Winterizing the home crucial in mountain communities

Rain, freezing temperatures and snow can mean damage to a home. Diane Sieker photo

While typical California winters are mild, the mountain communities experience more severe conditions. Rain, snow, ice, wind and sleet all take a toll on homes and property.

Winterizing a home is crucial. Heavy storms and freezes can cause dry rot, downed tree branches, roof leaks, broken water pipes and flooding. Preparing for the worst in advance will help protect property, buildings and trees.

Exterior home maintenance should start with an inspection of the foliage around it. Check the trees and limbs to make sure they are in good health and not too close as to cause damage when the Santa Ana winds roar down the valley. All branches should be trimmed three feet to six feet from the roofline. Call a professional if necessary to get the job done.

Next, check for leaf accumulation on the roof and inspect it for damaged shingles and trim, including the seals and flashings around pipes, vents, skylights and chimneys. Replace any worn seals and shingles to ensure a waterproof roof for the coming rains.

Remember to clean out gutters and downspouts to make sure water sheds through them and not back up as a result of a clog.

Check the home’s paint for wear or damage and touch up any areas of deterioration, as paint helps seal the home from water intrusion. If needed, schedule a professional repainting job before winter.

Inspect for gaps and cracks between exterior siding, sliding window tracks and door or window trim. Seal all visible gaps and cracks with a paintable latex caulking rated for exterior use. Clean window tracks as well.

As the days get shorter, exterior lighting becomes more important than ever. Replace bulbs if needed.

Standing water can cause expensive issues, from foundation erosion and flooding. Make sure the home and property have adequate drainage. Check that all gutter downspouts drain away from the house and other outbuildings equipped with them. Downspouts should terminate at least 5 feet from foundations.

To avoid damage to irrigation pipes, stay aware of weather forecasts predicting freezing temperatures and turn off the main water valve to the system and drain connected hoses.

Prune trees, shrubs and plants that are entering their winter dormancy. Identify and remove any signs of disease.

Winterize the pool by cleaning out debris, removing equipment, and adjusting the filter’s timer to run less often.

Residents in low-lying areas that commonly experience flooding should get sandbags to have on hand before the weather turns foul.

Make sure livestock and pets are properly sheltered and protected from flooding.

Also, take the time to create an emergency plan for your family and an emergency kit at the ready in case of evacuations. Emergency kits should include medicines for pets and family members, important papers, blankets, food, water, flashlights and other necessary items.

Winterizing a home will give its owners peace of mind with the coming weather events and protect the home, property, family and furry friends.

Diane Sieker can be reached by email at