While spring and summer are typically the biggest times of the year for real estate, winter can also be an active time for buyers and sellers. Plenty of people move forward with their biggest real estate goals during the cold, gray, and snowy days of winter — making home inspections just as important as ever!

Curious about what you may be able to learn from a winter home inspection — and what you can do to make this process as easy as possible, no matter what Mother Nature throws our way? Read on… 

What Goes Into a Winter Home Inspection?

Whether you are buying a property, selling a property, or seeking more information about how to maintain a property you already own, a home inspection is one of the best ways for you to understand a home’s condition, habitability and safety.

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.

This visual evaluation helps provide you with a solid basis of knowledge about a home, as well as its most important components and systems. In addition to reporting on any deficiencies or potential failures, our home inspectors will also include maintenance tips and other information that can help you protect this important investment — particularly during Chicagoland’s famously rough and frosty winters. 

Why Home Inspections Are So Important During Winter

Here in our home base of Chicagoland, winters are famous for dumping snow and ice around the region, buffeted by frosty Lake Michigan winds. When making huge real estate decisions, it’s important to know that your home will be safe, secure, and able to withstand all that the winter months have to offer. 

For homebuyers looking for more information about a prospective property, or sellers looking to gain as much valuable insight as possible before they move forward, a wintertime home inspection can reveal some crucial information about some all-too-common concerns:

Snow, ice, and freezing can cause significant damage to properties when the weather warms back up.

Winter conditions can lead to water intrusion, damage to the roof, or issues with a home’s foundation. Outside of the home, freezing and thawing can cause damage to a property’s paved sidewalks and brick siding. To make matters worse? Some issues may not be immediately apparent until the spring thaw, when temperatures heat back up and water begins moving again. 

During the winter months, your home inspector can help you get a better sense of the condition of the house and all of its systems. From spotting moisture stains on the walls or ceiling, to looking for leaks or cracks in the home’s gutters and downspouts, an inspector can help you understand how a home is standing up to tough winter weather — and whether new safety or habitability issues may arise down the line. 

It’s important to identify plumbing problems, before they become expensive disasters.

What could be more satisfying on a chilly winter’s day than a nice, hot shower? Unfortunately, the coldest months of the year can be challenging for a home’s plumbing systems. For example, winter conditions may cause pipes to freeze and burst. Not only is this dangerous, but it could ultimately require extensive and expensive repairs and remediation. 

During a home inspection, your inspector will examine your home as a system — looking at how one component of the house might affect another, while also determining the components that are not performing properly and identifying items that are beyond their useful life span or which are unsafe. A home inspection can help you look for signs of water damage, as well as leaking or damaged pipes. Your inspector can also help you gauge the efficiency and age of your hot water heater, making sure this critical component will be ready to serve you when you need it most. An inspector can also help you learn more about how to maintain your home’s most essential systems, and respond in case of an emergency. For instance, an inspector will make sure you know the location of the home’s main water shutoff valve.

Your comfort and safety are important. Winter weather can make it easier to check for drafts and test the heat.

Will your home be habitable and efficient during winter? Doors and windows can waste an enormous amount of energy, and affect your family’s health and comfort in the long run. Your inspector can help identify cold spots and drafts, and give you more information about steps you can take to maintain your property, such as adding weatherstripping. 

Similarly, your inspector can examine the insulation in the attic and basement, to determine what type of insulation you have and if additional insulation is recommended. Meanwhile, an inspector will check to make sure that the ventilation will be sufficient for handling winter moisture. Winter is also one of the best times of the year to inspect a home’s heating elements to make sure that they’re functioning properly. Your inspector can help you gauge the age of your heating system, understand the location of the main emergency shutoff switch, and determine if you should replace or clean your filters. An inspector can also help you understand your fireplace, and take steps to determine if it is free of visible issues (such as open joints or cracks in the firebrick that should be sealed).

What Can You Do to Get Ready for a Wintertime Home Inspection?

Winter can make conducting a thorough home inspection more difficult. Piles of snow can make it harder to assessess certain areas, such as the roof. Your home inspector may also not be able to properly run an air conditioner in cold weather, or thoroughly check a home’s drainage.

Here are a few ways to make sure your winter home inspection goes as smoothly as possible:

  • A typical home inspection lasts about two to three hours, so, if possible, try to schedule the inspection earlier in the day, when there will be more sunlight. Turn on interior lights for the inspector, if possible.
  • Keep an eye on the forecast. The inspection may be more productive and useful for everyone if you can hold it on a day when it is not snowy or icy. 
  • Stay in touch with your home inspector. Winter can be unpredictable. Be sure to stay in contact, and make sure that all of the appropriate parties can attend the inspection safely.
  • Take steps to make sure there is clear access to the home, if necessary. This may include freeing up a parking space, cleaning a path to the front door, or clearing away ice from doors and windows so they can be tested and examined properly. Your inspector can help give you a better sense of what to expect in the days leading up to your inspection.
  • Keep in mind that your home inspector may recommend you see a specialist for further evaluations. If there is a home element that they cannot examine or a component that may require specialized attention, your inspector may recommend that you consult with a local expert for additional information.

Get Help From the Chicago Area’s Home Inspection Experts

Winter, spring, summer, or fall, you can rest easy knowing that Windy City Home Inspection, Inc. will always be here for you. With Windy City Home Inspection, you can expect a competent, thorough inspection covering all the bases and never cutting corners.

Whether you’re buying a property, selling a property, or just want to know how to maintain your property, Windy City Home Inspection has an inspection for you.

When searching for the right home inspector, it’s important to find someone you can trust. The inspectors at Windy City Home Inspection, Inc. are licensed by the State of Illinois, certified, and insured. Each home inspection is backed by our Warranty and Protection Plan. Furthermore, we pride ourselves on our superior customer service. If you ever have questions, even years after your home inspection, we will be here to answer them — even if it means returning to your home.

At Windy City Home Inspection, Inc., we perform inspections to the highest standards – yours. Backed by a consulting team with more than 60 years of experience, Windy City Home Inspection is committed to excellence. Have a question? Let us help.