Protecting your home from winter
: Protecting your home from winter
Post by Todd Rehrig
February 17th, 2014 at 11:36 AM
Protect Your Home
Whether you love the snow and cold or are anxiously awaiting spring, this winter has been the worst we’ve seen in many years. Despite your opinion of the fluffy stuff, deep snow and temperatures staying below freezing for so long can put a strain on your home. Leaking roofs, wet basements, chimney fires and power outages are common problems.
The combination of deep snow and cold temperatures can cause ice dams on roofs and often leads to a leak. What happens is the heat from your house and the weight of the snow on the roof melts the lower levels of snow. The water from the melting runs down your roof until it flows past the edge of your walls. If it’s cold enough, the water refreezes in the gutters or the edge of the roof and starts to build-up. As more water flows down and hits the ice, it no longer has anyplace to go, so it takes the path of least resistance and flows back up your roof and under the shingles. Once under the shingles, it makes its way into your home.
One remedy for this is heat tape for your gutters and roof edge. This prevents the water from refreezing. You may also try to clear some snow from your roof, but please be careful if you try this solution. It may be worth the investment to hire a professional.
The next risk is a flooded basement. If we get a warm spell as we often do in March, the melting snow needs someplace to drain. If too much snow is near your foundation, it will find any cracks in your foundation and make its way inside. It could also create hydrostatic pressure if the ground is saturated and enter your home through the floor. Try to keep piles of deep snow away from your foundation to reduce this threat.
The risk of fire is always higher during the winter. If the wind is strong outside, it could influence the draft of your chimney and prevent proper ventilation of the smoke produced. The deep snow we’ve received can also block chimneys and vents and could cause carbon monoxide in the home. The solutions are fairly simple. Make sure all chimneys are clear of snow or other obstructions. Also, keep an eye on your fireplace, wood stove, pellet stove or other heating unit. Carbon monoxide alarms can be found in most hardware stores or online and could save the lives of you and your family.
Finally, wind, snow and ice can cause power outages. About the only thing we can do is make sure we’re prepared if an outage does occur. Keep several flashlights in a convenient location, along with spare batteries. Keep a supply of water for several days on-hand, along with a first aid kit, matches and a radio that doesn’t need A/C power. Doing a small amount of preparation prior to a disaster like this makes a big difference. If you don’t have to worry about water, light and heat, you can concentrate on other matters to survive the outage. Although you can avert much discomfort if you can get a generator to generate some power for essential items, like a freezer or water pump.
Although a good insurance policy should cover some of these hazards and make repairs more affordable, it’s much better to act beforehand and prevent the problems before they occur. Preventive measures such as those described above can save you thousands of dollars and oodles of stress and heartache. Don’t wait until a disaster strikes when you can stop it from happening in the first place.
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