Winter can be a very harsh season (and if that doesn't ring true for you today, then it will never sound familiar to you). Extremely cold temperatures, snow and chilling rain can take their toll, especially in your home. That's because, without proper maintanance and preparation, your house can suffer costly damages. Don't let that happen to you! Follow these tips to avoid the most typical damages your home can suffer during these cold months.
1 - Frozen pipes
With winter's low temperatures, ice can form inside pipes interrupting the normal flow of water and even bursting them with its pressure. If they are located inside an exterior wall in the kitchen, attic, garage or against an unheated crawl space or cabinet, try to keep them warm by letting the indoor heating reach those cold walls or spaces. You can also evaluate put an extra insulation on these pipes or install some heating equipment close to them.
If there are feeding outside faucets, shut their main valve and let the faucet opened until the remaining water completely drips off. This should be done before the cold weather starts and keep it this way until the warmer days of spring.
2 - Ice dams
When snow or ice build-up in the roof, water cannot drain properly causing leaks into the structure, tears in gutters, general deterioration in paint and roof tiling and costly damage in your solar installation -if you own one-. Keep your gutters clean of dirt and leaves to avoid water accumulation and make sure that the attic is clean and well ventilated so you can spot easily if there is some hidden ice damaging the ceiling below the roof. Also, a good weatherization contractor can help you in the long term to fix this problem of your house and forget about ice dams forming in the future.
3 - Smoke damage
Improperly dried wood will smoke heavily, creating an extra creosote along the chimney. In addition to the unhealthy substances derived from smoke residue, this buildup can cause the very dangerous chimney fires and stain damage to walls and ceiling.
Burn only completely dry and seasoned wood, even the more soft ones if they are in better condition. Hardwoods like oak or apple provide a longer lasting fire but if they are unavailable, you can control your fire’s burn rate by using larger pieces of pine or fir wood. Also, give a professional maintenance to your wood heating system before and after the season and every time you perceive too much smoke or hear crackling noises coming from the chimney.
4 - Damage to foundations
Gutters placed too close to the walls can dump water that crawls to the foundation of the house, and it won’t evaporate fast as in hot seasons. If you see or smell mold in the basement or near the floor you should add a length of downspout or a splash block so that water from your gutters is directed 4 to 6 feet far from the building.
5 - Failing windows and doors
Windows and doors should keep the elements in the outside and a forgotten leak in the summer can become a disaster in winter. Water from rain and melted snow can get inside quietly damaging both decoration and structure. Make sure all the openings in your house close tight without leaks, even in spaces you don’t usually stay, like attics or basements where most of the invisible damages start and are usually poorly heated and ventilated.
6 - Falling trees and branches
Most insurance companies put special attention to this issue. Ice, snow and wind can cause weak trees or branches to break and fall, causing costly damage to your home or injury to people. Make sure your trees are properly trimmed before the winter starts, specially close to the house, near driveways and solar panels and pay attention on windy days if there is something you missed and look risky to fix before the next storm.
And, of course, shovel and put sand or salt on icy walkways regularly and facilitate the drain of water if you see some place where it tends to make a pool in the garden or patio. Is there any measure to avoid common winter damage that you take yourself? Share it in the comments below.
Feature Photo credit: Mr. TinDC
Posted January 26, 2016
by Gabriel Posternak.