Protecting Your Home From Winter Storms

There are many ways your house can be damaged when the temperatures drop and winter storms hit. Heed the Boy Scout’s motto: Be prepared.

Protect your pipes from freezing. Frozen pipes can burst and cause expensive damage to your home. Wrap pipes in your attic, crawl space and cabinets with insulation materials. When it gets very cold, keep cabinet or closet doors open to allow heated air into the interior. Consider low-temperature detectors, which can send an alert to your smartphone if the temperature near pipes dips below freezing.

Install water leak detection devices. A minor water leak can cause expensive damage if it remains undetected behind a wall or while you're away from home. You can install inexpensive leak detectors under sinks or near a water heater, dishwasher or other appliances that sound an alarm or alert your smartphone if moisture is detected. Some sensors monitor the flow of water to your house and can shut the water valve automatically if there's a major change in the amount of water used (signaling a possible leak). Your home insurance company may offer a discount for installing certain kinds of leak-detection devices. Or you can turn off the main water supply yourself before you leave home for a long time.

Protect your home from the outside. Trim tree branches that can be brought down by heavy snow or ice, which can cause serious damage to your home or take out your electricity. Clean your gutters and inspect your roof. Remove leaves and other debris, which can clog gutters and send water pouring down the side of your house or under your roof. Also inspect your roof and repair or replace missing or damaged shingles, which can allow water to come in through the roof.

Avoid ice dams. Another cause of winter damage is ice dams, which develop when heat inside your house causes snow to melt in the middle of your roof and then refreezes near the edges, creating a dam that can lead to leaks in your roof and damage to your ceilings and walls. Icicles hanging from your roof may be a sign that ice dams may be forming. To help protect against this problem, keep your attic cold no more than 5 to 10 degrees warmer than the outside temperature by sealing holes from light fixtures and ceiling fans to prevent warm air from escaping into your attic.

For more information about protecting your home from winter and natural disasters, see


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