Published on GoodHousekeeping.com
Written by Stacy Genovese
If you’re having the kind of winter we’ve been having here in the Northeast — cold, snowy, and icy and only a few weeks into the season — you’re probably feeling its effect on your home, and we’re not just talking about higher heating bills. Winter’s harshest weather can wreak havoc on your home’s systems and potentially lead to disaster. Take preventative steps to protect against these things:
1. Freezing Pipes
This will happen if you have insufficient insulation over the pipes in crawl spaces and attics or pipes that run along exterior walls. If water isn’t coming out of a faucet or you don’t have heat on a certain zone, it’s a sure sign that your pipes are frozen. You need to take care of this immediately to prevent any pipes from bursting and leading to a flood.
What to do: This is a job for a plumber, who will be able to thaw the blockage without damaging your system.
2. Stopped-Up Gutters
Ice dams occur when your roof gutters become full of ice and can’t drain properly. If the melting snow can get to the downspouts, water will begin to leak into your roof and walls through openings where the gutters are attached or around the chimney.
What to do: Make sure your attic is properly insulated and sealed. If there are any openings through which warm air can escape, this can cause roof snow to melt even while outside temperatures are below freezing and ice dams can form.
3. Dangerous Space Heaters
Space heaters are a great way to warm up colder rooms in your house, but they can be hazardous if not used properly. Never leave a space heater unattended especially when children and pets are around, and don’t place it near drapes, shades or bedding.
What to do: If your heater is more than a few years old, replace it with a new model that has more current safety features such as tip-over protection. This way it shuts off automatically if it happens to fall over.
Visit GoodHousekeeping.com for more great tips and safety ideas.