You would be hard pressed to find a person who doesn’t appreciate the beauty of freshly fallen snow on the ground, or the tranquility of grass and leaves with frosty tips. There’s no denying that winter is a stunning time of the year, especially when the sub-zero temperatures hit and white magic perfectly adorns rooftops and back yards; but all its serenity, winter can be harsh on your house.
In the same way you protect yourself from the cold elements, you need to protect your house from them, too. If not, you could run in to some unpleasant issues such as blocked gutters, ruined plant life and draughts galore, and now we’re welcoming in February, you can expect a much higher chance of snowfall as the end of winter gives way to the bliss of springtime. As the saying goes, things tend to get worse before they get better, and that’s exactly what we’re about to experience.
If you live in an area that is susceptible to snowfall and frost, now is the time to be prepared; especially if it’s your first time living by yourself and being responsible for your own home. Here are some ways you can protect your home from frost and snow and keep it healthy ready for the spring reprieve.
Drains are not very glamorous; in fact, you probably spend as much time away from them as possible; but in winter, they need a bit of TLC beyond your basic cleaning routine. Sub-zero temperatures can and so often do cause drains to become frozen over. If your drain is frozen, that means your pipes are also likely frozen. This might not sound like a big deal, but when water freezes it expands, and if it expands beyond the remits of your pipework, your pipes will burst. If it’s not the expanding water that causes your pipes to crack and break, it could well be the build up of pressure. Either way, frozen drains and pipes are a flood risk, and this means forking out thousands in repairs should the worst happen.
Many people think pipes will thaw by themselves, and they might well do, but it could take a long time which gives them more than enough time to burst and cause some damage, and for that reason, you should never leave your pipes to unthaw by themselves. Instead, when the temperature drops and snow appears outside, you should try and unthaw the pipes manually. You can do this in several ways, including putting heated pads on the pipes or towels that have been soaked in hot water.
You can prevent your pipes freezing over by insulating them with pipe sleeves or heat tape, by ensuring your home is heated thoroughly and doors are closed, and by ensuring you have a back up power source in case your power goes out.
Blocked gutters are never good for your home. They cause all sorts of drainage issues which can lead to issues like leaks, mold, damp, wood rot and even structural damage to the foundations of your home. Snow and ice blocked gutters can cause the same issues, but an added risk is that the weight of the ice and snow can weigh the gutters down. This carries the risk of the gutter pulling away from your house, and that will be an expensive issue to fix.
To keep your gutters flowing and preventing them from becoming clogged with snow and ice, you will need some socks or stockings, some rock salt and some ice melt. Clear as much of the snow/ice out of the gutter as you can, fill a stocking with some rock salt and ice melt, knot the top and position it in your gutter. You will want enough stockings to line the length of your gutters.
This mostly applies to newer houses and properties that have relatively newly cemented steps. New builds tend to take a while for the ground to settle and for the interior to settle, too. That is why you’re typically advised to not redecorate for at least a year following the completed build; but there are problems outside that could rear their heads, too. If your house has steps leading up to it and they’re newly constructed, there’s a chance the cement might not have fully adhered. Add in cold weather like frost and snow, and your steps and surrounding pavement could start to crumble.
Whilst this is largely out of your control, covering the steps with a plastic sheet if possible, could help keep as much moisture out as possible, therefore minimizing the risk of severe cracks, crumbling and breakage. If snow does settle on the ground, clear it with some ice melt or salt immediately to prevent further damage.
These are three issues you might not have thought about when it comes to preparing your home for the cold, wintery weather, but they’re certainly expensive and so should be avoided at all costs where possible.