Winter Home Protection Tips

February 2, 2011

Massachusetts is several months into its winter season, yet the snow keeps on piling on. With some of the most snow that Massachusetts have seen in years, it's important to keep in mind some tips to keep your home and business safe and protected from the elements. From heavy snow accumulation to water damage and bursting pipes, there are a range of potential dangers to look out for.Firstly, heavy snow accumulation can pose a threat both as it builds up and as it melts.

  • Watch out for snow accumulation on the leeward (downwind) side of your roof. Allowing heavy snow to accumulate can lead to roof damage. One of the most common options is to use a snow rake to easily scrape snow off the room from the safety of the ground. If you are unsure of the best practices for your particular roof, consider contacting a roofing contractor for a consultation.
  • Make sure to remove snow from basement stairwells, window wells, and walls, as melting snow can lead to flood damage of your building.
  • Keep your attic well ventilated to maintain a temperature close to that of the outdoors. If your attic is warmer than the outdoors, snow on your roof can melt and drip down to gutters, where it can refreeze and cause ice dams.

Extreme winter conditions can also lead to water damage. If your building has suffered from water damage as a result of melting snow and ice, make sure to call us at 508-540-2400 to report a claim.

  • Make sure the building is safe to enter and/or re-occupy.
  • Turn off the electricity and don't use electricity until it is safe to do so.
  • Secure the exterior to ensure that additional water damage does not occur. This can mean removing snow around the exterior of your building, boarding up broken windows, making temporary roof repairs, and sealing cracks.

Once it's safe to begin cleanup:

  • Disconnect all electronics and move them to a dry and safe location.
  • Remove as much standing water from the building as possible. Try using a wet vacuum to suck up the water.
  • Remove water-damaged materials.
  • Ventilate the building with fans and dehumidifiers.
  • If necessary, contact a water removal company.

An ice dam is the accumulation of ice at the edge of a sloped roof, as a result of melting snow on the roof refreezing at the edge of the roof. If enough water or ice builds up, water can seep into your attic or down the inside of your walls and cause water damage.

  • As mentioned above, ensure that your attic is properly ventilated, so that the attic remains at a cooler temperature, preventing snow from melting on the roof.
  • Clear gutters of all leaves and debris.
  • Ensure that the attic floor is well ventilated to minimize heat rising from residential areas of your building into the attic.

Bursting pipes occur when a pipe freezes and water pressure builds up between the ice blockage and the closed faucet. Pipes in attics, outside walls, and crawl spaces are particularly vulnerable to cold temperatures and freezing.

  • Make sure to properly insulate pipes in the above mentioned vulnerable areas.
  • Ensure that outside walls are properly sealed from cracks and holes.

For more information on bursting pipes, read our blog post on preventing frozen pipe bursts.
For other winter-related reading check our posts on tips for driving in the snow and avoiding "slip and fall" claims, but most of all, stay safe this winter season, and call us at 508-540-2400 if you need to report a claim, or are interested in an insurance consultation.