As winter blankets our homes with snow and icy temperatures, home hazards become more difficult to resolve. Picture this: you wake up on a chilly morning only to find peeling paint in your living room and a boiler that refuses to start. With hazardous, wintery conditions outside, it can be difficult to track down and bring in a repair person or even do these repairs yourself. Plus, leaving these issues unresolved is not just inconvenient, but also a serious threat to your home and family's wellbeing. Here, we’ll share with you the 11 most common household issues during winter and provide practical solutions for you to prevent them in your home.
1. Peeling Paint
Winter's fluctuating temperatures and moisture can wreak havoc on your home's paint job, leading to unsightly peeling.
How to Prevent Paint from Peeling:
- Choose high-quality, weather-resistant paint
- Ensure proper ventilation to reduce indoor humidity
- Regularly inspect and repair any cracks or damage
If your paint has already started peeling, you should repair it immediately to prevent further damage. First, scrape off the loose paint. Then, sand the surface smoothly. Finally, apply a primer and repaint the area. If moisture was the cause of peeling paint, use a moisture meter to continually monitor your home’s indoor humidity levels.
Moreover, a WIN Home Inspection Infrared (IR) Scan can identify moisture build-up before it leads to costly water damage and peeling paint. This non-invasive technique is quick, easy and part of our annual Healthy Home Check – a preventive maintenance service for all homeowners looking to maximize their home value and bring down repair costs.
2. Boiler Breakdowns
A well-functioning boiler is essential for a warm home in winter. Neglect can lead to breakdowns, which are inconvenient and costly.
How to Prevent Your Boiler from Breaking Down:
- Schedule annual maintenance checks. WIN Home Inspection checks your boiler as part of our Healthy Home Check, along with other key areas of the HVAC system.
- Listen for unusual noises and monitor your boiler’s performance.
- Leaks, strange noises or inconsistent heating indicate an issue with your boiler, and it’s recommended to call a professional for further evaluation.
3. Burst Pipes
When temperatures drop, pipes can freeze and burst, causing significant damage to your plumbing system and leaving you without a reliable water source.
How to Prevent Pipes from Bursting:
- Insulate exposed pipes
- Keep your home above 55 degrees Fahrenheit when you're away, as any temperature below this can lead to freezing pipes
- Leave the water running slightly overnight when temperatures drop below freezing
- Open the cabinet doors if your sink pipes are enclosed within a cabinet
If your pipes freeze, you can use a hairdryer to help them thaw out. Keep the faucet open so melting water can flow freely through the pipes. If a pipe bursts, shut off the main water valve immediately and call a professional plumber for repair.
4. Roof and Gutter Problems
Snow and ice can damage roofs and clog gutters, leading to leaks and structural damage. It’s important to regularly maintain your roof and gutter before, during and after the winter season to prevent roof leaks, ice dams, and serious damage.
How to Maintain Your Roof and Gutters During Winter:
- Regularly clean gutters and downspouts, clearing out leaves and debris
- Inspect and repair roof shingles to prevent leaks
- Consider installing gutter guards
- Trim tree branches away from the roof and gutters
5. Mold Growth
High indoor humidity and condensation create ideal conditions for mold. Mold can begin to growth within 24-48 hours after exposure to high humidity, moisture or water leaks, and it is often costly to mitigate.
How to Prevent Mold Growth:
- Use a dehumidifier to reduce the humidity level in your home
- Ventilate your bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry room adequately
- Seal windows and doors to prevent water from seeping in
For more detailed mold removal techniques, check out this article.
6. Air Leaks and Drafts
Poor insulation in the attic and around the home plus gaps around windows and doors can lead to air leaks, causing drafts and energy loss in the winter. More than 90% of homes are under insulated, leading to uneven temperatures in the home, uncomfortable homeowners, and high energy bills.
How to Prevent Air Leaks:
- Seal gaps around windows and doors with weatherstripping or caulk
- Properly insulate your attic and walls – you may need to add more insulation!
- Regularly check for and repair any leaks you find around your home
7. Ice Damming
Ice dams occur when heat escapes through the roof. This causes the snow to melt and then refreeze at the eaves, forming an ice dam. Ice dams can wreak havoc on your roof’s condition, causes secondary issues if not addressed in a timely manner.
How to Prevent Ice Dams:
- Improve your attic insulation and ventilation
- Remove the snow from the roof using a roof rake – never shovel snow off your roof as the shovel could damage your shingles
- Keep your gutters and drainpipes clear of leaves and debris to allow water to flow freely off the roof and away from the home
8. Damage from Debris
Winter storms, consisting of snow, hail and ice, are common across the U.S. With winter storms, falling branches and flying debris can cause significant damage to your property.
How to Prevent Damage from Winter Storms:
- Trim trees near your home to reduce the risk of falling branches
- Secure outdoor furniture and decorations by covering them, tying them down, or putting them away in a shed
- Ensure your home is ready to handle a winter storm, such as checking the roof, windows, and exterior of the home
While it may sound uncommon for winter, water intrusion and flooding are quite common as melting snow and ice seep into cracks and gaps in your foundation, windows and doors.
How to Prevent Flooding in the Winter:
- Ensure proper drainage around your home
- Install a sump pump in your basement or crawlspace, and regularly check its functionality - sump pumps are activated by high water levels, sensed by its float switch
- Seal cracks in your foundation, walls, floors, windows, and doors properly to keep melting snow and ice out of your home
10. Overworked Heating Systems
With temperatures dropping, it's common practice to crank up the heat in our homes. However, many of us fail to realize that we could actually be overworking our HVAC systems. Unusual noises, frequent cycling or uneven heating are signs of an overworked system.
How to Prevent Overworking Your Heating System:
- Replace the filters regularly
- Get your HVAC unit tuned before winter
- Resort to using layers of clothing and blankets to warm up rather than turning up the heat
- Schedule a Healthy Home Check for an HVAC review, helping you save money on repairs
11. Sewer Backups
In the winter, tree roots dig deeper into the ground, oftentimes finding your sewer drain lines and causing significant damage. Moreover, the frozen ground and snowmelt can lead to sewer backups.
How to Prevent Sewer Backups:
- Regularly clean your sewer line
- Get a Sewer Scope Inspection to identify any cracks, dips, bends, or tree root intrusions on your sewer drain lines
While winter brings natural beauty and festive spirits, it also presents a unique set of challenges; but with proactive measures, you can protect your home and enjoy the season stress-free. By tackling these common winter issues, you not only ensure the safety and comfort of your home, but also save on potential costly repairs. Create a safe, warm haven for your family this new year with preventive maintenance, and know WIN is just a phone call away.
WIN Home Inspection
WIN Home Inspection is the #1 ranked inspection services company in the U.S. and is proud to provide essential home inspection services to home buyers, homeowners and home sellers in 45+ states nationwide.
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