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(Reuters)

Protecting Your Home from Old Man Winter

By Home Mortgage FOXBusiness

Old man winter will be here before we know it and many are predicting another bad season.

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While keeping warm will be a major consideration, protecting your home from damage should also be top on that list.  After all, bad weather is the number one culprit for roof damage and many of that occurs during the winter months.

“With the potential for heavy snow or cold weather you always want to make sure you are prepared,” says Jim Gustin, senior property specialist, risk control, at Travelers. “You don’t want to find out when a storm hits these things need to be done.”

According to an analysis of claims data, Travelers found roofing damage was primarily driven by wind and hail. Other weather related water damage, the weight of ice or snow and lightening, can also cause harm. The claims from roof damage can tend to get costly, which is why Gustin says preparation is the key to protecting your roof and thus your pocket book this winter. “As we move into the fall and start getting into winter these preparations need to be done,” says Gustin.

Take a stroll to protect your roof

An easy, but important step to prepare your roof for the winter months is to take a walk around the perimeter of the home to see if there are any branches that are too close to the roof and can cause damage if there is high wind or heavy snow. Gustin says to get rid of any overhanging branches, clean out gutters and down spouts and check the roof for any previous damage that went unfixed. Gustin says to also make sure the flashing on the roof, which helps prevent water from penetration, is in good condition at any part where there is the chance water can get in such as a dormer, windows or skylights. 

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It’s also a good idea to add extra insulation in the attic to guard against ice dams, which is solid ice that builds up on the eaves of your roof and can damage your gutters and roof and cause water to get inside. If you live in an area that is prone to hail and you’re roof needs fixing, you may want to use impact resistance roofing material, which will even save you money on your homeowner’s insurance in some states and with certain insurance carriers.

While your roof is going to be a costly repair there are other areas of your home that needs to be protected from inclement weather. According to Travelers to prevent any pipes from freezing, which can cause flooding and water damage, make sure pipes exposed to cold weather are insulated properly and that the thermostat is turned up when its extra cold out.

Ensure everything is working

Your furnace needs to be working properly, particularly if it gets very cold out, which is why now is the time to ensure it is in good condition. Hold off until it gets cold out and you’ll be waiting a while to get it repaired and will likely pay top dollar for those fixes. Travelers suggests you get your furnace cleaned and inspected on an annual basis. Your chimney should also be inspected and maintained yearly.

An easy way to keep your home warm and damage free and also save money on heating and cooling is to make sure all the caulking around doors, windows and electric outlets are in good shape. Find any signs of deterioration, then spend the time to replace or repair it now before a problem arises. Caulking shouldn’t stop at exterior facing spaces in your home. Experts say you also want to make sure the caulk around showers, bathtubs, sinks and toilet bases are also in good shape. 

Even with all the preparation in the world you can’t 100% proof your home from winter weather and the damage it can cause. Because of that Gustin says you need to ensure you’ve installed smoke detectors on each floor and that they actually work. He suggests testing them monthly and changing the battery annually or when needed.

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