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Charlie Glahe WIN Broomfield

Maintenance tips to keep older homes safe during the winter

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The older the house, the more potential problems. Unfortunately, this is a fact of life for many homeowners, whether the house is 50 years old or a historic landmark.

Either way, these long-lived properties require a fair deal of maintenance - and few seasons present as many problems as the winter. Not only do these houses require some regular upkeep and preventative measures, but several key steps will keep residents safe while living there.

In order to figure out where any problems lie, homeowners should contact a property inspection professional to take a look around. These experts are well-versed in the tiniest details of a house, so they can provide a detailed report of any concerning areas.

To keep an older home around for years to come, these maintenance tips are also worth the time and effort.

Clean up the outside first
During the winter, the first place homeowners should work on is the outside. This is especially true in cold weather climates, where feet of snow can compound any existing problems. 

According to MSN Real Estate, all pathways around the house have to be cleared and de-iced following inclement weather. For older properties, residents should be wary about the harm chemical de-icers can do to brick. Therefore, these should only be used every once in a while, because too much of a good thing can lead to other problems. Instead, sand and sawdust can provide that needed traction without all the side effects.

In addition, homeowners of old and historic homes have to keep an eye out for ice dams, the news source noted. At first snowfall or light frost, it is worth taking a look to see if there are any signs. The snow should be smooth and even, with no unusual melting patterns. Ice dams can be prevented with a cold attic - not a warm one. The attic floor has to be well insulated, so no interior heat escapes upward. All vents and plumbing have to be sealed properly, either with caulk or foam. A working ventilation system here can force any hot air outside, keeping snow accumulation from melting.

If an owner finds any concerning issues with the house, it may be wise to contact a home inspection professional. A quick look around can shed a lot of light on a potential problem.

Simple steps for the inside
The inside of an old or historic home is just as important as the outside. When it comes to any property, there are a few steps that are worth doing in order to keep the entire residence secure, warm and energy-efficient during the winter months.

For starters, all ceiling fans should be reversed, according to Kiplinger. That means they should run in a clockwise direction, creating an updraft and forcing down hot air. Since it naturally rises, this step will keep all of that warmth from hanging out on the ceiling. As a result, a few degrees could even be shaved off the thermostat.

Another crucial heat-saving measure during the winter is caulk, the news source noted. Any gaps around windows and doors means that hot air is on the way out - and cold air is rushing in to replace it. Therefore, a house will feel colder and the heating bill will continue to rise. Silicone caulk is the best bet here, because it stands up to the elements better. Weatherstripping around all doors is also a smart idea, for the same reasons.

Overall, anyone who owns a historic home should perform several important maintenance tasks during the winter. In addition, a property inspection is the perfect way to spend the season with confidence, knowing that there aren't any serious problems lurking around the corner.