Winter is here! Is your house winter proof yet?
Your home is likely your family’s biggest investment.
I have compiled for you some proven expert tips for preventing damage during the punitive winter months followed by the inevitable thaw during spring:
Winter-proofing Water Pipes from Freezing
We can’t emphasize enough the importance of securing your pipes from the winter elements. The pipes when exposed to extreme cold temperatures can burst and cause chaos in any family.
Tips to prevent your pipes from freezing
• Insulate all exterior pipes that are are situated in unheated zones of your home with insulation sleeves. Search for vulnerable pipes in the vault, storage room, garage, and crawl space.
• Seal air leaks in your home and garage to stop cold air from getting in. Pay special attention to areas around windows and doors, electrical wiring, dryer vents and pipes.
• If you plan on going away, keep your house heated while you are away and have someone you trust periodically check on your house while you are away.
• Allow warm air to circulate around the plumbing if the weather hits extreme cold temperatures. You can do this by letting water drip slowly from faucets connected to exterior pipes, open kitchen, bathroom and laundry room cabinet doors.
Whenever you find little or no water when you open your taps, it probably means you have a frozen pipe. To prepare yourself for crisis situations like that, you MUST ensure you know where your main water shut-off valve is and how it works. Call a plumber and immediately shut off the water in your house until the pipe is repaired.
How To: Prevent Damage Caused by Ice Dams
An ice dam is an ice build-up on the eaves of sloped roofs of heated buildings that results from melting snow under a snow pack reaching the eave and freezing there. This can impede the drainage of meltwater, which adds to the ice dam and causes backup of the meltwater in a manner, which may cause water leakage into the roof and consequent damage to the building and its contents if the water leaks through the roof.
Tips to prevent ice dams
• Keep an eye for any snow and icicles around your eaves so that water can simply drain from your roof.
• Clear the excess snow around the edges of your roof after any major snowstorm. You may hire a contractor if it doesn’t seem safe-don’t risk it!
• Ensure proper ventilation and insulation in your attic.
• A poorly insulated attic is the major cause of ice dams. If you feel your attic is improperly insulated, it’s worth getting it looked at to mitigate the risk.
How To: Prevent Flooding from the Spring Thaw
Whenever winter begins to fade away (doesn’t seem like it anytime soon) and the snow starts to melt, it’s crucial to ensure you have taken a few simple precautions to prevent flooding.
Tips to prevent spring thaw flooding and damage
• The snow piled around the basement windows and around your home’s foundation must be cleared. That’s where the water gets in.
• Make sure there are no obstructions that may prevent the melting snow from draining safely away from your house.
• For added precaution, you may install a sewer backwater valve to minimize the chance of water entering the house through your basement floor drain.
• Clear debris from your gutters and downspouts, and if it’s safe to do so, also from the roadside catch basins to help water enter the storm sewer.
• Reverse sloping driveways can be expensive to repair but should be considered for re-grading if water accumulation occurs annually
• If your home is relatively new, the weeping tiles may be compromised and should be checked out by a reputable contractor
In the unfortunate event that you experience a water claim, please follow these simple steps:
• Locate the source of the water and, if from a pipe, shut off the main water supply to that pipe
• Call a plumber immediately to repair the damaged pipe
• If the water damage is coming into your home externally through the roof, walls or basement floor, do your best to mitigate the resulting water damage
• If the water damage is extensive and requires immediate repair, call a reputable contractor who specializes in water remediation and save all of your receipts
• If never hurts to take pictures of the damaged portion of your building and contents
• Maintain an accurate inventory of the damaged contents, including original purchase price and source of purchase
• Contact your insurance broker immediately
Still worried about how you can mitigate the winter damage to your valuables? Get the proper insurance with Armour Insurance Brokers and sleep like a log!
By Steve Loncar, VP Sales at Armour Insurance