Personal Insurance

Tips For Winterizing Your Home

winterizing house

Build-up of Ice and Snow on the Roof

Ice and snow build-up can cause seepage, wall and ceiling cracking, and even roof collapses. Safeguard your roof by keeping the entire roof the same temperature as the eaves. Following these tips will help protect your roof and help save money on your heating bills.

  • Provide for continuous ventilation of attic air with ridge and soffit vents. Ideally, the attic air should be only five to ten degrees warmer than the outside air.
  • Stop heat from escaping your home into your attic by sealing the attic hatch or whole-house fan.
  • Check the ducts connected to the kitchen, bathroom, and dryer vents. These ducts should all lead outdoors through either the walls or the roof. They should not exit through the soffit.
  • Properly insulate the attic floor. Check with your local building department to find out how much insulation is right for your attic.

Frozen Pipes

Much of your home’s plumbing is located in the outer walls of the home so it is exposed to colder air than your thermostat, resulting in freezing or bursting pipes. Here are some ways you can protect the pipes:

  • Insulate both hot and cold water pipes located in unheated areas of your home, including the garage, attic, basement, crawl space, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets.
  • Remove hoses from outside hose bibs. If possible, turn off water supply to outdoor hose bibs and leave the valves open. Turn off water supply to landscape sprinkler lines and drain water according to installer’s directions.
  • During extreme cold weather, or if you are away from home, leave faucets dripping and cabinets open to expose plumbing to warmer air. If you will be away from home for a few days, have someone check your house regularly to minimize the damage if a pipe does burst.
  • Install a low temperature alarm if you are away often. These devices can be set to activate your alarm system or call your cell phone (or other numbers you designate) if the home temperature falls below a pre-set level.

DID YOU KNOW that setting your ceiling fans to spin clockwise during the winter will help push the hot air towards the floor. This will help make heating your home more safe and effective.

Improperly Used or Poorly Maintained Heating Systems

The improper use or poor maintenance of heating systems, including furnaces, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, and space heaters, can cause fire, puff-backs, and smoke damage. Maintain your heating system with these steps:

  • Clean or replace the furnace air filter once per month, or as recommended by the furnace manufacturer.
  • Have a professional service your furnace once per year.
  • Clean radiators, warm-air registers, and baseboard heaters as needed. Make sure they are not blocked by window coverings, furniture, rugs, etc.
  • Keep plenty of space between space heaters and household objects.
  • The National Fire Protection Association recommends that chimneys, fireplaces, and vents be inspected at least once per year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances, and “cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.” Even if you don’t use your chimney often, regular inspections are still recommended as animals may build nests in the flue or deterioration may have occurred that would make the chimney unsafe to use. For more information on chimney maintenance and safe use of a fireplace or wood-burning stove, visit

In the Event of a Loss

If your home suffers winter-related damages, contact your insurance agent as soon as possible after the loss occurs. Remember, you have a duty to mitigate losses. Taking action now to prepare will help prevent or reduce the amount of damage that occurs to your home in the event of adverse winter-related conditions. Early preparations will also make the recovery process run more smoothly.

Contact your Leavitt Group insurance advisor to learn more about protecting your home.

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  1. Renae, I like your tip about insulating both hot and cold water pipes. I assumed that it was only necessary to insulate the cold water pipes. It seems like the hot water isn’t hot enough to deal with winter temperatures. I have a cabin that I don’t visit very often, so a burst pipe would be disastrous. I think I’ll get everything insulated before an incident happens. Thanks for the tips.

  2. I appreciate your detailed tips for getting a heating system ready for the winter. It would be unfortunate to have a heating problem while it’s freezing outside, so I will have to keep this in mind. Do you suggest getting the ducts cleaned at all? Thank you for such a helpful article, I’ll check my air filter soon!