Wondering what to do this month to get your home and yard ready for another Invermere winter? Use this list of suggestions to prepare the inside and outside of your house for the winter season.
Clean gutters and eavestroughs to ensure that leaves, pine needles, and other debris aren’t blocking the outlets. Overflowing gutters can result in water going where it shouldn’t, like the basement. If your gutters drain into a perimeter tile, upgrading to a leaf blocking system is an excellent way to extend the life of the drainage system and reduce maintenance at the same time. Products like a gutter guard or flexible nylon shields that fold into the gutter may eliminate gutter cleaning every fall. For downspouts that drain on to the landscaping, consider plastic extenders that will carry water away from the house. You may want to direct some of the water to a small pond or a barrel for use in the garden.
Small engine tune-ups are essential to extend the life of your equipment and ensure quick, one-pull starts in the spring. Your lawn mower should be filled with premium (no alcohol) gas with a stabilizer. Run the mower for a few minutes so the stabilizer is mixed with fuel in the float. This will prevent decomposing gas from clogging the carb jets. The snow thrower could use some attention, too. A new spark plug is cheap and will prevent ignition problems later. Change the oil according to the manufacturer’s directions. Some of the newer additives with titanium or boron are super slick and will vastly improve cold weather starting. Check your owner’s manual for details on lubrication points.
In the Columbia Valley, we fertilize the lawn to keep the roots healthy and growing until the grass goes dormant. Fertilizing now will turn the lawn a deep green faster when spring arrives. The grass will have all the nutrients it needs stored in the plant itself. A strong root and blade system makes the grass more resistant to disease and drought. Ask your lawn and garden centre for a slow release fall fertilizer for best results.
If you’re done with hoses and faucets outside, October is a good month to drain them so they don’t freeze later. Check your garden faucet to see if there is a second, interior shutoff near the wall. If not, you might want to have a plumber install one to prevent the line from freezing. When water freezes, it expands and can easily crack copper and vinyl pipes. Irrigation lines should be drained for the same reason. You might be able to do it yourself with compressed air, otherwise, ask an irrigation installation company to do it for you. Cracked irrigation lines waste expensive mains water.
Bring the patio furniture indoors to keep it looking new. Give them a good wash with detergent and water. Add some tri-sodium phosphate to the cleaning water for a little extra boost, if necessary. A pressure washer is okay to use on plastic furniture but can easily damage wood or painted surfaces.
Reverse the ceiling fan direction to reduce your heating costs by 10% or more and make your home more comfortable during Invermere’s Rocky Mountain winters. When you reverse the airflow, so air is pushed toward the ceiling, it will force the warm air that accumulates up there to flow down the walls. The result is a very comfortable space with no direct breeze. Often, the thermostat can be turned down a couple of degrees to compensate for the improved, mixed air.
Tuning up the family bicycles before winter allows everyone to take advantage of the first warm spring day to go for a ride. Pressure wash the frame, wheels, and gears and then lubricate everything with a high-quality oil. There are videos on Youtube that show how to adjust derailers (the transmissions), cables, and brakes. Take a few minutes to learn how then show a young person so they can become independent mechanics.