Preparing for winter: Home inspection advice from an expert

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Like it or not, winter is not far around the bend, which makes this an ideal time for homeowners to prepare their homes before the snow flies. Kevin Greco, owner and operator of A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections franchise in Edmonton, assists and educates his clients about simple and effective steps that will help them maintain the lifespan of their properties and save them money in the long run.

“A home inspection allows homeowners to maximize efficiency and safety in their homes,” says Greco, who has over a decade of professional inspection and investigation experience, as well as years of training in home systems, assessment, investigation and research. “The inspection provides a home maintenance schedule specific to that home as a way to assist the homeowner in maintaining the value of their investment.”

According to Greco, it is especially important for people to clean gutters with downspouts and downspout extensions, so that when the snow melts on the roof the house helps water travel away from it. Otherwise, he says, blockages in these drainage systems create stagnant water that can freeze and thaw, and eventually cause ware to the shingles, rending the house vulnerable to damage. Another useful tip is to ensure attics are properly ventilated.

“Ventilation with a good system of soffit and roof vents create conditions to continually take moist air away and stabilize the attic temperature,” Greco says. “This allows homeowners to avoid moisture being absorbed in the home’s framing, which can weaken it.”

Additionally, Greco encourages homeowners to go around the exterior of their homes with an outdoor sealant. “If you see worn out or cracked sealant at windows or holes on the exterior, seal these areas,” Greco says. “This action will pay off in avoiding leaks into the house.”

Not sure how to accomplish these tasks?  Not to worry. Home inspectors such as Greco are great resources for providing personalized and expert consultations. However, for those more keen on DIY, follow Greco’s tips to save time, money and frustration this winter.

Inspect fireplaces and chimneys

“Screen off the top of your chimney to keep out rodents and birds. Check the fireplace damper for proper opening and closing. If the chimney has not been cleaned, call a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote.”

Inspect dryer hoses and exterior dryer vents

“Check for lint blockages to avoid fires. A dryer can only push the moist, hot air so far, and eventually lint will build up. This can burn out your dryer, taking longer to dry your clothes while using more electricity.”

Check heating systems

“Plan to change the furnace filter every month during the winter to reduce energy costs. It is also beneficial to switch thermostats out for programmable options.”

Check air ducts

“Remove the register covers and vacuum inside if the duct has been cleaned regularly. Check ducts for any air leakage that needs to be sealed to improve the airflow throughout the house.”

Prevent pipe freezing

“Ensure sprinkler systems are blown out and winterized, and exterior faucets and water lines are insulated. Drain the air conditioner pipes and shut off the water on air conditioners.”

Check windows and doors

“Weather stripping around doors and caulking around the windows will help prevent cold air from entering the home. Also make sure to switch out summer screens with glass replacements from storage.”

Check roof for damage or missing shingles

“Replace worn roof shingles and check for missing ones to ensure water cannot enter the home.”

Prepare winter essentials

“Locate snow removal tools, such a snow shovel, plows, and snow blowers. Make sure they are ready to go.”