Oregon State Certified Home Inspector # 337 | Oregon C.C.B. # 110603

Preparing for Winter

As the temperatures dip below freezing in Klamath County, it is time to think of preparing our homes for winter. Certainly there are things that need to be done to the homes we live in, but also homes that are currently vacant need some special attention to best make it through the winter time. Here are some tips that we hope will be helpful to you!

Occupied homes:

  1. Disconnect, drain and store garden hoses and sprinklers.
  2. Drain and winterize in-ground sprinkler systems.
  3. Close the crawl space vents for the winter – but make sure to open them early in the spring!
  4. Check and repair weather stripping and thresholds around doors.
  5. Insulate any plumbing in the crawl space that is exposed, especially if it is near a crawl space vent.
  6. If owners are interested in any weatherization measures (such as installing additional floor & attic insulation), contact Energy Trust of Oregon for a free energy audit. Rebates & tax credits may be available.
  7. Trim tree branches that overhang the roof to prevent damage to the shingles.
  8. Check the roof for damaged or missing shingles that may leak once winter weather hits.
  9. Clean gutters and downspouts after the leaves have fallen from the trees around the home and neighboring homes. Make sure all downspouts direct water away from the home to prevent it from draining into the crawl space or saturating the soil under the foundation which can cause settling.

Vacant homes:

For inspection purposes, it is easier to leave the utilities on to a vacant property but we certainly understand that there are always owners (especially banks) that do not want to do this. If the owner leaves the utilities on, it is important to keep the heat set at a minimum of 50 degrees and to keep cabinet doors open to help prevent frozen pipes. It is much less expensive to heat a home for 1-2 months than it is to pay a plumber to fix a pipe that froze and cracked.

If the owners prefer to winterize the property, it is very important to ensure it is done properly by an experienced contractor. When the owner accepts an offer on the property and it is to be inspected, the inspector will need to have the water turned on for a pest & dry rot inspection, and all utilities need to be on for a whole house inspection. It is best to have the water turned on for a full 24 hours prior to the inspection, because when the water is turned off to a home for an extended time plumbing seals can dry out and crack which can cause leaks when the water is turned back on. Sometimes when the water is turned back on the seals will swell and do their job but sometimes it is too dry and that area will develop a leak. As inspectors, we want to be sure we find these leaks during the inspection but if the water is turned on only right before the inspection and then turned off again, the leak may not show itself during that time and the buyers could have an unwanted surprise when they move in, turn the water on and use it regularly. This makes everyone look bad and is not a positive experience for the home buyer. It is best if the listing agent is prepared to have the home de-winterized for the inspection by a licensed contractor with experience in winterizing and de-winterizing homes.

Please call us if you have any questions!