4 Tips for Effective Winter Storm Preparation

winter storm preparationAccording to statistics from the Insurance Information Institute, over the most recent 20-year period, damage from winter storms and cold spells amounted to over $28 billion in insured losses. The combination of ice and snow, along with wind and frigid temperatures is a potent force that can inflict costly repairs as well as inconvenience at a particularly uncomfortable time of year.

Cut the risk of damage from weather extremes this winter by taking a few preventive steps now:

Protect Pipes

Ironically, frozen pipes are most common in locales where severe cold weather is relatively uncommon. In regions where frigid winters are routine, houses are typically constructed in ways to safeguard against frozen pipes.

Insulate all pipes routed through unconditioned areas like the crawl space and/or attic with foam pipe insulation sleeves. Seal cracks, gaps and other external openings that allow frigid outdoor air to enter exterior walls. If severe cold is forecast, maintain the thermostat setting at the same warm temperature both day and night for the duration of the cold spell.

Prevent Ice Dams

Ice dams forming on the roof near the gutters obstruct run-off when snow melts. Pooling water penetrates shingles and leak into the attic causing water damage and mold. Ice dams are triggered by uneven roof heating. Locate and seal cracks in the ceiling that allow house heat to escape into the attic. Make sure attic insulation meets current Department of Energy specifications for depth. Verify that all attic vents are open to prevent heat accumulation.

Check The Sump Pump

If your home has a basement, it should have a sump pump. Winter storms can inundate a basement with heavy rain or as deep snow rapidly melts. At the outset of the season, make sure the sump basin is clear of debris. Test function by pouring five gallons of water into the basin and verifying that it automatically activates and empties the basin.

Maintain The Furnace

Schedule annual preventive furnace maintenance with a qualified HVAC contractor. During the winter, check the system air filter monthly and install a new filter at least every other month.

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