Preparing Your Home For Winter Weather
When it gets cold outside, your risk for home fire and flood damage actually increases. Take a look at the information below to help you get a better idea of how to protect your home during the colder parts of the year.
Protect Pipes from Bursting
During the winter months, frozen pipes are one of the leading causes of home damage—and, in particular, of water damage. When your pipes get cold enough to freeze, they’re already on their way to bursting. Pipes burst because the frozen water inside the pipe expands to a size that’s larger than the pipe itself. This causes cracks and, if left unattended, bursting and breakage. This can happen to any type of pipe, but it’s more common in metal pipes than in plastic ones.
When your pipes burst, it usually happens at a location where there isn’t any ice, since the ice is causing pressure to build in that direction. This is why water will come rushing out of a pipe that has burst and leave you with a flooding issue in no time. This is often the culprit behind a flooded basement, but it can also happen anywhere else in your home, too. Even a bathroom on the second floor can potentially suffer from burst pipes and cause flooding on the first floor.
Protect your pipes from bursting by buying pipe insulation at the hardware store and wrapping any pipes that are exposed outside or in a cold part of your home, like the basement or attic. Be sure you keep closed any doors to your garage, attic, or basement from the outside, so as to keep in as much warm air from the home as possible and to prevent freezing due to exposure to the outside air.
Open the doors to your cabinets where pipes are located to allow the warm air from your home to keep them from freezing. Never let your home’s temperature drop below 55 degrees, even if you won’t be at home for a while. And don’t forget that tried and true old method of keeping your pipes safe: leave the faucets running at a slight trickle when not in use.
Protect Yourself from Space Heater Fires
During the winter, it’s tempting to want to use a space heater. This is a type of heater that plugs into an electrical outlet and runs either with a heating coil or oil that warms up and generates ambient heat for a single room. Unfortunately, this type of heater is often a cause of fire damage in homes where individuals do not practice proper space heater safety. This is why it’s crucial to understand everything you can about how to operate your space heater safely and effectively.
Before you ever buy a space heater, make sure you’re purchasing one that is certified for safety. You should see a certification on the box or on the heater itself. Many times, this will be a logo that says “UL,” but it may be a different logo.
Be sure you choose a space heater that has an auto shut-off feature. This will cause the heater to turn off if it reaches a certain temperature or if it gets knocked over. Some may even include timers, but this is not the norm on most models.
One of the most important ways to prevent the need for fire damage repair in the winter months is to make sure absolutely nothing comes within 3 feet of your space heater while it’s in operation. Keep furniture, bedsheets, clothes, and any flammable items away from your space heater, and never set anything on top of your space heater.
Use a Thermostat
When you’re not going to be at home during the winter months—which is probably often, if you’re doing any traveling for the holidays—you need to be sure you have a safe and effective way to keep the temperature stable in your home. This will go a long way toward helping you prevent the need for any damage restoration services if your pipes happen to burst while you’re not at home. Making sure your home’s interior temperature doesn’t fall below 55 degrees is a good way to keep everything safe and operating correctly while you won’t be there.
If you have the ability to do so, you can also set separate thermostats to control individual rooms of your home. This way, you won’t have to worry about heating your whole home while you’re gone and can focus on just running the heat to parts of your home that have pipes. This will help you save on your electric bill when you get back from your vacation while still not causing any potential damage to your pipes.
Prevent Ice Dams
If you live in a place where it gets snowy, you’ve probably had to deal with ice dams at least once or twice. Ice dams are big chunks of ice that freeze on your roof and eventually cause icicles to hang down along the edges. When it starts to warm up throughout the day while you have an ice dam on your roof, the ice melts and starts to drip inside. This water can eventually make its way to the drywall of your home, and it’s a sure way to cause damage to your roof, walls, and even other parts of your home if you don’t get it taken care of.
To prevent the need to call for restoration services after you deal with an ice dam, try to prevent ice dams altogether. Close up your attic to make sure it stays cold enough that ice won’t begin melting as easily. Be sure you have enough insulation on your attic, and add more if you think you could use it. Finally, make sure you rake the snow off your roof fairly soon after a snowfall so you can prevent it from building up ice in the first place. Just make sure you are careful and always have someone else available to help you. Do not use a snow rake when you’re standing on a ladder.