WARNING: Winter is Coming! Jack Frost and Old Man Winter have been plotting and lying in wait, while we have been stuffing our gullets with candy, pumpkin pie, turkey, and booze. The holiday ruckus demands so much of our attention that we often forget to winterize our homes. So, let’s run through a few of the most common attacks you may encounter, and how to fight back.
1. Roof. Blistering winds loosen or remove shingles, and ice dams can cause water leakage. Inspect the roof (safely when the weather allows) after a windy storm passes through. Using binoculars from the ground is usually adequate. Be sure to remove any icicles immediately.
2. Gutters. Icicles and debris in the gutters can create heavy ice dams which cause damage. Be sure to clean your gutters before the weather turns, and monitor them for any debris buildup throughout the winter. If ice accumulates in the gutters you can use a de-icing agent or other safe means to melt the ice.
3. Windows. Drafts happen when window caulking separates from the window due to expansion and contraction. Apply fresh window caulk to seal.
4. Driveway/Sidewalks/Steps. The use of de-icing agents which contain harsh chemicals, combined with a metal shovel, can cause chipping and deterioration. Try using a plastic blade shovel and choose de-icing agents that don’t cause corrosion.
5. Tree Limbs. The weight of ice and snow can bring down tree limbs. Be sure to prune any tree limbs which could fall onto the home.
6. Plumbing. As temperatures drop, the risk of pipes freezing and bursting increases. Keep your home heated to at least 65 degrees, and if you have issues with your pipes freezing, try leaving the faucets on a slow drip.
7. Door frames. Winter precipitation can lead to soft and damp window- and door-frames. Clear snow from these areas, and repair/replace damaged frames in the spring.
8. Foundation. The frost heave cycle (freezing and thawing of the ground) causes soil to shift, which could result in cracks in the foundation. Fixing yard drainage issues, repairing cracks, and waterproofing are ways to help prevent large winter-induced foundation problems.