Ice, snow, and wind can cause serious damage to your property, as well as your household budget. Fortunately, there are steps you can do to avoid the cost and inconvenience of winter damage—and perhaps save money on your heating bill. Begin as the leaves begin to change color so that your home is ready before the cold, severe weather arrives.
Prepare your home’s exterior for winter weather.
When the temperatures plummet and the snow begins to fall, you’ll be glad you took these precautions to protect your home.
- Gutter cleaning is a must. Leaves, sticks, and other debris should be removed from gutters to allow melting snow and ice to flow freely. This will help to prevent ice damming, which occurs when water cannot drain via the gutters and instead penetrates into the house, causing water to drip from the ceiling and walls.
- Gutter guards should be installed. Gutter guards keep debris out of the gutter, preventing water from flowing away from the home and into the ground.
- Trees should be pruned and dead branches should be removed. Weak trees or branches could break away due to ice, snow, or wind, causing damage to your home or automobile, as well as injuring someone walking by your property.
- Steps and handrails should be repaired. When coated with snow and ice, broken staircases and banisters can be deadly.
- Seal cracks and wall openings with caulking to keep cold air and moisture out of your home. To prevent warm air from leaking out and cold air from blowing in, caulk and place weather stripping around windows and doors.
Inside your home, prepare for the winter weather.
Temperatures below freezing, as well as snow and ice, may wreak havoc on water pipes and put a strain on heating systems. For winter safety and efficiency, make sure all of your home’s interior systems are operational.
- Attics, basements, and crawl spaces should all be insulated. Snow or ice on the roof can melt if too much heat escapes via the attic. Water can then refreeze, causing more ice build-up and possibly ice dams, which can damage your roof. Basements and crawl areas that are well-insulated will also assist safeguard pipes. To avoid pipes from freezing, consider insulating garages and other unfinished areas.
- Make sure you have a backup power supply. Continuous power will keep you warm and prevent frozen pipes or a frozen battery-operated sump-pump in the case of a power outage. To ensure safety, consider obtaining a portable power generator and making sure to follow all operating instructions.
- Make an appointment to have your heating system serviced. To avoid fire and smoke damage, furnaces, boilers, and chimneys should be maintained at least once a year.
- Cracks and leaks should be looked for in the pipes. Repair any damaged pipes as soon as possible.
- Insulation or plug-in heating cable can be used to protect pipes in attics and crawl spaces. Make careful to get heating wires with built-in thermostats that are UL® approved; these will turn on the heat only when it is needed. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions when using the cables.
- Install a pressure release valve in your plumbing system in case of an emergency. This will safeguard the system from increasing pressure generated by frozen pipes, which could lead to pipe bursts.
- Remove flammable things from close proximity to any heat sources you’ll be using. Fireplaces, wood stoves, and space heaters are all examples of this.
- Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be installed or tested. Residential fires, as well as carbon monoxide poisoning, are more common in the winter, so make sure your detectors are in good working order.
- Find out where your pipes are and how to turn off the water. If your pipes freeze, you must act quickly. The sooner you turn off the water or call a plumber, the greater your chances of avoiding serious damage.
- To check for structural problems, hire a licensed contractor. If any damage is discovered, make the necessary repairs as quickly as feasible.
- Take precautions to avoid floods. Your certified contractor can also suggest ways to avoid flooding caused by melted snow and ice flow. Water damage to your home and valuables can be avoided with plastic coatings for interior basement walls, sump pumps, and other modifications.
- Consider purchasing sewer backup insurance. Sewer systems can be overburdened by flooding caused by melting snow. If raw sewage backs up into your home’s drains, it can ruin your floors, walls, furniture, and electrical systems for thousands of dollars. Sewer backup is not covered by normal homeowners or renters insurance plans, nor by flood insurance, although it can be acquired as a stand-alone policy or as an endorsement.