Wintertime brings cozy nights sipping hot cocoa by the fire and chilly days of bundling up to go sledding. But along with those relaxing times, the winter weather also brings the risk of damage to your house. Water intrusion, freezing pipes, and roof leaks could certainly put a damper on your winter festivities. Here are some issues to look out for and precautions you can take to prevent catastrophic cold-weather damage to your house.
#1: Freezing Pipes
Plumbing exposed to cold temperatures could freeze and burst, causing significant water damage, mold, mildew, and hefty repair bills. To prevent pipes from freezing, insulate any pipelines that are directly exposed to the elements. This includes pipes in crawl spaces, basements, attics, and garages where the temperature is often considerably colder.
You can purchase tubular or rolled pipe wraps at your local home improvement store and quickly install them yourself. You can also wrap pipes in a thermostatically controlled heat cable.
Allowing the faucet to drip slowly on frosty nights could prevent pipes from freezing. This is a good option if you still need to insulate your pipes.
If you’re away from home for more than a few days, you can shut off the water entirely and drain all pipes by turning off the main water valve. Then, empty the lines by running all the water out of faucets and fixtures for both hot and cold water inside and outside the house.
Remove all garden hoses and drain water from pipes to ensure they are clear of any water that could freeze and cause the pipes to burst. You can purchase winter faucet covers for exterior spigots that aid freeze protection.
#2: Snow and Ice on Your Roof
Piled up snow and ice can put a significant strain on your roof. Not only can shingles crack, which could lead to leaks and water damage, but the added weight of the snow and ice puts severe stress on the framing of your roof. This stress can cause structural damage or even lead to partial roof collapse depending on the age and condition of your house and the amount of snow piled up.
Do your best to remove as much snow and ice as possible from your roof while staying safe. You can use a snow roof rake with a telescopic handle to safely reach snow and ice that are high up. If you can’t remove the snow yourself, you can call a professional roofing company to remove the snow for you.
#3: Ice Dams
An “ice dam” occurs when your gutters are blocked by debris and melting snow and ice build-up inside. This can push snow up under your shingles and into your house. Ice dams can cause major problems to your roof and result in water intrusion. Water intrusion is a serious problem, as it can lead to leaks, mold, mildew, and staining. To prevent ice dams during cold winter months, be proactive and clear your gutters before winter weather strikes.
#4: Falling Tree Limbs
Although ice-covered trees glistening in the sunlight are beautiful, the added weight of ice and snow on tree limbs can be too much for a tree to bear. Larger branches near your house are a potential hazard during winter storms, as they could break and fall onto the home or roof. Not only is this dangerous, but it could cause significant damage and be costly to repair.
Before the cold weather brings in snow or ice, trim branches close to your house, especially dead or cracked limbs. Pruning the nearest trees during the fall could prevent catastrophic damage come winter.
Is Your House Ready to Withstand Winter Weather?
Before cozying up for chilly nights by the fire or pulling out the snow skis, take the proper precautions to ensure your house is ready for winter weather and not at unnecessary risk for cold-weather damage. When the first snowflakes fall, you’ll be thankful you made time to prepare your home.