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Preparing your house for ice storms

How to protect your house from ice storms

The forecast for the weekend isn’t pretty. Local weather forecasters are predicting freezing rain, sleet and snow that could be heavy enough to pull down power lines. So everyone will be running to the store to stock up on bread, milk, batteries and de-icing materials.

While you’re preparing for the storm, remember to check and prepare your house, too. A few simple steps could prevent much damage in the cold.

The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (PDF) recommends taking these precautions before an ice storm hits.

Inspect your roof.

  • Look at the slope (A) to see if snow and ice build-up may cause a problem. The flatter the roof, the higher the risk.
  • Do you have multiple peaks, dormers or chimneys? Snow and ice can build up behind these obstructions (B) and put stress on roof structure.
  • Take a close look at the edges of your roof for evidence of ice damming (C). These ice ridges form when heat escapes from your home’s interior, melting snow when it hits the roof. Water runs down the roof, hits the cold eave and freezes. Water then builds up behind this “dam” and can leak into ceilings, walls and your attic. In severe cases, ice dams can cause a roof to collapse.

Check your attic.

Look over the insuation to make sure there aren’t any large gaps (D). Also look for cracks that could leak warm air into the attic.

Clean your gutters.

Leaves, sticks and other debris can clog gutters and back them up, sending water into your foundation (E). Cut back any tree limbs that could add debris to your gutters (F).

Protect your pipes.

Seal leaky spots that could expose pipes to cold air and cause them to freeze (G). If you’re concerned that pipes may freeze if the power goes out and there’s no heat, Angie’s List has some hints for keeping the water flowing.

Disconnect your hoses.

If you haven’t already, disconnect your garden hoses (H). Make sure your sprinkler lines are drained, too. Shut indoor valves that control the flow of water to the outside of your house. If you don’t, the frozen lines can cause significant damage.

Once the storm clears, if you have any questions or concerns about the structural integrity of your home, please call AmeriSpec at 402-393-3696 in Omaha or 402-483-2010 in Lincoln. We can answer your questions or inspect those areas of concern for you.

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