Steps to Best Prepare Your Home and Property for Winter Weather

Posted in: Personal Insurance

While the winter months may conjure up thoughts of gathering around a warm fire with a cup of hot cocoa, the ice, cold temperatures and snow that winter brings can cause major damage to your home and property. By taking the following preventative measures for winterizing your home now, you will help alleviate the stress of the season and be able to enjoy the snowman making and gingerbread baking!

  • Turn off exterior faucets from the inside of your home and drain the remaining water from the pipes to prevent exterior faucets from freezing.
  • To prevent pipes from freezing when the temperature drops:
    • Increase thermostat settings to a minimum of 65 degrees Fahrenheit throughout your home to help ensure adequate temperatures are maintained in the coldest spots.
    • During periods of low usage and on frigid nights, turn on a faucet at the highest point in the home. Keep the water stream low, so that only a small amount can trickle through pipes that run through cold spaces.
    • Wrap pipes with heating tape and consider insulating unfinished rooms such as garages that frequently have exposed pipes.
  • Have minor pipe damage fixed immediately to prevent further damage and costlier repairs.
  • Make sure you know how to shut off water and where your pipes are located. If the water meter is operating but your water is not running, you may have a frozen pipe. Once the pipe thaws, there is a chance it could burst. If you discover a frozen pipe, close the main water shut-off valve and call a plumber immediately.
  • Schedule yearly maintenance on all of your home heating systems including chimneys, furnaces and boilers. In addition to helping ensure your home is efficiently heated throughout the cold winter months, regular maintenance will also help with preventing any smoke and/or fire damage.
  • Fix any broken steps and handrails, which could become dangerous when covered with snow and ice.
  • Trim trees and remove dead branches that could become a hazard. Ice, wind and snow can cause weak trees to break, damaging your home, car or someone walking on your property.
  • An ice dam occurs when too much heat escapes through an attic, which leads to the formation of a ridge of ice at the edge of a roof that prevents melting snow (water) from draining off the roof. Water backs up behind the dam and can leak into a home, causing damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas. To help prevent ice dams:
    • Add extra insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Attics should be five to ten degrees warmer than the outside temperature.
    • Install heating cables for your gutters. Turn the cable on during snowy, freezing weather so the water drains away from your home. Be sure to use cables with thermostatic control to keep them from overheating or running up your electric bill.
    • Use a roof rake to remove snow from your gutters.

If you have any questions about winterizing your home or if you’d like to discuss your personal risk management strategy, please contact me at