Covered patio furniture protected from snow

It’s time to get ready for cold weather! Before the first frost hits, prep your home's exterior with these simple projects. They’ll prevent damage to your home during the long winter months.

Step 1: Clean and Repair Gutters

In late fall, check your gutters. Clogged gutters can damage your home and cause basement flooding when snow melts, so it’s important to clean your gutters before winter hits. Use a ladder to get onto the roof then remove leaves and twigs with gloved hands and/or a large scoop. Place the debris in a trash bag, carefully dropping it to the ground when it’s full. Use a hose to flush out the gutters after you’re done cleaning. With the hose running, you’ll also find any leaks that need to be repaired.

You can easily patch a leaky gutter yourself. Scrub the inside of the gutter around the hole with steel wool. With metal snips, cut a patch of metal flashing that is slightly larger than the hole. Use a putty knife to coat the back of the metal patch with asphalt flashing cement or gutter patch and press into place. Smooth any adhesive that oozes out with gloved hands.

Safety Alert!

Always keep ladders, tools, equipment and yourself at least 10 feet from any overhead power lines.

Step 2: Remove Hoses and Cover Faucets

Do what you can to keep winter weather from damaging your pipes and plumbing. Disconnect and drain garden hoses, storing them inside before the onset of winter. After you turn off the water supply at the shutoff valve inside the house, open the outdoor spigot to drain any remaining water from the line. Finally, cover faucets with a faucet cover. If you don’t have faucet covers, you can wrap a cloth, rag or trash bag around the faucet and secure with duct tape.

Step 3: Store Patio Furniture and Grill

Winter weather can ruin your patio furniture. If you have the space, store patio furniture in the garage, basement or other protected area. If that’s not an option, invest in furniture covers that are made to withstand the harsh winter weather. Before you store or cover anything, clean your furniture properly. Wipe each piece with damp cloths and dry with towels. Remove cushions and pillows, following the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. And if you don’t plan on grilling during the winter, you may also want to cover your grill and store it out of the elements.

Step 4: Clean Patio and Deck

Don't neglect your deck. Use a broom to sweep away leaves, pine needles and other debris. Remove mildew with a solution of 3 quarts water, 1 quart bleach and ¼-cup ammonia-free liquid dishwasher detergent. Apply liberally to the deck's surface with a garden sprayer. Let the mixture set for about 10-15 minutes. Remove planters or place 2 x 2 boards beneath their base to keep them from discoloring your deck.

Step 5: Bring Plants Inside

Bring non-native plants inside before the temperature drops below 50°F. Inspect plants for insects before you bring them into the house. If necessary, treat your potted plants for infestation and diseases. Spraying plants with water and letting them dry will also help get rid of any pests before you bring the plants inside.

Good work! Now your home and yard is protected against damaging winter weather.

Project Shopping List

Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.