In many parts of the country, the winter means feet of snow, a lot of shoveling and a ton of headaches. When it comes to a house, however, this time of year could equal expensive repair bills.

In order to dodge these costs, homeowners should have a property inspection completed. With this done, any problems can be spotted and fixed while other concerning areas could be dealt with in a timely fashion. Regardless of the type of home, residents should also be on the lookout for several common winter home dangers.

Stay prepared to protect a house

Just because the homeowners have all of their winter gear out doesn't mean the home is ready too. In fact, a home inspection professional could offer advice on how to stay on top of routine maintenance and other preparations.

There are several problems which may target a residence during the winter, according to MSN Real Estate. For example, trees - which are so beautiful during the spring and summer - could pose a serious threat during the winter. The risk of falling limbs increases this time of year, and branches could seriously damage a property. In order to prepare, homeowners should take a look at trees in their yards. Cracked branches could be a telltale sign of future problems, and any that are hanging over or too close to a house should be trimmed back. Also, pear trees and silver maples are likely culprits for falling limbs.

Another problem could be ice dams, the news source noted. These occur when snow and ice build up on a roof around the edges. Typically, all of that hot air from inside keeps the top part warm, preventing any freezing. However, as that moisture runs down and reaches the eaves, this cold section results in ice dams. If this happens, future water could end up underneath the shingles or even leak into the home. 

In order to prepare for ice dams, owners may want to have a home inspection completed. The warm air leaking out of an attic contributes to this problem, so a check of insulation and other components could help prevent buildup from forming in the first place.

Inspect the inside of a home

Once the outside of a house is ready for the winter, homeowners may want to focus their attention on the inside. A property inspection professional could look at vital components, like the heating and air conditioning system, and residents should also remain vigilant. 

According to the Stanislaus County, Calif., Health Services Agency, the heating system is a common cause of house fires. They might have endured a year of neglect before the winter, which means a number of problems could have popped up. Therefore, furnaces should be checked and the duct system may need a thorough inspection. This due diligence should extend to the hearth and fireplace as well. Buildup could have formed inside the chimney, which might become a safety hazard. Before using any of these systems, carbon monoxide detectors should be installed around a house. 

In addition, the winter is also a peak season for holidays. This means homeowners may be tempted to string up a lot of lights, both inside and outside the house. All old sets should be thrown away and replaced, the news source noted. Also, three sets of lights are the maximum for one extension. People who combine too many run the risk of fire or electrocution.

Overall, a home inspection can be a critical tool during the winter. Homes might encounter a number of problems, and residents who stay on top of routine maintenance and are smart with their decorations will have a safer, more secure property for the holidays.