October 15th, 2016 4:32 PM by Jackie A. Graves
winter’s nastiest tricks.
Wintry weather is great at
turning up problems you didn’t even know you had. Like that first snowy night
in front of your fireplace that you thought was pure bliss — until you noticed
a leak in the ceiling corner, which apparently was caused by a lack of insulation. How were you supposed to know
Many homeowners don’t realize they’re making critical missteps
that can cost a ton when winter sets in. Here are seven wintertime mistakes
homeowners often make (and what they could cost you!):
Buying a $2 Protector for Your Outdoor Faucet
What It’ll Cost You: Up to $15,000 and a whole lot of grief
amazing what a little frozen water can do damage-wise. An inch of water in your
basement can cost up to $15,000 to pump out and dry out. And, yet, it’s so easy
to prevent, especially with outdoor faucets, which are the most susceptible to
The simplest thing to do is to remove your garden hose from your
outdoor faucet and drain it. Then add a faucet protector to keep cold air from
getting into your pipes. They’re really cheap (some are under $2; the more
expensive ones are still less than $10). “Get
these now,” says Danny Lipford, home improvement expert and
host of the “Today’s Homeowner” television and radio shows. “When the
weatherman says we’ve got cold coming, they’ll sell out in minutes.”
you’re at it, make sure any exposed pipes in an unheated basement or garage are
insulated, too, or you’ll face the same pricey problem.
Instagramming Your Icicles Instead of Preventing Them
What It’ll Cost You: $500 — if you’re lucky; a lot more if you’re not
Those icicles make your home look so picturesque, you just gotta
take a few pics. But you better make them quick. Those icicles can literally be
a damproblem. (Yes, dam — not the curse word that sounds the
are a clear sign that you’ve got an ice dam, which is exactly what it sounds
like: a buildup of ice on your gutter or roof that prevents melting snow
and ice from flowing through your gutters. That’s really bad news because these
icy blocks can lead to expensive roofing repairs.
on where you live, expect to pay at least $500 for each ice dam to be steamed
off. Leave the ice and you risk long-term damage, which could ultimately cost
hundreds or even thousands of dollars to your roof, depending on what type of
shingles you have and the size of the damaged area.
prevent them? Insulation. “Ice dams, icicles, and ice buildup on the gutters is
a symptom of not enough insulation in the attic,” says Chris Johnson, owner of
Navarre True Value and several other stores in the Twin Cities area.
“you need to have at least 14 inches of insulation in your attic, no matter
where you live,” says Lipford. If you live in a colder climate, you’ll need
don’t have the cash to insulate, heated gutter cables, which run between $50 and
$150 each, can be a less expensive alternative when temporarily affixed to
areas prone to ice damming, Johnson suggests.
pipes with foam plumbing insulation — before the weather drops. It’s cheap,
too, just like the faucet cover (only $1 for six feet of polyethylene
insulation). And it’s an easy DIY project, as long as you can reach the pipes.
Going Lazy on Your Gutters
What It’ll Cost You: You really don’t want to be in a position to find out
It can be so tempting to skip gutter cleanups as winter nears.
It seems like as soon as you clear your gutters, they clog right back up again.
So what’s the point?
Well, if it looks like you’re living inside a waterfall when it
rains, water is missing your gutter system completely. It’s being directed to
your foundation instead. And a water-damaged foundation is never, ever cheap to fix.
A contractor can plug foundation cracks for $1,500 to $3,000,
says David Verbofsky, director of training for exterior home products
manufacturer Ply Gem. But a worse problem, one that requires a foundation
excavation or rebuild, can set you back (gulp) $30,000
cleaning your gutters a few times each fall doesn’t seem so bad. A pro can do
the work for anywhere between $70 and $250, depending on the size of your
Giving Cold Air a Chance to Sneak In
What It’ll Cost You: Nights where you never feel warm, despite sky-high heating bills
were possible to take every crack on the outside of a typical home and drag
them together, you’d have the equivalent of a three-by-three window open all
the time,” says Lipford. Yikes.
cracks can be easily and inexpensively sealed with a simple tube of caulk, and
it’s available in hundreds of colors to match your window panes, outside
siding, and even brick. Not sure where to caulk? Look for visible cracks
Fireplace or dryer vents
Anywhere something inside pokes a hole to the outside
Getting Personal with Your Thermostat
What It’ll Cost You: Money you could spend on something else besides heating
We all know we should, but we seem to have some mental block
when it comes to programming our thermostats to align with our schedules. It’s
not that hard, and sometimes all it takes is buying a new one that suits you. (Like maybe a Wi-Fi one that’ll
give you a little money-saving thrill each time you swipe your app.)
cost-savings perspective, a programmable thermostat is a great investment,”
Lipford says — as much as 10% off your energy bill, according to the U.S.
Department of Energy.
Skipping Furnace Tune-Ups
What It’ll Cost You: A furnace that’ll die years before it should — and higher energy bills
to service your furnace and you could easily cut five years off the life of
your system,” says Lipford, who added that five years is a full third of the
typical unit’s life span. New units can cost around $4,000 installed, making
the $125 annual maintenance charge a no-brainer.
you’re at it, don’t forget to replace the furnace filter, which cleans the air
in your home, and also keeps your furnace coils cleaner, which can shave up to
15% off your energy bill. Johnson suggests at least every three months, but
possibly as often as monthly if you have allergies, pets, or smoke cigarettes
Foregoing a Fireplace Inspection
What It’ll Cost You: Possibly your life — and your home
fire is great, but if you don’t maintain your chimney, a fire can cost you
thousands of dollars,” says Johnson, not to mention the risk to you and your
your maintenance appointment as early as you can.”If you wait until the busy
season, you’ll have a hard time getting them out there, you’ll pay more, and
you’ll get a lower quality job,” says Lipford.
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