As severe winter weather continues to pummel residents throughout the Upper Peninsula and northeastern Wisconsin, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, a national research and communications organization, offers a severe winter weather maintenance checklist for property owners impacted by freezing weather.
"We urge everyone at risk of severe winter weather to stay tuned to the National Weather Service advisories, and use Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety risk reduction recommendations to protect their homes and businesses today, and throughout this winter season," said Julie Rochman, IBHS president and CEO.
Freezing Weather Maintenance Checklist
- Stay Safe and Warm: Alternative heating is a great way to stay warm during the cold weather, but its use comes with risks. Check experts' advice before selecting or installing an alternative heating source.
- Build a Plan for a Power Outage: Heavy snow and high winds are a recipe for widespread power outages. It's important to prepare a plan now before a possible outage. Check with experts on how you can use alternative heat sources and generators safely during a power outage.
- Prevent Roof Collapse: Significant snowfall can put a strain on a roof that could cause significant damage and even potential collapse. Unless your roof structure is damaged or decayed, most residential roofs, regardless of the location of the house, should be able to support 20 pounds of snow per square foot of roof space before they become stressed. Determine how much the snow/ice on your roof weighs by using the information below.
- Fresh snow: 10-12 in. of new snow is equal to 1 inch of water, or about 5 lbs. per square foot of roof space, so you could have up to 4 ft. of new snow before the roof will become stressed.
- Packed snow: 3-5 in. of old snow is equal to 1 inch of water, or about 5 lbs. per square foot of roof space, so anything more than 2 ft. of old snow could be too much for your roof to handle.
- Total accumulated weight: 2 ft. of old snow and 2 ft. of new snow could weigh as much as 60 lbs. per square foot of roof space, which is beyond the typical snow load capacity for most roofs.
- Ice: 1 inch of ice equals 1 ft. of fresh snow.
- Prevent Ice Dams: During freezing weather, heat from your home or business can escape through your roof and melt snow on your roof. The snowmelt can then trickle down to the roof's edge and refreeze, creating an ice dam that leaves additional snowmelt with no place to go but possibly under your roof. The following Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety guidance will reduce your risk of ice dams.
- Keep all drains, scuppers, gutters, and downspouts free of debris and vegetation that may restrict proper flow.
- Remove or relocate heat sources that are installed in open attic areas directly under the roof, such as an attic.
- Insulate light fixtures in the ceiling below an unheated attic space.
- If you have penetrations into the attic, such as vents, seal and insulate them so that daylight cannot be seen and airflow is minimal.
- If ice dams form around the drains, connect heating cables to the drains to prevent ice buildup. Heating cables can also be placed on the roof, connecting them to the drainage system so a path is created for the melting ice to follow.
- Prevent Frozen Pipes: Frozen pipes are one of the biggest risks of property damage when the temperature drops. In fact, a burst pipe can result in more than $5,000 in water damage. Prevent costly water damage caused by frozen pipes by using the following recommendations.
- Provide a reliable back-up power source to ensure continuous power to the building.
- Insulate all attic penetrations.
- Ensure proper seals on all doors and windows.
- Seal all wall cracks and penetrations, including domestic and fire protection lines, electrical conduit, other utility service line, etc.
- Install insulation and/or heat trace tape with a reliable power source on various wet sprinkler system piping. This includes main lines coming up from underground passing through a wall as well as sprinkler branch lines.
- Place a monitored automatic excess flow switch on the main incoming domestic water line to provide early detection of a broken pipe or valve when the space is unoccupied.
- Install Weather Stripping and Seals: Prevent freezing temperatures from entering your home or business by installing weather stripping and seals. This offers two major benefits - it will keep severe winter weather out of your home or business and sealing your property shut also greatly increases energy efficiency by limiting drafts and reducing the amount of cold air that enters. Inspect the following areas of your home or business for leaks to determine possible areas to seal.
- Windows and doors.
- Vents and fans.
- Air conditioners.
- Electrical and gas lines.
- Mail chutes.
Find out how you can reduce damage to your property from freezing weather by visiting www.disastersafety.org/freezing_weather/.