Protecting your home this winter

Winter is here.  Inclement weather can cause damage to your home and throw your finances for a loop. Whether its freezing rain, gusting snow, or just changes in the temperature don’t be caught out in the cold. Take these steps to protect your home and loved ones from the worst winter has to offer.  

Winter hazards to watch out for  

1.   Roof damage – Winter weather can wreak havoc on your roof, causing damage to the surface and allowing water into your house. When heat from your attic escapes through the roof, it raises the temperature and melts the lowest layer of snow, which can then ice up and damage the roof surface. If this is left unchecked, it can create an ice dam, where ice buildup blocks any additional water from being able to escape, forcing it inside and causing extensive damage.  

Tips to help prevent this from happening to you: 

  • Ensure your attic has enough insulation. 12-15 inches is a good general guide.  

  • Check your gutters and make sure they are in good working order. Clean out any debris so rain and melting snow has an easy path off the roof.  

  • Keep an eye out for ice dams.  If you think you have one, call a contractor to help. You could damage the roof surface if you try to chip it off yourself.  


2.   Slips and falls – Icy surfaces are notoriously dangerous. Protect your safety and liability by making sure steps and railings are in good shape and keeping pathways well-lit and cleared.  

Ways to avoid taking a spill this winter:   

  • Repair steps and porch floors. 

  • Install or repair railings on entrance stairs to improve stability. 

  • Maintain adequate lighting and clear away any buildup and debris. 

 

3.   Busted Pipes – When temperatures drop your pipes need extra attention to keep them in working order. Water trapped in these pipes can easily freeze overnight and expand to break the plumbing. Pipes are most at risk if they run through unheated areas.  

How to protect your pipes: 

  • Insulate pipes that run through the garage, basement or along the exterior of the house to prevent freezing.  

  • Open the cabinet doors under your sink overnight to let the heat from your house more easily get to the pipes.  

  • Keep faucets dripping overnight when freeze damage can be more likely.  

If you think the pipes have frozen, shut off the water immediately and call a plumber.  


4.   Residential fire/Carbon monoxide – Winter is the time for hearth-warming fires and bedecked mantles, but make sure you take some precautions before getting started. Residential fires can be devastating. 

Keep your home safe: 

  • Have your fireplace or heating element inspected annually to make sure it is free from creosote buildup and safe to use.  

  • Remove flammable items from the area and make sure fires are fully extinguished when not attended.  

  • Keep a 3-foot radius around space heaters and make sure they are turned off before you leave the room or go to sleep.   

  • Closely monitor candles or consider battery operated faux-candles.  

  • Install and test Carbon Monoxide detectors.  

 

5.   Falling Trees / Limbs – Dead and damaged trees can become huge hazards in winter. Make sure to keep your family and your home safe this season by taking care of landscape issues before it’s too late. 

  • Call an arborist to inspect any questionable trees in your yard. 

  • Remove dead or diseased trees and overhanding limbs. 

  • Perform regular maintenance to prolong the health of your trees. 

 

Don’t let winter weather break your budget with expensive repairs. Take steps now to protect your home. This is also a good time to review your homeowner’s insurance policy. Talk to your insurance company to make sure you have the right amount of coverage for you.  

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