As the cold winter months approach in Detroit, it’s important for homeowners to schedule a winter inspection of their home. A thorough home inspection can identify issues that may lead to problems or become safety hazards during the winter. Knowing the condition of your home before winter hits can give you peace of mind and allow you to make any necessary repairs ahead of time. Here’s what you need to know about the importance of winter home inspections in Detroit.
Why home inspection is important in winter:
In a typical home inspection, an experienced and knowledgeable professional inspector will examine hundreds of elements around the property, looking for structural and mechanical concerns and potential safety hazards. Your inspector will also try to determine the age of major systems around the property, including its roof, heating and air conditioning systems, and water heaters.
Look for Signs of Roof Damage
One of the most important parts of a Home Inspection Detroit is examining the roof. Snow, ice dams, and wind can damage shingles and lead to leaks. Look for any missing, cracked, or warped shingles, as well as excess granule loss. Ice dams often form at the roof’s edge when snow melts and refreezes, allowing water to back up under shingles. This can cause water stains and leaks indoors. An inspector should evaluate the age and condition of your roof and recommend repairs if needed. Keeping the roof in top shape prevents costly water damage during the winter.
Check Insulation Levels
Proper insulation is key for keeping heat inside during cold Detroit winters. An inspector will check the insulation levels in exterior walls, ceilings, attics, basements, and crawl spaces. Recommended insulation levels depend on the climate zone, with Detroit falling into zone 5. Adding insulation to areas that fail to meet zone 5 standards, such as R-38 for attic insulation, can reduce energy costs and prevent frozen pipes. Address any missing or damaged insulation right away.
Inspect Windows, Doors, Vents for Air Leaks
Cracks and gaps around windows, doors, pipes, wires, and vents allow cold air to penetrate the home’s exterior. This requires the heating system to work harder to warm the home, hiking up energy bills. An inspector will check for air leaks and recommend caulk, weatherstripping, or insulation to seal any problem areas. Keeping cold air out makes the home more comfortable and reduces the chance of frozen pipes. Fixing air leaks before winter is much easier than dealing with the effects later on.
Evaluate Functioning of Heating System
No one wants to discover their furnace isn’t working when temperatures drop below freezing. Schedule an inspection in early fall to allow time for any necessary HVAC repairs or replacements. The inspector will examine all components of gas or electric furnaces and heat pumps. They will check the heat exchanger, burners, blower motor, flue, wiring, thermostat, and other parts. Routine maintenance like replacing filters and cleaning ductwork will improve efficiency. If issues are found, get them repaired immediately to ensure reliable heat all winter. Read more.
Examine Fireplace and Chimney
Wood-burning fireplaces are common heat sources in Detroit homes. An inspector should examine the firebox, damper, masonry, mortar joints, rain cap, and flu for any problems. Buildups of creosote, a combustible byproduct, may necessitate chimney cleaning before lighting the first fire of the season. Check that the spark arrestor screen is secured properly. Repair any cracked or missing bricks or damaged mortar right away. Proper fireplace and chimney maintenance prevents house fires during peak winter use.
Look for Plumbing Issues
Freezing temperatures increase the risk of burst pipes and water damage. Inspect all exposed plumbing lines, including in the basement, crawlspace, attic, and exterior walls. Wrap any vulnerable pipes with insulating foam. Look for leaks around joints and rust buildup. Running taps occasionally during extreme cold helps prevent freezing. The inspector will also check water heaters, softeners, and filtration systems to ensure proper operation. Take steps now to protect plumbing from damage and avoid costly repairs.
Check Condition of Gutters and Downspouts
Clogged, leaking gutters can lead to ice dams and water intrusion during winter. Inspect gutters for proper slope to encourage drainage. Remove leaves and debris with a hose. Use sealant on small cracks. For larger sags or holes, replace sections of gutter. Make sure downspouts direct water at least 5 feet away from the foundation. Proper gutter maintenance reduces the risk of erosion, damp walls, flooded basements, and foundation damage.
Scan the Exterior for Other Trouble Spots
The winter inspection should include examination of all exterior surfaces. Look for cracked or spalling brick and foundation walls. Spot seal any gaps around siding or trim. Paint protects wood and metal surfaces from deterioration. Scan sidewalks, steps, and driveways for trip hazards. Low-hanging tree limbs should be trimmed back. Secure loose elements such as shutters, railings, and awnings. Making exterior repairs now guards against further damage and safety issues like falling ice and snow later on.
Consider a Radon Test
Radon levels tend to be higher during cold weather when homes are all closed up. This radioactive gas is odorless and invisible, entering through cracks in the foundation. Long-term radon exposure is a leading cause of lung cancer. Detroit homes can be tested for radon risks with an easy do-it-yourself kit or by hiring an inspector. If results are 4 pCi/L or higher, install a radon mitigation system to capture and vent radon outdoors. Taking this preventive step provides important peace of mind.
Prep the Home’s Exterior
Part of winter readiness includes steps to protect the exterior surfaces of the home. Clean gutters, trim trees, and seal any cracks and holes. Paint or stain any unfinished wood to protect it from moisture damage. Ensure downspouts direct water away from the foundation. Cover window wells if they are prone to drifting snow. Install snow fences to reduce accumulation near entries or driveways. Put up lights by walkways, steps, or driveways to improve visibility in dark conditions. Taking these basic exterior precautions makes the home safer during the winter season.
Plan for Power Outages
Winter storms with heavy snow, wind, and ice often cause downed trees, damage, and power outages. Prepare an emergency kit with bottled water, shelf-stable food, flashlights, batteries, a radio, first aid supplies, and warm blankets. If the power goes out, avoid opening the refrigerator to keep food cold longer. Never use generators, grills, or camping stoves indoors due to carbon monoxide risks. Follow energy provider directions and stay away from any downed power lines. With advance planning, your family can stay safe and comfortable until power is restored.
A winter home inspection helps identify maintenance issues and necessary repairs before they become big, costly problems. Addressing things like insufficient insulation, leaks, and furnace problems provides protection against winter weather and frozen pipes. Safety hazards can also be corrected ahead of time. Being proactive reduces risks to your home and provides peace of mind heading into the winter season. Schedule a comprehensive winter inspection now and make sure your Detroit home is ready for whatever winter throws its way.