Homeowner’s Winter Survival Guide

Winter officially begins on December 21 and although the cold and snowy weather has already arrived, it is not too late to take precautions.   It used to matter where you lived, but now, throughout the mid-Atlantic and the northeast, as well as other parts of the country, freezing rain, cold blustery winds, heavy snow fall, and drenching rainstorms are the leading causes of homeowner losses.

So here are some tips….

Prevent Frozen Pipes. 

The four major causes of frozen pipes are loss of power, quick drops in temperature, poor insulation, and thermostats set too low. There are some simple steps you can take to help prevent your pipes from freezing:

  • Leave the central heating to at least 55 degrees
  • Keep the cabinet doors under the sinks open. This will let warm air move around the pipes
  • Keep room doors slightly open to allow the warm air to move around the house
  • Wrap outside pipes with the proper pipe insulation or heat tape.
  • Disconnect garden hoses, shut off indoor valves to outdoor faucets, and drain the water from those pipes leading to outside faucets to mitigate potential freezing of pipes just inside the house.
  • If you are going to be away from your house while the weather is cold keep the heating system on.
  • Know where your water turn-off valve is in case you lose your power and heat.  If you lose your heat and it looks like it may last a long time, drain your pipes.  If you are not sure and want to wait it out for a while leave a trickle of water running through the pipes but at a certain point, drain them.
  • Consider installing an automatic leak detection and shutoff system. (All of the better insurers offer premium credits in most states when a system is installed.)
  • If you go away have a neighbor or someone check on your home periodically.
  • Install a “Low-temperature” monitor on your Central Station alarm system. (All of the better insurers offer premium credits in most states when a system is installed.)
  • Install automatic backup generators to run critical systems in the home (All of the better insurers offer premium credits in most states when a system is installed.)

Prevent Ice Damming

Ice dams, large build-ups of ice in roof gutters and onto the roof itself, can cause significant physical and water damage to a home.  There are some simple steps you can take to help prevent your gutters from backing up and causing ice dams

  • Inspect and clean roof gutters
  • Let warm air into your roof space by keeping the trap door open should the snow build-up
  • Install roof heating wires above the gutters as well as in the gutters so that the snow and ice melt.
  • Avoid snow build-up by having the first 2-3 feet of roof “raked”

Prevent Heating System Fires and Blow-Backs

A properly maintained heating system not only minimizes the potential for fires, the potential for blow-backs (also known as “puff-backs”), when incompletely burned gasses suddenly ignite in the heating system burner.  Properly maintained heating systems run more efficiently, saving money, and by minimizing the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning they are safer, too.

Take steps to minimize damage from fire and smoke:

  • Have your Chimney Inspected and cleaned
  • Have your furnace and boiler boilers inspected and cleaned
  • Keep flammable items away from heat sources.
  • Keep collectibles and other belongings away from heat sources

 

Prevent Slips, Falls, and other Mishaps

The snow and ice that invariably accompany the winter season can take its toll on people too.  Slips and falls are not a source of pain and injury, they are also a source of liability for the property owner.

Take steps to minimize the potential for a slip-and-fall accident:

  • Keep pathways and stairs well lit and clear of snow and ice
  • Keep salt/sand/kitty litter handy for icy sidewalks and driveways.
  • Be sure Icicles and snow is cleared from the roof and gutters above the walkways

It’s never too early or too late to prepare your homes for stormy weather.  Be safe and enjoy the winter months.

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