1. Remove Aggressive Vines
On brick or stone home facades, climbers with suckers, such as Virginia creeper, pull the lime out of the mortar, creating entry points for water. Vines also hold moisture against walls, which can wreak havoc on wood clapboards, slowing their ability to dry out after a rain and causing rot. If vines get between boards, they can push them apart.
HOW TO DO IT:
“Pull all the vines off, working from the top down; cut them at the base, and dig out the roots,” says TOH landscape contractor Roger Cook. To remove any residue left behind on wood siding, do a quick pass with an orbital sander. Come spring, paint an herbicide on any new growth.
You’ll avert having to spend up to $25 per square foot for professional mortar repointing. For wood houses, dodge up to $3,000 to re-side and rebuild a rotted clapboard wall.RELATED: 6 Easy Steps to Keeping Your Water Heater in Top Shape
2. Replace Damaged Asphalt Roof Shingles
Many leaks are caused by a broken shingle or a rusted nail that allowed a shingle to slip out of place. A drip now can become a flood later, and the last place you want to be on a frigid winter day is on the roof.
HOW TO DO IT:
Spot damage from the ground using binoculars, or get a closer look from a ladder at the eaves. On the roof, use a pry bar to loosen the shingles above the one that’s broken. Then pry out the nails holding the damaged shingle to remove it. Slip in a new shingle that’s the same width, and secure it with nails.
Catching a leak before it happens can save you $300 or more to repair a ceiling or wall and up to $6,000 for mold remediation.RELATED: Check for Holes in the Attic & More Fall Essentials
3. Patch Cracks in the Driveway
Small fissures and holes in asphalt can quickly expand into large gaps and potholes if snow and ice get into them.
HOW TO DO IT:
Wait for a mild day; tar-like asphalt repair products work best when pliable. Clean out loose debris in the hole, and ensure the surface is dry. Using a caulk gun, inject a sealant (try Dupont 7906 Driveway & Repair Caulk, about $18 per four-pack) into the opening. Use a wood craft stick to tamp the sealant level.
Keeping on top of minor cracks can save you $3 to $6 per square foot to resurface the whole driveway.RELATED: Fall Landscaping Checklist
4. Lengthen Stubby Downspouts
Heavy winter rain can cause pooling near your home’s foundation if your downspout kick-outs are too short. That water can then infiltrate the foundation and be wicked up the side of the house, wreaking havoc along the way in the form of mold, insects, or rot, says Roger Cook. Telltale signs may be a wet spot in your basement after a rain or widening cracks in the foundation.
HOW TO DO IT:
Attach a flexible downspout extender that’s connected to a length of drainage pipe buried just below grade; the pipe should direct water at least 10 feet away from your home’s foundation. Rather than sending that diverted water into a dry well or losing it to the storm drain, put it to work by attaching another length of perforated pipe, wrapped in landscape fabric, that’ll disperse the water to feed your flower beds. To allow for proper drainage, lay the perforated pipe on a 3- to 6-inch bed of washed stone.
You’re spared $10,000 to $30,000 to jack up the house and replace a rotted main beam, plus $1,000 to $3,000 to repair damaged joists.ENTER NOW: The 2013 TOH Pumpkin-Carving Contest
5. Flush the Water Heater
Sediment build-up displaces water and prevents the heater from operating at full capacity. By flushing the tank once a year, usually before winter, you won’t be wasting cash by heating this gunk. Start by turning off the heater and letting the tank cool; then shut off the water supply. If gravity is on your side, connect a hose to the drain cock and run it to a floor drain. If you don’t have a drain, send the water to a sink or bucket using a drill pump (a $15 attachment that will suction water out of the heater). Draining 3 gallons is usually enough, but you may have to fill and flush a few times until the water’s clear.SEE ALL: 12 Easy DIY Fall Fix-Ups
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