Kirby: Winterize now or pay later
Robert Kirby is on vacation. This is a reprint of an earlier column.
You can feel it, can't you? The air is cooler and leaves have started to turn. Summer is leaving. Winter is an inch away on the thermometer. Autumn will officially begin soon. It's not so bad. There's football, burning leaves, carving jack-o-lanterns and the new TV lineup. As they go, fall is one of the more tolerable seasons.
Unfortunately, it doesn't stay autumn for long. Fall eventually becomes winter, and winter around here lasts forever. It's full of horrible things such as ice, snow, traffic accidents and the annual state Legislature.
Autumn, then, is nature's way of telling homeowners things are about to get bad, specifically that it's time to winterize.
For the average homeowner, "winterize" is a foreign word containing all the informational familiarity of "fuyu," a Japanese word for what winter does to you.
I wouldn't bother bringing this up except for the apparent fact that most homeowners prefer to "springerize," the frantic process of fixing stuff that went wrong.
As a public service, please consider performing at least some of the following steps before winter arrives.
• Clean rain gutters: Few things make a winter wonderland less wonderful than a rain gutter clogged with ice coming loose and tearing off half the roof. Get up there and take out the leaves.
• Drain sprinklers: It's amusing come April when a part of the yard with no sprinkler suddenly belches a gopher 30 feet into the air. You'll laugh for, oh, however long it takes to realize that your PVC pipes froze and you've got some major digging to do.
• Service snow blower: Hock deep in snow is no time to find out that your snow blower has become an exercise machine. Yank that cord until your heart falls out, but it isn't going to start if you haven't taken care of it.
• Get a proper shovel: A related item is the right kind of shovel for clearing snow, preferably one with a squared mouth. Pointy shovels are great for digging up burst pipes, but they don't work worth a dang on snow. Also, snow and ice don't rake very well.
• Check weatherstripping: The idea of owning a house in the first place is having somewhere to get in out of the cold. If you're letting the cold in anyway, it's cheaper in the long run to be homeless. Check the stripping around doors and windows.
• Undo hoses: Another good way to let the outside inside is to leave your garden hoses attached to the spigots through the winter. The hoses trap water against the spigot. If it freezes, it could burst the pipe in the wall. Not fun.
• Protect your pet: This is really important. If you plan on leaving your pet outside for the winter, you might want to give some thought to how it will fare in the cold, even if it's a musk ox.
• Dogs and cats in particular need a place to stay dry and warm in. This is for your good as well as theirs. Labs in particular will chew a hole through a solid-core door to get inside.
Winter is a lot more enjoyable the more you can ignore it.
Robert Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.