Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Doing Routine Home Maintenance In The Fall And Winter

At one of our family gatherings, I was talking with my spouse's uncle who is a grain farmer. Since I like to learn about professions in which I have no experience, we were discussing his work as a farmer. In the conversation, he explained to me that he did most of the non-urgent maintenance and equipment repair work over the winter, when he does not have any crops requiring attention. Thus, he has much more discretionary time, which is invested in keeping his equipment in good working condition.

While I was working, I did the urgent maintenance work as needed, or hired someone to do it. However, it was challenging to keep up with all the non-urgent maintenance work that needed to be done. Fortunately, not many of the non-urgent work became urgent , due to over neglect.

However, now that I've retired in my forties, I have a bit more discretionary time. I've also found that it's difficult for me to do inside projects when the weather is nice outside. There are also some outdoor projects, e.g. trimming and eliminating ivy, that I think are easier to do in the non-growing season. So I've decided to take on some of these projects during the late fall and winter, specifically late November to late February.


Project Area
Project Activities
PaintingWe'll prepare and paint water damaged areas from a roof leak and touch up other rooms as needed. Typically, indoor painting is a warm weather job, since opening windows will reduce the odors. However, my spouse has found low/no odor paints which enable us to do the work in the winter.
BathroomI'll be caulking around baths, sinks, and showers. If there are any dripping faucets, I'll replace the washers.
KitchenThis area will be primary appliance maintenance and caulking around the sink. The igniters on the our gas stove sometimes spark even though the flame is present. I found some great information on solving the problem at Fixitnow.com. In addition, I may need to replace a heating element in our oven.
FloorThe wood floor in our kitchen squeaks in a couple areas. Since the floor is exposed in the crawl space underneath, I will attempt to eliminate the squeaks by putting 1-1/4" screws through the plywood into the oak floor.
Garage and basementLike some others, our garage and basement storage areas are out of control. Over time both areas have become collection sites for items we use infrequently and items we may need in the future. I did find a good a good article from MSN.com on organizing a garage.
Household decorationsWe have several items, such as a folding screen, that require use special techniques to display them on our walls. Our local framing shop has already provided some great ideas, with which I will be experimenting.


I already do a few outdoor projects such as grass seeding and fertilizing in the fall. I plan to add the following to my winter list:

Project Area
Project Activities
GardensWe have four garden areas that need routine maintenance such as clearing out annuals, trimming back the ivy, edging the bed and mulching. I plan to do the work during the periodic warm winter days.
TreesWe have a number of 20 to 30 year old trees that need periodic pruning and thinning to ensure good future health. It's easier to prune when there are no leaves, but doing it in the early winter can harm the trees, due to sap bleeding. However, doing the pruning in late winter (e.g. February or March) is acceptable. I plan to tie markers on each branch to be cut off later.
CompostWith trees come leaves, lots of leaves. Every year, we compost as much of the leaves as possible. This year we'll be composting the entire amount, which will require some work during the winter, such as turning the leaf pile.
Equipment maintenanceI have not been doing maintenance on our yard equipment the past four years. Our leaf vacuum/mulcher needs an oil change a couple parts replaced. In addition, our leaf blower, weed trimmer, and electric mower need cleaning and a tune up.

Since I don't ski very well or play hockey, I do fewer leisure activities in the winter. Thus, winter provides more discretionary time to take on a few of these projects. Hopefully, getting them done during the winter will free up more time for leisure activities in the spring and summer.

For more on Ideas You Can Use, check back every Tuesday for a new segment.

Photo Credit: morgueFile.com, Mary R. Vogt
This is not financial, maintenance, or gardening advice. Please consult a professional advisor.
Copyright © 2007 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

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