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3 Ways Winter Can Wreck Your Home (and How to Prepare for It)

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With another Thanksgiving in the books and winter on the way, it’s tempting to go straight from turkey coma to full-on hibernation mode. But before you settle in for the season, snuggled under layers of wool and down, you’ve got work to do! It’s time to get your home ready for what Jack Frost has to bring.

Winterizing your home may not be fun, but it’s well worth what you put into it. Why? Because a home that’s in great condition fetches more money—and spends less time on the market—when you’re ready to sell.

Not sure where to start? You’re in luck! Karl Miller, one of Dave’s real estate Endorsed Local Providers (ELPs) and a former contractor, has some simple tips to help brace your home against three common winter woes.

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Stormy Weather

Between blustery winds and mounds of snow, your roof is battered by harsh winter weather—and it can be expensive to fix if not maintained. Keep leaks at bay by replacing missing shingles and securing the flashing around chimneys, vents, dormers and skylights.

Get Top Dollar for your Home

While you’re up on the rooftop, take a look around. Overhead branches provide nice shade in the warmer months but they can break under the weight of snow and ice, damaging your roof.  That’s why Karl recommends trimming branches back away from your home before winter storms hit. “Trees grow a lot in the spring and summertime—it sneaks up on you,” he says.

Icy Intrusions

Freezing temperatures have a sneaky way of wreaking havoc on your home—especially when water is involved. According to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, frozen pipes are one of the biggest cold-weather culprits and can easily cause more than $5,000 in water damage. Shore up your defenses with these handy tips:

  • Turn off the water to outside faucets and drain the spigot to prevent the hose bib from freezing.
  • Cover vulnerable pipes with insulation sleeves or use a heat lamp to keep them warm.
  • Let faucets drip to keep water flowing and relieve pressure in the pipes when the mercury dips.

A well-kept gutter system also protects your home against leaks. “It can be hard to keep gutters clean when leaves are falling, but it’s the biggest thing you can do to protect your roof in the winter months,” Karl says. Use a leaf blower to blast leaves out, and make sure gutters are securely anchored to the fascia board.

Be sure to pay attention to how the ground slopes around gutter downspouts. When the ground freezes, it has trouble absorbing moisture, and water can seep into your basement or crawl space. If moisture collects around your foundation, Karl suggests installing a drain line to divert water away from your home.

Cold Blasts of Air

Is a Snuggie a must around the house during winter months? Leaky windows may be to blame. “You can have the best windows in the world, but if the insulation is not properly installed in that gap around the window perimeter, it’s going to do no good,” Karl says. Stop drafts in their tracks by replacing worn-out weather stripping and filling cracks or gaps around the seam with caulk.

Got single-pane windows? Cut energy costs by upgrading to double-pane windows. If new windows aren’t in the budget, Karl says a basic window insulator kit can conserve energy without breaking the bank.

Of course, battening down the hatches won’t do much good if your heater conks out in the middle of Snowmageddon. Keep the indoors toasty warm by changing air filters every 30–60 days and having a licensed HVAC technician service your system before cranking up the heat.

Protect Your Biggest Investment

Putting winter maintenance off may save a few bucks today, but it will cost you big tomorrow. “Buyers buy what they see—not what can be,” Karl says. “The work has to be done, and if the buyer has to do it, they’re going to expect a deep discount on the price.”

If you’re thinking about selling your home next year, talk with a trustworthy real estate agent. A true pro knows what buyers in your area pay attention to and which things they ignore. That way you can focus on fixes that truly add value to your home.

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