Winter weather can do a number on your house. From flooding due to ice dams, to roof damage from snow and ice, there’s a lot that can go wrong during the winter. Fortunately, there are some simple low-cost things you can do to protect your home from Mother Nature’s fury.
1. Outside faucets. Drain outside faucets and then turn them off from the inside. Also, make sure your hoses are drained and disconnected. And, if you have a sprinkler system, blow compressed air through it to void any remaining water.
2. Inside pipes. Freezing pipes are a constant worry for New England homeowners. We’ve all heard how you should let your faucets drip if it gets too cold. (Usually, the risk of freezing occurs when its 20 degrees Fahrenheit.) You don’t have to wait for it to get super chilly though. Plan ahead by installing foam or heat tape around your pipes. You can also combat the problem by leaving cabinet doors around pipes open so they are heated by the ambient room temperature.
3. Ice dams. Ice dams occur when hot air in your house warms snow or ice on the roof, which then refreezes when it gets colder. The best way to prevent ice dams is to keep your attic and roof cold. This will prevent warm air in your attic that causes snow and ice to melt. For more information, see here.
4. Snow weight. In some areas, heavy snowfall could be too much for your roof. (See here for how to calculate that.) If you are concerned about snow on your roof, consider hiring a snow removal contractor. If you want to do it yourself, here are some guidelines for how to do that safely.
5. Drafty windows. Temperature swings can cause the caulk around your windows to crack. This can let heat escape, causing energy bills to go up. Stay on top of the problem by checking for any cracks and caulking them. Better yet: get ahead of the problem by applying draught tape.
6. Falling branches. Falling tree branches due to wind, ice, or snowfall are a real threat to your house. Do a visual check of your home’s surroundings before the next storm. Make sure any tree branches are at least three feet away. If not, call a professional to clear any low hanging branches near your house.
7. Foundation cracks. Winter weather can cause cracks in your foundation or along the side of your house if it was built with bricks and mortar or stucco. The best preventive measure is to identity any small cracks before bad weather hits and seal them up before they worsen, weakening your house and posing a risk for flooding. Here’s a detailed guide for how to repair cracks.
Winter weather can be unpredictable. The upside is that we know it’s coming and we have time to brace for it. It may seem like a hassle, but wrapping your pipes in foam insulation or sealing small foundation cracks are a small price to pay to avoid major headaches down the road.