Better to cut ’em down than to have them blow down in the winter wind. photo by Jerry Baldock
Better to cut ’em down than to have them blow down in the winter wind. photo by Jerry Baldock

It's not time to put your feet up by the wood stove just yet. There's a lot to get done before Old Man Winter spreads his icy fingers across Sisters Country.

Yes, it's time to winterize. What does that mean in Sisters Country?

It means it's time to put away your lawn mower, your pressure washer, your paint sprayer. BUT WAIT! Don't just stash them in the garage. Fuel goes stale in 30 days in small-engine equipment. You need to get your motorized equipment winterized.

"Fill it full of treated fuel is what we do," says Doug Gannon of Sisters Rental. Their small-engine repair and maintenance shop uses Motomix, an ethanol-free STIHL product that stays fresh and stable through storage periods.

Now is also the time to get your winter equipment serviced so it fires up when you need it.

"We service a lot of snow blowers this time of year," Gannon said.

It's also a good idea to do a test run on your generator, so that you are assured that it will run properly in an emergency. If it doesn't fire up immediately - get it serviced.

The windy weather last weekend serves as a good reminder that now is the time to get hazard trees limbed, topped or removed. The winds of winter, combined with the weight of snow and ice, can topple trees or break off limbs that can fall on your roof, or your car - or on you. Contact an expert tree service to handle this potentially dangerous problem.

Cleaning gutters is a traditional fall chore, as the ponderosas dump a proliferation of needles on our roofs. This is a do-it-yourself job for many folks, but climbing up on ladders and onto the roof may not be the best idea. In some cases you can blow out the gutters with a blower kit you can either rent or purchase. That'll keep you on the ground. Or you can hire the work done.

Bruce Merrell of Laredo Construction says his crew handles clearing roofs and gutters for a number of clients who have hit the age where they shouldn't be risking life and limb - even if they want to.

While your handyman or contractor is out at the house, they can check for other projects that will keep you snug through winter. Check weather-stripping around doors and windows. Warm air escaping out and cold air infiltrating means a less comfortable home or higher heating bills - or both. Buttoning up the house now can make for a cozier and less expensive winter.

Speaking of heat, this is the time of year to make sure your heating system is in good shape. Chris Gulick of Action Air urges folks to have a professional check things out.

"If they're dealing with an old system, they may want to look at duct sealing," he said. "At least have their duct system inspected."

The most basic maintenance is key to having a system that works efficiently.

"Filter maintenance is huge," he said.

It's also important to make sure that your system is running within manufacturer's specs and is in good repair. Burnt wires can make for a safety hazard, and nobody wants to be dealing with that kind of thing when there's three feet of snow on the ground.

Gulick recommends homeowners look into programmable thermostats as a money-saver. You can program the thermostat to dial back when you're not around. No point in draining your wallet by heating up an empty house.

"They even make some do-it-yourself for those who are half-way mechanical and don't mind a couple of electrical wires," Gulick said. "Or they can get it professionally installed."

It's time to get the irrigation system blown out and drain the hoses. Put a Styrofoam insulator over the bib to prevent ice build up. Wrap pipe that's exposed above ground and make sure your well-pump heater is in working order.

If you heat with wood, it's a good idea to get your chimney swept annually at this time of year, and your chimney sweep can inspect for any damage that could compromise fire safety. Check your smoke alarms and replace batteries.

Then, with your house all buttoned down, the wood split and stacked and everything cleaned up, you can sit quietly and let the wind howl as it may.