Winterize – to Protect your Home

With each progressively worsening Winter with below average temperatures and unusually high snowfall, homes need not turn victim to adverse weather.

California based HDA Insurance Brokerage advises that property owners consider the following tips to begin preparing homes for cold months ahead in order to avoid damage and insurance claims. The following suggestions will depend and vary upon geographic area;  Winterizing will be drastically different in Southern California than in Boston, Massachusetts.

  • How to Avoid Ice Dams   – Ice Dams are a build up of ice at the lower edge of your roof; this occurs when interior roof heat melts snow which runs down and refreezes further down on the roof slope; once this condition is formed, water will not drain forcing roof leaks and ultimate serious damage to the home.     In areas that suffer bitter winters, it is important to ensure the attic is well ventilated and well insulated to prevent heat rising through the attic.  It is important for warmer air not to leak into the attic; effectively insulating the interior of the home will prevent ice dams from forming as well as help reduce utility bills.
  • How to Avoid Burst Pipes  – Burst pipes can cause major water damage to homes; this is a very common occurrence following freezing pipes in homes.   This is a fairly simple symptom to prevent; insulation sleeves can be purchased and placed on all exposed pipes; any exterior faucets should be left dripping to prevent freezing within the pipes. If a home will be left unattended for an extended period of time during the winter months, it would be best to shut off the water supply and drain the pipes so freezing will not occur.
  • Driveways and Sidewalks should be kept clear of ice or snow  – Most home insurance policies do afford liability coverage; however, you can avoid claims by assuring that your driveways and sidewalks are swept clear of ice and snow to prevent inadvertent injuries.  It is important not to offer a chance for snow and ice build up on surfaces where people may slip or trip and fall. It is far easier and quicker to attend to snow or ice build up during the early process than after the weather has been given a chance to build a thick wall of snow or ice.
  • Preparation of Vacant Home  – Before vacating a secondary home for any extended period, the home must be prepared. It would be advisable to offer a key to a local trusted person, it would be prudent to leave the heating system on set to a low level.  It would be a good idea to shut off the water, drain the pipes and assure the gutters are clear.  There are agencies that can arrange for snow removal services to maintain the driveway and sidewalk clear of snow and ice.
  • Heating Sources  – Each home owner should check the home’s heating system, chimney and any supplemental forms of heat.  All heating sources require proper maintenance in order to avert unfortunate incidents.  House fires can occur very quickly; this could be caused by wood stoves, space heaters or unattended fireplaces.
  • Policy Endorsement Review  – It is a fact that most home owners are not truly aware of the available optional endorsements to the home insurance policy.  In many States,  Wind Damage is a separate coverage and holds a separate deductible (may be different that the Home Policy Deductible).    Homeowners may also not be covered for ‘Backup of Sewers and Drains’; this is usually available as an Endorsement;  this endorsement will provide coverage for loss caused by water backup through sewers or drains. Many insurance carriers also offer an option of different amounts of coverage for this valuable endorsement.

If you are unsure whether or not your home is well prepared for the winter time,  it would be very helpful to call your independent agent today and review your options.