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Get Ready for Winter Outside

It makes sense to get ready for a cold winter inside, this is where you are trying to keep the heat in and the cold out. But it also makes sense to prepare for the weather outside the house. This begins with caulk and a caulking gun and a trip around the perimeter of your house looking for cracks where the wind can get in. Find old caulk that has dried and shrivelled, remove it with a putty knife and replace with new, high-quality caulk.

When you get to the hoses surrounding the house, be sure to unhook them from the faucet, drain the water, and hang them in the garage to prevent cracking and weathering. The faucet itself might also need some attention. Water in the faucet can freeze and burst piping in the wall. The short term solution to this is to put on an insulated cover for the season (may be purchased at local hardware store). The long term solution is to place a valve inside the house that shuts off water to the outside valves. Shut these off at the beginning of the winter season and open the outside faucet to allow any water in the pipe to drip out. There are also outside faucets built to resist freezing. The valve of the faucet actually shuts off inside the house and allows any water left in the faucet to drip out.

Don't forget your out-door plants. You can bring in and winter many hanging plants. Some types of bulbs such as calla lilies and gladiolus must be dug up and stored in a warmer (though not real warm) place. Do not dig up plants that require cold weather to grow again in spring such as grape hyacinth, daffodils and tulips. Young trees should be wrapped and fenced to prevent weather damage as well as rabbit and rodent foraging.

For perennial plants you can cover their beds with a loose mulch. Plants such as roses can be covered with a burlap material to prevent damage. For lawns, you may put on a thin layer of winter fertilizer that will help with root development in the spring.

Don't forget your outdoor machines, lawn mowers, motorcycles, and four-wheelers could all stand some attention. If you are not inclined to drain the gas from these machines, try using a special winter gas additive. This is also a good time to change the oil. Remove the batteries from motorcycles that will not be started for several months and store in a warmer place. In rural areas mice can be a problem, nesting under seats and eating wiring.

To prevent your pool being cracked by frozen water, it is best to drain the pool and to make sure plumbing leading to it is winterized. Cover the pool to prevent dirt build-up and be sure that the area is secure from children or others who might be hurt by walking off the side into a waterless pool.

The fall season is also a good time to add a coat of sealer to decks, porches, railings etc.

The next place to winterize is the heat system.

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