Protecting Your Home From Winter Weather Damage

Keep Warm

The number of home fires skyrockets during the winter because so many families use various devices to heat their homes. If you regularly light fires in your fireplace, use a screen to prevent sparks from flying out and igniting nearby objects. It’s recommended that you hire a professional to inspect and clean your chimney annually to prevent creosote buildup from catching fire.

Electric space heaters should be positioned three feet away from any flammable objects, such as bedding or furniture. Always turn heating devices off before leaving the house or going to sleep. If you use a fuel-burning heater, place it outdoors in a well-ventilated area.

Because the risk of fire is so high, manually check each smoke alarm’s batteries every three months and change when necessary. You may also want to install a carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home to alert you in the event that noxious fumes are present in your home (combustion releases toxic gases that can silently kill).

Pipe Care

Frozen pipes can cause big problems if they burst, but it’s relatively easy to prevent your home from flooding. Insulate your pipes with heating tape or wrap them with rags for extra warmth. During frigid nights, leave under-the-sink cabinet doors open to let warm air in and open your faucets enough to allow a slow drip. That slight movement can help prevent water from freezing.

Because the interior of the walls where pipes are located is a colder area than the rooms of your house, you must keep your thermostat set no lower than 65°F to prevent those interior spaces from sinking below the freezing point. The extra money you spend on electricity will certainly be less than what it would cost to repair a burst pipe.

Outdoor Maintenance

Apart from sweeping snow out of the driveway, the exterior of your home and property need additional attention during winter. Regularly check your trees for signs of branches that are being weighed down by snow and ice; trim away these branches before they have the chance to fall on top of your home, car or injure a passerby.

Another common outdoor winter woe is called ice damming. It occurs when debris clogs your gutters and prevents proper drainage. Backed up water can freeze during a cold snap and, as it melts, it can seep into your home if it has nowhere else to go. Cleaning your gutters routinely can prevent this pesky problem.

With a watchful eye and the proper care, winter doesn’t have to be as rough on your house. Performing the right amount of maintenance can help your home outlast many more seasons, for years to come.

Rand Wright is owner of the independent insurance agency Carlton Wright Insurance Agency located in Roanoke Virginia. Contact him for a Roanoke home insurance quote today.

Protecting Your Wood Patio Furniture From Winter Weather

When you batten down the hatches, turn up the heat and bundle up to keep out of the cold winter weather, do you ever consider what is happening to your patio furniture that is being left outside? While you may think those pieces are just inanimate objects, the truth is that your wood furniture is going to have to deal with some rough consequences of that weather change.

Here is a look at a few of the threats to your wood patio furniture:

Dryness – Often winter weather is very dry weather. You know how your lips and skin get dry and crack? Well the same thing can happen to wood furniture. In this case the drying and cracking can not only make the furniture less attractive, but also less sturdy.

Water Damage – Another threat is from that winter precipitation that is going to impact your furniture pieces. Once there is any cracking or splitting in the wood of the furniture, it becomes susceptible to water damage. What will happen is that rain or snow will fall on the furniture. Once it’s water, it will seep into the cracks of the wood and sit and wait. When the temperature dips overnight, it will freeze again. When water freezes it expands. In the case of your furniture this means it will make those cracks and splits bigger and damage your wood.

Warping – The constant changing in heat and cooling of your wood can also lead the wood itself to start to change shape. What you thought was a flat surface when you were last using it can suddenly be a warped piece of furniture.

Hardware – The changes in temperature during the winter can also start to cause problems with the hardware on your furniture. Often times pieces of hardware will work themselves loose with the constant constriction and release of the wood reacting to the weather. If these are not checked before you try to use the furniture it may fail or become damaged.

Prevention

So what can you do to stop from having all of these problems with your patio furniture? Prevent the problems in the first place. There are a couple of levels of prevention you can choose from.

The first level of prevention is to keep the precipitation that can cause damage out of the wood. This can be done by investing in outdoor furniture covers. These are meant to help protect your furniture pieces from the weather.

The next method is stopping your furniture from having to be out in the cold. When the winter weather moves in and you know you will not be outside as much anymore, why not bring your furniture in as well. Whether you bring the pieces into the garage or have a storage area where you can put them, bringing them inside for the winter can help them avoid all the problems with the cold weather. This can also help your wood furniture last much longer than it would out in the elements.

Winter Weather ‘Could Cause Water Worries’

Homeowners who are concerned about the state of their pipes should ensure that they check them before the worst of the winter weather sets in, it has been claimed.

Personal insurance firm NFU Mutual is recommending that householders take some time to review the state of both pipes and guttering to make sure that they avoid expensive plumber call-outs should the winter be a cold one. The firm states that, with the weather so far having been very changeable, the dark months could yet see a cold snap causing havoc with the nation’s pipes.

Laura Wood at NFU Mutual comments: “This year’s weather has been totally unpredictable. We had severe storms in January, heavy snow in February, followed by a warm and sunny Easter and then rain and floods all summer. What this winter will hold is anyone’s guess.”

While some work to prepare a home for the colder months might be expensive – perhaps requiring home loans to spread the cost – they are likely to be more cost-effective in the long-run than being forced to conduct emergency repairs.

NFU Mutual suggests a wide variety of actions which can stave off the worst of winter damage. On the exterior of the property, homeowners should clear gutters of leaves and birds’ nests, ensure that fences and walls are in good repair and that garden furniture and ornaments are secured for the winter. Projects which might require small homeowner loans to avoid greater outlay later include ensuring that the roof is in good condition with secure tiles and slates and making sure that chimneys are in a suitable condition to withstand a storm. Additionally, making sure trees in the garden are unlikely to break can help to avoid damage to the home, shed or greenhouse.

The insurer states that most insurance policies require property owners to keep their home in good repair – and failure to heed such warnings could result in a later claim being turned down. Householders in rural areas might especially wish to consider borrowing on low cost loans to finance pre-emptive repairs, since NFU Mutual identifies them as at particular risk of winter weather damage.

Earlier this year, Halifax Home Insurance warned homeowners that it is not merely the outside of their property which can be ravaged by winter – the inside also has potential troublespots. For instance, pipes which are not sufficiently insulated can freeze, with the water within expanding until they crack. The following thaw can see water leakage and expensive damage occurring to the rest of the property. Consequently, home loans to cover the cost of improved insulation around water pipes could be a sage move in the long run.

Vicky Emmott from Halifax Home Insurance said: “Water from a burst pipe within a loft space can very quickly cause damage to plaster ceilings, wall plaster, kitchen units, electrical wiring and decoration, as well as carpets, beds, electrical items and other contents within a property.