Every season has weather woes to contend with, but winter always feels worse than the others. Snow and ice make travel dangerous, and frigid temps mean you don’t want to leave the house anyway. But this nasty winter weather may affect more than your commute. Snow, ice, and the freezing cold can also wreak havoc on a home. Below are a few of the most common winter repairs, how to prevent them, and what to do if disaster strikes.
Frozen or Burst Pipes
One of the most common winter repairs is a frozen — or worse, burst — water pipe. When temperatures plummet, the water inside your pipes can freeze, causing rapid expansion that blocks your water flow and can make your pipes crack or pull apart from the pressure.
What to Do
In the event of a burst pipe, turn the water off as quickly as possible. Make sure everyone in your household knows where the water shutoff valve is before an emergency happens so they can get to it quickly in the event that a problem occurs. Next, clean up as much spilled water as possible to prevent it from causing more extensive damage.
How to Prepare
Before the cold weather sets in, insulate your pipes. If temperatures get low or your heating goes out, leave your faucets at a steady drip until it warms up. This keeps the water moving through your pipes, which can help prevent them from freezing.
If your furnace or central heat breaks down in the dead of winter, it can be far more than just an inconvenience. The loss of heat can be dangerous for you and your family. Unheated houses may also be prone to other damage, such as those freezing pipes.
What to Do
As soon as you realize there’s a problem, call a repair technician immediately as lead times for service during inclement weather are often longer than normal. Also, if you plan to leave the house, shut off the water main and clear any remaining water from the pipes before you go. If you have to stay in your home, try to contain everyone — including pets — in one or two rooms of the house. Hang some heavy curtains or blankets over doorways and windows to trap more heat. If you use space heaters, keep them away from walls and furniture to prevent fires.
How to Prepare
Have your furnace serviced in the early fall. Regular maintenance will keep it running smoothly and minimize the chance of issues. If there is a problem, you can address the situation before winter sets in. Don’t forget to clean your air ducts and change the filter as well. You can easily set an annual reminder for these preventative measures in a home maintenance app like HomeKeep to help you remember.
Piles of heavy snow can spell disaster for your roof. Accumulation on flat or low-incline areas can collect moisture, and the weight of snowfall can eventually become too much for your roof, leading to leaks or even collapse.
What to Do
Unless you’re a professional, never get on top of your roof to try and fix it yourself. In its weakened state, it could collapse under your weight or cause other, additional damage. If you can, clear the snow and debris with a broom or rake with a handle long enough to reach from the ground.
How to Prepare
Have your roof routinely inspected for damage or weak spots. Pay special attention to areas where water might collect, such as flat spots, as moisture can weaken the roof over time. When it snows more than an inch or two, have the snow removed.
A little snow may not be a big deal, but as snow compacts over time and accumulates, it can eventually exceed the weight limits of your roof. Most roofs can’t hold more than 20 lbs per square foot before they experience stress. If you let the snow build up all winter, it may be heavier than you realize. A mere 3 inches of packed snow or 1 inch of ice can weigh up to 1 lb per square foot.
Other Potential Issues
These are not the only issues that can arise from harsh weather. Basements can flood from snow collecting and leaking through the walls or foundation. Heavy ice will crack tree limbs, causing potential damage or injury. Repeated melting and freezing can cause cracks in your foundation and driveway. Although these issues are common, they are preventable. Regular maintenance can catch potential issues so you can repair them before they become a problem.
Prepare Your Winter Toolkit
Make sure you’re prepared for any problems that may arise. Because winter weather can make traveling for emergency supplies difficult, there are a variety of items you should keep around the house to prepare for winter conditions. These items might include:
- Caulk or weatherstripping for resealing windows and doors
- Pipe insulation or heat tape to prevent bursting
- A saw or ax for cutting downed limbs into more manageable sizes
- Plastic sheets or bubble wrap for covering damaged windows until they can be fixed
- Personal protective equipment, such as work gloves and goggles
- Space heaters
- Candles, extra blankets, and portable battery packs for power outages
- Shelf-stable food and bottled water in case of severe weather or other emergencies
- Road salt and shovels for clearing sidewalks and driveways
- Warranty documents for appliances or home systems
- Emergency savings to pay for sudden repairs — ideally, a few thousand dollars
It’s better to be proactive than reactive, of course, so using an app like HomeKeep to keep track of your home maintenance can help you prevent disaster before it strikes.
Prepare for Winter With Maintenance Reminders From HomeKeep
Don’t let the winter blues extend to your home repairs. HomeKeep allows you to set and forget all your maintenance and winter prep reminders so you never miss a service. You can also store important home related documents like previous service orders, warranty information as well as contact information for all of your favorite technicians. Learn more about how HomeKeep can help you manage your home maintenance needs.