It’s finally here!

The first snowflakes of 2019 have fallen! If you haven’t seen the news all week it’s going to get cold. If you’re not prepared the cold can cause problems as a home owner. So here’s a few tips to make this winter a little easier.

Slippery walkways. Ice and snow buildup can make walkways slippery, creating an obvious danger for you and others. Be diligent about keeping all walkways near your home clear so everyone is safe. As a homeowner, you are liable for the sidewalks as well as the walkways. If someone slips and falls on your property because you didn’t properly maintain them it is also your responsibility if they get hurt.

In my most recent experience, even when you think you can make it to your car because the ice “isn’t that bad” use the salt anyway. If your curious to see the video of me falling in the driveway feel free to reach out.

Clogged gutters and downspouts. This is a fall maintenance must, but you can clean out your gutters as long as its safe to do so.

Once snow and ice begin to pile up, any debris in gutters and downspouts will make it harder for water to properly drain from your roof. If there is too much weight in those drains they could pull away from the facade.

Ice damming. Your roof is even more at risk if snow accumulates and allows for ice damming. Snow melts and runs down underneath the snow until it hits the bottom of the roof, where it hits cold air, and that water actually freezes and starts to build up so that there’s a large dam of ice at the bottom of the roof line. Water could then go under the shingles and inside the house, leading to leaks and water damage. Buying a snow roof rake – often less than $50 – allows you to safely clear snow from the end of the roof line at ground level.

Loose or missing shingles. Another potential cause of roof leaks are damaged shingles, which can often be spotted simply by surveying your roof before heavy snows. If any shingles appear broken or loose, call a roofing expert to take a closer look and make repairs.

Freezing faucets. As you prepare for the season’s heavier snows, remove hoses from exterior faucets to clear out remaining water. Since water expands as it freezes, any left inside a hose can easily burst it – not to mention the pipe it’s attached to. You can lower the risk of the faucet freezing by activating the shutoff valve for the outdoor faucet, then letting any residual water in the faucet run out.

Freezing pipes. Just like your exterior faucet, your home’s plumbing can cause major problems if pipes freeze. Never turn your heater down below 55 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, and consider insulating exposed pipes along exterior walls that may be at risk of freezing. If you are going to leave your house for an extended period, like a week long family vacation, you can leave a faucet slightly open on the main level – just enough for a slow drip. That way, in the event of freezing pipes, water has somewhere to go rather than building pressure and causing damage.

Faulty heating system. Home improvement experts recommend testing your heater before the first cold day of the year. Even if that’s come and gone, it never hurts to call in a pro for routine servicing that may prevent a breakdown when you really need heat. There’s nothing worse than having your heater go out.

Problematic exhaust vents. A key part of an effective heating system is the exhaust vents that let harmful gases like carbon monoxide out while keeping cold air from getting in.

Before winter storms or frigid temperatures make your heater work a little harder, walk the exterior of your house to ensure those exhaust vents, often located a couple feet above the foundation on a side or back exterior wall, are doing their job. Once the snow falls, make sure to keep those vents from becoming covered by the snow.

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