Water Damage Prevention in the winter

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Brrr! As temperatures drop, we begin to bundle up. We take all the precautionary measures to keep ourselves warm and cozy and to avoid catching a cold, but what about winter protection for your home or facility?

Many Water damage related Insurance Claims during the winter months are caused by the following:

Frozen Pipes

Pipes, water tanks, and other appliances can rupture in freezing temperatures if there is inadequate insulation and a lack of monitoring. Sprinkler pipes have stagnant water as opposed to continually flowing water, which can freeze if it is not monitored. Cracks and flooding can occur if a pipe freezes and builds up pressure.

Here are some tips on the prevention of frozen pipes:

  • Make sure water pipes that are located in areas without heat (basement, crawl space etc.) are properly insulated.
  • Prevent cold air from reaching pipes by caulking cracks and holes in your exterior walls.
  • Leave faucets slightly open to allow water to drip and helps prevent the pipes from freezing.
  • Install a water pressure monitoring system to detect a leak or blocked pipe, for maximum protection.

To reduce the severity of damage from frozen pipes, create a checklist and ensure that there is an emergency water leakage response plan.

Ice Dams

In the winter, water that is trapped in gutters will refreeze causing a clog and ice dams. Consequently, melting snow will build up if it can’t pass through the drainage system properly. This build-up of weight has an impact on roofs, seeping through shingles and sub-roofing and into the attic. Warm air which melts and then freezes again can cause ice dams.

Here are some tips on the prevention of ice dams:

  • Keep downspouts clear so that melted water can drain well.
  • Remove snow from the roof when it has reached about 15cm.
  • Properly ventilate and insulate the attic to keep it uniformly cold and to avoid uneven roof warming.
  • Prevent heat loss into the attic by sealing gaps, ceiling cracks, and other openings.
  • Other solutions include; gutter screens, snow shields and water membranes installed underneath roof shingles.

To avoid mold/corrosion, thoroughly dry out wooden and steel structures.  Always remember to clean your gutters before temperatures drop to keep ice dams and roof leaks at bay.  Any melting ice that drips over the side of the gutters has the potential to pool next to a building’s foundation and cause additional water damage. Further details are continued below.

Snow Melt and Other Sources

As the snow melts around a building, it can saturate deep into the soil, affecting the soil, and causing leaks through the foundation and basement, so it is important to make sure the area is clear.

Here are some tips:

  • Shovel snow that has accumulated, away from the house before it begins to melt.
  • Seal cracks and gaps in basement walls and install a sump pump.
  • Use water leak detectors to help reduce the amount of water damage

Other sources and tips:

  • Disconnect outdoor hoses when not in use, and shut off the water. Drain water from your hoses, and then store them so they don’t freeze, crack, or break in the cold.
  • Water supply lines should be checked annually for leaks. Appliances that can leak include: hot water heaters, washing machines, and ice machines in the refrigerator.

Stay safe and warm this winter!