint it the next week. Just make sure you check the weather. If they say there is rain then expect it for sure.. If they say it will be nice then expect a chance of rain. Thats normally how it works at the end of summer and into the fall.
Taking the time and planing is something everyone should do. It makes your life easier. It saves you effort and money in the end and most of all if its something you need done for yourself you got to set time aside for it.
You have to look at this not as a burden but as an opportunity.
If you start planning during the current season for things you need to do before next year comes around you have the whole year to get them done and that means you can do them a little at a time and when the situation presents its self.
If you know you’re going to need wood for the fireplace next winter then keep your eyes open for a chance. Offer to cut down a standing dead tree in your neighbors yard.. or at the very least make sure your order for wood is in early so you can get it delivered at a lower cost. Most people aren’t buying wood in July and if you tell someone you will take a load off their hands they might be able to cut you a real nice deal just so they can free up the space.. heck take a load in May or April if you can get it on discount and sit on it all summer.
Do what you can now.. because later you might not be able to… and thats a good suggestion for everything in your life.