We recently moved to Yavapai County from Maine and are not sure what to expect for winter preparation here in the “desert.” In Maine, we had serious winter preparation tasks to perform to safeguard our home and yard. What advice can you give us? We love reading your column.
- Earl and Susie, Cottonwood
Like it or not, winter is coming, even to the “desert.” Our cold snaps here aren’t really comparable to Maine, but nonetheless, we do have winter preparation to do.
We have had cold snaps that burst pipes left to right, from plumbing lines to irrigation lines to fire sprinkler lines, and boy, oh boy did my phone ring off the hook. So to all of our readers, there is no need to wait until the last minute to prepare your home for winter.
It’s not too early to get your home ready, and you should all take action now while the weather is still nice.
The last thing you want to do is fix any problems after the temperature has dropped below the freezing point.
With all of the burst piping a few years back, the financial benefits of winterizing your home are worth it now.
With the rain we have had lately, now is a good time to drain the water from your outdoor faucets and disconnect and drain the garden hoses. DO NOT LEAVE your garden hoses connected to the outdoor faucets. If you do not have anti-syphon hose bibs, you can check your local hardware stores for insulated covers for your outdoor faucets.
For those with an in-ground sprinkler system, we highly recommend a professional to drain the pipes. This will eliminate any costly repairs from a pipe bursting should it freeze while full of water.
Any pipes can be easily insulated with inexpensive foam covers found at local hardware stores. As an added precaution, you should make sure you know how to turn off the main water source to your home. Water damage is costly, so the faster you can get the water turned off, the better.
For the homes with a fireplace, now is the time to have an inspection. DO NOT WAIT until you light the fireplace for the first time. Have the chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional before the weather gets cold. In addition, have a professional give your heating system a thorough check.
Be sure to caulk any gaps. If any pipes or ducts travel through an exterior wall, it is a good idea to use caulking and weather stripping around all entry points. These steps will help block potential entry points for cold air.
Reversing ceiling fans is another simple way to save energy. When running in reverse mode, the fan produces an updraft and will push the warm air down into the room. This is especially helpful in rooms with high ceilings.
Now is the time to check your roof and gutters. Look for damaged, lose or missing shingles that may leak during a winter storm or from melting snow. Check and repair breaks in the flashing seals around vent stacks and chimneys while you are on the roof. Be sure to give the gutters a thorough cleaning to allow snow melt to drain properly.
Did you know that more structural fires occur during freezing weather than in the heat of summer? This is surge is largely owed to malfunctioning heating equipment. Check your smoke alarms with 10-year batteries and the same goes for carbon monoxide detectors. If you do not have these devices, you should have.
About one-third of annual carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning cases occur between December and February. CO can be created from any fuel-burning appliance, such as furnaces, natural gas ranges, fireplaces, gas logs and even generators when used during a power outage. One of the main concerns in winter is symptoms of CO poisoning often mimic the flu, a mistake that can prove deadly.
The “Farmers Almanac” indicates “Stinging Cold and Above Average Precipitation” for the Southwest! So be prepared.
Useful Coffee Grounds
As I was tossing out the coffee grounds this morning, I thought about “surfing” the net to find out what uses there are for coffee grounds and here are a few:
Coffee grounds as an exfoliant. The rough texture of the coffee grounds can be used on your skin as a scrub. Coffee scrubs are all the rage. Just mix ½ cup coffee grounds and ½ cup sugar (any kind) with ¼ cup coconut oil in a small jar with lid. Work into wet skin, and rinse.
Soil aeration and nitrogen boost for houseplants. Adding coffee grounds to your houseplants helps the pH balance (toward acidity) as well as increasing nitrogen and aerating the soil.
Neutralize refrigerator odors. Placing coffee grounds in the refrigerator acts as a natural deodorizer. The only thing you need to watch for is mold if you use damp grounds. Replace immediately with fresher grounds if it turns into a science experiment.
Makes sweeping or vacuuming up ashes around the fireplace or wood stove easily. Sprinkling damp coffee grounds around the fireplace or wood stove will assist in reducing dust and ashes in your hearth, making them easier to sweep or vacuum up.
Scour pots and pans. The gentle abrasive of coffee grounds can help in the kitchen to remove stubborn caked-on food from your pots and pans.
Snail, slug, and cat repellent. In the garden, just mound up a barrier of coffee grounds around the plants which slugs and cats are attracted to. It will help keep them at bay.
Steroids for your carrot crop. Carrots love coffee grounds. They will grow larger and sweeter and the plants will have a greater yield. Just trowel the grounds in around the immature shoots.
Have a lovely week.
YAVAPAI COUNTY CONTRACTORS ASSOCIATION