Thursday, November 1, 2012

Stowing Away Summer Tools & Equipment

We have to face the fact the weather in Lexington is turning cooler so it's time to put away your outdoor stuff. It can be a lot of work so we tend to procrastinate until the very last minute. You can't wait any longer! Plus if you are thinking about putting your Lexington home on the market or thinking about moving, getting these items accomplished now will help you later and you won't have to do it when the weather really turns bad.

Here is a handy checklist to help with the process:

  • Barbecues-Wheel portable models to inside storage, but keep propane tanks outside, covered with a plastic bag or tarp. Propane poses an explosion risk indoors, says Ralph Taylor, owner of Gas & Grills stores in Cleveland, Ohio. Many homeowners keep BBQ grills outdoors, especially built-in models, but cover them. Hardware stores sell plain covers for $15 to $85. Grillfitti in Phoenix offers decorated covers, priced at up to $300 for custom-made ones. Taylor objects to covers, arguing they trap moisture that can rust burners, cooking grids and rock grates.
  • Play equipment-Sturdy, wooden play equipment, anchored in the ground can weather the outdoors, as can heavier plastic models. But wooden play equipment will last longer with water sealer applied in the fall and spring, says Donna Thomson, director of the National Program for Playground Safety. Also check for splinters and sand rough areas. Smaller lighter-weight units, especially plastic, should go inside to avoid sharp edges from breakage.
  • Lawn mowers-"One of the first things I put away is my lawn mower," says Steve Hardison, manager at Mutual True Value hardware store in Highland Park, Ill. Tune the mower at summer's end, Hardison says, to avoid the multitudes who take in mowers for a tune at the start mowing season. Add a gasoline stabilizer to remaining fuel to preserve it. Follow the same routine for any gas-powered equipment, such as weed trimmers or leaf blowers.
  • Hoses-To prevent freeze damage, unhook garden hoses from spigots, empty water and store in a garage or shed. Even drained hoses outdoors suffer from exposure, shortening use to a couple of years.
  • Lawn furniture-Portable, lightweight plastic lawn furniture goes inside. Heavier pieces, like wrought-iron, can be left out, protected by manufacturers' designed covers or large plastic bags from most hardware stores or online. Typically made of vinyl, some with a flannel backing, the bags have drawstrings or grommets for cords to secure against wind. Cushions go inside the garage or house.
  • Potted plants-Pull up dead, potted annuals at summer's end, throw out the soil and store pots in a shed, garage or basement. Otherwise, terracotta pots left outdoors can freeze and plastic pots will wear out in a couple of years from exposure.
  • Garden tools-Dip shears, weeders, pruners, spades and other hand tools in sand mixed with motor oil to clean and lubricate before storing.
  • Pools-Winterizing a pool can be complex in climates with freezing temperatures, says Bob Buettner, regional sales director in Dallas with Leslie's Pool Supplies. Buettner recommends help from a pool professional the first time. The task can involve partially or fully draining the pool, depending on regional practices. Typically, water is drained from all lines to prevent bursting of frozen pipes. If water is left in pools, homeowners can toss in air pillows, plastic gallon jugs or even logs, items to be safely crushed by expanding ice to avoid pool damage, especially to more vulnerable large, freestanding vinyl pools. Cover pools and remove ladders and hoses. Diving boards can be removed or covered. Small kiddie pools should be brought indoors.
  • Paints-Bring leftover paint from summer projects indoors to a basement or heated garage. Latex paints freeze and "look like cottage cheese after they're thawed out," Hardison said. Oil-based paints fare slightly better if they freeze. They can be restored with paint thinner, but they should be indoors, too.
For the full article and more storage tips, visit

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