A lot can go wrong in your home when cold weather hits. Severe winter conditions can cause everything from ice dams and collapsed roofs to burst pipes and power outages. The best thing you can do is to take steps now to prevent these scenarios from unfolding, and make sure you’re prepared in case they do.
- Have snow shovels and melting agents like rock salt on hand. It’s best to stock up on these items early, because they have a way of disappearing from store shelves when a winter storm is on the way.
- Keep enough fuel handy to heat your home, and have a backup heat source ready in case the power goes out. A backup generator to run space heaters is a good option, and a fireplace well-stocked with firewood can also keep your home nice and toasty, provided you know how to use it safely.
- Winterize your home by checking siding, shutters and other external features to make sure they’re secure. Check windows, doors and vents for air leaks, and seal them with caulk and weather stripping if necessary.
- Watch your roof. Large amounts of snow – especially the heavy, wet stuff – can put a tremendous strain on your roof. A long-handled snow rake to remove snow is a good tool to have handy. Roof heating cables are also effective, helping to melt snow as it falls and also guarding against damaging ice dams.
- Trim overhanging branches. Trim your trees and remove weak branches that hang over your house, garage, driveway or sidewalk. These branches can present a real danger when they’re coated in heavy snow and ice.
- Protect your pipes. Wrapping your pipes with insulation – especially if those pipes run through an unconditioned space like a garage or crawl space – will help protect them from freezing cold and prevent them from bursting. You should also turn the water off to all outdoor spigots, and know the location of your home’s main water shutoff valve in case your pipes do freeze.