It may be the time of year “when the world falls in love” but that doesn’t keep mother nature from throwing a curve ball or two when you least suspect it. Before you take another bite of aunt Grelma’s fruit cake and watch another marathon of holiday films, you should make sure your home can resist the elements effectively. Below, common winter home issues and suggested tips for prevention are listed.
Tree Branches Falling on the House
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Fallen trees and tree branches are capable of extreme and costly destruction. To prevent this occurrence, it’s best to check your branches for cracking, V shaped limbs (which are less sturdy and prone to breaking, and any branches that hang near the roof. It may be that you just need to do a light pruning around the perimeter of your house or it may be severe enough to require a professional. When ice and snow storms start to hit town, it’s best to “bounce” your branches with a rake to loosen up any coated ice and snow. This will prevent excess weight from exacerbating the problem.
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Indoor heating keeps us all warm and cozy during the winter months but the escaped heat from it causes the upper part of the roof to melt any lingering snow or ice, which gathers into the eaves of the roof. This gathered water then freezes into a dam and the consequential water within the dam entrenches the roof shingles, causing damage. The first step to preventing this is to simply check your gutters and make sure they are draining properly before any snow or icy weather hits. This may require cleaning them of any obstructing debris or buildup. The second step involves preventing heat from moving into the attic and heating the roof. You may want to seal up (using a multi-purpose sealant) any open air paths between the house ceiling and the attic or increase ceiling/roof insulation. Over the course of the winter months, it is best to keep snow off the lower four feet of the roof with a roof rake.
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Chimney fires are not only damaging and costly, but can also be fatal. This problem usually stems from the buildup of unburned materials or creosote, that move up the flue, get stuck there, and eventually catch fire. Unfortunately, the prevention for this peril requires a professional chimney sweep inspection annually in addition to recommended regular cleanings. In addition, only use wood with reduced creosote buildup, install a solid fireplace screen, and have a fire extinguisher handy in case of emergencies (water extinguishing can damage the fireplace further).
Every year, millions of homes are ruined by pipes that freeze and burst. This can mean hundreds of gallons of water damage that can be costly or impossible to fully repair. To prevent this chaos, start by insulating your exposed pipes with mainstream foam wrappings or even newspaper and sealing any air leaks around vents, pipes, and electrical wiring that exit the house with caulk or insulation (Try Red Devil’s Window & Door Acrylic Caulk). Then, disconnect all hoses and turn off (if possible) all water supply to the outside faucets. After the water supply is turned off, the faucet should be left open to prevent any internal water from freezing. When winter weather hits, open cabinet doors under the bathroom and kitchen sinks to allow heat to be allocated to the wall pipes, keep the garage door closed, and avoid setting the thermostat below 55 degrees fahrenheit.
Solomon, Christopher. “6 Winter Home Perils: How to Stop Them Cold.” MSN Real Estate. MSN, n.d. Web. 30 Dec. 2013. <http://realestate.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=26325795>.