7 Repairs to Make Before the First Freeze

Make sure you take care of these house tune-ups before the arrival of winter to ensure your home stays in tip-top shape.

This content is paid advertising created in partnership with Quikrete. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.

Prep the House for Cool Temps

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Prep the House for Cool Temps

As the days grow shorter and the leaves fall from the trees, it’s time to make a thorough check of the different areas of your house and property to make sure they’re in good condition before Old Man Winter arrives. While concrete is one of the most durable construction materials, it can still be negatively impacted by winter’s freeze/thaw cycles when the water from rain, ice, and snow can seep into cracks in concrete and then refreeze, expanding and resulting in larger cracks or spalling.

Homeowners may take the time to replace weather-stripping on exterior doors and seal gaps around drafty windows when getting their homes ready for winter, but they don’t always know what steps to take to keep their concrete in good shape. See the seven concrete repairs you need to make now, and learn about the products you can use to protect your concrete during the coming cold season.

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Seal Control Joints

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Seal Control Joints

Control joints control the placement of cracks in concrete slabs. They should be sealed before winter arrives to keep rain and melted snow and ice from running into the cracks, which could freeze and push the cracks farther apart. Even worse, if the soil beneath the slab is clay-based, it will swell when it's saturated, which could cause the concrete slab to move. Sealing the control joints won’t keep them from doing their job—if the slab starts to crack, it will still crack in the pre-cut joints where it’s often not noticeable. By filling the cracks in during the fall with Quikrete Advanced Polymer Self-Leveling Sealant, you can prevent water from saturating the substrate. This flexible self-leveling sealant is easily applied with a standard caulk gun and it quickly fills the joint, creating a smooth, level surface. Check out this video that walks you through how to prep and fill control joints.

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Repair Mortar Joints Between Bricks

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Repair Mortar Joints Between Bricks

The weakest part of an exterior brick wall lies in its mortar joints, and when a home’s foundation settles, mortar joints are among the first things to develop cracks. Repairing even small cracks before freezing temps arrive is vital because water from thawed snow and ice can enter the cracks and then refreeze, creating larger cracks and increasing the risk of the mortar crumbling away. To prevent further damage to brick walls, seal the cracks with a good mortar sealant, such as Quikrete Advanced Polymer Mortar Joint Sealant, a high-performance sealant that bonds tightly to the sides of the crack, seals out moisture, and is textured to blend in visually with the existing grout. See how simple it is to fix cracks in your home’s mortar joints with this crack prepping and sealing video.

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Repair Cracks and Holes in Stucco

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Repair Cracks and Holes in Stucco

Stucco is a very popular siding in many parts of the country, but because it is rigid, even slight house movement can lead to cracks. It’s imperative to repair cracks in stucco as soon as possible to prevent further damage from the coming freeze/thaw cycles that can potentially lead to chunks of stucco siding falling from the wall, as well as seal out moisture to prevent mold. Small cracks (less than 1/2-inch wide) can be filled with Quikrete Stucco Repair, a sanded acrylic caulk that’s designed to match the surrounding stucco. Actual holes in the stucco should be filled with Quikrete Pre-Mixed Stucco Patch, an acrylic latex product that is applied with a hand trowel to fill the hole. Find out how to prep and fill cracks and holes in stucco with this video.

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Fill Leaks in Basement Wall

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Fill Leaks in Basement Wall

Small leaks in a basement wall can quickly become big problems, leading to water in the basement, damaged furnishings, and high humidity, which increases the risk of mold growth. Fortunately, repairing a basement leak before they become expensive issue doesn’t require calling a foundation contractor. Leaks from cracks that are less than 1/2-inch in diameter can be quickly and permanently sealed by filling them with Quikrete Hydraulic Water-Stop Cement, a fast-setting cement product that expands as it sets, forming a watertight bond with the existing masonry. The hydraulic cement comes as a dry powder and needs to be mixed with water until it reaches a putty consistency before kneading it by hand and then pressing into a crack or a hole in the wall. It usually sets in about 3 minutes. Watch this video to see how this simple cement product can help keep your basement dry this winter.

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Seal Driveway

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Seal Driveway

Ice-melting chemicals and frequent freeze/thaw cycles can damage porous concrete driveways and patios, so applying a layer of sealant before it freezes is kind of like adding a coat of armor to the concrete. Before applying a quality sealer, such as Quikrete Concrete Cure & Seal, to a driveway or other concrete slab, the concrete must first be cleaned with a pressure washer to remove all stains, dirt, grease, or oil. Cure & Seal can then be evenly distributed across the surface using a garden sprayer or roller. Cure & Seal is a water-based, acrylic sealer that protects concrete and makes it easier to clean, while leaving a clear, semi-gloss finish.

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Replace Wobbly Mailbox

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Replace Wobbly Mailbox

An unsteady, leaning mailbox detracts from your home’s curb appeal, and it is a nuisance to your postal worker. When a post—whether it’s attached to a mailbox or a fence—wobbles, it’s because the post is not adequately secured in the ground. Fall is a great time to replace a wobbly mailbox and then plant a few tulip bulbs around its base for a pretty show of color next spring. If you’re not thrilled about mixing a bag of concrete in the wheelbarrow—no worries—you don’t have to. Setting the post with Quikrete Fast-Setting Concrete Mix is as easy as digging the post hole, positioning the post (you’ll want a level to ensure that it’s plumb), dumping the dry concrete mix in the hole around the post, and then soaking the mix with water. No mixing required. See how easy it is in this video.

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Repair Flagstone Walkway

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Repair Flagstone Walkway

Very few things are as aesthetically pleasing as natural flagstone walkways and patios, but just one or two loose stones can make the whole thing look shoddy, not to mention that loose flagstones are a tripping hazard. Calling out a professional mason will cost a pretty penny but if the damage isn’t extensive, there’s a good chance you can reset the stone(s) yourself using Quikrete Zip & Mix Fast-Set Repair Mortar. This user-friendly polymer mortar comes in a resilient plastic, zip-type bag and a plastic trowel is included. After the loose flagstone is removed and the old mortar is chipped away, the new fast-setting mortar is mixed right in the bag, and then kneaded until it reaches the correct consistency. The flagstone is then set in place with the new mortar. Watch this video to see how simple it is to re-mortar a flagstone.

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