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Winter is Coming: A Little Home Maintenance Goes a Long Way

The wildfires throughout the Pacific Northwest have burned thousands of acres and filled the air with ash. Meanwhile Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma are leaving devastation in their wake throughout our country’s Gulf Coast. Then our neighbor to the south, Mexico, was slammed with a major earthquake.

People killed and injured. Homes, businesses, infrastructure, communities and entire industries have been adversely affected by the weather.

Not only do we offer our help and prayers for those currently in need, it’s also a good time to prepare ourselves for possible disaster.

After a record-breaking wet spring and a long, atypically hot, gorgeous summer here, who knows what kind of weather we might experience this fall and winter. And, remember, earthquakes don’t need weird weather to make their appearance.

So, in the next two weeks we will be giving some of our tips and pointers of what to do not only as “regular” maintenance and buttoning up your house for the coming autumn and winter, but also with an eye to disaster preparedness.

This week and next we’ll concentrate on normal maintenance measures that help keep your house safe and strong during the ravages of winter weather.

After that, this column will concentrate on more disaster preparedness for you and your house. In the meantime, t’s never a bad time to prepare for a disaster, so be thinking about what kinds of things need to be in your disaster preparedness “to do” list.


Can you believe we are talking about painting again? It truly is one of the best ways to protect your house from slower disasters—like mold, mildew and rot. But, having a well-painted, well caulked house can also help you avoid wind-driving rain getting into your house and ruining windowsills, floors and walls.

These longer, warm days are perfectly suited to painting your house. Even if you don’t tackle the whole house, as long as you stick with the same color, perhaps just paint the side of the house that gets the most weather!

However if you’ve painted in the last few years and the house is looking good, don’t jump ahead to the next section yet! A good annual wash with 30-Second cleaner and a hose will still make a difference.

Ever notice how quickly grime can accumulate on vinyl siding? Guess what, that same dirt, grime and mold is also likely covering your wooden exterior. And that dirt begins to harbor vegetation and mold that if left alone can feed on your wooden siding, compromising the integrity of your home and inviting moisture to enter. For that reason alone, it’s worth it to wash your house. Besides, you’ll be surprised at the marked difference in appearance a good scrub can make. (You don’t realize how dirty it is until you clean it up.)

A good house washing doesn’t need to take long – especially if you make it a two-person job. One of you takes a boat brush or scrub brush and applies the 30 Second Cleaner with water solution and scrubs, while the other comes along about – well, 30 seconds later – and rinses it off.

If you don’t particularly like to paint, all the more reason to give your house regular scrubs – it will extend the life of your paint job, saving you time, money and hassle.


If you are washing or painting your house, while the ladder is out is a good time to inspect your gutters. And, frankly, if you are not planning to wash or paint your house it’s worth it to get the ladder out and inspect the gutters.

For starters, we recommend that your gutters are secured to the roof with plastic ties. Typically that is done when the gutters are installed. However, if that’s not the case at your house, get some ties from the home improvement store and batten down those hatches!

Secondly, we recommend screens for your gutter. It’s one sure-fire way to get a lot less foliage piling up in the gutters, which causes subsequent leaking, dripping, etc. that can affect your siding.

The screening, which is simply a fine metal mesh, can be bought at home improvement stores – just ask for gutter guards. Once you have it, install it so that one side is tucked under the edge of the roof and the other is held in place by gravity at the far edge of the gutter. (This keeps it in securely, but allows you to remove it when you want to clean out the dirt, grime and little stuff that slips through into the gutter and accumulates over time.)


Okay, we don’t claim to be plant experts, but we do know that fall isn’t the best time to prune many plants. However, for your house’s sake, consider some key trimming back. The plants we are concerned about are shrubs or trees that either pose a potential threat to your house or are touching your house.

Are there any trees, shrubs, even flowers and grass that have direct contact with any part of your house? Just having plants touching the house encourages – once again – the growth of mold and mildew, which will begin consuming your siding.

We recommend that all foliage of any kind be a good 12 inches or more from touching the house. This will help the exterior of the home to circulate air and prevent mold issues.

A few weeks ago this column featured a conversation with the folks at the Grays Harbor PUD about trees that threaten power lines. Your trees have likely been growing the last few months. When was the last time you took a good look at them to see if they might pose a danger in one of our classic soon-coming Grays Harbor storms?

Beautiful limbs too close to power lines, your house, garage, shop or other structures become an ugly nightmare if they come crashing down in a storm.

Also, as we well know here, flood waters and wind storms can topple a whole tree – particularly an older one, a rotted one, a sick one or one with shallow roots. So, take a look at your situation. Is there any part of any tree that could threaten your house given a weather event? It may seem like a hassle, but it is so much easier to deal with it now.

Depending on the size and type of tree you are dealing with, its removal or pruning might require an expert for safety’s sake. WE LOAN OUT PAINTING EQUIPMENT

Just to remind you, we loan out painting equipment free of charge. Give us a call at 360 533-7828 if you’d like to borrow our brushes, ladders, etc. to paint your house.


We’re out of space, but not out of end-of-summer chores. So, tune in next week to learn more about caulking, cleaning window tracks and more! In two weeks we’ll talk about disaster preparedness for you and your home.

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks® of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is the executive director. This is a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing for all residents of Grays Harbor County.

Do you have questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or becoming a homeowner? Like us on Facebook! Call us at 533-7828, write us or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen.

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