Home Improvement

Navigating the Realities of Winter Wear and Tear on Your Home

Regular winter weather can cause a significant amount of wear and tear on your home. Here’s a list of common issues homes can have and how to prevent them.

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It Doesn’t Take a Major Disaster to Cost You Thousands

According to a study published by the Insurance Information Institute, winter storms caused around three and a half billion dollars worth of property damage in the U.S. in 2015 (2016 statistics aren’t in yet). Winter storms, not accounting for hurricanes and tornadoes, were the third biggest contributing cause of home damage as well. It does not take weathering an extreme event like a cyclone or tropical storm to damage your home — all it takes is regular winter weather.

Don’t panic, though: with a little preparation and forethought, you can protect your home and your investment in your property from the worst of winter storm damage. In this article, we’ll concentrate on the ways in which regular winter storms cause damage to homes, and the ways in which homeowners can prepare and protect their homes while preventing the damage caused by cold temperatures, high winds, and winter precipitation.


The Plumbing

According to a recent article by Time magazine, the average insurance claim for burst pipes due to freezing is fifteen thousand dollars. Contrast that number with what it would cost to wrap your pipes with foam insulators (roughly $1 per six feet), disconnecting your hoses (free), and insulating your hose bibs (roughly $5 each).

This is an especially important way to protect yourself if you live somewhere where sub-freezing temperatures are rare, but not impossible, because homes in those areas are not constructed with such temperatures in mind.

The Roof

Another expensive potential casualty of winter storms is the roof on your home. Water can find its way into cracks, freeze, and make them larger. Ice can back up on your roof and create a dam, collecting runoff until your room collapses or your gutters come off. Snow can accumulate in such amounts as to weigh enough to crash through your roof, and the winds from winter storms can carry loose shingles away.

According to that same article, a roof rake for excess snow removal will cost you less than fifty dollars. Professionally installed heat tape to prevent the formation of ice dams might cost you more than a thousand. Cleaning your gutters of dead leaves at the end of fall will only cost you a bit of sweat. A new roof (not accounting for water damage in the home) will run you north of twenty grand.

winter wear and tear: icicles

Around the Home

Winter preparedness doesn’t end at the four walls and roof of your home, either. Other than the hose bibs and gutters mentioned above, there are several things you can do to your property to protect your home from winter storm damage. If you live in an area that experiences ice storms or freezing rain, you should have the trees on your property inspected each summer.

An unhealthy tree can shed several hundred (even thousands) of pounds of limbs in an ice storm or a wind storm, or they can topple and plow into your home, smash your other plantings, outbuildings, cars, and your friends and family. Don’t find out the hard way that you have diseased trees, ready to come down with the next storm.


An Ounce of Prevention

Every winter will add another layer of soot to the inside of your chimneys, another accumulation of lint in your dryer vent hose (and these are other regular maintenance items you should stay on top of), but with a little prevention, the big-ticket winter calamities—frozen pipes, collapsed roofs, toppled trees—can all be prevented.

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Ben is a real estate agent and freelance writer. He's lived on the east coast his entire life and is just as "at home" on a snowboard as he is in the office. When not writing about local real estate markets and researching hot new tips for homeowners, he can be found working on his home renovation projects with help from his wife Melissa and their kids, Josh and Cheyenne.

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