Protecting Your Home From Winter Weather

Posted by Safeco January 18, 2016
Use a Roof Rake to Safely Remove Snow Accumulation

Tips to Help You Avoid Property Damage From Snow, Cold and Ice

The phrase “winter wonderland” gives us all an idyllic vision of freshly fallen snow on the ground, icicles hanging from the roof and just a hint of ice making the tree branches glisten in the sun. And, we admit, winter scenes like this are indeed a sight to behold. But, cold weather, snow and ice can all put your home at risk for some serious damage.

That’s the bad news. The good news is this: There are plenty of things you can do to help prevent winter property damage while still enjoying the beauty the season brings.

Let’s take a look at four ways the elements can damage your home in winter, and what to do about them:

  1. Ice dams
    No, we’re not talking about a cute little dam in the creek out behind your house. We’re talking about a dam along the edges of your roof. Here’s the problem: When ice forms along the edges of your roof, the snowmelt running off from up above gets stuck behind it, hence the term “ice dam.” The water doesn’t have anywhere else to go but under your shingles, especially if you have loose ones, and into your home, causing water damage.

    To help prevent ice dams, keep gutters and drainage spouts clear, and carefully remove snow accumulation with a roof rake before it has a chance to melt, refreeze, melt, refreeze – this is how ice dams form. Only use your roof rake while standing on the ground. If you can’t reach your roof from the ground or you suspect some serious damage may be occurring up there, call in a pro.
  2. Snow and ice accumulation
    Then there’s the issue of the weight of the snow and ice on your roof. It’s sometimes considerable enough to cause a roof to collapse, whether it’s on a home, a garage or a shed. This is another reason why it’s a good idea to own – and use – a roof rake.

    The weight of snow and ice doesn’t just affect roofs, however. It can also cause tree branches and even entire trees to fall, potentially onto your home, fence or other property. To help prevent fallen tree damage in the winter, keep your trees properly trimmed throughout the year.
  3. Melting snow and ice
    And, what happens to all that snow and ice once temperatures start to warm up again? If you don’t have a good drainage system set up around your home, it may make its way inside. Again, keep your gutters and downspouts clear to help prevent this nuisance during winter or any time of the year. Also ensure the area surrounding your home has a gentle grade, sloping downward away from your foundation to help encourage water to move away from your residence. Having a sump pump in the basement is a good backup solution in case water does get in, and so is removing snow accumulation from alongside your home.
  4. Frozen pipes
    If your home – or just certain areas of it – is on the cooler side, you might not be the only one feeling the chill. Your water pipes may feel it, too, potentially causing the water inside to freeze. And, because frozen water expands, you may be looking at cracked or burst pipes, as well. To help prevent frozen pipes in the winter, insulate your pipes as fully as possible, don’t let your house get too cool and keep your cabinet doors open in the kitchen and bathroom, if it’s safe to do so, to let warm air reach the pipes. When temperatures really start to drop, you may even want to keep your faucets running at a slight trickle.

It’s also worth your while to go easy when shoveling snow from atop your concrete walkway or asphalt driveway. Dinging the surface with the shovel can cause damage, especially if you hit it repeatedly.

Taking measures to help protect your home from winter weather means taking measures to help keep your entire family safe and warm. So, keep an eye on things as the temperature drops and the snow falls to help keep up your home’s defenses.


Review Your Homeowners Coverage With Your Independent Agent

Have questions about whether your homeowners insurance policy covers you for the damage an ice dam causes? How about if ice causes a tree to fall on your home? Your independent insurance agent can help you address these and other questions by reviewing what your home insurance policy does and doesn’t cover with you. Call your independent insurance agent with your coverage questions today!

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© 2016 Liberty Mutual Insurance, 175 Berkeley Street, Boston, Massachusetts, 02116

Insurance is offered by Safeco Insurance Company of America and/or its affiliates, with their principal place of business at 175 Berkeley Street, Boston, Massachusetts, 02116. This website provides a simplified description of coverage. Nothing stated herein creates a contract. All statements made are subject to the provisions, exclusions, conditions and limitations of the applicable insurance policy. Please refer to actual policy forms for complete details regarding the coverage discussed. If the information in these materials conflicts with the policy language that it describes, the policy language prevails. Coverages and features not available in all states. Eligibility is subject to meeting applicable underwriting criteria.