Your home is one of the largest investments you’ll ever make, which makes protecting it from the unexpected a priority. Living in New England, we are no strangers to how weather can impact your home, especially during the winter months. Here at Anderson, Bagley & Mayo, we want to make sure your investment is protected against major risks this winter, which is why we’re going over a few common and costly homeowners hazards brought about by winter weather, along with tips on how to guard against them.
When ice builds up at the edges of a roof, usually along any drains and gutters, it creates a dam-like effect that forces water back under the roof and into your home. Water leaking into your home from an ice dam can result in all sorts of damage to walls, ceilings, and insulation — from peeling paint to buckled floors. Here are a few tips to minimize your risk of an ice dam:
- Consider installing a water repellent membrane beneath your roof covering.
- Make sure your gutters are clear of leaves and debris before winter weather kicks into full effect.
- Make sure your attic is properly insulated and well ventilated.
- Regularly remove built-up snow from your roof using a roof rake.
- Consider installing heated cables along the eaves of your roof to help melt ice and snow faster.
Home Heating Fires
Staying warm is key to enjoying the winter months and often times, that means turning up the heat, lighting a fire, or turning on that space heater. This, however, increases the risk of inadvertently starting a home fire. Home fires can result in extremely costly home damages, but also pose a serious threat to you and your loved ones. Here are a few steps you can take to minimize your risk of a home fire this winter:
- Have your furnace regularly cleaned and inspected to catch any potential issues early.
- Keep all flammable materials, like upholstered furniture or carpeting, away from your heating equipment.
- If you use a space heater, make sure it has an anti-tip function so it will turn off if it ever gets knocked over.
- When using a space heater, always plug it directly into an outlet rather than an extension cord or surge protector.
- Never leave a lit fireplace unattended.
- Regularly test all smoke detectors to ensure they are properly functioning.
Frozen Pipe Damage
Frozen or burst pipe damage is a common hazard for homeowners in New England. During periods of extreme cold, the water in your pipes runs the risk of freezing. Frozen pipes are highly susceptible to bursting, which can lead to serious water damage, destroying things like your walls, floors, home furnishings, electronics, and anything else this water comes in contact with. Here are a few steps you can take to avoid frozen pipes:
- Keep your heat at a minimum of 55° to prevent water from freezing.
- Keep the cabinets under your sinks open to allow warm air to circulate.
- On extremely cold nights, leave your faucets dripping.
- Wrap any exposed pipes in extra insulation — consider pipes that run along external walls or in unheated spaces, like your garage or basement
If your pipes do freze, don’t panic! Follow these steps…
- Pressure building up is what causes a frozen pipe to burst. Know where your main water shut off is, so that in the event of a frozen pipe, you can stop the water flow from creating excess pressure that could result in a burst.
- Turn on your faucets to decrease pressure within your pipes.
- Try to safely thaw the frozen section of pipes using things like a blow dryer, space heater, or heat tape — never use an open flame to do this!
- If you are unable to thaw the pipe, contact a professional.
From strong winds to the weight of the snow and ice, winter weather puts a hefty strain on trees. Falling trees can cause a great deal of damage to your home, yard, and cars while also posing a serious risk of injury. Here are a few tips to avoid falling tree damage this winter:
- Assess the trees around your home. Look out for weakened or dead tree limbs, dangling branches, and rotting trunks and have these removed.
- Trim branches that extend too close to your home.
- Hire professionals to assess risk and remove trees, limbs, or branches that pose a threat to your home.
Winter may not be everyone’s favorite season, but making sure your home is prepared is key to stressing less this season. If you have questions about your current home insurance policy or potential winter damages, you can always get in touch with a member of our ABM team, contact us at one of our three convenient Massachusetts locations at 978-534-2800 (Leominster); 978-632-1098 (Gardner); 978-874-2921 (Westminster) — Anderson, Bagley & Mayo is always happy to help!