Why Winterize Your Home
Damage caused by winter weather conditions in California can often be prevented by taking a few simple steps in the fall and throughout the winter. Although it's hard to think about such things during warmer months, it's important to be prepared when the colder weather arrives. It's hard to predict the weather in the future. However, long periods of low temperatures frequently experienced throughout history have proven that it's important to be prepared.
Standard home insurance policies provide coverage for ice dams, burst pipes, loss from fires and wind damage from snow or ice, but if you're not sure what your policy covers, contact us for an explanation.
When snow melts, it can cause serious damage to a home. One of the most common causes of catastrophic loss is winter storms. Although wind and hail are the most common causes of insurance claims, freezing and water damage follow close behind.
It's important for homeowners to carefully review their insurance policies before winter arrives to understand what is covered. It's crucial to have ample coverage for rebuilding a home and replacing all the belongings in it. It's also helpful to consider purchasing sewer backup insurance - contact us to find out whether this is recommended for your home.
Recommended Home Winterization Steps
There are many ways to prepare your home for the upcoming winter weather and the damage it can cause. We've prepared a short list of key steps to take in the fall to help minimize damage this season:
- Unhook your hoses
If you leave your hoses connected during the winter, the water can freeze, causing significant damage to your pipes and possibly causing them to burst.
- Clean out all gutters
It's important to remove all sticks, leaves and debris. This helps the melting ice and snow flow smoothly. It also prevents ice collecting and forming a dam, which can result in water seeping into the house's ceilings and walls.
- Keep trees and branches trimmed
When branches hang over houses during the winter, they're likely to accumulate snow and ice, which may make them break. Branches falling on homes can cause significant amounts of damage. They may also hurt people who happen to be under them when they break.
- Install gutter guards
These guards are useful for preventing interference of water flow from debris and will save you from spending a lot of time on a ladder cleaning them out in the spring and fall.
- Seal cracks, holes and drafty areas
Caulk all holes and cracks to ensure that melted snow and wind can't enter the home. Consider draft guards for those drafty areas under doors, especially from the garage to the inside of your home.
- Check your steps and handrails
Make sure that steps and banisters are sturdy. If they accumulate snow or ice, they can contribute to serious injuries. During the winter, salt icy sidewalks and driveways, and be sure your banisters and handrails are secure and will offer support to someone if they do start to slip on the ice.
- Insulate, insulate, insulate!
Add extra insulation to basements, attics and crawl spaces. When heat escapes through the roof, it contributes to ice and snow melting faster. As the moisture melts, re-freezes and accumulates, it can cause a roof to collapse.
- Keep the house (reasonably) warm
You don't have to keep your home at a toasty 80 degrees, but it is best to keep the thermostat at at least 65 degrees to prevent pipes from freezing on extremely cold nights. Remember that the temperature in the walls is always colder than the temperature in the house.
- Call the professionals
The heating system should be checked and serviced every year to prevent fires. It's also important to ensure that smoke alarms are working. Carbon monoxide detectors are another valuable safety feature that should be placed in every home. In addition to this, homeowners should have a contractor evaluate the home for structural damage. It's best to identify and repair minor problems before they become a disaster.
- Know how to shut off your water
Homeowners should know how to do this, and they should know where their pipes are located. When pipes freeze, it's imperative to act quickly. When going away for an extended time, it's best to have someone look after the home or have a service professional drain the system.
- Add an emergency pressure release valve
By adding this to a current system, homeowners will have a system that is protected against increasing pressure from frozen pipes.