NILES, Ohio (WKBN) — Winter in Northeast Ohio often brings cold, wet and frozen conditions that are here to stay. This weather makes it difficult to protect homes from damage.

Melvin Tenney, store manager at Handyman Supply in Niles, said now is the time to assess your home so it’s protected from the elements as winter continues.

“Make sure all your shingles are on tight, make sure if you do have a leak, you have it sealed,” he said.

Tenney said all homeowners should have their furnace inspected, check any leaks and get your driveway sealed.

“Want to make sure your cracks are filled, driveway is sealed — with those new and old driveways, you want to use salt that isn’t damaging, which is calcium,” he said.

Spending more now to prepare your home for winter could save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

“We’ve seen burst pipes each year account for thousands of dollars in insurance claims, per homeowner, that can be $5,000 or more,” said Sarah Dillingham with the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.

Tenney said you should insulate those pipes to prevent cracking.

“You can do a foam insulation, or a wrap, even heat tape. Depending on your circumstances there is different levels of cost there,” he said.

Insulation materials are available at any local hardware store — and if you decide to do some holiday traveling, there’s a few things you can do ahead of time so you don’t return from your Christmas celebration to a disaster.

“Make sure that you don’t set your thermostat too low while you’re gone, you want to make sure it is set no lower than 55 degrees to ensure those pipes around your home are kept warmer,” Dillingham said.