As a lifelong resident of Wisconsin, I’ve seen far more winter weather than I’d like. We’ve usually got snow on the ground for about five months and most years, it’s close to June before we see anything resembling warm temperatures. Some people might love that, but I am not one of them.
There are a lot of reasons for this, but one is all the extra work you have to do in fall and winter to protect your home against problems like frozen pipes or ice dams on your roof. But I much prefer tackling issues like that to filing costly homeowners insurance claims, and I’m sure you do too. So do yourself a favor and don’t forget about these five tasks as we move deeper into fall, so you can avoid contacting your insurance company to file a claim.
1. Insulate your pipes
One of the most common winter homeowners insurance claims is damage from frozen pipes. This is especially a concern for homeowners who keep their thermostats low in the winter. When pipes get too cold, they can burst. The average water damage homeowners insurance claim is about $12,514, according to the Insurance Information Institute, and some are a lot more expensive. Homeowners who are traveling may not even notice the damage has occurred for days or even weeks.
It’s best to head this problem off altogether by wrapping pipes with insulation to protect them from freezing in the first place. You can pick this insulation up at any home improvement store. Apply it to any exposed pipes in the attic, basement, or crawl space that are vulnerable to the cold.
2. Keep your gutters and downspouts clean
A lot of snowfall can lead to ice dams on roofs. This is where snow and ice melt and later refreeze on the edge of the roof, stopping water from draining properly. That could also lead to a water damage claim if the roof leaks as a result.
Keeping gutters and downspouts clear can get melting snow away from the roof so it doesn’t form an ice dam or leak into the home. But this may not always be enough.
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3. Shovel your roof
Certain parts of roofs are more susceptible to ice dams than others. These include:
- Eaves (the edges of the roof)
- Valleys where two roof slopes come together
- Around vents or chimneys
- The north side of the roof
- Areas that are shaded
Shoveling snow away from these areas can further reduce the risk of ice dams and water damage.
4. Be careful with fire
House fire claims are also common during winter, as many light candles and fireplaces during this time. A lot of people also use space heaters. Left unattended, these can get out of control, leading to a total loss of the home in the worst-case scenario.
That’s why it’s crucial to never leave a fire unattended and to always turn off space heaters when no one is around. It’s also a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher on hand. Some insurance companies even give discounts to homeowners who do this because it can minimize the severity of a house fire, should one occur.
5. Trim trees around the home
Winter snow can also be a huge burden on the trees surrounding a home. If the branches get too weighed down, they might break off and could fall onto the home. This could lead to serious damage to the siding or the roof.
Removing branches over the home can make this less likely. It’s particularly important if there are any dead or diseased trees in the vicinity. Homeowners may need to hire someone to perform this task, especially if the tree is large or very close to the house.
These five tasks undoubtedly won’t be the highlight of your fall, but they’re worth the effort. Try to take care of the one-time tasks, like tree trimming, before winter really sets in. Then, schedule time to check for problems like ice dams or too much snow on the roof throughout the winter and tackle them as they arise.
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