Ned Stark uttered his famous line “winter is coming” for a good reason in “Game of Thrones.” While you might not battle white walkers when the cold winds begin to blow, you nevertheless face threats. So does your home — in the form of damage from unforgiving elements.
You don’t want to spend the first warm days of spring performing countless repairs. Wouldn’t it be better to prevent the damage in the first place? Of course. These five things will protect your home from ice this winter.
You might take your car to the shop for winterization, but you don’t have a similar option with your home. What tasks should you tackle? Start by assessing your home’s ingress and egress points. Clearing away furniture and flower pots from decking does double duty — it creates a clear walking path to prevent tripping while preventing mold and mildew from accumulating.
Take a look at your doors. Have you lubricated the tracks, hinges and rollers to your automatic garage door so you can pull in smoothly and avoid struggling with groceries on a steep, icy driveway? Did you replace twist knobs — impossible to manipulate with gloves — with levered versions to make it easier to get in from the cold? The latter also improves accessibility for family members with arthritis.
Please look up, as danger can lurk overhead. Cleaning your gutters can prevent ice dams from accumulating on your roof, causing trouble — more on that in a bit. Do you have a flat roof over a carport? If so, consider investing in a rake to remove excess accumulation that has no way to slide to the ground.
Ice poses the greatest risk to your home where it can trip and injure you. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, spills on snow and ice hurt a million Americans each year, killing 17,000. Leaving the white stuff on your sidewalks is a recipe for disaster, especially considering the high cost of health care in the United States.
Furthermore, failure to clean your walkways could lead to a hefty fine. Many jurisdictions have enacted snow removal laws that dictate the time frame you have to get out there with the shovel and salt.
What are your options for melting snow and ice? Here are some of your choices:
- Standard deicers: You can find deicing pellets at nearly any grocery or hardware store. The ones made from magnesium chloride are more sustainable and less damaging to your driveway than standard salt or calcium chloride.
- Rubbing alcohol: Rubbing alcohol has a much lower freezing point than water. You can mix it with boiling water and dish soap for larger areas or make a spray bottle solution of ⅔ alcohol to ⅓ water to deice door handles and other small locations.
- Natural, nonslip materials: While kitty litter and sawdust won’t melt ice, they do create traction, helping you navigate over surfaces plagued by frequent melt-and-refreeze.
- Heated mats: If you have a bigger budget, heated mats can be a godsend, especially for the elderly or disabled who struggle to shovel.
- Heated driveways: Is money not an issue? If so, why not consider a heated driveway? They’re easy in places with heavy snowfall and freezing, but they can cost thousands to install.
A little bit of snow on your tipi can add extra insulation, but letting ice accumulate on your roof is a no-no. It’s one reason cleaning your gutters before the first flakes is vital. However, you can take additional measures to prevent this damaging phenomenon that can cause water leaks inside walls, spurring mold growth and even sparking electrical fires.
An ice dam occurs when snow melt forms a wall of ice on your roof’s edge, keeping accumulation from sliding off the side. Instead, water drips into your home, causing leaks. Your best prevention bet is to insulate your attic and stop air from escaping. Please note that you also need adequate ventilation to draw in cold, outside air and let heated air escape.
Indoor humidity can cause ice and frost to accumulate on your windows, causing cracks. Ice can also melt off single-pane windows, seeping inside walls and causing mold.
Winterize your home’s windows by getting out the caulk gun and sealing any cracks to prevent air transfer from inside to outside, encouraging condensation and causing ice formation. You may wish to run a dehumidifier if the problem is severe, but many people suffer from dry, indoor air in the winter — use your judgment. It might be worth upgrading to a double-pane design, as you’ll make up much of the purchase price in saved utility costs over time.
Please don’t forget your prized plants. While many species survive the cold season without problems, others need more protection. Furthermore, trimming tree branches can prevent them from breaking under the ice and snow’s weight and causing damage.
Cover your plant beds with a protective layer of mulch and wrap plants that require it. Pull perennial weeds to discourage them from becoming well-established over the cold season. If you have a lawn, apply a winter fertilizer before the first snowfall.
Ice can do considerable damage to your home. What steps should you take to get ready for winter’s worst?
Follow the above steps to protect your home from ice this winter. An ounce of prevention is much better than pricey repairs come spring.
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