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Winter is Upon Us. How Does Your House Feel About That?

Published Sunday, December 21, 2014
by Claire Belby

Ice dams on your roof occur when heavy snow builds up, melts during the day, then refreezes as temperatures drop overnight. After several days of this cycle, the water and ice work up under the shingles, entering the attic and damaging ceilings, walls, and contents. To help prevent dams from forming:

  • Keep gutters and downspouts clear of debris, snow, and ice so melting roof snow can flow.
  • Keep snow on your roof to a minimum. We aren’t too accustomed to this in the Midwest, but in some areas of the country homeowners need to regularly clear their roofs of snow.
  • Evaluate attic insulation and ventilation. Good airflow is essential to a cool, dry attic.

Frozen water pipes are another big issue. We heard about a lot of these incidents with the bad weather of last January and February. Frozen pipes and the damage they inflict can be very costly. Be sure to:

  • Locate and insulate pipes near outer walls, in crawl spaces, or in the attic. These are most at risk.
  • Wrap pipes with UL-approved heat tape and seal air leaks.
  • Disconnect garden hoses. Shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets.
  • Drain and shut off the water supply (except indoor sprinkler systems) if you expect to be for several days.
  • Leave the heat on when you leave! Take it to a lower level, but do not shut the heat off entirely. It’s just not worth it.
  • Have someone check regularly to ensure the heat is still on and things look okay.

If you do discover frozen pipes:

  • Never try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch.
  • If pipes burst, stop the flow of water as soon as possible to minimize damage.
  • Be mindful of the risk of electric shock in and around standing water.
  • Call a plumber and contact your insurance agent right away.

REALTORS® are happy to pass their best tips along. Ask you agent for their thoughts about maintaining a problem-free home this winter.  

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