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House covered in snow

Protect Your Home from Winter Damage

We are Canadian and we can handle the winter! But, our home may not be so lucky. The winter elements are harsh and the season can be long. With so much at stake, it is crucial that you take the steps necessary to avert any damage winter may throw down on you.

Home insurance is not a maintenance policy. You need to be proactive and take care of your home with proper maintenance and upkeep. If you do need to make a claim, do it as soon as you notice any damage. Waiting can be very risky for further damage and certainly will be more costly. Further, additional losses because you didn’t report the damage right away may not be covered.

The best defense against Old Man Winter is an offence. Prepare yourself with plenty of salt and sand, a good shovel and take the following steps to keep you, your family and any visitors to your home safe over the winter.

How to avoid ice dams.

ice-dam

Your roof protects your home, so protect your roof. An ice dam is a wall of ice that forms at the edge of your roof. How does it form? Heat from inside your home melts the snow on your roof, and that water runs down the roofline and refreezes at the roof’s edge. Eventually, the ice builds up there, causing the ice dam, which prevents the snow/water from draining off of your roof. That water needs to go somewhere, and is usually forced into your home and that’s where the damage comes in.

  • Clean out your gutters and consider installing gutter guards.
  • Make sure your attic is well ventilated. Insulate the attic floor keeping the heat down.
  • Install a water repellant membrane under your roof covering.

How to avoid freezing pipes.

house-in-winter

As beautiful as the day is covered in snow – when evening temperatures drop below -20, the pipes get cold! Pipes in attics, crawl spaces and near outside walls are more vulnerable to freezing. Should the water in your pipes freeze, the pressure builds up and your risk the pipes bursting, which is a costly repair indeed.

  • Insulate the pipes. This is relatively inexpensive and can save you thousands in damage.
  • Seal any holes in the outside walls.
  • On those really cold nights, open cabinet doors in your kitchen and bathroom to allow the warm air in around the pipes.
  • Turn the water on to a slow trickle for pipes that are in unheated or unprotected spaces.
  • If you are away for an extended period of time, have someone check in on your home.

How to avoid flooding.

This winter has been a roller coaster ride for sure. It took its time getting to most of us in Ontario, and now that it is here, the temperatures are up and down. When the weather warms up, the snow melts and you want to make sure that the water is diverted away from your home!

  • Shovel the snow AWAY from your home, especially away from any basement windows.
  • Check your property for anything that may obstruct this flow of water away from the house. Make a path for the water.
  • Avoid storing valuable items in the basement. If you have to, move them to higher levels during a thaw.

Keep an eye on vulnerable spots inside and out.

A well maintained roof and exterior walls will help protect you and your family from the winter cold. On the inside, well maintained heating systems keeps you and yours warm and comfortable.

  • Roof shingles should be inspected annually. Shingles should be securely fastened as shifting ice and water can wreak havoc and allow water into your home.
  • Exterior walls should also be inspected and any repairs done immediately.
  • Inside, fireplaces, space heaters and wood stoves should all have proper ventilation.
  • Service your heating system annually. Money well spent indeed.
  • Check your pipes for cracks and leaks – repair any damage.
  • If you haven’t already done so, check those smoke detectors.
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