As the weather gets colder (and you prepare for what winter weather brings), consider what preparations you need to make around your house. Damage caused by winter weather can be expensive to fix. There are certain things, both inside and out, to do ahead of time to protect your home from freezing rain, snow, and wind.
Prep the Outside
The outside of your house is most directly affected by winter weather, so here are a few key things you can do to make sure your house is ready.
- Clean your gutters. Any debris — sticks, leaves, etc. — should be removed from your gutters before winter sets in. That way, melting snow and rain can flow through your gutters without obstacles. If water or snow gets trapped in your gutters, it may causes water to leak into your home over time.
- Clean up your yard. Cut back any overgrown bushes or trees and remove dead branches and plants. If you leave dead foliage in your yard, rain, snow, and ice combined with winter wind could knock dead trees down and cause damage.
- Make outside repairs. Is a step on your front porch loose? Once covered in ice and snow, this loose step could really hurt someone, so repair it before it’s too late.
Winter-proof the inside
Make sure everything inside your home is working properly (and efficiently) for cold winter days.
- Add insulation. Adding insulation to your attic, basement, crawl spaces, or all of the above can keep the heat inside. It can also help built up snow and ice on the roof melt, so you don’t have to deal with leaks and sagging from moisture.
- Check for cracks and leaks in pipes. If you check all your pipes before it gets really cold outside, you could avoid damage cause by frozen (already damaged) pipes down the road.
- Have a back-up source of power. Investing in a generator will keep you warm if the power goes out and allow you to make a warm meal, too.
- Check your smoke detectors. This is good practice year-round, but in the winter, take a few minutes to inspect your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Residential fires are more common in the winter, as is carbon monoxide poisoning, so make sure your detectors are functioning correctly.
- Know how to shut off your water. If your pipes freeze or become damaged, you should know where your water valves are and how to turn them off quickly. That being said, you should also make sure access to valves is not blocked, in case you need to turn off your water in an emergency.
- On cold nights, open cabinet doors housing pipes. If it’s going to be really cold or a big snow storm is on the way, open cabinet doors for pipes. This lets your home’s heat in the small space and protects your pipes from freezing and bursting.
Money-saving Tip: From the inside or the outside, caulk cracks and openings so that the cold winter air stays where it belongs — outside.
Drafts around windows and doors are something you should check regularly as a homeowner. You can check windows and doors for unwanted drafts by placing your hand around the outside and feeling for air. Adding caulk (and closing blinds and curtains) can help keep your heat in and save you money on your power bill.
Is winter weather damage protected with home insurance?
The good news is that many home insurance policies cover winter weather damage to your home. Depending on your coverage, a variety of things may be covered, including damage from snow and thawing.
However, your home owner’s insurance may not cover damage if negligence is evident. That means that if you knew your roof was damaged, you did nothing about it, and then had extensive damage from leaks during a snow storm. In that case, your insurance may not cover the repairs. Check your insurance policy and talk to your mortgage banker if you need clarification or have questions.
For more home ownership tips and tricks, check out the Atlantic Bay Blog.