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Top 10 Winter Home Maintenance & Weatherization Costs

Maintaining your home’s weather protection is very affordable compared with the high costs of repairing the damage caused by water leaks, insect infestation, and the effects of allowing moss and debris to remain on roofs and in the gutters over winter.

Getting your home ready for winter
via ChenArch.com

Home weatherization is also great way to improve your home’s durability and lower you heating and home energy consumption costs.

Let’s explore these essential home weatherization and maintenance updates and their costs:

  • Roof Inspection and Repair
  • Moss Removal and Roof Cleaning
  • Gutter Cleaning, Repair and Replacement
  • Exterior Caulking of Windows and Doors
  • Adding Weather Stripping to Windows and Doors
  • Adding Insulation to the Attic
  • Exposed Pipes Insulation
  • Chimney Cleaning
  • Furnace and Water Heaters Maintenance Check
  • Lawn and Garden Winter Prep

Note: handyman services and contractors often have minimum fees of up to $150 per visit to your home. For that reason, whenever possible, you will want to group these home maintenance and repair items when contacting service professionals for estimates.

Roof Inspection and Repair

Your roof is your home’s most important defense against the elements. When it is compromised, your home is susceptible to water damage, structural rot and weakening, mold and mildew problems and infestation from insects. That list of horrors is good motivation to keep our roofs in good health.

Your options include roof inspection from the ground using binoculars (good), on a ladder with friends holding it steady (better), or hiring a home inspector or roofing contractor (best).

If you have an attic, it the underside of the roof and attic walls should be checked for water stains. Roofs should be inspected twice a year and after major storms and wind events. Look for missing roofing material, cupped shingles, cracked shingles and shakes, loose flashing – any sign of damage.

  • Roof inspection cost: $125-$275
  • Roof repair: $7-$15 per square foot

Repairing a roof costs more on a per square foot basis than installing a new roof, and that’s why roof replacement rather than repair starts to make sense when 25% or more of the roof is damaged. This is especially true when the roof is 12-15 years old or older.

Most minor roof repairs will cost in the range $350 to $1,500, and most roofing contractors will have a minimum repair outcall fee of $250 or more.

Moss Removal and Roof Cleaning

Algae stained roof

Moss, algae and debris on roofing material, collecting in roof valleys and against dormers and upper stories is more than just an eyesore. They hold water against your roof and are acidic, a combination that can cause asphalt shingles to cup and fail, wood shingles and shakes to rot and metal roofing to corrode.

Living plant material must be gently removed from the roof with a stiff broom, starting at the top, to prevent roof damage. Stubborn moss and algae can be loosened with cleaners like Wet & Forget and Spray & Forget before brooming the roof.

If you’re not a DIY enthusiast, hiring an experienced professional for the job is the best way to ensure a clean roof that isn’t damaged. Hiring a pro will also keep you safely on the ground.

Home improvement professionals estimate costs based on the size of your home, whether it is a single-story or multistory home, the roof’s pitch and related factors.

  • $32-$45 per gallon | Roof cleaners for DIY cleaning, 1,000-1,250 square feet per concentrated gallon
  • $300-$800 | Professional roof cleaning cost

Gutter Cleaning, Repair and Replacement

clogged gutters

Gutters easily clog with leaves, pine needles and debris. When they do, water will overflow them or cascade over them and fall next to your home causing problems such as a flooded foundation, stained or rotted siding and garage door damage.

  • Clean gutters as needed: Gutters need cleaning frequently, perhaps twice in the fall and once in the spring, where large trees tower above them. They might never need cleaning in treeless landscapes.
  • Inspect gutters: It’s wise to check gutters twice a year and after heavy hail and wind storms. Look for missing, loose and separated sections or downspouts coming loose from gutters.
  • Replace gutters as needed: If you’ve already made significant repairs to your gutters, it might be worth replacing them before the next winter or rainy season hits your area.

    It only takes one big storm for a gutter to come loose and dump hundreds of gallons of water next to your basement.

  • Gutter cleaning cost: $0.75-$1.50 per linear foot
  • Gutter repair cost: $8.00-$12.00 per linear foot of damaged gutter
  • Gutter replacement cost: $6.50-$9.00 per linear foot

Exterior Caulking Repair and Replacement

Loose and missing caulk allows moisture and insects to get into your home’s framing and possibly into your living space. The situation also allows warm air to escape in winter and penetrate in summer.

Your HVAC system will work harder, and your energy company will be happy to bill you for it. Inspect for loose caulk visually and by brushing it with a stiff brush.

Remove any loose caulking when it is found. If the caulk is more than 15 years old and some of it is loose, consider re-caulking the area. All loose caulk, dirt and debris should be removed before new caulking is installed.

  • DIY caulk repair and replacement: $2-$5 per window or door for materials, more for garage doors
  • Professional caulk repair and replacement: $6-$15 per window or door, up to $40 per garage door

Adding Weather Stripping to Windows and Doors

Effects of air leaks

Loose-fitting windows and doors are like loose caulk – a waste of energy and a potential entrance for moisture and bugs. Weather stripping is affordable and has excellent ROI in the form of lower energy bills and home protection too.

  • DIY weather stripping: $0.25-$0.55 (25-55 cents) per linear foot for the various types of material
  • Pro weather stripping: $4-$10 per window or door, up to $35 for a garage door

Adding Insulation to the Attic

Attic Insulation

Adding attic insulation is the weatherization project that earns the highest return on investment – 100% and higher.

Insulation is inexpensive, and it helps reduce energy use and costs significantly.

insulation map

According to the US Department of Energy, your attic should have an R-value of at least R30 in warm climates and R60 in cold climates, with varying rates in moderate climates.

  • DIY attic insulation: $1.10-$2.25 per square foot
  • Pro attic insulation: $1.65-$2.75 per square foot

Costs vary depending on how much insulation is required to meet recommended R-values.

Exposed Water Pipes Insulation

Uninsulated water pipes

Pipes in unheated crawl spaces and attics are at risk of freezing in very cold weather, especially at times when water isn’t flowing through the exposed pipes for several hours like overnight or during the day when everyone is away.

The easiest way to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting is to wrap them in pre-molded tubes of foam insulation or fiberglass insulation. The tubes are available in lengths from about 3’ to 8’ depending on the material and diameter of the pipe. They’re pre-split for easy installation and can be cut to size with shears or a utility knife.

Insulation will also prevent cold-water pipes from sweating in warm, humid weather.

In extreme cold, wrapping exposed pipe in a heat wire that plugs into an electrical outlet and provides resistance heat should be a consideration too. Adding insulation or a heat wire are moderately easy DIY jobs.

  • Foam pipe insulation: $0.33-$0.75 (33-75 cents) per linear foot
  • Fiberglass pipe insulation: $1.00-$3.00 per linear foot
  • 50’ to 100’ heating wire with plug: $0.75-$2.00 per linear foot plus the cost of electricity

Chimney Cleaning

When a fireplace is used consistently, a substance called creosote will eventually build up along the sides of the chimney. Creosote is a byproduct of incomplete combustion, so if it gets hot enough, it can burn. This is a major cause of house fires in winter months.

If you’ve bought a new home and are unsure whether the chimney has been cleaned, or if you use your own fireplace at least once per week, having it swept once a year is a wise decision.

Sweeping a chimney is something of an art, so watching a few online tutorial videos will serve you well, if you plan to do it yourself.

Get quality equipment – a sturdy rod, tough steel brush and, optionally, a cleaning solution such as Rutland’s Creosote Remover that boasts it, “penetrates the sticky, tar-like creosote and turns it into a loose, powdery, non-adhering ash that can easily be brushed away”. That, and a lot of “elbow grease” from above and below, should do the job.

A shop vacuum will be handy to remove the dust and loosened debris. Pro chimney sweeps will also remove the creosote and ensure your fireplace and flue/chimney are in good working order.

  • DIY chimney sweep brush and rod: $65-$90
  • Creosote remover: $18-$24 for one or two applications
  • Professional chimney sweeping: $80-$225 depending on the height and complexity of the fireplace and chimney

Furnace and Water Heaters Maintenance Check

Having your furnace and water heater checked and maintained prior to winter will help prevent them from breaking down when you need them most and when waits for repair are the longest, especially for the furnace.

At a bare minimum, maintenance of these appliances involves cleaning and adjusting their burners to create the most efficiently burning flame.

A tank-style water heater should be drained once per year to empty it of sediment that reduces its capacity and might eventually harm the tank.

Tankless heaters benefit from an annual cleaning to clear them of sediment.

The furnace’s blower should also be adjusted to optimize airflow for the most comfortable heating as part of standard maintenance. These maintenance checks can be paid for one time or you can sign up for an annual service agreement.

If the annual service agreement is reasonably priced, offers discounts on repairs and parts and gives you priority status for repairs, it might be worth buying. Maintenance is an important key to system longevity.

  • Furnace maintenance service: $175-$325 depending on the system’s complexity and the range of maintenance performed.
  • Water heater maintenance: $75-$125
  • Service agreements: $150-$450 depending on frequency (once or twice per year) and services included

Lawn and Garden Winter Prep

There are several steps to winterizing your lawn, garden, and landscape, depending on its features. Some are DIY, like spreading winterizing weed and feed on the lawn, while winterizing the sprinkler system is a task most homeowners leave to their landscaper or system installer.

  • Winter weed and feed blend: $10-$18 per bag with coverage of about 5,000 square feet per bag (there are 42,900 square feet per acre, so about 8.5 bags per acre)
  • Fertilizer spreader: $28-$60 for a homeowner-quality handheld or push spreader
  • Professional application of winterizing weed and feed: $65-$115 per half-acre depending on the product used, with a minimum fee of at least $75 for a small lot
  • Final fall lawn cleanup of leaves and twigs including disposal or placing leaves in the garden for protection and mulch: $175-$300 per half-acre
  • Fall pruning of flowers, shrubs and trees, covering sensitive flower beds and shrubs in harsh climates: $50-$80 per hour for a team of two, with total cost depending on the size of the gardens, number of trees and cold-weather protection applied

Sprinkler system winterization by clearing the lines of water and adding antifreeze to them: $75-$125 for most homes up to about ½-acre.

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