home-maintenance
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by Megan Jones, Guest Writer

It’s almost winter! Is your Southern home ready for the chilly season?

Weather forecasts suggest that this year, winter in the south will be a little warmer, with the coldest period taking place between December until late February. There’ll be a mix of sunshine and rain in the first few weeks of November though, with a chance of snowfall in mid-November. 

Preparing your home for the winter is important for the safety, warmth, and security of your family. Before the temperature drops, you should have your property inspected – from the roof down to your home’s structural foundation – to avoid potential danger and emergencies.

Exterior Inspection

Your property exterior is your first line of defense against snow and heavy rain. It’s important to have any issues repaired immediately because it will be much more difficult (if not impossible) to find contractors when it starts to snow.

Roof and gutters

Start your inspection with your home’s roofing system. It should be free from debris and mold, cracks, holes, missing shingles or mortars, and broken slate or tiles. If your roof looks like it’s curving or buckling, have it inspected by professionals. You should also inspect your attic space and check for any signs of leaks. 

Windows and doors

Experts recommend going around your home exterior with an outdoor sealant. If you spot cracks or holes on your windows, apply enough sealant. Check for leaks or condensation, rotten trim or wood frame, and compromised weather stripping.

Yard and patio

Check if the walkways are clear and fences are in good condition. Make sure your yard has security lighting and alarm system (burglars take advantage of the bad weather). Consider covering exterior plumbing systems with insulation, drain water features, replace outdoor bulbs if needed, fertilize your lawn, trim tree limbs, cut grass, and make plans for snow removal.

Foundation

Inspecting a home foundation can be tricky and is best done by professional inspectors. However, you can walk around the perimeter of your home to check for crack along the walls, which suggests structural problems. Sloping floors are also a sign of a foundational problem. It can lead to misaligned doors, damage to flooring covers, and water drainage problems. 

Drainage

Proper drainage inspection should also be performed before winter comes. If there’s any indication that water is not being drained away from your home, you should have it fixed by professional contractors. Improper drainage can lead to problems with flooding. Signs of poor drainage include cracked sidewalks, eroded soil, and leaning trees.

Interior Inspection

Once you’re done inspecting your home exterior, it’s time to get inside! Interior inspection covers everything from the ceilings to the walls, steps and stairways, floors, rooms, doors and windows.

Heating and cooling system

It’s always better to hire professional inspectors to check your HVAC system. See if the filters need to be cleaned or replaced or if there are rust or dirt accumulations on the vents. If there’s an unusual sound like rattling or banging in your HVAC unit, it’s most likely that there’s an issue with the machine that needs to be fixed.

Plumbing system

Check for broken pipes and leaky fixtures (toilets, tubs, faucets, sinks, showers, etc). Winterizing pipes is crucial to prevent them from freezing and bursting. Additionally, check if your crawl space has sufficient insulation.

Mold and mildew

Mold and mildew are usually a problem during the winter season, especially if your home has high moisture levels or if you have water damage problems. Consider buying commercial dehumidifiers to maintain the ideal humidity level in your home and prevent mold growth. 

Insulation and ventilation

Adequate insulation and ventilation will keep your home warm and comfortable as the days get colder. Check if the exhaust systems are working properly in all parts of your home, especially the kitchen, laundry, and bathroom. Windows should be covered with an insulating film or bubble wrap and the cracks must be sealed. Don’t forget to check the insulation and vapor retarders in unfinished spaces.

Electrical system

Because leaks and water damage in homes are common during the winter, you should also make sure that your electrical system is in top shape. Call your local electrician to inspect the main electrical panel, wiring, and outlets throughout your home. 

Conclusion

A thorough inspection should help you identify issues in your property before they get worse. Preparing your home for the winter involves checking the exterior, particularly the roof and gutters, doors and windows, the yard, and your home foundation. For your home interior, make sure to have your HVAC and electrical systems checked, along with the plumbing system, insulation, and ventilation. 

While some issues can be uncovered through a simple inspection, it’s always best to consult a professional to perform a complete inspection. They should be able to provide you with recommendations and advice to winter-proof your home.

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