November 19th, 2014

It’s that time of year again and it’s very important that you take appropriate steps to protect your home against winter’s fury. Many homeowners may be surprised to learn that winter storms are the third largest cause of catastrophic losses and melting snow causes significant damage to property year-after-year. The following are a number of steps you should take prior to the season’s first snowfall:

– Clean out gutters; leaves and other debris can cause ice damming when water is unable to drain. Water instead seeps into the house causing damage.

– Check for moss on the roof. Moss retains moisture. If not removed, it will cause rotting and diminish the effectiveness; along with the useful life of the roof.

– Trim trees and remove dead branches; weak branches break and could damage your home or car.

– Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations. Use caulking to seal openings to prevent snowmelt from seeping in.

– Have the heating system serviced annually.

– Make sure that smoke and fire alarms are working properly. More fires occur during the winter.

– Learn how to shut the water off and know where your pipes are located.

– Look for structural damage. If damage is discovered, have it repaired before problems occur.

– Protect against rodents and animal damage: close openings into soffits, attics, basements, crawl spaces; be sure all trash and garbage have been removed from the home.

– Keeping mice out: Remove any open food, storing food in cans or closed heavy plastic containers, and closing obvious mouse entry points will help.

– Watch for slow water trickling down a shallow drain line outside can build up enough ice to block the drain or even freeze and burst the drain pipe.

Are you planning an extended vacation this winter? Follow these precautions to help assure a pleasant return home.

– Turn off unneeded electrical components. Modern TV’s and items that use plug-in wall chargers and voltage converters are always using electricity. Unplug sensitive electronic equipment to protect against power surges or lightning.

– Mothballs keep mice out of cabinets in unheated structures (e.g. garages). Place the whole box of mothballs, opened, but not poured out, into the cabinet, closet, or vehicle.

– Windows and doors: make sure that all windows are closed. If the home has triple-track storm and screen windows, make sure that the storm windows are closed with the glass “down” – not just the screens down. Latch and lock these openings.

– Monitoring services: decide if you want or need a professional to winterize your home and or to monitor it during the time that it will be shut down. Consider a protection service that range from weekly or even daily visits to check on a property to emergency responses to a no-heat call or water-entry call that can be made automatically by a home security system when those conditions occur.
* If power outages are common in the area, a battery-backup for alarms and sump pumps would be a smart addition to the home.

– Freeze Alarms: systems that warn of loss of heat or freezing conditions in a home can notify you or a property manager when something needs attention. Security systems can add freeze-alarms. If your home already has a security alarm system it’s usually a small matter to add low-temperature, loss of heat, loss of electrical power, and water flood sensors to the system. If your home does not already have a security system some simple devices can turn on a light to alert neighbors to a heat loss or flood.

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