Culprits of Winter Home Disasters & How to Prevent Them

Author: D16 March 13, 2014

Frozen Pipes

Frozen pipes cause large amounts of damage in homes across the United States each year.  When the temperature outside dips below 20 degrees Fahrenheit poorly insulated pipes are at risk of freezing and breaking.  According to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, one broken pipe with a 1/8-inch crack can release more than 250 gallons of water in just one day destroying the home, furniture, and personal items.  To prevent this from happening in your home, make sure all pipes along outside walls, ceilings, and floors have enough insulation, disconnect all outdoor garden hoses, and seal any holes or cracks in the home’s foundation or attic that may allow cold air to leak into the crawlspace or attic areas.  Vulnerable pipes near exterior walls are ones to watch closely, and opening cabinet doors to let warm air in around the pipes, letting the water trickle, or proper installation of UL approved heat tape may prevent those pipes from freezing.

If you plan to leave your home for an extended period of time during the winter months, you should set the thermostat no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit, shut off and drain the home’s water system, and have family or neighbors check on the home regularly.  Click here for more information on frozen pipes.

Ice Dams

What is an ice dam?  They usually occur after big winter storms when snow and ice melt at the top part of the roof, but refreeze toward the bottom parts around the eaves and gutters.  The wall of ice that forms at the roof’s edges is called an ice dam (See below for photo).  The water that is blocked by the ice dam can get under shingles and cause massive water damage once it penetrates into the home.  Preventing warm attic air from leaking and melting the snow at the roof’s top is usually what will prevent ice dams from forming.  Make sure your attic is properly insulated and gutters are thoroughly cleared and in good working condition this winter.  Click here to read more about ice dams and prevention.

 

Space Heaters

According to the Home Safety Council, most winter home fires are caused by heating equipment, and space heaters are known to be the most dangerous culprits.  It is important to use them responsibly if you must use them.  Here are a few tips to use space heaters safely:

  1. Check the heater’s label to make sure it has been tested and approved.  Key indicators of this include UL, ETL, or CSA.  Also read through all instructions included with the heater or on the label.
  2. Keep the heater at least three feet from anything that could burn, e.g., curtains, furniture, pets, people, etc.
  3. Keep children away from space heaters.  Adult supervision is necessary when a space heater is in use with children or pets around.  They could be burned or they could unintentionally cause a fire.
  4. Never leave a space heater that is on unattended.  If you leave a room or go to sleep make sure it is turned off.
  5. Do not use the space heater for unintended purposes such as drying clothes or blankets.

 

How more tips on how to keep your home safe check out our other articles or visit us online at www.SwartzContracting.com

 

 

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