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Ice, snow and wind can have devastating consequences on your home. The time to winterize is
when the leaves begin to turn and not when the snow begins to fall.
Homeowners should take the following precautions:
Remove leaves, acorns, sticks and other debris from gutters so melting snow and ice can flow
freely. This can prevent “ice damming”–a condition where water is unable to properly drain
through the gutters and instead seeps into the house causing water to drip from the ceiling and
walls. You may also consider installing gutter guards. Available in most hardware and home
stores, gutter guards are screens that prevent debris from entering the gutter and direct the flow
of water away from the house and into the ground.
Ice, snow and wind can cause weak trees or branches to break, damaging your home, car or
injuring someone walking on your property.
Add extra insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. If too much heat escapes through the
attic it can cause snow or ice to melt on the roof. The water re-freezes causing more snow and
ice to build up. This can result in a collapsed roof, and can contribute to ice damming. Ideally, the
attic should be five to ten degrees warmer than the outside air. Well-insulated basements and
crawl spaces will also help protect pipes from freezing.
Wrap pipes with heating tape and insulate unfinished rooms such as garages that frequently
have exposed pipes. Also, check for cracks and leaks. Have minor pipe damage fixed
immediately to prevent much costlier repairs in the future.
The temperature in your house should be at least 65 degrees. The temperature inside the walls
where the pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves. A temperature
lower than 65 degrees will not keep the pipes from freezing.
The proper use and maintenance of furnaces, fireplaces and wood-burning stoves can prevent
fire and smoke damage. Have furnaces, boilers and chimneys serviced at least once a year.
Make sure that smoke and fire alarms are working properly and consider installing a carbon
Broken stairs and banisters can become lethal when covered with snow and ice. Make repairs
now to prevent someone from falling and seriously being injured.
Learn how to shut the water off and know where your pipes are located. If your pipes freeze, time
is of the essence. The quicker you can shut off the water or direct your plumber to the problem,is of the essence. The quicker you can shut off the water or direct your plumber to the problem, the better chance you have to prevent the pipes from bursting.
Have a professional survey your home for any structural damage. If damage is discovered, have
it repaired immediately so further damage will not occur during the winter. Also, find out about
ways to prevent water damage due to snow-related flooding. Plastic coatings for internal
basement walls, sump-pumps and other methods can prevent damage to your home and
If you are not going to be in your home this winter for an extended period of time, have the water
system drained by a professional to keep pipes from freezing or bursting. Also, have someone
check on your home on a regular basis. If there is a problem, it can be fixed quickly, thus
lessening any damage. Activity at your home will also reduce the likelihood that it will be
burglarized. Standard homeowners policies cover winter-related disasters such as burst pipes, ice dams, wind
damage caused by weight of ice or snow. Damage to homes caused by flooding is usually excluded from most standard homeowner
policies. Flood insurance is available from the National Flood Insurance Program. Ask your
insurance professional about flood insurance, as well as specific advice about winter-proofing