For all my Game of Thrones fans out there, winter is no longer coming. Winter is here.
I live in Boston, and as you may know, New England is infamous for its Nor’Easters. (Snow-pocalypse 2015, anyone?) High winds, storm surges, and heavy wet snows frequent this part of the world throughout much of the winter. And while they often provide a few vacation/snow days, they can also leave quite a bit of damage bahind.
As I mentioned last week, I have winter preparation on the mind. (And the inch of freezing rain we got this afternoon has reenforced my concern…<yikes>) So today I’m sharing 5 smart ways to prepare your home for a storm.
5 smart ways to prepare your home for a storm
Getting insurance is the probably one of the most obvious suggestions for home protection. But at the same time, it’s also one of the most confusing steps for homeowners. In fact, a recent poll of homeowners showed that 52% don’t understand their home insurance policy. Not good.
Now admittedly, taking out home insurance won’t stop a storm from causing damage, but it can significantly reduce the cost. So when you’re deciding on your policy, make sure that you fully understand it. Remember, not all home insurance plans include storm damage, so do your research. Ask questions, get multiple quotes, and ensure as much coverage as possible.
Seal up your home
For a more immediate way to protect your home, consider sealing up any cracks, which are often found along your widow or door seams. These cracks not only risk water damage when heavy snow builds up outside the home, but they also let in a huge amount of cold air. In terms of energy efficiency, that’s not an ideal situation. (The same goes for hot air in the summer!)
According to energy.gov “one of the quickest energy and money-saving tasks you can do is caulk, seal, and weather strip all cracks and large openings to the outside.”
While large cracks might require professional service, you can easily fix anything smaller than a pencil’s width with some caulk. And if you’re unfamiliar with the caulking process, don’t worry! There are multiple step-by-step guides out there to walk you through it. (This is one that I’ve used.)
Fix up your gutters
Although I mentioned gutters in my previous post, I’m saying it again here, because it really is important. Last week I explained that keeping your gutters clean helps avoid leaks, dampness, and potential mold in your home.
I want to add, however, that if you have blocked gutters, it can also create ice buildup. That ice can then creep up under your shingles and cause roof damage. So make sure your gutters are secured to your home and clear of debris to prevent both water and roof damage.
Keep your trees trimmed
Speaking of protecting your roof, make sure you keep your trees trimmed throughout the year as well. This is an easy way to prevent branches from falling on your roof during high winds.
Similarly, keep an eye out for any unhealthy trees that might topple over in a strong storm. And if you do have any questionable/unhealthy trees, you may want to have an arborist come to inspect the risk and decide whether the tree needs to be removed. Oftentimes they do the assessment for free, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry in my opinion!
Prevent Ice Dams
You know at the end of the movie A Christmas Story when Ralphie claims an icicle fell down and hit him in the eye? That’d be the result of an ice dam. (A quick refresher for any of you who might have forgotten this treasured scene)
Okay, back to business: ice dams often happen in poorly insulated parts of your home; the heat leaks out from the house, melts the snow, and the ice dams grow.
To prevent this, USAA suggests eliminating unnecessary heat sources under your roof, like lights or heaters in the attic. And they also recommend keeping “the attic cool and ventilated to stop or slow the refreezing cycle” Finally, they suggest investing in a roof rake, which is a tool let lets you remove the snow from your roof while standing safely on the ground. (If you have a big project, however, it’s probably best to consult a roofing specialist for advice.)
Winter is here, my friends, so make sure you protect your home. Read up on your insurance plan and seal up the cracks around your windows and doors. Clean out those gutters and keep your trees trimmed. And finally, don’t be like Ralphie; avoid ice dams at all cost.