How to Repair Common Mishaps Around the Yard

Household repairs aren't confined to four walls. Learn how to address common mishaps in and around the yard.

©Ryan Snook

©Ryan Snook

©Ryan Snook

©Ryan Snook

©Ryan Snook

©Ryan Snook

Windowpane Breaks

Remember the white-hot fear that shot through your body when you broke a window with an errant throw of a ball? Nowadays you get that same feeling if it happens, but your fear is more about how to fix it and keep the elements out rather than getting in trouble. If it's just a crack, you can apply duct tape to cover it up until you replace it. Simply opening or closing an exterior door can creative enough negative pressure to extend the crack. A complete break will require temporary covering such as a section of plywood attached to the exterior. If your window has individual glass panes you should be able to pick up a replacement piece. You can replace it yourself, but the job requires you to cut and remove mullions and molding (depending on the window), and re-caulking or re-glazing. Single-pane double windows will need more extensive repairs, and could require the replacement of the entire window, framing and all.

Gutter Falls Off

Gutters and downspouts channel water away from your foundation and, as a result, take a lot of abuse. Over time, the spikes holding them to the rafters and roof structure can work their way out or the wood can rot and give way, resulting in a gutter falling off. First, check the condition of the roof structure and make any repairs. If they're minor, you can use a wood-hardening product to restore it. If the wood doesn't need repair and the spikes just worked their way out, you've got a couple of options. One, you can fill the hole with an exterior wood filler and drive the spike back in after it sets. Two, you can replace the gutter spike with a gutter screw. The threads on the screw will grab the wood and hold much better than ordinary spikes.

Tree Limb Falls and Creates Hole in Roof

It's not the preferred wake-up call, but a tree or limb crashing through your roof will certainly bring you out of slumber. After checking to make sure no one is hurt, start clearing away anything that may be directly under and around where the tree or limb entered. Use a tarp or plastic sheeting to cover anything that can't be moved. Check to see if any electrical wires, phone lines, or water or gas pipes have been compromised. If it's raining or about to rain, secure some buckets or large containers to collect rainwater. Move any vehicles or items in the path of the limb or tree should it fall off the roof. Take pictures of the damage as soon as possible for insurance purposes, and make a list of what has been damaged. Contact your insurance company immediately, as they will need to inspect the damage for your claim. Lastly, cover the hole with a tarp.

Fence Falls Down

A fence damaged by strong wind or a fallen tree is ugly, but it can also make life difficult if you've got a pet who enjoys free roaming in your yard. You could be covered by insurance depending on your policy, but if your fence is made out of wood or the damage isn't that extensive, you may come out ahead repairing it yourself rather than filing a claim and paying the deductible. If you can handle it yourself, remove the fallen tree — think of it as free firewood. Collect the fence debris, especially any parts and pieces that may be sharp and jagged. Look for fasteners as well. To do this properly, you may want to borrow or purchase a metal detector. Inspect the fence and determine the materials you'll need to fix it. Remember that the force may have weakened parts of the fence extending beyond what's immediately visibly damaged.

Ice Dams on Roof

Ice dams occur when the water from melting snow high on a roof hits the colder temperature below and freezes. Melted water then creeps under the dam and backs up against it, hence using the term dam. This buildup of water can result in a leaking roof. The cause usually is heat loss from a poorly insulated attic. To prevent it from happening, use a long-handled push broom or snow rake to scrape off built-up snow. Be careful not to damage the roof while doing it. In an active dam, you need to break up the ice as quickly as possible. You can chip away at the ice to release the water (again, mind the roof), and if it's warm enough, you can use a water hose to spray water and speed up the melting. To prevent it happening in the future, properly insulate and seal your attic from living spaces.

Pests in the Backyard

Blood-sucking insects are the bane of outdoor barbecue lovers the world over. Sprays and lawn chemicals are effective, but these bugs can still make their way into your backyard sanctuary. To reduce the occurrence of mosquitoes you need to remove as much standing water as possible. Clogged gutters are often a hidden culprit, so make sure to keep those clean. Ivy also is notorious for harboring mosquitoes, so you may want to rethink your use of the vine. For small backyard ponds, water features, bird baths and rain barrels, you can insert mosquito tablets, also called dunks. These include a bacteria that are harmful to mosquitoes, but non-toxic to fish or birds. For a natural approach, try spraying lemon ammonia on bushes, shrubs and vines — hit that ivy well!

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