9 Common Winter-Specific House Problems and What You Can Do About Them

9 Common Winter-Specific House Problems and What You Can Do About Them

Appraisal and Home Inspection
Small Projects and Repairs
By Alex Mikayelyan November 16, 2021

Sometimes, it really feels like nature wants to do a number on your home. This is especially true in the winter, when outdoor elements are at their extreme, from weather conditions like snow and frost to the general lower temperatures. Luckily, there are many construction and DIY solutions out there that help us protect our homes and households from even the toughest winter conditions.

Yet, there are some common winter problems that everyone seems to face. They are a common issue for homeowners all across the country. Luckily, there are all kinds of DIY methods and techniques out there to help you fend off whatever danger comes rushing your way during the winter. If you can keep this winter home maintenance checklist by your side, you can rest assured knowing that you will never have to face these problems over the winter again.

1. Air Leaks 

Easy Solutions to Fixing Drafty Rooms

Easy Solutions to Fixing Drafty Rooms

When it comes to common house problems during the winter, the draft is feared by many. While during the summer they may be of somewhat help as they help bring in some draft on a hot day, during the winter, air leaks can be a major problem. Imagine trying to heat up your home, only to go into a hopeless cycle of turning on the heating and have it counteracted by the draft coming in from tons of tiny leaks. Not only is your HVAC system going to be working overtime, but it may not heat up the house at all.

The key to fixing air leaks is finding them. There are plenty of ways to fill any gaps you find in your walls, window, or door frames, but it’s finding the gaps that may be a little tricky in the first place. You can test this by simply turning off the HVAC system and walking by windows and doors to see if you feel draft. If you can feel the cold as you walk by them, then you can pinpoint where the air leak is coming from; it’s now a matter of filling in any gaps or cracks with caulk or spray foam. If the cracks are too small to find yourself, you can also hire a home inspector to find them for you. After you’ve fixed the air leaks, you’ll notice how much easier it is to heat your home and keep it that way all throughout winter. 

2. HVAC Malfunctions

The HVAC Checkup Before Winter Comes Around

The HVAC Checkup Before Winter Comes Around

We tend to underestimate the humongous role that HVACs have in our lives. They are the foundation of how comfortable we feel at home; not to mention how they have a huge effect on our physical health as well, from keeping the temperature warm on cold days to filtering the air we breathe. With enough snow and ice clogging up its inner workings, the HVAC could go into emergency shutdown to avoid being damaged further. However, some problems could cause irreversible damage such as frozen pipes. To avoid all these complications, simply get your central air conditioner winter maintenance out of the way as early as possible and ensure that everything is fixed before the winter. An HVAC specialist should be able to give you all the pointers you need on what needs to be fixed. 

3. Clogged Gutters

Why Your Gutters Should Always Be Clean

Why Your Gutters Should Always Be Clean

Falling leaves, snow, and ice can clog up the gutters and cause a slew of cold weather roofing problems. There is a lot of moisture during the winter, and if you live in an area with a lot of snowfall, then your roof is going to hold up plenty of snow. But this snow isn’t going to stay there forever and will slowly melt, so if your gutters are clogged up, then the water is going to stay on the roof and find other ways of irrigating. This will likely be through cracks in the roof or the seams between the shingles, flooding into your attic and rooms.

Obviously, this is not something you want to deal with during those muddy winter days when the snow is melting. Many of the winter home maintenance tips you’ll find will talk about being proactive. Nowhere is this more true than with the gutters, which you should clean as soon as possible. It is generally recommended to clean the gutters at least twice a year. But even if you do it once, make sure it's after fall season when gutters are packed with dead leaves, branches, and all kinds of other debris.

4. Pipes Freezing

How to Avoid Bursting Pipes During the Winter

How to Avoid Bursting Pipes During the Winter

Not every homeowner has had to deal with burst pipes over the winter, but those that have will tell you that it is not a fun experience by any stretch of the imagination. Most individuals wrongly believe that only the pipes on the outside of the property are vulnerable to getting frozen and bursting, but this is not actually true. Uninsulated indoor pipes are also in the danger zone for bursting if left unattended during your winter house maintenance. In fact, in some cases, underground pipes actually have more insulation and thereby are safer from bursting than the ones in your basement, for example.

If there is a constant cold draft and the temperature in your basement is always cold, consider investing in extra insulation for your pipes. Pipe insulation foam is quite widespread and you can find it in many DIY stores out there. Additionally, you can also work on insulating your basement as a whole which should also add an extra layer of protection for your pipes. Cover up any air leaks that allow for drafts and keep the interior warm. By doing this you may not even need pipe insulation foam, but do install it just in case. 

5. Mold

Why Mold Occurs and How to Stop It

Why Mold Occurs and How to Stop It

Mold is quite self-explanatory: during the winter there is a lot of moisture. The snow, especially after it melts, can seep into various corners of your home. Putting the mud and dirt aside is also unsafe as it allows for mold to build up in places you won’t think to look. But mold does not only develop through the moisture you track in from the outside. Mold can also build up through the moisture in the air that circulates if not properly ventilated.

During the winter you may be a little hesitant to do this, but keep a window open once in a while. If the day is relatively warm or if you’re doing a bit of cleaning while nobody is home, open up the window and refresh the air in your interior. During the winter, the air is clean and crisp, so it is very easy to aerate your entire home in no time, ridding it of the residual moisture. 

6. Cracked Foundation

Common Winter Foundation Problems and What to Do About Them

Common Winter Foundation Problems and What to Do About Them

Another entry in the long list of common house winter problems is foundation cracking. In case you didn’t know: even the strongest material, such as concrete foundation slabs, do expand and shrink with the weather. This is something that happens a lot more during the winter, when water gets into the concrete foundation, hardens, and expands with the cold, causing the concrete to do the same. But regardless of what kind of construction materials you use and what kind of insulation is installed, there are always going to be chinks in the foundation that are going to either let in an extra draft or leak.

To seal off the cracks you have several options. For a temporary fix that will block out air and water leakage, you can try using caulk. However, for a more permanent solution, you can create a concrete mix with a very loose consistency, enough to be paste-like. Fill the hole with the concrete mix and make sure to patch it up on the surface as well. Once the concrete hardens, it will block out any leakage and further insulate your foundation and home. 

7. Improper Lawn Irrigation

The Cost of Improper Lawn Irrigation

The Cost of Improper Lawn Irrigation

Another important task to add to your winter home checklist is lawn irrigation. You may think that your lawn is quite good at soaking up water, but you’d be surprised to know that there is a limit to how much water can seep down the dirt. This is why there is such a thing as lawn irrigation and it is a very important element of lawn maintenance.

By leaving your landscape unregulated, you risk drowning all the plant life and irreversibly damaging parts of your lawn. Not only that, but the excess water could also find its way into your basement and near the foundation, causing even more damage. Install new irrigation or clean and repair out a faulty one to restore the proper flow of water through your landscape. This will ensure that both your lawn and foundation are untouched and you can rest easy knowing that you have just avoided some of the most common winter problems around the house.

8. Risk of Pests

Why Winter Is a Greater Danger of Pests

Why Winter Is a Greater Danger of Pests

While in the summer animals have no problem surviving in nature, during the winter, they are attracted by the prospects of finding a cozy place to rest for the season. Sure, they have evolved to adapt to the cold annual cold weather, but if there is an opportunity to make their lives easier by hiding out in a toasty interior, they’re more than likely going to take it.

Now, as much as you may want to help the local wildlife find somewhere warm to spend the winter in, this is not always a healthy option. First of all, wildlife puts you and your household in danger. Be it disease, infections, or even an attack by a wild animal: all these dangers are very much real when there are uninvited guests living in the dark corners of your home. Your best bet would be to contact animal control services and ask them to come in and inspect your house for any infestations. You may not even have any wildlife living in your home, but it’s always important to check for them just in case. 

9. Exterior Cladding

How Cladding Can Get Damaged In the Winter

How Cladding Can Get Damaged In the Winter

The exterior of your home takes a lot of damage regardless of the weather. It goes through tons of wear and tears for months on end. But in the winter, it is especially susceptible to damage as a result of drastic changes in temperature. As a result, you may have exterior door frames rotting, paint chipping and flaking away, or the siding shrinking and expanding, causing it to get loose and potentially fall off the nails.

Luckily, there are ways to prevent each of these common winter house issues. To help prevent paint chipping, you can use a paint sealer that protects it from water damage, expanding siding, and other dangers that cause chipping. The siding itself can be further reinforced by refreshing the siding nails and checking for any vulnerable planks. As for the rotting door and window frames: you can benefit by installing non-wooden cases that are water-resistant, such as vinyl, aluminum, or simply covering the wooden frame with proper finish.

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Written by
Alex Mikayelyan

Written by Alex Mikayelyan

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