Winter is coming, and while we might not be expecting a white Christmas in Southern California, you can at least depend on occasional rain and temperatures dropping…maybe a little bit. Take advantage of this break from the blazing heat by tackling some renovation projects.
You could take on aesthetic upgrades that will raise the resale value of your home, like renovating your kitchen and bathrooms. However, you may get even more bang for your buck by giving your home some preventive care. These projects will help protect you from costly home repairs down the road.
GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura & San Diego Counties with reliable general contractors. We often help homeowners understand what projects they should prioritize to best protect from damage to their property in the winter – below are 7 common projects you should consider checking off your list this winter.
1. Tune up the HVAC
Your HVAC system has been hard at work over the last several months. Now that it’s ‘winter’ and things have cooled off a bit, you can stand to give it a short rest. Kick it off for a few hours and run some routine maintenance at the start of each winter season to ensure a longer life span.
First, you should clean your outdoor unit. Over the course of a year, debris like fallen leaves can get inside and clog your HVAC. You should replace your filters every month for the best air quality and unit efficiency, so if you haven’t done so in a while, now is the time. Forgetting can make your system nonfunctional and create a fire hazard.
Aside from these DIY projects, you should schedule a professional to inspect and maintain your HVAC. They can check each part of your system and inform you of any necessary repairs or upcoming maintenance expenses.
2. Trim Greenery
Another easy project is to keep your front yard and backyard greenery in check. Shrubs and ornamental grasses that grow too large and close to your home can pose a risk. They give rodents and small insects an easy avenue between your siding or into other weak areas.
The tight, shaded spaces behind these plants also provide the perfect conditions for mold and fungal growth to take root. Regular trims will create more air flow and decrease the likelihood of dangerous mold or costly damage like dry rot.
3. Fix or Replace Exterior Doors
Every entrance to your home is a chance to make a statement — ensure yours isn’t an invitation for vandals and thieves. Misaligned and broken doors are easy targets for local vermin and criminal activity, leaving your home open to potential damage and theft this winter.
Garage doors are a particularly common weak point. Luckily, a DIY solution may be all you need. Check the photo eye sensor for typical problems. Both elements should be parallel, and nothing should be blocking their field of vision. Give them a good clean and see if your door shuts properly. In many cases, your job will be done, but if not, call in a professional to check the whole mechanism.
Extreme heat can cause swelling and cracking in wooden doors. Check all your exterior doors for any signs of damage. You should also securely fasten all your strike plates and knobs, using a screwdriver to tighten any loose screws.
In some circumstances, you may find a door beyond the point of repair and that it needs replacing. It’s well worth your money to take care of the situation to prevent potential disaster.
4. Fireproof the Deck This Winter
Traditional decks made from treated lumber are a cost-friendly option, but they aren’t the most fire-resistant. Take advantage of the cooler winter months to upgrade your current wooden porch or deck with fireproof materials like composite or concrete.
The last thing you want is for your deck to catch fire. The proximity to your home causes damage with radiant heat, and the contact between the deck and siding can spread fire to your house’s main structure.
5. Conduct Seismic Retrofitting
Earthquakes are a serious concern for anyone living in Southern California, with two to three a year capable of causing significant structural damage. Take some steps to prepare your home for these events to avoid catastrophic losses later.
Falling chimneys are an unfortunately common contributor to earthquake damage. The heavy materials fall on nearby homes and destroy roofs, siding, and walls. Work with a professional to put firm braces in yours, and consider replacing the upper half with a lighter material than genuine brick.
Other areas of weakness are second stories over a garage and certain foundation types. Call a professional to retrofit your foundation, making it more likely to withstand an earthquake. Metal rods are a common structural addition, keeping your house from sliding off its base. Garage doors aren’t as supportive as a wall, so rooms above could also use a structural upgrade.
6. Upgrade Windows
Windows can make or break your home’s ability to withstand the elements. Ensure yours are up to date to provide the best earthquake and fire protection.
Large sheets of glass are more susceptible to fracture during an earthquake or other natural disaster. Upgrading to multipaneled windows breaks up the glass and makes each pane more resilient. If window replacements aren’t in your budget right now, you can apply specialized film to help hold them together.
Even your window screens are an essential part of your home’s safety. Plastic screens melt easily and can become a hazard when wildfires strike. Prevent further fire spread by swapping plastic models for those made entirely of metal. While you’re at it, replace any vent covers around the exterior with metal versions as well.
7. Make Roof Repairs
The summer heat can wreak havoc on your roof, causing shingles to crack and leak. Before winter, you should check your roof carefully for any damaged areas. Replace any cracks or missing sections as soon as possible, or you risk water seeping into your home, causing further damage.
Every roof needs to be replaced every so often, depending on the type of materials you choose. If it’s time for a new one, consider upgrading to metal. Metal roofs are flame-resistant and last much longer than most other kinds.
Preventive Care Is Vital
Many of these projects are expensive, but not doing them could cost you even more in repairs. Fires, earthquakes, and theft are significant threats to the Southern California area. If your home isn’t adequately protected, you’re leaving yourself and your property vulnerable to devastating damage.
GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura & San Diego with reliable, thoroughly screened general contractors and provides project support from start to finish.
Submit your project to be connected with several fully vetted, trustworthy contractors who are experienced with home remodeling projects. For more info, visit www.GreatBuildz.com or call 818.317.3567 today.
Rose Morrison is a home & construction writer from Pittsburgh, PA. She’s the managing editor of Renovated, a web magazine for the real estate industry. She’s most interested in sharing home projects and inspiration for the most novice of DIY-ers, values she developed growing up in a family of contractors.