Preparing Your Property For Wintertime
With night time temperatures dropping into the 30s on occasion it is a reminder that winter weather can come early to Lake Tahoe and property owners need to be prepared. As we approach the autumnal equinox it's time to tackle the annual household chores to prepare your property for winter at Lake Tahoe. We can't address every item that requires attention in advance of wintertime in this short column, but here are a few of the major tasks to keep in mind.
Snow removal is at the top of the priority list, so make sure that your snow blower is tuned up and you have fresh gasoline. If you have hired a snow removal service to clear your driveway, now is the time to double check your arrangements and get your snow stakes in place. Eliminating pine needles and other debris from decks, driveways and sidewalks will make snow removal much easier.
Drain and shut off your irrigation system for the winter. While condo owners can generally rely on their homeowners association to handle this responsibility, all single-family homeowners and many freestanding condo owners are responsible for their landscaping and irrigation systems. Owners of freestanding condos should check with their association manager if they are not sure who is responsible for maintaining the irrigation system at their property so you don't suffer a nasty surprise.
Be sure to check windows and doors for cracks, leaks and drafts and address them as necessary. Caulk and weather stripping are very inexpensive materials that are relatively easy to install and they go a long way towards reducing your heating bills. Ensure that your thermostat is programmed for the proper hours and temperatures. If you still have one of the old manual type thermostats, we highly recommend replacing it with a programmable electronic one.
Absentee owners departing for the next several months may wish to drain the interior plumbing and put some type of antifreeze solution in the toilets. In the event of a power outage and the loss of your heating system for any length of time, this tactic will minimize the chances of pipes freezing and breaking. In any event, vacant houses should have their thermostats set no lower than 50 to 55 degrees to maintain an internal temperature that will prevent pipes from freezing.
If you have a roofline that pitches over your sidewalk or driveway now is the time to check that your heat tape system still functions or if you don't have heat tape, consider installing it to minimize the danger from falling snow and ice. Remove leaves, pine needles and other debris from any gutters and slotted drains so that snowmelt will run off properly and not form dams.
Critters of every shape and size are always looking for a warm and sheltered place to survive wintertime at Lake Tahoe. Unless you want bears, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits and other wildlife taking up residence in your abode it is absolutely critical to take a thorough look at your property and seal up any openings that could be attractive to animals. And don’t leave any trash or food in your garage as it will attract bears and other creatures looking for a meal during a time of year when natural food sources are scarce.
Do you have a good brush for clearing snow off your windshield along with a pair of gloves handy? These items need to be accessible without having to open a frozen car door. Keeping an extra brush and set of gloves in the coat closet can be a blessing for out of town guests who come over for a visit during a winter snowstorm. And make sure you keep extra warm clothing, water and a flashlight in your car throughout the winter. You never know when you might get stuck in a snowstorm or have to wait for an accident or avalanche to be cleared on the Mt. Rose Highway while making that routine shopping trip to Reno.