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How to Prepare Your Home for Ice, Snow, and Freezing Temps

Dec 20, 2019

Winter is coming, and many parts of the country are experiencing very cold temperatures already. If you live in a part of the country that sees low temperatures, ice, and snow during the winter months, preparing for the severe weather can save you a tremendous amount of stress, time, and money during the coming months. Taking time during the fall to address any potential problems can allow you to enjoy the upcoming holidays in comfort and with peace of mind.

Most Common Types of Home Damage From Winter Weather

Damaged roof shingles blown off a home from a windy winter storm with strong winds.

Any area that experiences below-freezing temperatures will likely also experience snowfall, winter storms, and various other weather changes that can lead to serious problems. Preparing in advance can prevent some of these issues or, at the very least, diminish their effects. Some of the most common issues include furnace breakdowns, frozen pipes, and leaking ventilation that drives up home heating costs. However, many of the most common problems that homeowners experience during the winter start from the top of the house and work their way down.

The roof serves many different functions for a home. Obviously, it protects the inhabitants from severe weather and offers privacy, but it also performs several other less obvious functions that all homeowners should recognize.

Why Perform Roof Maintenance Before the Winter?

One of the most important functions of a roof is temperature control. The roof should prevent the outside temperature from influencing the temperature inside the home. During the summer, the roof should prevent cooled air from escaping and prevent hot outside air from entering. During the winter, it should do the opposite, helping the home retain heat. A roof leak will not only allow precipitation to enter the home, but also allow heat to escape during the winter.

This creates a domino effect that can become an extremely expensive problem; the roof leak can lead to water damage as well as cause the home’s furnace system to work harder. If the home is constantly leaking warmed air, the furnace will have to work harder and longer to maintain a comfortable temperature inside. Eventually, the homeowner will not only need to address the leak to prevent water damage but also potentially handle furnace problems due to the system working too hard during peak times. This also leads to much higher energy bills over the winter. Taking time to do some preventative maintenance during the fall can mean lower energy bills over the winter months.

How to Prepare for Winter Weather

Homeowners can prevent many of the most common winter weather issues in their homes by taking steps in advance to prepare. A few of the best ways to protect your home from winter weather damage include:

● Snow management. While it’s not always possible for some homes, preventing snow from piling up on your roof is a good way to prevent the snow from damaging your roof shingles or tiles when it thaws in the sun and refreezes at night. This cycle of thawing and refreezing causes expansion that can dislodge roof tiles and shingles and allow water to seep into the roof bed.

● Keeping gutters clean and protected. Your gutters move water off your roof and away from your home. Debris can easily pile up and clog your gutter system, making it difficult for it to move water away from your home and potentially leading to water damage. Take time to clean your gutters and consider investing in installing stops or snow guards on your gutters. These can prevent snow from piling up inside your gutters and also help keep them free of debris.

● Scheduling heating system service. Even if your home is perfectly protected against drafts, your heating system will likely work hardest during the winter. Contact a local HVAC service provider to have your furnace inspected and serviced before the winter weather hits. This can prevent a breakdown during the dead of winter when you need heat the most.

Checking windows, and other seals for drafts. Try to identify any problem areas of your home that may be leaking warm air out of your home. Identifying these issues in advance will allow you to keep your home well-insulated throughout the winter season and save wear-and-tear on your heating system.

● Remove snow from around your home promptly. Snow will likely accumulate on the ground around your home. While your roof’s overhang may create a small gap between the snow and the sides of your home, this gap will shrink with each subsequent snowstorm. It’s worth taking time to move snow away from the sides of your home; as it melts, it will seep into the ground and potentially find its way into your lower levels or even the foundation.

● Create a household emergency plan. Depending on the type of home you own and the size of your family, the winter weather could pose many possible risks. Take time to talk with the members of your household about the risks of the winter season and come up with a plan in case of an emergency situation.

● Schedule a roof inspection with a professional roofer. You may be able to spot some issues like damaged shingles or leaks without assistance, but, for a more thorough check of your roof’s health, contact a professional roofer and schedule a full inspection before the winter arrives. The roofer can inspect the surface of your roof’s planes as well as inside the roof to identify and diagnose potential issues so you can address them before the winter arrives.

These are just a few of the ways you can better prepare your home for the winter weather. Taking these steps in advance can make the winter easier to bear and less financially stressful when it comes to maintenance and repairs.

Invest in Roof Maintenance to Protect Your Home

Detail of classic leather tool belt wearing by handyman isolated

Taking care of your roof is one of the most important parts of home maintenance in general, but it is doubly important when it comes to preparing for severe winter weather. These tips can help homeowners prevent a host of winter weather-related issues, and roof maintenance is especially important. While most homeowners can manage basic inspections and roof maintenance, some things are best left to professional roofers. An experienced roofer can inspect a home’s roofing system more thoroughly and more safely than the average homeowner can manage, potentially saving the homeowners thousands of dollars in costly repairs by catching problems in advance of the winter weather.

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