Winter Prep: Protecting Your House from Snow and Ice Damage

Fall is about to end, and winter will soon be here. The cold season in some areas means only temporary bursts of freezing temperatures. Other locations, however, won't be so fortunate. Households living in northerly locations, for instance, will experience extended periods of brutally cold weather accompanied by tons of snow and ice. These conditions can create liability issues and inflict damage to your house. 

Rather than just chill out at the fireplace and watch Disney Christmas movies, you need to get busy preparing your home for the cold season. Before the first snowflake hits the ground, begin ticking these essential winter maintenance tasks off your to-do list:

Water expands when it freezes. If the water traveling in your home plumbing freezes, the pipes could burst and crack, resulting in massive damage to your piping system. You can prevent this unfortunate scenario by doing the following:

Also, you'll want to remember the location of your water shut-off valve in case you encounter a water-related emergency. You can find the valve on your front lawn or in your basement. Scout out the location before subzero temperatures arrive.

If you have an AC unit attached to your window, get that appliance removed as soon as possible. This type of air conditioner allows large amounts of warm air to escape your house.

What's more, window AC units become unstable when piled with snow. This instability can weigh on and potentially damage the siding on your house. If the appliance isn't securely in place, it could fall and harm anything or anyone beneath it.

Keeping your gutters clear helps prevent the formation of ice dams, a ridge of ice that forms when the snow melts during the day and refreezes at night. When these icicles are present on your roof, they can prevent melted snow from draining off properly. This means that the water can build up and seep through the ceiling and walls of your house.

Before a winter storm hits your area and covers your property in snow, remove the debris, such as sticks and dead leaves, that is clogging your rain gutters. Then, install gutter guards and covers if you haven't done so yet. These products enable water to travel into the gutter, but stop falling objects from clogging the downpipe.

During winter, you need to keep your attic as cool as possible. Warm attics contribute to ice dam damage, as they cause snow to melt on the rooftop and travel to the gutters where it could refreeze. You can maintain a cool attic temperature by keeping this part of your home properly ventilated.

Also, make sure to seal any holes and cracks around fixtures and in your ceiling. This way, household heat won't seep into your attic.

If you have the budget, consider insulating the floor of your attic. This prevents the heat inside your living areas from making its way into your attic.

Although you don't want the snow on your roof to melt rapidly and potentially cause ice dams, you don't want heavy snow to burden your roof either. If you hear popping noises on your roof or see some sagging when you perform a visual inspection, get in touch with a trusted roofing contractor as soon as possible.

When you need to get rid of snow on your rooftop, use a quality roof rake to get the job done. Remember to do this frequently as possible, as fresh snow can pile up quickly and overload your roofing system.

Sometimes, a heavy snowfall or winter storm can knock off brittle and large branches and come crashing down to your home. You can prevent a potentially costly repair situation by trimming off dead tree branches surrounding your property. This simple prep task can help minimize winter property damage.

Gaps that are around your entryways and windows can prevent your house from staying warm. Seal these gaps by installing weather stripping and using caulk. By sealing your doors and windows with these minor and relatively inexpensive fixes, you prevent possible frost and ice buildup, as well as save a significant amount of money on heating expenses.

Don't let the cold season wreak havoc on your house. Follow these seven tips to help keep your home safe no matter what Mother Nature throws at you this winter.

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