A Guide To Winter Home Maintenance


Maintaining Your Home Against Winter Perils

Along with the holidays, winter brings with it freezing temperatures, gusting winds, and other harsh conditions. A lot of homeowners suffer from the damages winter can wreak on their home and property, but only those who take steps to maintain their homes get funding from insurance for those repairs. Taking proper winter home maintenance precautions to fend off unforgiving weather should be your first priority if you want to be covered for any type of damage the cold season can throw at you. Here are a few common house problems you should look out for this winter: SEE ALSO: What Is Covered By Basic Home Insurance?

Frozen Pipes

A common winter issue that many people have to contend with are frozen pipes. Fortunately, typical home insurance will cover this problem, but only on certain conditions. In the case of a pipe burst, for example, your insurance will cover the cost of repair or damage if the water supply was previously shut off, the system was drained before the incident occurred, and the heat to your home was maintained while the house was unoccupied. A small crack in the water pipe that results in a slow leakage is a different situation. This type of leak is not usually covered by home insurance because it is considered a maintenance issue, which is not covered in a standard insurance policy. In order to prevent your pipes from freezing and causing any problems, do a maintenance check before the cold weather starts coming in; or, if you can, make a regular habit of checking a few times a year. Wrap exposed water pipes with insulation sleeves and install extra insulation in your attic, basement, and crawl spaces. Also, make sure to caulk or seal all cracks or holes on the exterior of your home, to prevent cold air and moisture from coming in. If your pipes do freeze, let them thaw out naturally to prevent them from bursting.

Ice Dams

Another tricky winter issue is ice dams, which is when ice forms at the edge of a roof, preventing melted snow to drain off. Generally speaking, home insurance companies will not pay for the removal of ice dams, as it is also considered part of the regular maintenance of your home. However, the damage an ice dam causes your home might be covered. For example, if an ice dam causes your gutter to fall, breaks a window, or floods your home, your insurance may cover some of the costs for repairs, depending on your coverage. To be safe, though, it would be better to avoid the risk and have the ice dams removed on a regular basis. You might also consider reducing heat in the attic, as well as ventilating the ridge of the roof in order to prevent ice dams from forming.

Leaky Roof

If a leak occurs on your roof and you haven’t performed regular maintenance on it, your home insurance most likely won’t cover it. Damage to the interior of your home might be covered, but, again, it can vary from company to company. The only exception would be if the leak was caused by sudden, accidental damage, like the weight of heavy snow causing your roof to collapse. In that case, your insurance would cover both interior and exterior damages. The best way to prevent a leaky roof from causing any damage, though, would be to inspect it for weaknesses before they can become a problem (preferably before the rain and snow start coming down). Make sure to replace any damaged or missing shingles, and that all cracks and edges are sealed. Also, clear off all debris that can build up and create a damn that prevents water from properly running down and away from the roof.

Fallen Trees

Winter storms are also notorious for blowing off braches from trees, and quite often, uprooting the tree entirely. Fortunately, typical home insurance policies will cover damages caused by fallen trees and branches, even if it is your neighbor’s tree that damaged your property, or vice versa. However, even though you are covered, you should still do what you can to be safe and prevent damages or injuries from occurring. Trim your trees regularly and remove all dead branches. Pay close attention to branches hanging over:
  • Sidewalks and walkways
  • Structures on your property
  • Structures on your neighbor’s property
  • Anywhere cars are parked
SEE ALSO: 5 Ways To Winterize Your Home Security Make sure to take proper care of your home and property so your insurance company will cover you in case something happens this winter. The maintenance might seem costly and unnecessary, but it’s better to take precautions just to be safe.  After all, you could end up saving a lot of money in the long run.
Date of original publication:
Updated on: November 10, 2015

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