With winter not that far away now, the talk around town always seems to turn to how much rain the coming season will bring.

Despite being completely wrong in predictions for last winter, the meteorologic community is predicting that an El Niño winter is on the way, and we should all be ready for heavy rain again.

A customer I visited last week said her oak trees have more acorns than ever before, which is a Farmers Almanac-type of sure-fire harbinger of coming wet weather, too.

Still, after so many past years of drought, it has been easy to ignore and put off weather-related home maintenance. So here are a few issues that homeowners might address while we still may have a month or two of dry weather left.

Leaking Roofs

A roof only leaks when it rains and, if you’ve been putting off repairing or replacing a worn out or leaking roof, trying to get a roofing contractor to return your call after the rains arrive will be less successful than trying to call the IRS on April 14.

Now is the time to act if your roof has leaked in the past or if your roof has exceeded the recommended life of the manufacturer of the roofing shingles.

If your roof shingles are starting to look frayed or have been damaged by wind, it is probably time for a new roof.

Now is the time to call a roofing contractor.

Leaking Skylights

If your home has skylights and you see any sign of water damage or water stains when you look up at it, then you need to call a roofing contractor.

Most skylights are constructed sort of like a Tupperware lid that fits down over a metal frame that is water sealed, often with a rubber or plastic seal or gasket.

If any water is passing through this seal, a roofing contractor needs to lift the skylight off the roof, check the integrity of the metal flange and rubber seal, and make any needed repairs or install new parts.

Climbing onto the roof and trying to seal the skylight with silicon or tar is a waste of time and a good way to take a bad fall.

Rain Gutters

The purpose of rain gutters is to move rainwater away from your house, ideally to an area where the natural slope of the ground carries the water away to a street, stream or storm drain.

When the soil around your house becomes overly saturated, a home can experience moisture damage to the exterior walls, water can flow under a cement slab and enter the structure via foundation cracks, or your crawl space or basement can flood.

Now is the time to make repairs to your gutters and to make sure they are securely fastened to the rafter tails or eave fascia boards.

If your gutters were installed using aluminum spikes, these spikes often work their way loose over time and should be replaced with long threaded gutter screws that can be purchased at the hardware store.

If your yard is graced with mature trees that shed leaves onto your roof, cleaning the gutters can wait until late fall before rains may arrive, unless you live in a wildfire zone, in which case your gutters should always be kept free of leaves.


Painting a house is one of the easiest maintenance chores to postpone, but if your siding and trim is cracking and any bare wood is exposed, it’s time for paint.

Ideally, a house should be prepped and painted every eight to 10 years. The primary purpose of a coat of house paint is to protect a home from the relentless eroding forces of sun, wind and rain.

If your home’s protective layer of paint is already in bad shape, you possibly will need the services of both a carpenter and a painter after your home is subjected to another winter of wet weather.

Homes with siding made from manufactured wood products are especially prone to water damage as even the smallest amount of moisture will cause these wood products to swell and crack.

Surface Drainage

If you are fortunate to have a home that is built on a slight slope and has natural drainage, make sure all surface drains or swales are free of leaves and dirt, so you are not out working in the coming storms with a shovel and rake.

If your home is on a flat lot with poor drainage, you may need sandbags to prevent water from entering your garage or house during extended downpours.

Local fire departments usually make sandbags available free of charge when bad weather is on the horizon.

Sump Pumps

Basements and crawl spaces under older homes can be prone to flooding and are often equipped with a sump basin and a submersible electric pump.

Now is the time to check to make sure the sump pit is free of dirt and crud and that the pump is working correctly.

Test the pump by running a garden hose into the basement to make sure the pump turns on and the drain line is intact.

A submersible pump needs to be plugged into a GFI-protected outlet. Always be very aware of the potential for electrocution if you must enter a flooded basement.

Be Prepared is a good motto to live by and, with a little preparation and planning, your home will do just fine when the rains return to Santa Barbara County this winter.

Santa Barbara general contractor Mark Baird is a UC Santa Barbara alumnus, a multigenerational handyman and a longtime DIYer. He is the owner/manager of Your Handyman, a family-run company that has been helping local homeowners since 2006. Email your questions about your homes to mark@yourhandymansb.com. The opinions expressed are his own.