Winter weather can be unpredictable, even in the temperate climate of Florida’s Palm Coast. But no matter where you live in the Sunshine State, and especially getting ready to sell your Florida home, make a list and then get to work on these winter tasks.
1. Downspouts and Gutters
We don’t get the snow, but we do get more than 50 inches of rain per year. The rainwater hitting the roof needs to go somewhere! Clean out fallen leaves, palm tree fronds, bird poop, and wind-borne trash from the gutters — you can use a garden hose, leaf blower or pressure washer. While you’re near the roof, check out shingles and chimney flashing to see that everything's in place. Install a filter or screen at the bottom of the downspout to keep it from clogging, and then pour water through the gutters to see that it’s draining properly.
2. Rain Barrels
Rain barrels catch water from the roof to use for irrigating gardens and landscapes. If you don’t have one, rain barrels are easy to build and install, and you can save money on your water bill. While it’s fine for your landscape, the water you capture can't be used as drinking water, as it picks up bacteria, chemicals and dirt from birds, wind debris, and roofing materials. Place a mesh screen on top to keep out mosquitos, shingle grit, trash, and leaves.
A 55-gallon drum fills up quickly, so keep an eye on the containers for overflow, especially in winter and during hurricane season.
3. Yard and Landscape
LawnStarter file photo. No credit required.
There's no snow to worry about, but winter lawn care in Florida is still something for your project list. Because cooler temperatures mean slower grass growth, mow the lawn higher in the winter, making sure to never cut more than 1/3rd the length of the blade off at a time. Don’t shut off the sprinklers because sod needs watering in winter, too – just a little less of it. Water the lawn once every couple of weeks unless you can see footprints in the grass. If so, that means it needs more water. Fertilizing in the spring and summer is fine, but do NOT add chemicals in winter. Remove dead vegetation from gardens, flower and shrubbery beds.
4. Windows and Doors
With Palm Coast’s low winter temperatures averaging in the 40s, you may need to crank up the furnace overnight. Cool air flows inward, even when windows and doors are closed. Weather-tight glass windows keep cold, drafty air outside and can help lower your heating bill. If replacing old windows is out of the question, scrape off the dry, cracked caulk from wooden frames with a putty knife. Apply new caulking, let it dry and then seal it with weather stripping.
5. Furnace / HVAC System
If you have a home with a traditional furnace, check it for any obvious red flags. Corroded areas and components are giveaways to future problems. The flue pipe transfers toxic gases from the furnace to a safe area – this pipe can become corroded and leak. Check out the duct system to be sure it’s not clogged with dust and debris. The furnace’s combustion chamber creates heat — it’s where fuel and air come together to spark, causing an ignition flame. Combustion chambers develop residue, which may cause the furnace to shut down. Changing the air and oil filters are part of the process, too. If you’re not well-versed with furnace care, you should hire a professional to service your home’s heating system and keep you safe.
Same goes for the air conditioning system … getting it serviced in winter is less of a hassle than having the AC go out in the heat of summer!
6. Pool Care
If your property has a pool and that you rarely use or don’t want to heat in winter, it’s time to put it to bed. Drain the water completely or monitor water levels so that rain doesn’t cause an overflow. Cover the pool tightly to keep out pests and algae growth (and pets and kids!). A professional pool service will keep things working each season.
There are always a few odds and ends to remember when maintaining your home each season.
- Change the batteries in carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.
- Clean out the dryer vents and hoses — dense lint can clog and catch fire.
- Trim large tree limbs to keep them from brushing against the house.
- Repair outdoor steps, railings, and walkways.
- Check the house plumbing for water leaks.
- Drain septic tanks (at least every couple of years).
- Inspect the building foundation for cracks and entryways that pests can get through.
- Replace outdoor light bulbs.
Whether you live in Florida full time, visit during the winter, or rent out your home, the house is an investment that must be kept up to retain its value. Make a task list and get to work. Maintenance is part of home-ownership.
Shawn Graham, a former real estate agent, stages homes and landscapes before they go on the market. Her own tiny garden is filled with native blooms and shrubs that attract birds and bees.