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Winter Can Be Dangerous for Homes

Between the wind whipping off the Atlantic, the freezing rain, the sub-freezing temperatures and the heavy snow that falls a handful of times a year, winter in Delaware and the other Mid-Atlantic states can wreak havoc on your home.

Winter weather can lead to ice dams, water damage, cracked pipes and even structural deterioration of your foundation.

Luckily, there are some easy winter home protection tips you can follow before winter arrives – and once it is here – in Delaware to protect your home,from top to bottom,from the elements.

When snow collects on your roof, it presents a problem. In some areas of the country, it snows so much that roofs are in danger of collapsing. That’s not likely to happen here in Delaware, where it typically snows about 15 inches a year.

In Delaware, the risk snow poses comes in the form of ice dams.

Ice dams occur when the snow melts – either due to warming outside temperatures or heat leaving your attic through the roof – and then re-freezes near the colder bottom edge of your roof, next to the rain gutters. The ice blocks the gutters, forcing subsequent melted snow back up under your shingles, into the structure of your roof, resulting in significant damage.

To Prevent Ice Dams:

  • Make sure your attic is well-insulated and ventilated. A well-insulated and ventilated attic will maintain a temperature closer to that of the outdoors. It will also prevent warmth from your living spaces to collect in the attic and transfer through the roof, preventing the snow on your roof from melting and forming ice dams.
  • Keep your gutters clear of debris. Even if they do occur, ice dams are much less likely to do significant damage to your home if your gutters are clear of leaves, muck, sticks and other debris.
  • Make sure your home’s heating system is properly vented. The exhaust fans in your kitchen, bathrooms and dryer should be vented to the outside, either through the roof or an outside wall. If they are vented into the attic, they will contribute to ice dams forming.

Damage from snow and ice isn’t limited to your roof. Melting snow and ice can also seep into your home through vents, cracks and holes. Once it’s in your home, it can damage your possessions, ruin your walls and floors, and even damage your ductwork.

To Prevent Water Damage:

  • Clear snow from your basement stairwells, windows and entryways. When snow melts, it can leak into the house, damaging walls and floors.
  • Seal any and all cracks or holes around windows, doors or the exterior foundation of your home. If they are not sealed, melted snow and ice can seep into your home, along with warm air escaping to the outside.
  • Make sure all of your vents are hooded. Vents without hoods allow water to make their way into your ventilation system, which can cause serious damage.

All of these water-related issues can lead to a lot more than structural damage it can lead to mold in your home. If the water damage goes undetected and is not fixed, the wood frame of your house, your walls and your carpet can collect mold. Mold affects indoor air quality and your health. It may not seem like winter home protection tips are related to mold, but they are. 

It doesn’t get “arctic cold” in Delaware, but it does get cold enough to cause your pipes to freeze, your foundation to crack, and your house to sustain damage that is complicated and expensive to fix. Follow these simple winter home protection tips to prevent pipes from freezing:

  • Make sure your furnace is in proper running order. If your furnace dies and you’re not around to address the situation, your pipes could freeze up, crack and burst.
  • Seal all of the cracks and holes in outside walls and foundation near the areas where pipes enter and leave the house. If the air gets cold enough, it could cause your pipes to freeze and burst, which could lead to significant damage to your foundation.
  • Put insulation sleeves on pipes that are exposed. The sleeves will keep the pipes warm, even if the mercury drops well below zero and your furnace goes out.
  • On particularly cold nights, open up cabinets and closets that enclose pipes. Leave a small trickle of water running on faucets that are near the outside walls of your home.

Yes, winter weather in Delaware can be tough on your house. It can also be tough on your wallet if you don’t follow these simple winter home protection tips before and after the winter winds, snow and freezing rain and temperatures arrive.

For help getting your home ready for winter in the Mid-Atlantic region, please contact us at Griffith Energy Services, Inc.

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