When winter arrives in the Midwest it brings holiday cheer and thoughts of gathering by a warm fireplace with family and hot chocolate. It also brings with it snow, ice and cold temperatures. Winter storms can cause damage in many different ways, so it is important for homeowners to understand the potential dangers of winter weather so they can avoid a costly claim that would put a damper on the holiday season.
Frozen and Burst Pipes
Midwest winters often mean bone chilling temperatures. These subzero temperatures can wreak havoc on your home’s water pipes. If a pipe in your home freezes then bursts, it can lead to extensive water damage which is often a costly repair.
The following tips can help prevent your pipes from freezing during the coldest of winter days:
- Always keep your home heated to 60° F or above
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warm air from home to circulate to the pipes
- Keep faucets on a slow drip
- Disconnect and drain any outdoor hoses from the spigot
Icicles hanging from the gutter can be quite the sight. While they might look fascinating, they can signal a deeper issue on your roof. An ice dam is a sheet of ice that forms on the edge of a roof and prevents water from melting snow and ice from draining properly. An ice dam forms after snow or ice on the roof melts from warm air in the attic melting the snow or ice and then the runoff refreezes when it reaches the colder edge of the roof. Then in spring when the entirety of the snow and ice melts the result can be extensive water damage for homeowners. Ice dams may not always be noticeable, but here are some steps that can be taken to prevent them from forming in the first place:
- Make sure your attic is properly insulated. This is especially noteworthy coming on the heels of the Iowa Derecho this summer. Many attics may have had insulation damaged or compromised and therefore might not provide the proper protection and allow more interior heat to escape to the roof.
- Clean out your gutters prior to the first snowfall. Melting snow and ice is unavoidable, but if gutters are clogged and do not allow a clear path for the water to escape, it can contribute to an ice dam.
Slip and Falls
Winter weather doesn’t just make roadways slick, it can also turn driveways and sidewalks into slippery hazards. Homeowners should be aware that if a guest or passer-by slips and falls it could result in a claim on their homeowners’ policy. Here are a few tips to avoid that unfortunate situation:
- Shovel promptly when the snow has stopped. Be sure to remove snow from any potential walking path on your property including sidewalks, driveways and steps.
- Use snow and ice melt products to make sure walkways and driveways do not have ice buildup after shoveling.
- If expecting visitors after dark make sure outside lights are on to illuminate the path into your home.
Although these tips will help avoid any winter weather related claims, unexpected circumstances can still come up. Know that we have an in-house claims department to advocate for you and help ease the process of any claims you may have in the future.
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Written by: Tyler McAndrew