Cold weather in the Mid-Atlantic is no joke. When the temperatures drop, traffic grinds to a halt, a layer of snow that might not melt for days comes in, and your fences get put at risk of serious damage. Do not wind up in line for fence repair behind hundreds of other homeowners who had their fences damaged during a snowstorm. Take some simple steps to keep your fence well-maintained during the winter months, and you’ll see dividends for years to come.
Clean Your Fence before Cold Weather
To start the cold season off on the right foot, your fence should be as clean as possible. What you use depends on your fence’s materials. Wood fences can be cleaned with detergent and water, and you can even use a low-power pressure washer for a vinyl PVC fence.
Clearing the surface of the fence of debris makes certain that you will not have a fungus or bacteria fester on the fence over the winter. Winter months can bring a lot of moisture, which means mold thrives. Mold is a particularly large problem for wood fences, as it can eat through the actual material of the fence. Mold loves to chew on cellulose, so it can eat through a fence.
The presence of mold also indicates conditions for the presence of other nasty fungi. Dry rot is the most damaging for fences. It will destroy the interior structure of a fence even faster than mold!
Clear the Footings of Your Posts
When you do the cold weather cleaning of your fence, you should also be sure to clear out the footings of your posts of any debris. This task goes for the whole length of the fence, but it’s most critical at the posts.
Debris like leaves and tall grasses can hide a lot of problems for your fence. First, they give moisture a place to hide, which can lead to fence damage issues like mold and dry rot.
Additionally, piles of debris around the fence can hide problems that you would otherwise catch. If your footings are developing deep cracks, you will not see them under a pile of leaves. If your boards have holes in them at the bottoms, those could be obscured by debris. You might also miss if a burrowing animal has made its way under the fence or the if the neighbor’s dog has been digging around it. Keeping the bottom of the fence clear of debris gives you the best view of what is going on.
Trim Your Trees & Shrubs
The biggest risk of damage to your fence in the winter is falling tree limbs. Blustery winters put more strain on your trees. Ice accumulates on the branches, weighing them down and making them more susceptible to breakage. Then, you have a tree limb heavier than normal crashing down on your fence.
Overhanging limbs should be taken care of before you have these problems. Call a tree trimming professional for an assessment. They should be able to take care of it in an afternoon depending on the size of your yard and the number of trees.
Shrubs also create problems for fences and should be carefully maintained in cold weather. The cycle of freezing and thawing that happens throughout the winter in the Mid-Atlantic exposes your fence to a beating from frozen shrub limbs bashing against it, and an influx of water when the ice melts. The less surface area the shrubs have, the less ice can form, and the further the shrub’s limbs are from the fence, the further away the meltwater trickles from your fence.
Get Rid of Decorations
One common trend driven by Pinterest projects is hanging receptacles for plants or other accoutrements on fences. This may look cute in a photo, but they put a lot of stress on your fence, especially during the colder months.
Planter boxes naturally trap moisture for the plants inside, which exposes your fence to a constant source of water. A constant source of water is exactly what mold needs to grow, and grow it will if you give it a chance.
Plants also attract things like wildlife and bugs, which feed on them and drink up the water they retain. Bugs and wildlife will over time damage your fence by digging under it or chewing through it to get easy access to food and water on your side.
Shovel That Snow
Just like leaves and debris will accumulate around your fence, so too will snow. Snow blows in horizontally and gets blocked by your fence, creating piles larger than the rest of the snow in the yard.
Snow is, of course, moisture, so it poses the same risk of mold, dry rot, or insect infestation as with leaves or planter boxes. Direct moisture contact like snow can also cause your metal fences to rust prematurely. It will eat away at your paints and stains, removing a critical layer of protection from your fence for ALL types of weather!
Contact the Pros
If you have had cold weather damage your fence, do not delay in getting repairs done. Fence damage is only likely to grow over time. Damage to one section of your fence makes sections near it even more vulnerable.
This is not a time for DIY solutions. If you have fence damage and the cold season is coming, you need professionals who know fence repair inside and out. Contact Long® Fence today for a FREE estimate on your fence repair job. We’ve been doing it for over 75 years and are the most trusted names in the area.