As the days get shorter and the leaves change color, the realization that winter is right around the corner is never far from your mind. While many of us have visions of curling up with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate by a warm fire or dusting off the ski equipment and hitting the slopes, savvy homeowners are thinking about preventing winter water damage. Sure, winterizing your home is a chore, but it's a chore best done sooner rather than later. After all, preventing water damage from occurring in the first place will save you the heartbreak and expense of winter water damage. Outdoor Winter Weatherization StepsGet out those shears! It's time to trim your trees, paying special attention to dead branches.
Heavy snow and ice as well as strong winter winds can break trees and tree branches which can damage your roof or siding, break windows, or damage your car as well as potentially injure someone. Once the trees have been cut back, get out the ladder and clean out your rain gutters. When rain gutters are clogged with debris, ice dams can form. When this happens, melting snow and ice doesn't get diverted down the spouts as designed; rather the melted water seeps into the house, dripping through its walls and ceiling. On a similar note, check the tracks of all windows and sliders to make sure that the tracks and water drainage holes are clear. If water, ice, or snow cannot flow through properly, the water will seep into your walls. If your home has a crawl space, head underneath your home and check to be sure that all exposed pipes are properly insulated. If not, use pipe insulation to wrap your pipes. Do the same for any outdoor hose bibs. If you have a pool or spa, hire a pool professional to winterize your system. Indoor Winter Weatherization StepsNow it's time to move indoors.
Because frozen pipes are one of the main causes of winter water damage, pay special attention to your home's pipes. All exposed pipes should be properly insulated. Common areas where exposed pipes can be found include unfinished garages, basements, mud rooms, and laundry rooms. While you're at it, inspect these pipes for cracks and leaks. Check and upgrade the insulation in your home, particularly in your home's attic. A poorly insulated attic allows too much heat to escape which can then cause a vicious cycle of melting and refreezing snow on your roof. This cycle can lead to ice damming which has the potential to cause water seepage or even a collapsed roof. Well insulated homes with insulated walls, crawl spaces, attics, and basements are less likely to have issues with frozen pipes. Now is a good time to have your heating system, fireplace, chimney, and wood-burning stoves professionally serviced to ensure both safety as well as functionality. You don't want to find out that your furnace is broken when it's freezing outside.
When the temperatures fall, heat the home and keep it at least 65 degrees. Locate your plumbing system's shutoff valves and make sure that you can shut off the water quickly should your pipes burst. If necessary, keep a pipe wrench nearby for valves that are not easily adjustable or replace the valves. Now that you have the house prepped to prevent water damage this winter, you're almost ready to hit those slopes. But before you leave for an extended ski trip, make sure to prepare your home for the possibility of water damage while you're away! Keep the home heated, open under sink cabinets to allow warm air to reach the pipes, and allow your faucets to drip. If you'll be gone for a long time, consider having your water system completely drained by a professional.