Protect your Home When Winter Disaster Strikes

by Blake Herzog

Frozen/burst pipes —

Extended cold snaps with temperatures of 20 degrees or below can freeze water in our pipes, causing it to expand and in some cases burst pipes. In older houses or ones with poorly insulated pipes it can start to happen once it dips below 32 degrees.

Some of the steps you can take to prevent or mitigate damage are:

  • Making sure everyone in your household knows where the shutoff valve for your water system is located and can use it as soon as a pipe bursts or if you believe a break is imminent.
  • When the temperature dips to 20 or below, turn the faucet that’s located farthest from your water meter on to a trickle to keep some water moving,
  • If you know which pipes are frozen, wrap them with towels to warm them. Don’t use an open flame or a hair dryer.

Roof leak —

These can develop from water backing up and forming ice dams or an unaddressed leak making itself known during a rain or snowstorm. Either the weather or a roofer’s availability can significantly delay repairs so minimizing damage in the meantime is crucial.

  • Place a bucket under the leak to collect any water and use any other floor covering you need to protect it from water damage.
  • Don’t get on the roof yourself, but once the weather clears if you can reach the leak with a long-handled pole or rake remove as much snow from the area as possible.
  • Direct a fan at any wet spots in the house right away to keep mold from growing.

Power outage —

Snow and ice on overhead or underground wires, high winds, extreme cold and high user demand are a few of the factors that can cut off electricity to homes or neighborhoods in the winter.

First, report the outage or make sure someone else has already done so.

  • Keep your home as warm as possible by using fireplaces, candles and battery-powered space heaters, but someone needs to be watching these at all times.
  • Keep at least one of your faucets on to a small but steady stream to keep pipes from freezing.
  • Do not use gas ovens or stoves, charcoal grills, camp stoves or generators inside.