By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC, CPIA

From frozen pipes to unwanted pests, winter weather poses a number of hazards for your home. Follow these tips to mitigate your risks and avoid costly repairs.

  1. Frozen pipes. The single-digit temperatures earlier this month reminded us of the risk of freezing pipes in the winter. Hopefully you left your faucets running and took other steps to protect your pipes. But if you still end up with frozen pipes it’s important to act quickly to thaw them to avoid serious damage. First, turn off the water supply to that area of your house. Second, open your faucets to prevent further ice buildup in the pipes. Finally, use a space heater to thaw out the pipes. If you’re still having trouble after that, it’s time to call a plumber. For more tips on thawing pipes, see here.
  1. Space heaters. Space heaters are a great solution for those stubbornly cold spaces of your house, but they are also a tremendous fire risk. Portable electric space heaters cause about 1,200 fires a year. To ensure you are using your space heater safely, begin by reading the instructions. Yes, you can probably figure out how to plug it in and turn it out without them, but the instructions contain important safety information such as guidelines for temperature settings and usage duration. Neglecting this simple task could deprive you of vitally important information you wish you had known earlier. Once, you’ve started using your heater make sure you don’t leave it unattended. Just a few minutes away is enough time for a fire to start. Make sure your heater is three feet away from anything that is flammable, including curtains, furniture, or bedding. Don’t leave children or pets unsupervised around a space heater. 
  1. Ice dams. Ice dams are one of the more unpleasant side effects of winter’s freeze-and-thaw cycles. As snow falls on your roof, warm air from the attic causes it to melt. When it drips down into your gutters it refreezes into ice. As the process continues, the ice dam causes water to back up on your roof. If unaddressed, it could lead to interior flooding and severe water damage. There are several options homeowners have to combat this problem. A high-tech solution is to install heated cables above the eaves and down the gutters to melt the ice. A low-tech approach involves buying a ‘roof rake’ and removing the snow from your roof. You should also consider hiring a contractor to check the insulation in your attic to ensure heated air isn’t reaching the roof.
  1. Rodents. As the weather outside worsens, your home becomes an inviting refuge for mice, rats, and squirrels. Besides because a source of irritation and potential health issue, rodents can do serious damage to your insulation and wiring. The solution is to make your home as uninviting as possible for them. Start by cleaning your home and making sure there aren’t any areas in your kitchen that could become a food source for unwanted rodents. Don’t leave food out and take sure you store all your food in sealed containers. Keep garbage away from your house. Also, cut back tree limbs that could be an entry point for squirrels. For more tips, see here.

We hope you find these tips helpful and give you confidence that you can handle whatever Mother Nature throws your way this
winter season! 

Source: Selective Insurance