Winter in Chicagoland is famous for bringing snow, ice, and freezing winds to the area. While winters in our region are legendary, what many people overlook is the damage that can come after the winter has come to a close — and the spring thaw begins.
In the city and the suburbs, the early days of spring can bring some unique challenges to Chicagoland, including an increased risk of flooding and water damage due to rapid snowmelt and seasonal storms.
Fortunately, there are many steps that you can take to help minimize the effects of the spring thaw — so you can focus on enjoying those sunny days and warmer temperatures.
Beat the Chill: Steps to Take During Winter
Taking some key steps to “winterize” your property early in the season can make an enormous difference come springtime. Here are some important ideas for helping protect your property from the impact of winter weather — before, during, and after the seasonal chill:
- Cover your outdoor spigots and fixtures. If you have any outdoor water lines, make sure they are protected — disconnect hoses and sprinklers, shut off the flow of water and drain the line, and insulate your hose bibs and outdoor spigots.
- Seal up holes, cracks, and gaps. Cold winter air loves to creep into your home — which can lead to damage when spring returns. To protect your home, use weatherstripping to insulate your doors and windows, and look for any small gaps or cracks that can be sealed with caulk or foam. These gaps can expand and become dangerous due to rapidly changing temperatures, so make sure they are dealt with ahead of time.
- Protect your plumbing. A frozen or burst pipe can be dangerous and uncomfortable to experience, and extremely costly to repair. To help minimize the risk — and help improve your home’s seasonal efficiency — take some simple steps to protect your plumbing. Wrap or insulate exposed pipes; keep a drip going and open your cabinets when the temperature outside falls below freezing; and make sure you have clear, easy access to your water shut-off valve.
- Clean your gutters and downspouts. Your gutters and downspouts are essential for helping to guide water off of your roof and carry it safely away from your property. Before the winter weather comes, make sure you take time to get rid of any debris that may have collected in your gutters, and ensure that they are safely secured. Watch your downspouts to make sure that they are sending water away from your home’s foundation.
- Check up on your insulation to prevent ice dams. Ice dams are thick, frozen layers of ice that build up along the edge of your roof. When left untreated, they can cause a significant amount of damage to your home’s shingles and gutters. One important step you can take to prevent ice dams from forming is to improve the insulation in your attic by making sure the insulation you have is sufficient; improving ventilation; and making sure that all roof leaks are fully sealed.
Springing Back: Easy Steps to Move from Winter to Spring
As winter fades into spring, the days will get warmer, sunnier — and, sometimes, wetter. The early days of spring are a great time to check up on your home, and see what damage winter has left behind, while also getting your property ready for the warmer days to come. Here are a few steps you can take to help lessen the impact of the spring thaw:
- Examine your roof — safely. The roof is one of the most important things to check after winter. After all, whipping winds and mounds of snow can do some serious damage! Look for loose shingles or damage to your eaves from ground level, and consider bringing in a professional roofer to inspect and repair your vents, skylights, chimneys, and other roofing elements as needed.
- Look for seepage and protect your foundation. Do a walkthrough of your basement to look for any signs of water intrusion, leaks, or damage on your exterior walls. The issue could be flooding, caused by water coming in from your yard. A professional can help you understand your options — from putting in a new drainage system to simply adding fresh soil to fill in low areas in your yard.
- Check your gutters and downspouts. Ice dams, twigs, and other obstructions can wreak havoc on your gutters and downspouts. After the winter winds down, check to make sure that these important components are still free from debris, safely secured, and ready for those coming April showers.
- Service your HVAC system. No doubt you were running your heat more regularly, to help make Chicagoland’s frosty winter days feel a bit more comfortable. One of the most important steps you can take early in the spring is to have your home’s heating and cooling systems inspected and serviced by a professional, who can quickly assess any damage left behind by the winter, while making sure your system will be ready for the warm summer days still to come.
- Inspect your sump and ejector pump systems. While they are designed to handle different tasks, sump pumps and ejector pumps are each essential to keeping your basement safe and dry. The spring is a great time to have your home’s pumping systems examined and serviced by a professional.
- Help your garden and landscaping spring back to life. Spring showers lead to vibrant flowers — but only if you help them along! After the winter, take some time to prune your bushes, clear away dead growth and debris, fertilize your soil, add a fresh layer of protective mulch, and start planning for what summer bulbs and veggies you want to plant in the weeks ahead.
Want to Talk About Your Home Goals With a Local Expert?
At Baird & Warner, we believe that buying or selling a home should be easier — whether you’re getting started on a bright spring day, or in the middle of a frosty Chicagoland winter.
As the largest independent and locally owned real estate brokerage in Chicagoland, the Baird & Warner family has earned success by putting our clients’ needs first, and always making it easier to navigate the real estate process at every step of the way. With sales, mortgage and title services all under one roof, our One-Stop Shop is here to transform an intricate, complex process into one that is smarter and more seamless from beginning to end.