Protect Your Home During Cold Weather

Home Inspector with Prokore Inspections

Energy costs, burst pipes, power outages, and fires, all potential winter hazards that makes winter not sound so merry, but you can protect yourself and your home. With a little preventative maintenance and preparation you can minimize the inconveniences that ensue during this cold time of the year in Minnesota.

Indoor Floods

While home fires seem to always make headlines, water damage is actually more common and often just as severe. The most frequent cause for this problem in the winter is faulty or broken pipes. Be sure to insulate along rim joists and around pipes that are more exposed to cold temperatures. If you leave your home during the winter for vacation or are just hitting the slopes leave your thermostat to at least 50-55 degrees. Don't let high fuel prices tempt you to drop it lower, pipes that come in through foundations or exterior walls can drop far below your temperature setting.

If you are going to be away from your home long term consider having someone check on your home or have an automatic water shutoff installed. Automatic water shutoffs are attached to your home's water main and sense if a large increase in water flow is created such as from a burst pipe and will shut the system off preventing extending water exposure and limiting damage. Also, people who have an automatic shutoff installed can usually receive a discount from the insurance company, so if you install one give your agent a call.

Chimney and Furnace Fires

While fire hazards are really a year-round concern and should always be respected, fires actually occur more frequently during the winter. Chimney, boilers and furnaces are at particular risk. Approximately 25,000 residential fires begin in a fireplace or chimney every year according to the United States Consumer and Product Safety Commission.

So what is a homeowner to do? Have your furnace and any fireplace including the chimney inspected and cleaned every year. Having inspections and cleanings performed can prevent the accumulation of carbon based residues more commonly known as creosote and can identify potential problems before they occur, making sure you stay safe and warm this winter.

Ice Dams and Old Trees

While icicles and ice hanging from your eaves or an old tree may seem beautiful, usually this can indicate an underlying issue and a potential safety hazard. An ice dam is formulated when snow above melts on the roof and freezes near the edge or eave of the roof and can block proper drainage and allow water to find an entry point below or around the dam. The most common causes of ice dams are clogged gutters and insufficient insulation and ventilation allowing heat to escape from the home through the attic space and to the roof sheathing above. When the roof sheathing or material directly below your shingles begins to absorb heat it conducts this heat to the shingles and in return allows snow to be melted.

Mature trees present a different potential hazard and usually become an issue in severe winter weather and sleet like conditions. When an old tree experiences strong winds coupled with heavy coats of ice or snow it creates an environment perfect for branch failures and collapses which can affect nearby structures. So if you have concerns with an old tree on your property have a professional tree or horticultural expert take a look at your property for unstable trees and branches and create a course of action which typically involves pruning or cutting branches.

Hopefully this article has provided you with a few ideas so that your Holiday and winter season is less stressful and more merry.


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Posted By: Randy King - Principal Inspector - Progressive Property Inspections

Proudly offering property inspection services to the following south central Minnesota Communities:

Mankato, North Mankato, Eagle Lake, St. Peter, Lake Crystal, Madison Lake, Janesville, New Ulm, Nicollet, Courtland, Hanska, Madelia, Waseca, Mapleton, Good Thunder, Vernon Center, Elysian, Waterville, Winnebago, Le Sueur, Le Center, Montgomery


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William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

This is the greatest time of the year for the risk of fire.   I just had it happen to me.  Can only guess what the reason was that it started.

Dec 09, 2010 10:25 AM #1
Carl Winters
Canyon Lake, TX

Rsndy you gave some very good indepth instruction on how-to and why regarding winterization projects around the home. Water damage and fires certainly play a big part with home owners. As William said in his comment you never think it can happen to you until it does happen and it is costly for repairs.

This blog is well worth a suggestion for a feature.

Dec 09, 2010 11:39 AM #2
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