Preparing for Fall Storms

The most important reason for fall home maintenance is to get prepared for fall storms and your home’s exterior ready for winter. Since the lower mainland has already experienced its first official storm, it’s a good reminder that there will be more to come. Preparing for fall storms includes cleaning the gutters, getting ready for an emergency, and inspecting the foundation.

Clean the gutters.

During heavy rainstorms a gutter system can quickly be overwhelmed. Prevent problems such as overflowing gutters and blocked downspouts by cleaning the gutters once in the fall after most of the leaves have fallen and then again in the spring when trees have finished flowering. Regular gutter cleanings are the most effective way to keep gutters working optimally. Clean the downspouts at the same time.

Maintain the gutter system.

Gutter cleaning is a vital ingredient of maintaining the gutter system. However, gutters also need to be maintained. Regular homeowner and professional inspections will help you identify common gutter problems and make the necessary repairs. To maintain the gutters check for:

  • Leaks – worn/separated seams or pinholes allow water to escape the gutter system
  • Sagging – often a sign of hardware or fascia issues
  • Warped gutter sections – damaged gutters impede water flow
  • Dented downspouts – pronounced dents provide places where debris can build up

Inspect the foundation.

Inside your home check basement walls for damp spots, stains, mold, or condensation.

Inspect the foundation and exterior walls for cracks, pitting, and stains caused by water damage. Remove any trees (in accordance with local bylaws) that have roots growing too near the foundation.

Ensure that the downspouts drain the proper distance away from the foundation, at least seven feet from exterior walls. If using a downspout extender or a splash block, check to see that it hasn’t shifted or been moved.

Look for pooled water directly beneath the downspouts. Consistent pooling is not only a sign of a clogged gutter system, pooled water can cause soil erosion, resulting in exposing the foundation or causing basement flooding.

Inspect the roof.

As part of your fall home maintenance, conduct a homeowner’s inspection of the roof. Make any required repairs before the end of the fall. Examine the roof for:

  • Worn or missing roofing shingles
  • Damp patches
  • Stained areas or leaks
  • Loose and/or rusted flashings

If you haven’t had the roof inspected within the past three years by a professional roofing contractor perhaps this fall will be the perfect time. There are a lot of layers to a roof; a roof inspection will alert you to any current or potentially serious issues.

Deal with the soggy lawn.

If your lawn remains soggy for several days after a major rainfall it could be a sign of poor drainage in your yard. Strategic landscaping can help move water around so it’s not pooling in the low-lying places of your lawn. Consider burying the downspout so that water is carried away from the home’s exterior to a place underground where the water is safely deposited. Or add mulch to garden beds near the foundation of the house – it will help the soil absorb excess moisture.

Be prepared for an emergency.

After a heat dome lead to record high temperatures for a week in June, Environment Canada warned residents about the effect extreme heat could have on trees – noticeable loss of leaves, increased risk of fire, bark damage, and compromised root systems. The trees on your property that survived the heat dome might have recovered enough to look healthy. However, if stormy weather is too stormy they could be toppled over.

Be prepared for just such an emergency – should a tree fall onto your house or somewhere else on your property, you don’t want to have to be thinking about what to do. If the tree fell across the driveway for example the family will most likely be able to remain in the house, but not if it hit the roof. An emergency plan includes:

  • A designated meeting place
  • Head count, including pets
  • Basic disaster kit with first aid kit supplies, snacks, flashlights, etc. – you don’t know how long you’ll have to wait
  • Phone numbers
  • Someplace to stay