Preparing and Protecting Your Home from Snow

Javi Calderon

Preparing and Protecting Your Home for Snow 

Yes, snow looks beautiful and picturesque from the window or on holiday cards, but don’t let it fool you: homeowners outside of Florida, California and Hawaii can attest to just how cumbersome and dangerous snow can be. Without the right precautions in place, winter storms can cause serious damage to your home, cause major disruptions to your daily and weekly routines, and even lead to health concerns for you and your family. 

Follow these quick and critical tips for keeping your family and home safe during the winter snows: 

Prevention. Spraying your driveway and porch before the storm with a magnesium chloride mix will help prevent snow from piling up and sticking. Also, have a professional check your heating and air conditioning system, furnace, chimney stack, flue pipe, etc. inspected before winter hits. Finding out your heat isn’t working right is much less uncomfortable during the fall. 

Clear out the Fall debris. In areas that experience fall and changing leaves before a snowy winter, it's easy to get complacent and decide to let the fallen leaves and twigs stay on the lawn throughout the winter, since it’s soon to be covered by snow for several months anyway. Not only does this make it more difficult to shovel snow out of the way, the thick layer of organic debris can cause the lawn underneath to rot during the winter, leaving you with a nice, barren, brown patch to show off to the neighbors next summer. 

Trim back those tree branches. If the snows have started it's not too late to protect the biggest financial investment you have: your home. Tree branches are great at snagging and collecting snow during a storm. After a heavy snow, a particularly overburdened branch can come crashing down, causing serious damage to the house. Clearing away any branches hanging over the roof, and near windows or porches, is an important way to keep the house safe from the snow. 

Fix broken windows. One of the most important goals of winter is to keep the cold temperatures out. Cracked glass lets the cold in and the heat out much easier and the strength of the glass is already compromised, leaving the glass susceptible to breaking during heavy winds. Fixing the glass before it becomes an emergency is a much more comfortable experience. 

Shovel smart, shovel often. Knowing when to shovel is the key to making snow shoveling a bearable experience. Just one inch of rain can harden into 10 inches of snow. That means that after the snow storm has turned into a wintery mix, the snow on your lawn is becoming heavier by the minute. Instead of waiting until after the storm, shovel during; the light powder snow will be lighter and easier to shovel before it starts to melt, and shoveling after the storm is over will be much easier thanks to your proactive efforts. 

Dealing with ice dams. If your roof gutters collect icicles, especially in the corners, after a heavy snow, this is a sign that you have a drainage problem on your roof. Allowing snow and ice dams to accumulate can be incredibly damaging to your roof, including causing leaks by pushing roofing shingles out of position. Once the ice starts to melt, anything below is also at danger. Don’t hack away at icicles with a hammer or chisel, as this is a dangerous procedure that can also be damaging to your roof. Instead, stand on the ground and rake ice and icicles off your gutters and roof with a rake, literally. 

Keep an emergency kit handy. Doesn’t it feel like people are becoming more paranoid these days? It feels like everyone it telling you to prepare, make a plan, have a bag, decide on a meeting point – but winter blackouts are too much of a dangerous reality to wave off.  Handy items like a hand crank radio, flashlights and batteries, water bottles, and a medical kit are must-haves for any family. It’s also a good idea to keep extra blankets around in case the heat gives out and you have to bundle up for the night. 

By following these quick and easy tips you and your family should be able to survive another cold and dreary winter.  

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