Winter’s Wrath Coming for Unready Homes

As the House Stark would say, “Winter is coming.” And that’s not a blunt, true fact-of-life statement you want to be on the “not” side of the “ready or not” door.

And just because your home may look stunning as it basks in the late autumn glow as you pull into your driveway, looks can be deceiving. For an unwinterized home can cost thousands in repairs if it’s unable to hold up under winter’s brutal vice grip on its old aging accord.

Take for instance, the average price tag for an unwinterized home that gets hit with the double winter whammy of burst pipes and unmonitored mold. A home that is not properly repaired from burst pipes and allowed to sit until the weather is warm will probably become a victim of severe mold. The real damage: A $35,000 to $40,000 restoration bill.

Don’t be a ground hog dreaming your fall away on a bed of trouble. Taking time to prepare your home for the winter will ensure that you protect all exterior portions of your home against the wind and wet weather, while the interior of your home stays warm, without sending your utility bill through the roof.

For as Lisa Rojak of BobVilla.com notes, “it makes good sense to ensure that you and your family stay comfortable the entire season while protecting your investment.”

The Winter Project

Before we get started, let’s go over The Cardinal Rule of All Home Winterization Projects: A home owner should not winterize a house unless they are absolutely sure they are doing it correctly. If you have any doubt about the results of your work, call in the experts.

Here is an Essential Pre-Winter Check and Action List For Every Homeowner:

  • Check For Drafts: Go CSI on you windows to check for leaks and drafts. Drafty windows can spike your winter home energy bills from 10 to 25 percent. For a clear-cut status report on your home’s energy health, call in a home energy auditor (note: this can cost between $300-$500).

    Cover window frames with clear, thick plastic sheeting. Use clear tape around the edges of windows to block leaks and drafts. A window-insulation kit from your local hardware store is an affordable means to ziplock your windows. For doors, inspect the weather stripping for air gaps and close any with new stripping.

  • Tune Up The Engine: The late days of autumn are the prime time to check the engines of your home’s energy system: The furnace and air systems. Have air filters changed (new filters cost just $10 on average) and cleaned before winter. This will allow air to flow through your home better and keep allergens away. If you have the budget, ave your furnace inspected before the temperature dips below freezing so you can rest easy knowing your heating system is in good working order. A professional inspection runs between $100 and $250.

    For As Mike Kuhn, author of “The Pocket Idiot’s Guide To Home Inspection” notes, “Clogged filters reduce heating and cooling efficiency and can reduce the useful life of the appliance.”

    And who wants to deal with a non-functionary home energy system during the dead of winter?

  • Go All Winter On Your AC and Outdoor Lines: Drain all hoses and air conditioner pipes and check for pools of water inside the unit. Store any hoses in a safe place and remove window units and store them elsewhere to keep drafts embargoed outside your house. Walk around your home and drain all water spigots, turn them off completely and seal any leaks around the edges. Clean off the outside of your air conditioner, clean all blades and coils.
  • Manicure The Yard: Don’t forget your home’s next door neighbor. Weed and cover your garden, rake up all leaves, cover all containers you plan to keep outside, drain all water from pipes, sprinklers and bird feeders, and drain the gas from your lawn mower.
  • Fully Inspect And Clean Your Fireplace and Chimney: Otherwise, it won’t just be Santa sliding down the chimney.
  • Get In The Gutter: Clean all your home’s gutters to prevent icicles and ice dams from forming.
  • Exterior Inspection: Remember, this is your home’s first line of defense against winter’s cold and invading insects and rodents. Check the foundation of your home for weak spots against drafts, pull weeds and leaves away from the foundation of your home to fight off rot and deter bugs and rodents. Seal outdoor cellar doors, check crawl spaces for bugs and rodents (exterminate if necessary), and check for and repair any cracks in sidewalks and patios.

The High Cost Of A Non-Winterized Home

After a homeowner checks all this, they may wonder what am I missing? Here are House Logic’s Top 7 Home Non-Winterization Mistakes American Homeowners make:

  1. Not Buying A $2 Protector For Your Outdoor Faucet. The Cost: $15,000 and a whole lot of grief.
  2. Instagramming Your Icicles Instead of Preventing Them. The Cost: $500.
  3. Going Lazy On Gutters. The Cost: You don’t even want to know (Hint: worst case scenarios can run $30,000 or more)
  4. Giving Cold Air A Chance To Sneak In. The Cost: Sky-High Heating Bills and nights where you feel like you’re sleeping outside in a pup tent.
  5. Not Getting Personal With Your Thermostat. The Cost: Money you could spend on something else besides heating.
  6. Skipping Furnace Tune-Ups. The Cost: A furnace that will die years before it should, plus another $4-5 grand.
  7. Foregoing A Fireplace Inspection. The Cost: Possibly your life and your home.

The vast checklist of winterizing your home may seem daunting, but remember, Rome wasn’t secured in a day. Schedule time or days to tackle specifically intensive areas so you and your family do not get overwhelmed.

By arming your home for winter’s fury, your American Dream will be able to withstand any weather adversity the calendar’s coldest and most ruthless season sends its way.

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