Homeowners Insurance Tips: Winterize the Home and Avoid Expensive Repairs
Emily Sperry December 20, 2019
The winter is one of the most common times for homeowner’s insurance claims to be made. Between the snow, ice, and harsh weather, there are many different ways that a home might take damage over the winter. This is why it’s so important to winterize your home before the worst of the weather blows through. By taking care of your home early, you can actually avoid many potentially expensive home repairs.
The condition of your roof, your pipes, and your home weatherproofing will determine a lot about the winter costs of homeownership. For this reason, we’re here to share a collection of winterizing tips to save money as a homeowner.
Insulate the Pipes
In most US states, temperatures can drop below freezing during the coldest part of the year. When this happens, the water inside a pipe can freeze, which will cause the pipe to burst and spray freezing water everywhere. The best way to avoid frozen pipe damage to the home is to insulate your pipes. Pipes can be insulated with a strip of heat tape or by wrapping the pipes in a foam sheath. You can actually make a DIY pipe insulator with a sliced pool noodle.
Seal the Doors and Windows
The weatherproofing of your doors and windows will strongly influence your winter power bill. If the apertures leak warm air from the home or allow in cold air, you’ll have a hard time staying warm and energy-efficient. For doors, inspect the weather-stripping around the edge and consider replacing with a new weatherstrip. For windows, apply a new layer of caulk to fill cracks and prevent leaking.
Be Kind to Your Home Circuits
It’s tempting to plug space heaters and electric kettles into every outlet, but think carefully before you plug. Try not to overload your home’s circuits during the winter by plugging in too many appliances into one circuit. Determine which circuit each outlet belongs to and spread out the electricity demand so that no one circuit is overtaxed.
Know Your Local Thermostat Tricks
The optimal temperature for your thermostat is whatever uses the least energy while keeping the home at a safe or comfortable temperature. When you’re at work, set the thermostat to whatever will prevent extreme temperatures while you’re gone, like heating to 40 F (or cooling down to 85 F in the summer) so that your possessions are not damaged. At night, set the temp cooler to save money in the winter and sleep more deeply.
Clean the Gutters
If your gutters are still full of autumn leaves, you have a much higher chance of ice dams, blocked gutter drain pipes, and damagingly heavy icicles. You want to make sure your gutters are clean with clear drain spouts and a gutter screen at the beginning of winter. This is the best way to help snow and ice runoff move safely away from your home instead of seeping in to cause rot.
Get a Roof Inspection
The roof undergoes a serious challenge every winter. Between winter storms and melting snow, it must repel both wind and moisture. Your roof will need to be in top condition, with no existing weaknesses. Be sure to schedule a roof inspection near the end of fall or beginning of winter to take care of any pre-winter roof maintenance you may need.
Cover Outdoor Spigots
Just as your pipes indoors need protecting, so do your outdoor spigots. These faucets of convenience in the summer can transmit extreme cold to the pipes inside the house. The best way to protect them is with a foam or cloth insulating cover that prevents the spigots from reaching sub-freezing temperatures or transmitting that cold into the home.
Shovel and De-Ice the Driveway
If you have a front walk, driveway, or sidewalk then take care of traction and stability along the way. Responsibly shovel your home’s front pavement of any snow or built-up ice. Then sprinkle a de-icer agent like salt onto the ground to prevent new ice. The de-icer gravel also provides additional traction for visitors and passers-by walking on the cold wet pavement.
Finally, know how to shut off the water and power in your home. It may be necessary in an emergency to prevent a flood by turning off the water or prevent a power surge by turning off the power. Know where the main switches are for each of your primary utilities. Then learn how to spot the small local switches or valves that supply individual appliances and home features. If you know how to use a shut-off switch or valve, then you can prevent accidents from becoming an expensive and damaging event.
Want to avoid high-cost homeowner’s insurance claims this year? Take the time to winterize your home each year. Contact us today for more information on saving money as a homeowner and optimizing your homeowner’s insurance.