How to prevent 4 common wintertime problems in your home


Too many things can go wrong in your home during the winter, especially if you live in a region that gets lots of harsh weather. The influx of cold air and heavy precipitation can wreak havoc on your house if you're not prepared. To ensure that you and your family are ready to take on the colder months, take these preventive measures to protect your home from common wintertime woes.

1. Frozen pipes
If any of your water supply pipes are exposed to cold conditions, they could freeze and crack. This problem requires lots of plumbing to fix and will probably cost you a pretty penny. The Red Cross recommended that you let water drip from any outdoor pipe when cold weather sets in. When there's water running through a pipe, it will prevent it from freezing. If you're going away on vacation, set your thermostat to at least 55 degrees, unless you want to come home to a wet floor. Finally, keep your garage doors closed if you have any supply lines in the garage. This will help trap heat in the area and keep the temperature above freezing.

2. Ice dams
The melting snow that follows a big winter storm can cause ice dams around the edges of your roof. These formations can trap water and ruin your roof, siding or attic. The most common cause of ice dams is uneven heating in your top floor. To keep your roof safe from these buildups, you'll want to make sure that there's sufficient insulation in your roof and that the attic is adequately ventilated. Popular Mechanics magazine explained that when too much heat gathers in an unventilated attic, patches of snow will melt rapidly then refreeze on the eaves. If you're not comfortable inspecting your home for these types of problems, call a contractor before the season's first snowfall.

3. House fires
You may think that structural problems are most prominent during the winter, but the California State Firefighters' Association noted that December through March are the peak months for house fires. The majority of these blazes are caused by heating equipment that is not used properly or given proper maintenance. If you use a portable space heater in your home, be sure to read the manual carefully and follow all safety precautions. You should also make a point to clean the filter in your furnace and supervise any food cooking in the kitchen. Finally, test your smoke detectors on a monthly basis and replace the batteries every six months.

4. Mold growth
Excess moisture in your home, intentional or not, can spur mold growth during the winter. These little spores can damage the carpet, wood or furnishings in your house, not to mention that it's bad for your health. To prevent mold growth, you'll need to control moisture in damp areas. If there's a spill or leak in your home, effectively dry the area and fix the source of the problem. In areas that are moisture-prone, like the basement or bathroom, use a fan or dehumidifier to move the air away and keep the room dry.

If you take these four steps, you'll sufficiently protect your most valuable investment from damage during the winter months. Another way that you can protect your home – and your wallet – is to invest in a TotalProtect® Home Warranty, which can help repair or replace your appliances or systems should they break down during the chilly weather.

The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.