Home Inspection | Winter in MilwaukeeHomeowner Tips for Winter Home Prep

Preparing a home for winter can take a lot of planning and execution. It is a worthwhile task for homeowners who want to welcome the new year with greater comfort and energy efficiency. These tips help homeowners know where to put their focus, and when they should be asking for expert advice.

Ensuring Effective Heating and Ventilation

Keeping the heating system working well all throughout the winter is often at the forefront of a homeowner’s mind, and for good reason. When the heating system fails for some reason, every other aspect of home function and comfort is compromised. Furnaces running on fuel must also be properly ventilated for safe use. HVAC systems can have complex problems relating to appliances or the equipment used to deliver heat and ventilate the home. Hiring an expert to inspect the system in the fall helps to identify possible issues and provide homeowners enough time to arrange for necessary repairs.

Assessing Insulation

Confirming that a home’s heating is in ideal working order is only one part of ensuring comfort in winter. Heated air moves from one space to another in a process known as heat transfer. In winter, the insulation of the home serves to keep that heated air inside longer. Better insulation leads to a slower rate of heat transfer and greater efficiency for the heating. This promotes a steady temperature throughout the home and saves money on energy costs. The trouble is that many homes do not have adequate insulation, especially older homes. Requesting an inspection of the insulation allows homeowners to make plans to improve it before the cold weather hits.

Fixing Air Leaks

Air leaks in a home’s exterior have a surprising ability to make a home feel drafty and cold in winter. Air leaks can happen almost anywhere on a home’s exterior, but are particularly common around doors and windows. The frames around doors and windows can eventually have gaps through which air can easily pass. It is not quite like leaving a door or window open in the dead of winter, but can lead to notable inefficiencies in heating. Homeowners can usually seal air leaks around windows and doors with caulking or weather-stripping, but may need help from a professional for leaks in places like the attic.

Protecting Plumbing

One home system that relies heavily on the home’s effective heating is the plumbing. Any homeowner who has experienced a frozen or burst pipe knows that it is troubling and can be very expensive to fix. Since so much of a home’s plumbing may not be visible, it is often difficult for homeowners to know if their plumbing is adequately insulated. Sprinkling systems need to be drained fully before winter. Indoor plumbing should be properly insulated if it is located in any place that is not consistently heated to 55 degrees or higher, such as an unfinished basement. Insulating pipes and a water heater tank with designated materials will also reduce heat loss, saving energy.

Safe Use of Fireplaces and Chimneys

Of course, not everyone uses a furnace to heat their homes. Some homeowners like to use fireplaces from time to time for added warmth or ambiance in their homes. Safe use of the fireplace is absolutely key to preventing a tragedy from happening. Wood-burning fireplaces collect creosote as a byproduct that sticks to the chimney. If the chimney is not kept clean, the creosote could ignite and create a chimney fire. To avoid this problem, homeowners should arrange for a yearly inspection of the chimney and fireplace. The flue or damper should be easy to open and close, and the glass doors ought to be in good condition.

Roof Considerations

More than any other part of the home’s exterior, the roof keeps the elements out of the home. A roof’s solid condition and upkeep could easily make a home feel like a haven during winter. The roof requires at least a visual inspection in the fall, to identify any missing or damaged shingles or tiles. The gutters should be cleared of leaves and other debris until the trees are bare for the year. Clogged gutters may freeze into blocks of ice and damage the roof. Homeowners must confirm that all downspouts are in good condition and turned away from the home, so that rain or melting snow can flow away from the home’s structure.

Every minute spent getting a home ready for winter will be repaid with countless hours of contentment within an ideally heated, ventilated and insulated space. If homeowners take the initiative in the fall, they will reap the benefits of a home that is more comfortable and has better efficiency and a longer lifespan for the home systems.