When spring shows its pretty face, it’s not just the weather that starts to warm up; the real estate market heats up, too. To make sure your property is as marketable in April as it was in October, you’re going to have to protect it when grizzly Old Man Winter rears his face.
Also, winter home buying is still strong. It will take more than cold temperatures to cool down fizzling real estate market, so maintaining your home through winter is going to be key if you want to hand over the keys.
Underneath that fun, fluffy stuff lies a host of potential property pitfalls. However, it’s not too hard to get the upper hand on snow and ice. It just takes a little planning. Here are some tips to get you started.
Just Say No to Snow: Crack Kills
If you take a quick stroll down memory lane and back into your middle school science class, you’ll recall that water expands when it turns to ice. After a snowstorm, your walkway may go through the following trauma:
- Cold snow falls and goes into the cracks of your concrete walkway.
- The snow melts, either right away or after temperatures go back up, and sits inside the gaps of the concrete.
- If the temperature of the concrete drops, the water is frozen, and it starts to expand.
- Your concrete cracks.
If the water stays in its liquid form, it won’t be able to crack your concrete. On the other hand, if it’s allowed to sit and freeze, your walkway is going to look like a bottle of soda left in the freezer. Cracked concrete hurts your home’s curb appeal. You may not see the cracks until the spring, or they may develop slowly over time. Take the following steps to maintain your walkways in winter:
- Salt your walkways during and immediately after the storm. This reduces the amount of snow and therefore the volume of water that could cause problems later.
- Continue to add salt as long as the temperatures stay below freezing. As the salt dissolves, it will prevent water from freezing.
- Shovel all the way down to ground level, not just until the path is walkable.
Be Kind to Your Gutters
Gutters have the worst job ever. They catch all the water and waste on the roof and try their best to get rid of it. Meanwhile, debris and little goodies left behind by animals collect in the gutters and start to weigh them down. The least a homeowner can do is try to make the gutter’s job a little easier, especially when doing outdoor maintenance for the winter.
Virtually anyone involved in real estate understands the following unfortunate truth: as the spring, summer, and fall go by, leaves, pine needles, sticks, and twigs can accumulate in your gutters, clogging them. If they get soaked by either a chilly winter rain or melted snow, they can quickly freeze, forcing your gutters to bear the extra weight.
Another factor that makes your gutters groan is when they have to suffer through the same snow-melt-freeze cycle as your concrete. Pretty soon, they get filled with ice. Add to that the weight of another snowstorm or two, and your gutters are about ready to quit. To ease the burden, try doing the following for your winter home maintenance:
- Thoroughly clean your gutters in the fall after leaves and pine needles have finished dropping.
- If there’s a snowstorm in the forecast, take a few minutes to climb up and check out how much debris is in your gutters, particularly the spouts.
- Spread some salt before a storm hits.
- Stuff some pantyhose with melting salt, and put them throughout your gutters. This will slowly release the melting agent, helping prevent freezing.
No Pain Drains
One of the least expensive ways to help maintain the value of your home is to take good care of its outdoor drain system. A drain, whether it’s meant to divert water away from your foundation or keep it from pooling on the property, is merely a channel, not a depository, for water. Here’s how to make sure water hits your drain—and keeps moving:
- Test the flow of the drain using a relatively slow trickle of water.
- If the water pools up, adjust the slope of that section of the drain.
- Increase the amount of water you send to the draining area to see how it pools at the end of the system.
- If it pools so much that it starts to go backflow, widen or deepen the outlet area.
Water: A Blessing and a Curse
Even though water sustains life, it also can shorten the life of your home. Water not only eats away at a variety of surfaces, both in and outside your house, but it erodes your home’s marketability as well. Your home maintenance should, therefore, include winterizing your sprinkler system and hoses.
The objective when winterizing your sprinkler system—as well as any hoses used for lawn and garden care—is to get the water out so it doesn’t freeze, expand, and damage the system. You can hire someone to do it for you, but if you have a compressor, it’s a fairly simple operation. Sprinkler systems come equipped with blowout valves, drains, and bleed screws to make maintenance easier. Here’s how to winterize your sprinkler system:
- Shut the valves so the system is no longer getting water.
- Open the drain valves to let the water inside drain out. Because it will still be under pressure, some of it will come out on its own.
- Loosen the bleed screws on the valves to let a little air into the lines.
- Loosen the solenoids as well to let any trapped water escape.
- Attach a compressor to the blowout port of your system, and use it to push out the remaining water.
Protect Your Yard With Markers
Hiring a snow plowing service is a smart way to manage the snow while saving your
back. But when the plow damages your yard, it can be a real pain in the neck. Setting up markers around areas that may be scraped, bumped, or gouged by a plow can help keep your yard looking pretty for potential buyers. Regardless of whether or not you have a marking system now, make sure you heed the following guidelines:
- Use sticks that are at least 1” thick. Not only does this make them easier to see, it also makes it so the plow operator can feel it if the plow, bumper, or side of the vehicle strikes it.
- Drive each stake at least a foot into the ground. If it gets hit, it won’t just fold over, it’ll push back, making the operator think twice.
- Put bright flags at the top of each stake for visibility. If you don’t like how this looks between storms, go ahead and remove them, but tie them back in place before it snows again.
- Place stakes no more than six feet apart. Small gaps prevent plows from trying to go in between them.
- Don’t forget to protect small garden areas, sculptures, or rock elements.
- Only place the stakes on your property. Your neighbors may not appreciate the extra dimples in their yard, and the town may make short work of stakes on public property.
Frosted Windows? Not a Good Look
However iconic the classic frosted window is in an antiquated winter painting, it spells trouble for your home’s value. Discerning home shoppers know that a frosty window is a leaky window. Moisture from exterior or interior humidity is frozen into frost at the edges of the window because they are letting in the cold air. The leak can be minuscule and still cause the frosting effect. It may look like a cute old picture, but to a potential buyer, it looks like a couple of hundred dollars per window.
You can both save money on heating costs and keep your home looking impressive
by taking these steps:
- Check the seals around the edges of each window’s glass.
- If there are leaks, purchase the caulk for window glass and use it to reinforce each seal.
- Check that each window is properly seated in its track.
- Examine the window trim. The trim can be a source of leaks as well.
- Replace any windows that are beyond repair.
Keep Your Roof Snowy With Good Insulation
Another tell tale sign your home is energy-inefficient is if your neighbors’ homes have roofs covered with snow while yours is bare. A bare roof after a snowstorm means your house is leaking heat through the roof, which then melts the snow. Smart home buyers will spot your home’s inefficiency from a mile away. To help keep heat inside—and welcome home-shoppers inside as well—add some insulation in your attic. You should make sure you have R-38 insulation throughout the attic area to help box in the heat when you need it most.
Get Your Home Ready for Its Close-Up
If you use the above tips, your home will be a hot commodity regardless of how cold it gets. A winter wonderland can naturally frame the beauty of your home, making it picture perfect. With a little prep and maintenance, your home will be selfie-worthy all four seasons of the year. Ready to list your home? Click here to get the process start with Homie!