The sight of falling snow is a beautiful part of the winter season, but it is also a potential danger for homeowners. Safety concerns caused by snowfall and other winter conditions arise around the home's interior and exterior during this time of year, requiring extra work on the part of homeowners to ensure no problems show up. To keep your home and its inhabitants safe during the winter season, the following projects should be done throughout these coldest months.
Electrical problems can pop up any time of the year, but they are especially crucial during the winter because you need the heat! Prevent electrical problems by inspecting the outside of your home. Specifically, look for any bird nests near electrical fixtures, as these nests should be removed before they cause a fire.
On the inside, make sure any electronic decorations have tight-fitting connections: three-prong outlets are optimal. These cords should be stored away from main walkways, and never beneath a carpet or rug, as this creates a fire hazard.
Increased moisture during the winter months can lead to ice around the home, ice dams on the roof, and even basement flooding or damage to the foundation. Gutters should be cleaned out before the snow falls, too. When colder weather arrives, clogged gutters can be spotted by looking for large icicles hanging from them and/or an accumulation of ice on the roof.
Inside the house, prevent water issues by insulating water pipes exposed to freezing temperatures. Pipes that border an exterior wall have the greatest freezing potential, so these pipes should be insulated with a towel or other piece of cloth.
In extreme cold weather, the water lines should be opened slightly to allow water to drip slowly into an inside sink. This encourages water flow and makes freezing pipes more unlikely. The cost to repair damage from a ruptured pipe can be anywhere from $5,000 to $70,000, according to State Farm Insurance.
Some local municipalities require that snow be shoveled from public walkways and sidewalks shortly after it falls. In areas where this is not required, removing snow from any walkway is essential to prevent slips and falls. Large snowfalls or any heavy and wet snowfall should be removed with a snow blower instead of a snow shovel. Shoveling snow can be hard on the heart, according to Harvard Medical School. In instances when a shovel is used, it's important that all lifting be done from the knees, not the back.
Once snow is removed, icy patches should be covered with salt, sand or some other type of commercial solution that provides traction, depletes the ice and prevents slips and falls.
The habitual cleaning of exhaust fans and filters in the bathrooms and kitchens should be done all year long. Cleaning these areas prevents the accumulation of dust and debris that could cause a fire. This is also an excellent time to monitor other filters in the home, including cleaning out the dryer's filter and replacing the filter in the home's furnace. Furnace filters should be replaced once a month, as doing so allows the HVAC system to operate properly and keep the home warm even when the weather outside is at its coldest.