Preparing Your Home for Winter Hazards
Winter is known for hazardous weather conditions that can cause extensive property damage. Heavy snow can collapse roofs. High winds can damage siding. Ice can accumulate in the gutters, causing ice dams and leaky shingles. Bitter temperatures can cause pipes to freeze and burst.
With so many winter hazards to watch out for, you would be wise to prepare your home for cold weather. Follow these tips to minimize property damage this winter.
Strengthen the Roof
Because of its vulnerable position on top of your house, the roof is the most likely part of the building to be damaged in the winter. To mitigate risk, fortify your roof with these tips:
- Inspect the roof. Look for cracked, warped or missing shingles. Check the condition of the flashing around the chimney and other roof penetrations. Make any necessary repairs to ensure a watertight roof.
- Clean the gutters once the trees on your property have lost most of their leaves. If necessary, repair the gutters as well.
- Trim back tree branches that hang over the roof.
- Increase attic insulation and ventilation to keep temperatures cool below the roof and help prevent ice dams.
Protect Your Pipes
Address the vulnerable plumbing in your home with these tips:
- Drain and store garden hoses, close the shut-off valves leading to outdoor faucets and blow out the sprinkler system.
- Seal and insulate unconditioned spaces where plumbing is present, including the attic, garage, crawlspace or unfinished basement.
- Wrap heating cables around exposed pipes. Then, encase them with special pipe insulation.
- Let a faucet drip overnight when sub-freezing temperatures are in the forecast.
- Set the thermostat to 55 degrees F or higher at all times.
Seal Leaky Windows & Doors
Gaps around your windows and doors can allow cold air and water to enter your home. In addition to making your home drafty and more expensive to heat and cool, leaks can cause dry rot and mold growth. Here’s how to prevent these problems:
- Seal stationary gaps with caulk.
- Create an airtight seal when windows and doors close by adding weatherstripping.
- If any existing caulk or weatherstripping is cracked or peeling, replace the damaged portions.
Maintain Heating Appliances
Take the following steps to ensure your furnace, fireplace, water heater and dryer are up to the challenge of operating in cold conditions:
- Replace the furnace filter.
- Schedule a fall furnace maintenance to reduce the chance of a breakdown when you need your heater the most.
- Clean and maintain the chimney of your wood-burning fireplace.
- Flush the water heater to increase efficiency.
- Store flammable materials away from the furnace and water heater.
- Clean the clothes dryer exhaust vent to reduce the risk of fire.