As the cold winds blow and the snow starts falling, winter’s arrival often brings delight for the holidays — and the potential for harsh weather conditions that can wreak havoc on residential and commercial buildings.
From frozen pipes to roof leaks, burst water heaters, flooding basements, and more, Chicagoland winters can cause serious (and expensive) property damage to homes and businesses if owners are not prepared.
Luckily, there are proactive measures you can take now before the worst of winter sets in to protect your property and prevent costly repairs. Let’s explore some practical steps you should take to safeguard your investments and your family during this festive season.
From the Top Down
One of the most vulnerable areas of any property during this time of year is the roof. Frequent snowfall and freezing temperatures can lead to ice dams. These buildups prevent melting snow from draining off your roof, causing water to leak inside and ruin walls, ceilings, and insulation.
Before heavy snows arrive, conduct a thorough inspection of your roof. Look for loose or damaged shingles, as well as any signs of wear and tear or flat areas prone to collecting snow. When moisture seeps under shingles and freezes, it will expand, deteriorating your roof even faster.
Replace any damaged roofing materials promptly to ensure a strong and secure roof structure. It’s also important to clean your gutters regularly so they’re not clogged. As leaves fall during autumn, they often accumulate in gutters, preventing proper drainage. Clearing the path prevents water from pooling and freezing.
Consider getting a professional roofing inspection as part of your yearly building maintenance. Experts in this field will be able to identify potential issues that may not be visible from where you’re standing. Investing in proper insulation in your attic space can help you minimize heat loss and conserve energy.
Drafty windows and waste heat, driving your utility bills higher. Check for gaps and cracks and seal them with caulk or weatherstripping. This will help block out the chill and keep your loved ones toasty and warm.
Protect Your Pipes
Chicago’s winter temperatures can drop significantly, posing a threat to your property’s plumbing. Frozen pipes can burst, causing all kinds of messy chaos.
To prevent this, insulate exposed pipes in unheated areas, such as basements, attics, and crawl spaces, with preformed foam rubber sleeves, which are available at many home improvement stores. In extreme weather conditions, it’s best to cover the ones under the bathroom and kitchen sinks and keep cabinet doors open to ensure the flow of warm air.
Allow faucets to drip slightly when the temperatures are bitterly low to keep water flowing, which reduces the risk of pipes freezing. If you plan to be away from your property for an extended period, consider shutting off the water supply and draining the pipes to avoid a disaster.
Flooding from burst pipes or water heater leaks can cause all kinds of problems. Place sensors near water fixtures to sound an alarm if a leak is detected. Some sensors also automatically shut off the water to prevent waste and damage until repairs are made. This adds extra reassurance if plumbing fails while you are away this winter.
No one wants to endure frozen nights or frigid mornings without heat when a brutal Chicagoland winter storm blows through. Schedule annual maintenance on your furnace, chimney, and HVAC ductwork to ensure it runs efficiently and safely so it operates reliably when needed. Replace air filters, check control mechanisms, lubricate moving parts, and inspect exhaust and fuel lines for issues. Addressing problems ahead of time means fewer surprises mid-winter.
The Great Outdoors
During the spring and summer, we love spending time outdoors with our family and friends. But before the onset of the brutally cold season, it’s crucial to evaluate and winterize your lawn and garden and the exterior of your home or business.
Tree branches weighed down by snow and ice can snap suddenly and fall on your house, fencing, vehicles, or garage. A professional arborist or tree surgeon will be able to evaluate your trees and make recommendations on which ones need to be pruned before the next severe winter storm.
It’s smart to have exterior GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets around your property for holiday lighting displays and entertaining. However, unused outlets that are exposed to rain or snow can short-circuit or start fires. Install weatherproof external outlet covers when not in use. You’ll prevent accidental electric shocks and fire hazards with this simple winterizing task.
If you have outdoor furniture, you may want to clean and store it for the season to avoid being tossed about by high winds or ruined by rain and snow. Pre-made covers are available from many retailers, but you’ll want to select ones that are durable, waterproof, and allow airflow to prevent mildew.
While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a warmer and drier season than normal for the Chicagoland area, the El Niño weather pattern means the storms that do arrive could be much more powerful.
Taking proactive measures to winterize and protect your property could save you from a myriad of expensive repairs and potential disasters.
PuroClean of Evanston and our Paramedics of Property Damage™ are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for both commercial and residential clients. You don’t have to go it alone if the unthinkable happens — contact our expert team today!