With the winter season comes cold weather and snow, making the landscape picturesque and tranquil. It’s great fun for kids as they get out and play but, for homeowners, snow can be a real hassle. Snow and ice can cause devastating damage to both the inside and outside of your home, as too can things like carbon monoxide poisoning and fires.
The good news is that you can take steps to protect your home during these winter storms, the cold weather, and the freezing temperatures. We have put together a short guide to get you started and ready for the winter.
Prepare Your Pipes For the Winter!
One of the main causes of damage to homes during the winter is damage caused to the home by pipes that burst when water freezes. When pipes burst in your home, it could sustain devastating damage from large quantities of water flowing into the home’s foundation. There are several things you can do though to prevent pipes from bursting. Follow these steps to prevent this kind of damage.
First of all, to prevent damage from burst water pipes, you should make sure that you keep your home at a temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit or above.
If you turn on your faucet and notice that there is either no water or very little, then it is highly likely you have a frozen pipe. You can deal with this problem by identifying the pipe and thawing it if it easy to access by using measures, such as a hairdryer, heater, or electrical tape.
Ensure that pipes are well insulated with foam covers. During periods of extreme cold weather turn on taps so that water can flow through the pipes
If you have had previous problems with burst pipes during winter weather, then it may be a good idea to deal with enclosed pipes by having the walls removed and the pipes well insulated to prevent a repeat of any previous burst pipes. It can be a little costly but over time it will prove to be cost-efficient as making constant claims on your insurance will only result in increased premiums.
Inspect Your Roof
In order to prevent damage to your home, you should make an inspection of your roof before the first snowfall comes. You need to be on the lookout for any damage, such as loose or broken shingles that are susceptible to storms and melting snow. Pay attention to chimneys and make sure they are sealed and in good condition.
If there are small repairs to be made and you are capable then carry them out, otherwise obtain the services of a roofer or handyman to carry out any essential maintenance. Ensure that you clear away any debris from the roof and guttering that could cause rotting or prevent water flowing away.
Prepare For Power Outages
In the event of heavy snowstorms, power lines can be affected leaving your home not just in darkness but in the freezing cold. It is best to plan for this eventuality—investing in a generator is an excellent idea. You should also have flashlights and other battery-powered devices to light your home. Make sure that you have plenty of batteries to power these devices.
A radio will allow you to connect with local weather updates. Make sure that the radio runs on batteries or solar power. Another handy device to have is a solar-powered cell phone charger so that you can check on friends and family as well as weather information.
Check Outdoor Lighting
Before the winter sets in make a check to see that all your outdoor lighting is in working order. When it is dark and there is ice on paths to your home, all too often falls can happen. Change the light bulbs to make sure that they will last throughout the winter months. You can save money by having lighting with sensors or you can purchase light bulbs that are operated from your smartphone.
Most insurance claims are made during the winter months and spring thaws. In the event of your property becoming damaged, you should take steps to make sure that you are covered. Read the fine print on your insurance documents and look out for the terms and conditions involving burst pipes and basement floods. If you are not covered then you should update your policy or change insurers.
You should have the details to hand and know where your policy documents are filed away in a safe place. Keep the insurers contact details on your smartphone. When making new purchases, it is a good idea to keep receipts so that, in the event of you having to make a claim, you have all the proof you need to process your claim more quickly. Taking this step could also increase the amount that your insurer is willing to compensate you.
Remove Icicles and Dams
It can be fun watching icicles form around the exterior of your home but they can be lethal and cause damage. Remove any icicles safely by wearing safety goggles and a hard hat. If it is not safe for you to do so and the icicles which have formed are large or high up then call in the services of a professional. Always warn children to stay away from icicles.
Ice dams happen when the insulation in the attic is poor or when there are ice leaks. Once again, it is best to hire a professional that can identify any such problems. Always warn children to stay away from icicles.
Clear Driveways and Sidewalks
Sideways and driveways can be treacherous when they are covered with ice from melted snow and slippery snow. You can keep your family safer from falls by having snow shovels handy. Clear away a path that your family can use to make access to your home more safely. Using a snowblower is also an option. Remember to follow this step by using rock salt that will melt away any ice that will form on the frozen ground.
If elderly relatives are visiting then you should assist them on the driveway to your home, especially if they have mobility issues. A fall for an elderly relative can have far more consequences than a fall for a younger person.
If you have a large driveway and clearing paths may take a while, prevent frostbite by wearing protective clothing, including boots, hats, and gloves.
During winter months, your family are at risk of picking up illnesses as bacteria can develop easily when your family are contained at home. Once one family member has a virus, this can easily spread to the whole family. You can take steps to help prevent an outbreak by keeping your home a little less warm so that bacteria cannot thrive. Turning down your thermostat approximately five degrees can also reduce the risk of infection as well as saving money.
Ensure that all family members follow basic hygiene steps by regularly washing their hands and make sure that the soap you use has an anti-bacterial agent. Ensuring that toothbrushes are replaced frequently will also minimize the risk of infection. A humidifier will also make your home a less bacteria-friendly environment.
Your home is at risk of flooding when the thaws of spring occur. You can take steps to prevent this by taking several steps.
When you are clearing your driveway you should also take time to clear a path around your home. During the winter months as snow falls, wind currents will blow snow around your home and snow will build up. As soon as snow falls, you should deal with snow by clearing it away as soon as possible before it becomes solid and difficult to shovel away. If the snow remains around your home in the spring, it will have nowhere to go but into the foundations of your home. Clearing a path of four to six feet will prevent flooding from melted snow from entering your basement.
Before snow falls, check all around your home to see if there any cracks in the exterior walls that can allow water ingress from melting snow. If you see any small cracks, use a cheap and easy-to-use sealer to temporarily cover the cracks. Any major cracks should be dealt with by calling in a professional.
Check the weather forecast to make sure that you are aware of when the warmer weather will begin—don’t just wait for it to happen! Check out vents and any other areas where snow has collected and where melting snow can enter your basement. Clear away snow in roof gutters so that water can flow away easily and away from the home as intended. If it is not safe to do so, then call in a professional to help.
Hoses attached to taps outside of your home can also cause a burst pipe and dealing with this is one of the quickest and easiest ways to prevent a burst pipe. A hose left outside to freeze can cause enough pressure on the tap so that it will burst. As soon as winter sets in, simply store away hoses in your garage until the spring and prevent a costly and inconvenient burst pipe.