Tips To Protect Your Home From Winter Water Damage

Tips To Protect Your Home From Winter Water Damage

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Freezing weather can be damaging to your home.  Taking a few preventative steps before severe weather strikes may save yourself large bills in home repair. An article shared by HIPPO home insurance reminded us of some simple fixes that can save you from frustrations later.  We felt the reminders were too important not to share.  If you haven’t yet taken these steps, we highly recommend you take them now as to not have regret later.  

Protecting Your Roof

HIPPO home insurance reminds homeowners: “Rain, snow and ice can wreak havoc on your rooftop”.

Ice Dams
Freezing Gutters

Melting and re-freezing of water in winter can create ice dams on your roof edges. Ice dams can damage roof structures by preventing drainage away from your home and increasing the risk of water intrusion.  Ice build up at a roof’s edge can cause water to flow under shingles and behind gutters. Improper flow of water can cause damage to the structure of your home, especially without properly installed flashing.   The cause of ice dams on roofs is often poor insulation.   

Attic Insulation

Attic insulation should be at least 7 to 10 inches.  When insulating near the eves to help prevent ice damning, make sure not to block soffit venting.   Adding soffit baffles (pictured first) maintains proper ventilation for the attic. When soffit venting is blocked with insulation, moisture build-up and staining of the roof deck can result in your attic space (pictured second).

With some attic configurations, insulation is installed between rafters. When this is done, manufacturer recommendations should be followed and the paper facing should not be left exposed.  If a fire starts, exposed paper facing can allow a fire to spread quickly.   Often, I see this when homeowners have added insulation themselves (see pictures below).

Proper Insulation
Insulation Roof Warning
Air Ventilation

Adequate ventilation in the attic allows for air to flow through your attic helping to keep moisture from being trapped.   Ridge vents or through the roof vents are both appropriate ways of venting an attic in conjunction with soffit venting. 

Roof Vents
Branches Foliage Cause Roof Damage

Branches and encroaching foliage can cause harm to your roof and assist in water damage.   High winds of winter can break loose branches that are weighted with ice and snow. Before cold weather hits, make sure foliage is clear from your home.





Keep gutters cleared of debris.  Clogged gutters prevent water from flowing away from your home.   Freezing and thawing water pose real threats to foundations, roofs and wall structures.  

Clear gutters
Inspect Chimney

You will want to inspect your chimney before purchasing a home and each year before freezing weather strikes. Soot left in the chimney flu is highly flammable and increases your risk of chimney fire.  HIPPO reminds homeowners “The National Fire Prevention Association recommends getting your chimney inspected once a year and swept if necessary.”  Debris (due to missing flu caps) can cause poor ventilation of the chimney.   Important aspects of the chimney maintenance are:  keeping flashing sealed at the roof, keeping cracks at the top crown sealed, ensuring rain covers are installed over flues and addressing any loose brick or mortar. Any deficiencies in your chimney should be repaired prior to use.

Keep Flue Free Of Debris
Keep flue free of debris
Seal Cracks
seal any cracks in firebrick
Soot build up
Soot build up at the damper

Prevent Frozen Pipes

Frozen pipes can cause a large repair bill rather quickly.  Freezing water expands and can potentially put enough strain on plumbing pipes to crack them.  Here are simple steps you can take to protect your home from frozen pipes.

Prior to freezing weather, make sure to detach hoses from your exterior faucet bibs.  As you can see pictured here, attached hoses do not allow water to drain creating a potential for cracking pipes.

A relatively inexpensive solution to the risk associated with exterior bibs is to install insulated boxes.  Here is an Amazon link to exterior faucet insulation boxes.

Frozen Pipes

 Find your water shut-off valve: If a pipe bursts, the sooner you shut off the water, the sooner you can mitigate damage.   If your home has a basement, generally your water shut off will be in the basement.  If your home has a crawl space or slab it is common to find them in closets, cabinets, attached garages, or utility rooms.   A simple way to locate your water shut off can be to locate your hot water heater and trace the piping back to your water shut off valve.  Make sure your family members know how to access the water shut off valve. 

Newer Ball Valve
Newer ball valve
Older Style Gate Valve
Older style (gate valve)

Newer recommended ball valve pictured first.  Older style water shut off valves called gate valves are prone to leaking and not shutting off all the way.  Pay attention when using gate style water shut off valves, and consider upgrading to the newer ball valve.

To avoid frozen pipes consider insulating them, or wrapping with heat tape.  HIPPO also recommends consider investing in a smart water leak and freeze detector.  Click the link buttons to see these products on Amazon. 

Many thanks to HIPPO home insurance company for the great articles they provide to homeowners.  If you haven’t checked them out, feel free to click the green button below to see a new innovative way of purchasing home insurance at reduced cost.  Roof and Skillet Inc has no affiliation with HIPPO, however, we find their unique customer driven approach to home insurance  interesting. We appreciate the information they provided as inspiration for this blog.

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