We have already talked about how this winter has been record setting in both cold weather and property damage related to cold weather, and we touched base on what types of damage are covered by insurance and what types of damage are not covered in our last article. Now we need to delve into how to prevent this cold weather damage from ever occurring in the first place. The good news is that most cold weather damage can indeed be either prevented or minimized, the bad news is that not all types of extreme cold weather damage can be prevented. What damage cannot be prevented? Well trees collapsing from black ice for example not much you can do about that, nor roof damage from high winds during winter storms. Okay but what types of damage can we prevent? Glad you asked that, the types of damage we can prevent or at the very least minimize include ice dam damage as well as frozen pipes and burst pipes which amount to the most damage seen in the insurance industry as far as cover-able claims go. With a few proactive measures you can greatly reduce property damage this winter and every winter. You should also review your current insurance coverage so you know what is covered and what is not should you happen to experience a loss.
One area you can work on is preventing ice dams. Snow and ice form on your roof as well as in your gutters, this hampers the ability of water to freely flow away from your home. As water pool behind the ice dam that forms along the edge of your roof, water can then seep into the roof and walls of your home. A good indicator that you may experience water damage from the result of an ice dam is the sudden appearance large icicles along the edge of your roof and gutters. As more snow melts, with its normal path blocked (namely the gutters and edge of the roof) it will attempt to flow where ever it can. The dripping water will go through a cycle of thawing and freezing that has constant changes in temperature, and this will cause the ice to push roofing materials as well as siding and trim materials outward to accommodate the expansion of the ice. This will allow water to soak into the interior of your home.
How do you prevent ice dams? To prevent the water damage caused by ice dams you must clear any snow and ice from your roof and gutter systems. You also may have a ventilation and insulation issue if you are the victim of one to many ice dams, homes that get ice dams often are poorly insulated and ventilated, especially around the attic or crawl space area. A licensed contractor can assist you with both snow and ice removal from your roof and gutters as well as addressing any ventilation and insulation issues with your home. If you have a flat roof you will need to pay special attention to removing any excess snow and ice as flat roofs are in the most danger of a collapse due to snow and ice accumulation.
Frozen and burst pipes are the number one cause of property damage during the winter for home owners and business owners alike. The good news is that this form of damage is 100% preventable. Set your thermostat to at least 65 degrees, even if you are away from home, unless your pipes have been winterized by a professional. You can also insulate your pipes with sleeves made of foam as well as electrically heated sleeves. You can also opt for a water control device to be installed in your home. A water control device is attached to the main supply line of your home and it monitors your patterns of water usage and will immediately shut down your homes water supply should a ruptured line occur. Some of these systems can be tied into your alarm company to notify you of any such occurrence. Some insurance companies even offer you discounts on your home owners insurance policy for having one of these installed so this protection can pay for itself over time for home owners who plan to keep their home for a long duration.
While many cold weather losses can be prevented, sometimes it is unavoidable. This is where it is important to know of a good contractor in your area experience with cold weather damage and to have your insurance policy on hand should property damage result.