Everyone loves a snow day. School cancellations and work-from-home days mean more sledding, hot cocoa and cozy fireplaces. But wild weather can also put a damper on these bonus activities. And it’s not just the hassle; it’s the potential cost. In 2018, winter storms added up to 3 billion dollars in damages in the U.S. So, this winter, keep your wallet full, your home prepared and your snow days stress-free by following these five simple tips:
Give your roof a once-over.
The roof is the homeowner’s first line of defense against a winter storm, and if yours is more than 10 years old, the chances for vulnerabilities are higher. Older roofs can leak, potentially wreaking serious havoc on your home’s interior and your belongings. Additionally, when snow piles up during a cold spell, the weight is enormous and can cause your roof to cave.
To make sure your roof is ready to weather any storm, start by inspecting your roof from the ground, or climb up with a ladder for a closer look. Check for loose shingles or any other signs of wear and tear that could indicate deeper problem areas. If you’re not comfortable on the roof, hire a professional.
Next, make sure your attic space is properly insulated. This will help snow melt to prevent buildup. Keep a snow rake handy as well in case you need to remove any excessive snowfall.
Mind your trees.
If you live in a more wooded area, tree damage is a concern. Even if you have just a single tree on your property, a gust of wind or heavy snow can bring unwanted firewood into your living room. Trees and branches are the biggest culprits when it comes to power lines, but if they’re close to your home, they also pose a threat to windows, siding and roofs.
If you’re unsure about the stability of any of your trees or branches, you can call a local tree specialist for a free assessment.
Keep the pipes flowing.
Fortunately, there are some easy ways to avoid this. When the temperature dips into the single digits or below at night, open the cabinet doors under your kitchen sink — and any other areas where piping is enclosed — to give them some extra warmth. Another trick is letting one of your faucets drip slightly. The smallest amount of water flow can help prevent freezing and spare you from the headache of a pipe burst.
Have a plan in case the power goes.
Power outages are common in rough weather. To minimize the inconvenience, have a plan that will get you through 24 hours without utilities. Here are some tips to consider:
- If you have oil heat and you need electricity to power your furnace, turn up your thermostat higher than normal in the hours before the storm hits. You’ll maintain more warmth and be less reliant on backup generators or space heaters.
- If you have a generator, make sure it works properly, and find a designated space for it more than 10 feet away from your house. Never run a generator inside an enclosed space because it emits carbon monoxide. To be safe, consult the owner’s manual before use.
- Have a supply of battery-powered flashlights and lamps. Keep at least three light sources on hand as well as enough batteries to power them through two life cycles. Candles are romantic but dangerous.
- Know where things are. Blankets, warm clothes, long underwear, tools, first-aid kits, shovels or snow blowers — anything you might need while you batten down the hatches. Even if you don’t end up using them, knowing where to find these items helps relieve the stress and panic of a power outage.
Have food to eat…and water for everything.
A refrigerator will keep food cold for 2–4 hours without power. After that, perishable items are questionable. Have a cooler or two available with some ice bags for those essential items, such as milk, meat or poultry. Use an outdoor grill if you have one accessible, or consider foods like cereal, fruit, and peanut butter and jelly — anything that doesn’t require power.
Water is key — and not just for staying hydrated. You may need to use it to force-flush your toilet if your plumbing relies on electricity. Also, an extended power outage may compromise your water purification system. To be safe, try to keep three days’ worth of bottled water on hand at all times. Plan for one gallon per day per person in your household.
Utilizing these five tips will give you peace of mind and make your snow day feel like a bonus Saturday and not a state of emergency.
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The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.