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Ice, Ice Baby: Tips to Prevent Cold Weather Hazards at Home

Ice, Ice Baby: Tips to Prevent Cold Weather Hazards at Home

Although last month it seems like we welcomed winter weather for the holiday season, by now it is likely that we’re all more than ready for a few rays of sunshine to melt away that chill, not to mention the possible dangers that winter weather can bring.

In addition to freezing cold temperatures and massive amounts of snow, home owners have another immense problem to deal with during winter: ice. In fact, when temperatures drop, worries go up for home owners who are not properly prepared to deal with the dangerous effects that ice can have on a home.

So, what can you do to protect your home from icy winter conditions?

1. Prevent Ice Dams with Proper Insulation

With proper attic insulation, you can not only be sure that your home will stay properly heated, but also that no heat will escape to your roof and melt a surplus of snow. While it may seem that melting snow or ice off of your roof would be a good idea, consider where all that extra water will go… directly into your gutters. As temperatures remain cold, all of that runoff can freeze and expand, creating ice dams, which ultimately can tear off gutters, cause roof leaks or damage shingles. Proper attic insulation will keep your home warm, but will not overheat your roof and cause snow and ice to run off.

2. Protect Pipes from Freezing

Winter’s cold can equal ideal conditions for frozen pipes. Poorly insulated pipes or those that are in unheated areas like basements, attics or garages, can be at an increased risk for freezing during the cold winter months.

Draining outdoor pipes is one way to avoid the expensive aftermath of a bursting pipe. Insulating indoor pipes in unheated areas also will go a long way to prevent pipes from freezing. Finally, on severely cold days, experts suggest allowing cold water to drip from a faucet; running water is much less likely to freeze, even inside of cold pipes.

3. Stop Slick Walkways in their Tracks

Sanding or salting the sidewalks and walkways around your home in winter may seem like a no-brainer, but some de-icers can actually do more damage than they’re worth. Salt and other chemical compounds are typically very effective at melting ice away from walking areas near your home. However, if used in excess, these products can cause concrete surfaces to flake off and show damage.

More natural substances like sand or sawdust can often provide enough traction to safely trek through icy conditions. A combination of both a chemical de-icer, diluted with a natural substance, may be the best of both worlds in the battle between fighting off ice and protecting your walkways.

4. Outgrow Landscape Damage

Not only can chemical de-icers harm your concrete, they are an obvious concern for homeowners who are meticulous about their landscaping! If you’re looking for your vegetation to be a little greener once the snow melts, you may need to be a little greener during winter’s icy months, too. Even rock salt can pose a threat to your greenery.

While your back may not like this advice, experts suggest shoveling more and using chemicals less to combat ice and snow during winter. In the end, you get a workout and your lawn can breathe a little easier all year long.

5. Stand Firm on a Solid Foundation

Unfortunately, it can take only one dose of icy, cold winter weather to damage a home’s foundation. Yes, it is normal for your home’s foundation to have small cracks that are not problematic; but, snow and ice can easily seep into those cracks and expand, making harmless cracks grow into possible future problems.

As winter ice melts, those problems expand further by way of water seepage into basements. Of course, there are ways to seal foundation cracks and basement floors before winter weather hits, but it may be best to call in a professional if you are dealing with any current foundation problems due to snow or ice.

All in all, proper home maintenance is a great way to combat icy winter weather. Preparing for winter before the season’s chill hits home may even make you warm up to dealing with those few cold months.