When winter weather hits it can stress your home in many ways. Unfortunately, many winter specific problems can lead to significant, costly damage.
Fortunately, you can prevent many of these common winter issues with some planning and regular home maintenance.
Water in pipes can freeze when the temperatures drops. It expands and can block a pipe, or even worse rupture or leak and lead to flooding, and water damage.
Wind chill can increase the chances of frozen pipes. Cracks and holes that allow cold air inside can cause ice formation. Seal up gaps left by telephone, cable, and internet installations and around pipes. It’s also a good idea to caulk the sill plate where it contacts the foundation.
Pipes are best protected with inexpensive foam insulation tubes. Pay special attention to pipes located in unheated areas such as the basement, crawlspace, garage, or attic. Heating tape is another option.
Keep garage doors closed. Periodically open bathroom and kitchen cabinets and keep interior doors open to allow warm air to circulate around pipes.
During bitterly cold weather, let a few faucets run at a small trickle. The water friction in the lines may produce sufficient heat to prevent freezing. Don’t turn the thermostat down at night during abnormally cold periods either. Water damage will cost far more than the nominal difference on your heating bill.
Ice dams can be extremely costly. When ice and snow melts, it runs down to the edges of the roof and refreezes. This can heave shingles, cause structural damage, and allow water to penetrate your home.
Ice dams form due to poor ventilation, lack of insulation, and air leaks from the interior that warm the underside of the roof and cause snow and ice to melt.
Homes require at least one square foot of ventilation for every 300 foot of attic floor space. This can be achieved through a ridge vent, soffit vents, and baffles through insulation to the exterior of your home.
Insure your home has sufficient insulation. EnergyStar offers helpful information regarding the recommended attic insulation levels for existing wood-framed buildings by region. Old can lights should be replaces with IC fixtures which can be safely covered with insulation.
Closing air gaps is also extremely important. Weather strip the attic hatch and caulk any other gaps between the conditioned (heated) and unconditioned (unheated) space in your home. Use fire-stop sealant around the chimney.
Ensure all kitchen, bathroom, and dryer vents direct air to the outside. Wrap HVAC and exhaust ducts in foil-faced fiberglass insulation.
Even if your home isn’t prone to ice dams, regular roof inspections are vital. A qualified inspector will check for roof damage, clear away debris from the roof and gutters, and recommend solutions if they see problems.
Regular roof maintenance is a requirement of roofing material warranties and your homeowner’s insurance.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends an annual inspection to keep your fireplace in tip-top shape. Creosote buildup can lead to a fire and fireplace or wood stove components can fail.
As mentioned, home maintenance is a requirement of your insurance. If you don’t care for your home your claim could be denied.
Sump Pump Check
Rhode Island experiences freezing and thawing which can lead to run-off. If your home has a sump pump, check the sump pit for debris. An oily slick on the surface indicates a problem.
Unplug the pump and look at the pump intake, impeller, air bleed, or weep hole. Remove any obstructions. Inspect the wiring and plugin and reconnect the unit. Add enough water to the pit to raise the level to activate the switch or float. If the flow is less than optimal, check for blockages.
If you don’t have a backup pump, consider buying one. Heavy storms can knock out the power leaving your home vulnerable to water damage.
Review Insurance Coverage
Realigning your homeowners insurance coverage with your needs is so important. If you haven’t updated your coverage in a while, it is time for an insurance review. It only takes a few minutes, but it could prevent significant out-of-pocket costs should you ever experience a loss. We may also be able to save you some money in the process! Give us a call, today.