Winter snow and cold temperatures can leave homeowners with property damage, including ice dams, water damage, fire and soot and mold. But there are steps you can take BEFORE the first snowflake flies to avoid property damage disasters from occurring.
ATTIC: Inspect for water stains on the underside of the roof sheathing. Be on the lookout for rot, mildew and mold which could indicate high humidity levels in the attic. Check to ensure that insulation is not wet or missing. Ensure that attic vents are open and unobstructed. If you don’t have soffit or ridge vents keep gable vents open year-round to ensure proper attic ventilation.
BASEMENT: Check for moisture. Clean your dehumidifier regularly. Locate and mark the shut-offs for the heating, electrical and plumbing systems. Protect your home from frozen pipes by sealing air leaks and insulating rim joists with a foam panel.
ROOF: Check for loose shingles, damage from tree branches and leaks around vents, skylights and chimneys. Inspect flashing at dormers, plumbing stacks and valleys. If you have a flat roof, look for blisters and bubbles. Trim trees from roof edges, examine eaves checking the soffit and fascia boards for loose and rotten spots.
GUTTERS: Clear gutters and drain pipes of leaves and pine from the house and make sure they direct water away from the house.
GRADING: Landscape grading adjacent to the house should be checked to ensure a “positive” slope: one inch per foot for the first 6 feet away from the house. Clean drain basins of debris.
DRYER: Clean your dryer and dryer screen. According to FEMA, there are roughly 2,900 dryer fires each year causing $35 million in property loss. Clogged vents also cause your dryer to work harder increasing operating costs.
REFRIGERATOR: Make sure the door seals are airtight. Test by closing the door over a dollar bill. If you can pull the bill out easily the latch may need to be readjusted or the seal may need to be replaced.
ELECTRICAL SYSTEM: Check your electrical panel for rust or water marks. If the panel is warm to the touch or emits a burned odor call an electrician immediately as burned wires indicate loose or poor connections.
FIREPLACE: Remove the ashes from the firebox and have your chimney professionally cleaned once before the winter-heating season starts or if it is used frequently. Ensure that the chimney damper closes tightly.
GENERATOR: Test it and keep the tank full and fuel fresh with a stabilizer. Make sure to always operate the generator OUTSIDE at least 5 feet away from the house and facing away from doors, windows and vents.