Winter is halfway through, but it’s never too late to take action to prepare your home to withstand storms and low temperatures. Here are a few steps you can take before and during winter weather to protect the home from damage.
- Learn about your area and community. Find out about the most severe winters recorded in your area to get an idea what your home will need to be prepared for. Your local government website might have information to help in this regard.
- Get your home inspected for its ability to handle winter weather; especially the roof and plumbing need to be in good condition. Take heed of all recommended improvements.
- When choosing a new home or remodeling a current home, make sure to choose a roof with a slope of at least one vertical meter for every three horizontal meters. Flatter roofs can accumulate snow to the point of collapse, so slope is your friend.
- Take steps to be sure no heat can escape from the attic to the roof and melt snow, contributing to the formation of ice dams (see below). Keep the attic well-ventilated; the cooler the attic, the cooler the roof, and the less snow will melt and refreeze. Insulate the attic floor. Remove any sources of heat from the attic, such as recessed lighting. Insulate your attic access door with a cover or add weatherstripping. Ensure that bathroom and kitchen vent fans exhaust to the outside, not the attic.
- Make sure any exposed pipes are insulated and disconnect garden hoses.
- Get your chimney swept, and have the chimney sweep check the flashing around your chimney for any cracks where air or water could get through. Be sure to repair or replace any damaged flashing immediately.
- Make sure the home is properly insulated and patch any cracks where cold air can get in. Any measures you take to keep out the cold air will save on your heating bill, make your home more efficient (and environmentally friendly!) and protect your pipes from freezing.
- Check with your insurance agent to see if you are covered in case of disaster.
- Immediately after a winter storm, check the roof and attic for water leaks. Pay attention to cracks in the drywall or plaster, new internal door jams, and/or a sagging ridge line (where two sloped sides of the roof come together)– these are all signs that your roof could be ready to collapse!
- Remove heavy snow and ice buildup. First, remove snow layer by layer using a snow rake or push broom. Then eliminate ice, either with electric heating cables or by punching a hole through the ice every three feet or so and filling it with chemical deicer. Keep in mind, however, that the latter method can be harmful to the environment, so make sure to purchase environmentally responsible products. If you are unsure of your ability to access the roof safely, hire a roofing professional.
- Check for ice dams– ridges of ice buildup on the edge of the roof that prevent melt water from draining properly– and remove them promptly. Ice dams form when warmth escaping from the home melts snow on the roof above it, and the resulting melt water refreezes upon reaching the colder eave of the roof. Water trapped on the roof above the dam can then find its way into walls and ceilings, causing serious damage to the home. Icicles are often a sign of dams, so keep a lookout for them after winter weather.
- Check roof and gutter frequently and remove debris that could keep the roof from draining properly
- Keep your thermostat above 54 degrees F (12 C) at all times to prevent pipes from freezing and rupturing. It’s best to keep the inside temperature constant throughout the day rather than lowering it while you are out of the house.
Winter weather is unpredictable and often difficult to fully prepare for, but keeping your home properly maintained and taking basic precautionary measures will help you prevent damage to your home and save you a lot of time and effort in the long run. For more information about how to protect your home, feel free to contact us.
Crawford Home Improvements
3810 Clemmons Road
Clemmons, North Carolina 27012
Wilson, Catherine T. “How to Protect Your Home From Winter Weather.” Ezine Articles. N.p., 8 Dec. 2016. Web. 1 Feb. 2017.
O’Neill, Brendan. “How to Prevent Ice Dams on Your Roof.” The Allstate Blog. Allstate Insurance, 31 Oct. 2016. Web. 01 Feb. 2017.