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Winter and Disaster Prep

Protect Pipes and Remember Your Roof for a Stress-Free Winter at Home

Photo: Courtesy of Simon Schoepf

From the warm inside of the window, winter landscapes can be stunning. But if your power is out, windows are leaking cold air, pipes are freezing and ice is accumulating on your roof, winter is definitely not a wonderland.

Before Jack Frost arrives, prepare for cold weather to help lower heating costs and prevent burst-pipe disasters and roof damage.  

Insulation is important ​​​​​​​

“Check every opening to your home. If you see light or feel cool air seeping in around door or window edges, it’s simple and inexpensive to fix the seals and keep your home warmer, with lower heating costs,” shares Julie Rochman, CEO and president of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. “Don’t overlook air vents, fans, air conditioners, electrical and gas line entry points, mail chutes and pet doors.”

Also, don’t forget your pipes. Freezing can lead pipes to burst, causing thousands of dollars in damage. A few dollars’ worth of pipe insulation at your local hardware store can save you the headache of clean up, loss of precious keepsakes and the cost of your insurance deductible. Protect any pipes accessible near outer walls of your home, in unheated attics or the garage.  

Up on the rooftop

Take steps to prevent ice build-up on your roof. During freezing weather, heat can escape through your roof and melt snow up there. That snowmelt can trickle down to the roof’s edge and refreeze, creating an ice dam that blocks additional snowmelt, so that it goes under your roof cover.

To prevent this, remove all fall leaves, debris, dirt and stray balls or toys from your gutters, drains, scuppers and downspouts so snow and ice melt can flow away readily. Check your attic, too. Seal any attic openings and consider increasing ceiling insulation. In addition, avoid running heat sources in open attic areas directly under the roof. “Even something as simple as a lightbulb burning in an unheated attic space can cause snow melt and ice dams to form,” Rochman says. “Fixtures located in the attic ceiling should be insulated.”

If ice dams do form, heating cables can help open drains and create a path on your roof for melting ice to follow.

Susan G. Millerick, Director, Public Affairs Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, [email protected]

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