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Autumn is a popular season for all sorts of outdoor activities, and right now is a great time to prepare our homes for winter. While most regions of the country are enjoying cool, crisp mornings and sunny days, blizzards have already struck in places like South Dakota – which just got hit with enough snow to break a 94-year old record. Yes, it’s tempting to procrastinate, but a little preventative home maintenance now will help prevent more expensive problems through the winter, saving you money and preserving your home equity and resell value.
Soon the weather will be too uncooperative for tasks like exterior painting, roof patching, and cleaning and repairing the gutters. To help you plan your autumn weekend projects, here is a useful do-it-yourself checklist, along with some advice about how to pay for home maintenance and repairs with generous credit cards.
Check out the Roof
Your roof can take a real beating during the warmer months, thanks to torrential downpours, high winds and scorching sunshine. Walk around and check it for trouble spots such as damaged or missing shingles. Is the flashing tight and snug around vent pipes, dormers, and the chimney? Oftentimes a small amount of patching and repairing can preempt much more extensive problems, so take care of those items before winter hits. Heavy snow on the roof can lead to leaks that spread the damage to the inside of your home.
Ice dams (example) – those slabs of ice that develop in the valleys of your roof over the wintertime – can also wedge themselves under loose shingles and unsecured flashing. Ice dams can quickly turn a small issue into a major repair job. Here’s a helpful tip that will make the chore of scoping-out your roof easier and safer; instead of climbing a ladder, simply use binoculars to hunt for trouble spots -if you find one, then you can drag the ladder out and assess the situation.
Cover and Protect
Put away your garden hoses so the water inside them doesn’t freeze and split them open, causing annoying leaks and exposing faucets and pipes. Now is also a good time to cover your air conditioning compressor -if located outside- so it doesn’t get clogged up with leaves, twigs, acorns, and other debris. NOTE: Do NOT turn your air conditioning system on again until you remove the protective cover. Cover window units too, and be sure to insulate all the gaps around them. It already costs enough to heat your home in winter, so you don’t want to let any of that precious warmth escape during the frigid winter months.
Are there any cracks opening up in the driveway that needs to be patched while the weather is still mild? There are affordable do-it-yourself products that you can buy, like caulk, that do a great job of filling minor masonry cracks or voids. Keeping those cracks open allows for water to fill them, freeze and then cause those cracks to expand.
Stain and Paint
Now is also the right time to give your outside deck a good scrubbing. If it has not been weather sealed or stained in a while, don’t put that chore off until next spring. By then you may be faced with wood rot or other damage caused by prolonged exposure to rain, snow and ice. A good, tight water seal and stain will give your deck all the protection it needs to survive for at least a year.
The same goes for any areas of your home’s exterior that have peeling paint left over from the blistering days of summer. Focus on scraping, sanding, and repainting the small, limited trouble spots so you can prevent widespread exterior paint deterioration. If you wait until next spring, those easy-to-control areas may have grown and may require a complete exterior paint job, which is a gigantic home maintenance expense. Another smart reason to get painting and staining chores done now, while the weather is still nice, is that you can also caulk around the doors and windows to boost your energy savings and keep the interior of your home warm and comfortable all winter.
Use the Right Plastic
Of course another way to save money on home maintenance and repairs is to finance those projects with a credit card that offers a robust rewards program. As long as you’re paying for home maintenance you might as well earn as many rewards or cash-back as possible.
- Normally the best plastic for the job is not going to be the kind offered by large home improvement stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s. Though they aren’t bad choices, I don’t generally recommend using store credit cards or charge cards.
- As a better alternative, I always recommend the reliable money-saving programs of top-rated cards like the Chase Freedom Visa, American Express Blue Cash Everyday, and Amex Blue Cash Preferred.
- Having said that, however, I have to admit that there is one offer from Lowe’s that lasts through October 25th and it is a pretty good deal; if you open a new Lowe’s Business Account or sign up for the Lowe’s Accounts Receivable card, your first in-store purchase can qualify you for a 10% discount. That applies to purchases as large as $5,000, so it means you can earn a maximum savings of $500.
Be sure to keep your receipts, too, because when you sell your home the cost of improvements and repairs can usually be deducted from any profit you make on the sale. When you tally up all those expenses it can help lower your cost basis and cut down on the amount of income tax you pay for real estate capital gains.
*Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.
*The content in this article is accurate at the publishing date, and may be subject to changes.