Updated: Jan 6
1. Guard Plumbing Pipes
To keep outdoor plumbing fixtures from freezing make sure hoses are drained and unhooked and put insulated covers on exterior spigots. These covers can be purchased at many of the local hardware stores. Turn off the water supply to them if possible. If you have any indoor plumbing that runs through exterior walls make sure they are well insulated and continuously monitored.
2. Seal Openings
Freezing air or precious heated air will find its way to enter or escape through any opening possible. Hardware stores carry foam insulation spray which is great for filling gaps where cables, phone lines or anything else has created a small hole in your homes exterior. Make sure all the weather stripping on your doors has a good seal and also check to see if there
are any openings or cracks around doors
or windows that need re caulked.
3. Add Insulation
Make sure wherever you can visibly inspect your home that it is properly insulated. Check your exterior walls, attic, crawl space, basement and also look at the pipes themselves. They make pipe sleeves and also electric ropes that can help keep them warm in severe cases. Have a local company that installs insulation come give your home an evaluation in the fall before winter strikes.
4. Keep Water Moving
Any of your indoor faucets, especially ones that are located on exterior walls should be slowly dripping whenever the temperatures dip well below freezing. Make sure both the hot and cold water lines are slightly opened. It also helps to open the cabinet doors under the sink so the warm air from the rest of your house can easily enter helping keep the pipes from freezing.
5. Know Where Your Water Shut Off Is
If your water lines happen to freeze or burst you need to shut them off immediately. Make sure you know where the main water shut off is and it is easy to access in case of an emergency. Also, test the valve to make sure it is in working condition. Just because its not leaking does not mean it works. Some valves as they get older just spin and don't actually stop the flow of water.
6. Keep The Garage Doors Closed
If your garage is attached to your house, try to keep it closed as much as possible. This helps keep the cold air out of the house and also helps insulate plumbing fixtures in the garage and pipes in shared walls between the house and garage.
7. Clean The Gutters
If your gutters are full of leaves from the fall there is a much higher chance of having ice form on your roof and that is not something you want. As a roofing contractor we have seen this issue multiples times where ice forms and water enters once it starts to melt near the eaves of your home right above the gutter line. This is why we are required to install ice and water shield there but it is still not a fool proof method. Make sure your gutters are cleaned or have screens on them!
8. Proper Attic Ventilation
Attic ventilation is so important to the prevention of ice dams. When your roof was installed they should have calculated how many soffit intake vents and ridge vent or box vents were needed to properly even out airflow. Most roofing contractors do not even think about this and the vital role it plays for your home. You want to insulate your home to contain the warm air and keep your attic cold like the outside temperatures so the warm air from your home isn't turning your roof into a big sheet of melted snow that forms ice.
***A quick way to check is the longer your roof has snow on it, the better insulated your home is.
Hopefully you find these tips helpful! A couple of additional items could include making sure your generator starts if you have one to provide power in case of a power outage and having a few space heaters on hand. Make sure you have plenty of warm blankets, stock up on groceries if possible and also wood if you have a fireplace!