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Prepare a house for a winter storm

The winter can be a great time of the year, with the holiday season, picturesque landscapes and warm fires. However, this season can also bring a lot of inclement weather, and a heavy coating of snow can do some serious damage to a property.

That is why all homeowners should be prepared this winter. A well-protected house is a must this time of year, and certain precautions will help keep both the structure and the family safe. Without getting ready for the next big storm, a number of things could go wrong. Afterward, a homeowner could be stuck with expensive repair bills.

A home inspection professional can help during the winter. These experts could look over a property both before and after a storm, to make sure everything is still functional. Or, they could check out any repairs made following a serious snowfall.

Get the inside ready for snow
Winter preparations on the inside are just as important as those on the outside. This is especially true ahead of a major winter storm, and even if the residents are warm and cozy things could be going wrong.

According to Kiplinger, the first priority during the winter should be well-insulated pipes. A warm house doesn't mean that the water in the attic, basement, crawl spaces and other areas are alright. Instead, these areas could be extremely cold. Therefore, homeowners should wrap all the pipes in insulation, and keep cabinets open in the kitchen and bathroom so those pipes can get some hot air. If it is extremely cold outside, it may be smart to let the faucets drip slowly in order to keep the water moving.

In addition, every house should have a carbon-monoxide detector installed, Kiplinger noted. Poor ventilation of heating elements can lead to carbon-monoxide poisoning, a serious threat while everyone is stuck inside during a winter storm. Each floor could benefit from these devices. An emergency kit should also be kept in the home all winter. In it can be flashlights, batteries, radio and other first aid supplies. In addition, a well-stocked pantry with food and water is also useful.

Focus on the outside
Prior to a major winter storm, homeowners should make sure the outside of the house is in good shape. A property inspection during the winter is advisable, as a licensed professional can point out concerning areas and recommend improvements that can keep a house safe all season long.

For starters, Kiplinger advised cleaning out the gutters before a storm. An excess of water can back up and leak into the house, so it is prudent to make sure all drainage areas are clear and running away from the structure. Low-hanging branches should also be trimmed back, so if they freeze and break they won't land on the roof.

Moreover, homeowners should keep an eye out for ice dams. According to Popular Mechanics, a cold roof is actually the key to a problem-free winter. The warmer it is, the easier it could be for snow to melt and freeze again around the edges, leading to this problem. If ice dams are present, it could be a sign that the attic is lacking insulation. 

If this is the case, homeowners should install more insulation around the attic floor and walls. If there appears to be water seeping under the shingles around the eaves, that could be a telltale sign of ice dams. A home inspection can help figure out if this problem exists, or if other issues are present throughout a property. That way, homeowners can stay warm and safe during a winter storm.

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