While most outdoor home maintenance and improvement projects get put on hold over the winter, there are some outdoor areas that require attention year-round.  Old Man Winter hasn't taken any time off this year, and you may find that he's left behind some things for you to attend to.  Here are the top exterior areas to pay attention to in winter weather:

  • Driveways:  Keep them free of snow and ice as much as possible.  Standing water seeps into the concrete or asphalt and refreezes, causing cracks and buckling.  Shovel as soon as a snowfall is finished.  Avoid metal and metal-edged shovels which can chip or gouge the surface - plastic is better.
  • Garage Floors:  Keeping them dry is important, for the same reason.  One other hazard for garage floors in the winter is road salt.  The chemicals can erode the floor.  It's a good idea to periodically take a shop vac or broom to your garage once the floor is dry to remove any road de-icers your tires may have carried in.
  • Decks:  If you don't use your deck in the winter, many experts recommend leaving the snow in place.  The weight of the snow should not be a problem, whereas shoveling might damage the decking boards.  Use a broom when possible, and if shoveling is necessary, always shovel parallel to the decking boards with a plastic, not metal, shovel.  NEVER chop ice or apply salt on a deck.
  • Roofs:  Snow and ice are the major threats to roofs in the winter.  Roofing experts recommend you use a roof rake to remove snow after every snowfall.  Removing the snow reduces the likelihood of an ice dam build-up.  If your home does develop an ice dam, arrange for professional removal to prevent roof and structural damage.
  • Gutters and Downspouts:  Gutters need to be kept in good  working order during the winter, because they handle water removal even in cold weather.  As snow melts and comes off the roof, the gutters and downspouts need to direct it away.  Periodically check your downspout outlets and make sure there is no blockage.
Once winter is over and the temps are showing signs of staying above freezing consistently, it's a good idea to schedule a roof and gutter inspection, so that you can have any problems or damage taken care of before the spring rains set in.  Keeping your roof and rain-handling system in good condition is critical to protecting your home.