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Preventing winter home disasters

The bitter cold can be a big danger to your home, much like your health. While you may take preventative measures to assure your physical well being during cold seasons, you should also prep your home for potential winter weather hazards.

Plumbing

Indiana's wintry cold wave can cause major problems in your home's piping. And the issue can be two-fold.

The immediate problem frigid temperatures pose is a threat to your home's water flow.

“When pipes start to freeze you could experience stoppage or low water pressure flowing through your home,” said Adam Hacker, BW/Cook Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing Co. operations manager.

The best solution is to check water appliances on outer walls of the home to see if they're running normally.

“If you have outer faucets, turn them on to see if they're running,” Hacker said. “Water is less likely to freeze when moving,”

Inside your home, keeping the pipes warm can be as simple as assuring adequate heat circulation.

“Open the cabinets to make sure there is heated air coming in,” Hacker said. “You could even put a space heater near the pipes.”

An even bigger consequence of frozen pipelines is a potential pipe burst.

Water expands when frozen causing cracks in the piping when solid. The best way to avoid this is prepping outside water connections to the home before the cold season hits.

“Make sure any hoses are disconnected and covers are put over water spigots,” Hacker said.

You might not see cracks or problems until after the weather starts to warm up. A call to your local plumber can solve any major leakage problems post-cold season, but there are steps you can take to limit more damage.

“If you have access to your water supply, shut it off,” Hacker said. “If the water is only dripping through a little bit, try wrapping the pipes with a hand towel until the plumber comes.”

Roofing

Snow accumulation on the top of the house isn't the worst thing that could happen to your home.

“Sometimes it's best to leave the snow on the roof unless it poses a danger,” said Barry Miltenberger, vice president of South Bend Roofing. “That way the snow will simply melt off the top of the house when it gets warm.”

But there are signs to look for in your snow covered roof that could lead to bigger problems.

Snow-less patches could point to internal problems with your house's structure.

“Bare patches on your roof could mean there's snow melting through the roof,” Miltenberger said. “This could mean there are problems with your home's insulation.”

He also said most calls he receives during the winter season is insulation-related.

“Some of these roof leaks are structural issues,” Miltenberger said.

If you see leakage inside your home's roof, it's safer to call a roofing company sooner than later.

“[Residents should] stay off the roof,”Miltenberger said. “Especially when conditions are horrible, it's best for roofers to fix the problem.”

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