Get your home ready for freezing weather hazards with these simple tips
Ice, snow and wind can have devastating consequences to your home—and to your budget. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to avoid the expenses and inconvenience of winter damage. Begin taking action in the fall so your home is well prepared when the cold, harsh weather hits.
Winter weather prep for the outside of your home
When temperatures drop drastically and snow begins to pile up, you’ll be glad to have taken these steps to safeguard your house.
- Clean your gutters. Remove sticks, leaves and other debris from gutters, so melting snow and ice can flow freely. This can prevent ice damming, which is when water from can’t drain through the gutters and instead seeps into the house.
- Install gutter guards. Gutter guards prevent debris from falling into the gutter and interrupting the flow of water.
- Trim trees and remove dead branches. Ice, snow and wind can cause trees and branches to break free and damage your home, car, or injure someone near your property.
- Repair steps and handrails. Broken stairs and banisters become severe injury risks when covered with snow and ice.
- Seal cracks and wall openings. This will prevent warm air from leaking out and cold air and moisture from blowing in. Don’t forget to caulk and install weather stripping around windows and doors too.
Winter weather prep for the inside of your home
Freezing temperatures that bring snow and ice can wreak havoc on water pipes and put a strain on heating systems. Ensure your home’s internal systems are a “go” for winter safety and efficiency.
- Add extra insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. When too much heat escapes through the attic, snow and ice begin to melt on the roof. Water can then refreeze, leading to more ice build-up and possibly even ice dams that can damage your roof. Well-insulated basements and crawl spaces will help protect pipes. Consider insulating unfinished areas and garages to keep pipes from freezing.
- Provide a reliable back-up power source. In the event of a power outage, continuous power will provide warmth and help prevent frozen pipes. Consider purchasing a portable power generator and be sure to follow the guidelines for safe operation.
- Have your heating system serviced. Furnaces, boilers and chimneys should be serviced at least once a year to prevent fire and smoke damage.
- Check pipes closely for the presence of cracks and leaks. Have any compromised pipe repaired immediately.
- Install an emergency pressure release valve in your plumbing system. This will allow your system to regulate the increased pressure caused by freezing pipes and helps prevent pipes from bursting.
- Store combustible items away from any heat sources. This includes fireplaces, wood stoves and space heaters.
- Install or check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Residential fires and carbon monoxide poisoning increase in the winter—so regularly check that your detectors are in working condition.
- Become familiar with where your pipes are located and learn how to quickly shut the water off. Speed is critical if your pipes freeze. The quicker you shut off water or direct a plumber to the problem, the better your chance of preventing major damage.
- Hire a licensed contractor to look for structural damage. If any damage is found, have all necessary repairs performed as soon as possible.
- Take steps to prevent flooding. Your licensed contractor can advise you on measures to prevent flooding from melted snow and ice runoff. Plastic coatings for internal basement walls, sump pumps and other improvements can prevent water damage to your home and belongings.
- Consider insuring yourself for a sewer backup. Flooding from melting snow can overload sewer systems. Raw sewage backup in your home can cause thousands of dollars in damage. Sewage backup is not covered under standard homeowners insurance, renter’s insurance policies, or flood insurance. It can be purchased as a separate product, or added on as an endorsement.