From Jersey To Carolina

Navigating The Southern Winter Home Maintenance Landscape

by Tracy Dupler // January - February - March 2024

Just moved here from another state? This Jersey girl did too, about nine years ago. Let me tell you – home ownership here is quite different than up North ... especially when it comes to maintenance. The upkeep requirements for a home can differ greatly based on its location. As someone who has experienced it both up North and down South, I’m here to compare home maintenance in the Triangle area with what you might be accustomed to in your previous state. Hopefully, I can offer some insights to prepare and put you at ease for the upcoming winter months.

One of the pivotal factors influencing home maintenance is the local climate. Here, we experience a humid, subtropical climate, meaning hot and humid summers and mild winters (yay!). In contrast, places like New Jersey have a diverse climate with toasty summers and cold, cold – too cold for me – winters. Fortunately, we aren’t shivering through the winters here while tending to our home exteriors.

Roof Maintenance: The hot and humid climate here can accelerate the deterioration of roofing materials, resulting in more frequent roof repairs and replacements. I’m curious if this was part of your home’s negotiation process. I could share a list of findings from practically all my inspections, but that’s for another article. Frequent rain and high humidity levels can also lead to issues like mold and mildew. In contrast, the colder northern winters, with their snow and ice, can cause ice dams on roofs, potentially damaging shingles and causing leaks.

Exterior Maintenance: That green stuff on your siding, patio, or deck? It’s mold. Lovely, huh? The exterior of your home here may require regular pressure washing and repainting due to the high humidity and the growth of mildew and algae – even on brick. In New Jersey, homes need to withstand harsh winters, leading to issues like peeling paint, frozen pipes, and cracks in the foundation. I’ll take a yearly pressure washing over frozen anything any day.

HVAC Systems: Here, air conditioning systems are crucial due to the hot summers, leading to more frequent maintenance and potential replacement. I have to be honest – since I’ve been living in North Carolina, there have been years when I’ve had my A/C on well into November! Alternatively, in New Jersey, homeowners rely heavily on heating systems during the cold winters, requiring regular maintenance and potential furnace or boiler replacements.

Landscaping and Yard Maintenance: The longer growing season of the South demands more frequent lawn care and landscaping attention. You’ll notice home stores selling plants as early as February, reflecting the extended period for nurturing greenery. In stark contrast, New Jersey homeowners must ready their lawns and gardens for the harsh winter months, involving tasks like snow removal and protection against freezing temperatures.

Speaking of snow removal, leave those snowblowers to the fortunate buyers up North on Facebook Marketplace. All you need here is a shovel, and fortunately, sometimes it’s just for show. By noon, that snowy or icy “blanket” is likely to be melted anyway. Our trusty shovel is still brand new, purchased – yes, you guessed it – nine years ago!

And let’s not forget about your grass, especially for Bermuda grass owners – brace yourself for it to turn brown. Yes, it might seem unsightly, but Bermuda grass, a robust choice for builders due to its durability and low maintenance, undergoes a natural color change in colder months. Don’t worry – it’s not dead. Soon enough, it will revive, turning green and lush once again.

Pest Control: Both regions pose unique pest challenges. Our humidity can attract pests like termites, mosquitoes, and cockroaches, while northern residents may face issues with rodents and ants, especially during colder months when pests seek shelter indoors. Hiring a pest control service will eliminate a large number of these around your home. Want to know a little secret? Those lizards we have? Some locals let them get “caught” in their garage, as they eat those pesky unwanted bugs that work their way in.

The most surprising aspects of my relocation here were these small details I never considered – the green siding, the brown grass, and the phenomenon of snow days lasting only two hours. Yet, what I love is the warmer climate, the longer summers, and the fact that I am not freezing like Clark Griswold while decorating my house. I share these insights from my personal experience in the hope that these little tips can assist in maintaining your home seamlessly throughout the year, particularly during the winter. It has me missing the North, never! So get outside and enjoy our winter months – they won’t last long!

Tracy Dupler

A luxury real estate agent serving the Triangle area, and the owner of Tracy Dupler Realty Group, LLC.