First Winter as a Maine Homeowner? Avoid the “Big 3” Headaches

This recent blast of cold weather reminds us that winter’s coming. Every year, some clients of our Maine insurance agency report water or ice damage to their property. Many of these come from people who are spending their first winter since buying or significantly renovating their homes.
Every house is different; depending upon the roof shape and slope, landscaping, location and elevation, some homes are more exposed to winter’s peril more than others.
Here are a few tips to help you and your home weather your first winter together.
cold weather thermometerSNOW
• Watch for snow accumulation on the roof. Heavy snow load can lead to roof collapse. A roofing contractor will often be a good source for a reputable snow removal service.
• Remove snow from basement stairwells, window wells and all walls.Melting snow can lead to water damage and moisture intrusion.
Ice Dams are an accumulation of ice at the lower edge of a sloped roof. A warm attic melts snow, causing water to run down and refreeze at the roof ’s edge, where it’s much cooler. If ice builds up and blocks water from draining off the roof, water is forced under the roof covering and into your attic or down the inside walls of your house.Anatomy of an Ice Dam

• Keep your attic well ventilated so it maintains a temperature close to that of the outdoors, which will minimize the risk of ice dams forming.
• Make sure your gutters are clear of leaves and debris.
Pipes in attics, crawl spaces and outside walls are particularly vulnerable to extreme cold. To keep water in your pipes from freezing:
• Fit exposed pipes with insulation sleeves or wrapping to slow heat transfer.
• Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes with caulking.
In bitterly cold weather:
• Keep cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around pipes.
• Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets connected to pipes that run through an unheated or unprotected space.