Winter Storm Damage Prep for Your Home’s Exterior
Apple Exteriors
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Winter Storm Damage Prep for Your Home’s Exterior

Living in Minnesota, you know all too well how fast the winter can roll in. What’s even more unsurprising is how long winter can last. With the cold season so bitter and long, taking necessary precautions when preparing your home's exterior is essential.

Here’s what you need to know about exterior winter storm damage prep. Follow these steps to prepare your home’s exterior for the winter to avoid damage and high heating bills.

1. Inspect Your Exterior

The first step in any preparation is an inspection! Looking around your property and looking closer at the exterior of your home will help catch any damage that might worsen in the event of a winter storm.

Check your home for any missing or damaged shingles or siding. If you spot this, replace the missing pieces before winter hits!

Additionally, check for loose granules on your roof or around your property, as this is a sign your roof might need repair or replacement before the cold weather hits.

2. Trim Low Hanging Branches

The branches around your home provide a decent amount of shade in the summer and protection from the wind chill in the winter. However, low-hanging branches close to your home can be a significant threat to your home’s exterior.

Low-hanging branches can accumulate tremendous amounts of snow, causing them to snap under the weight and fall into your house. They might also snap during a gust of wind, turning them into flying debris. So, get those trimmers out and start snipping!

3. Keep an Eye Out for Ice Dams

Ice dams form when snow and ice form layers on the eaves of your roof. This process usually occurs when your attic isn’t well-insulated, which then causes snow on the roof to melt off and re-form into ice. 

This build-up of snow and ice creates a dam on top of your roof, which can cause damage to your shingles and leak in the interior of your home. Ice dams are also a safety risk, as they can fall off and onto people or pets who might be passing by below.

The first signs that an ice dam could form include:

  • Icicles

  • Moisture or water in your attic

  • Large sheets of ice near your gutters and on your roof

If you notice an ice dam start to form, call on a trusted professional for ice dam removal. Removing these on your own is unsafe, as doing so can damage your roof.

Using specialized tools for this process is most effective, and you also don’t want to put your personal safety at risk. At Apple Exteriors, we use a steam method to remove ice dams, which includes a piece of equipment called an Artic Steamer. This machine uses high-temperature water at low pressure, forming steam that melts the ice dam. It efficiently melts the thickest parts of an ice dam without damaging your roof.

Preventing ice dams is the best way to avoid them. To prevent an ice dam from forming, secure all attic leaks and insulate your attic well. This will help stop the heat from rising too much, melting the snow on your roof.

4. Prevent Pipes From Freezing

In Minnesota, cold snaps can be truly cold. When the weather dips down enough, it could cause your pipes to burst, damaging the interior and exterior of your home. Some pipes should be okay, as they fall within the home’s insulation, but be sure to insulate your pipes that may be vulnerable to the dropping temperatures.

Ways to prevent pipes from freezing include:

  • Keep garage doors closed.

  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate.

  • In excessively cold weather, let cold water drip from your faucets that have exposed pipes.

  • Keep the thermostat at one temperature both day and night.

  • If you are going away, keep your heat on a temperature higher than 55 degrees F.

5. Check Your Windows & Doors

If your windows and doors aren’t well-sealed, they will let in a lot of cold air. This can be a significant hazard to you and anyone else in your household during winter storms. And, if your windows are particularly old or unsafe, they could also get damaged in a particularly bad snow or ice storm. Old windows are usual culprits of a drafty house.

The best way to ensure your windows are in good condition is to reach out to a window replacement expert for an inspection.

6. Look Over Your Gutters

You’ll want to inspect your gutters and ensure they are in good condition. If you see debris build up, remove it immediately. Gutters can get clogged with debris, which leads to ice dams forming. Then, any excess snow and water can’t drain properly.

Issues with your gutters can also cause property damage. So, consider having a gutter guard system installed to prevent further problems.

7. Secure Outdoor Furniture & Decor

If you have patio or deck furniture outside, it’s a good idea to bring it indoors or store it during the winter. Not only will this preserve the furniture for the following spring, but it will keep high winds from throwing your furniture around.

Flying furniture can hit your home, break windows, damage vehicles, and cause damage to neighboring houses. Avoid turning your furniture into large projectiles by storing it away or locking it down.

8. Check for Cracks in Your Foundation

While you are inspecting your home’s exterior, make sure you check the foundation as well. Look for cracks, gaps, and broken pieces. If you notice any of these, fill them or have them repaired. This will help prevent water infiltration into your home.

9. Inspect & Clean Your Chimney

If your home has a chimney and a wood or gas fireplace, inspecting and cleaning your chimney is a good idea. Fires can start in chimneys and spread to the rest of your home. Chimney fires are caused by creosote, a by-product of the incomplete combustion of firewood. It can build up inside your chimney and fireplace as a liquid and become solid. It blocks the flue and can ignite into a fire as it builds up.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Winter Storm Damage?

The answer to whether homeowners insurance covers storm damage is complex. The answer is “yes,” but with a catch.

First, you need to spot signs of storm damage on your property. These can include missing shingles, missing granules, indented roof, siding rot, missing siding, leaking gutters, and water damage on the ceiling.

Most homeowners insurance companies will require proof that a storm caused the damage to your house. They will use the Beaufort Scale to check wind speeds, which will help them determine if that caused the damage.

Collect all the proof you can if your home is damaged during a storm. Video doorbells, security camera footage, and pictures may help prove your case. Even with evidence, the insurance company will still come out and assess the damage themselves, but it’s helpful to be prepared.

Exterior Renovations Don’t Have to Stop Over Winter

Even though it is cold, you don’t have to stop your home renovations. There are several exterior renovations you can do in the wintertime. Siding projects can progress forward despite the weather. The biggest hurdle for siding projects is getting the air compressor to start. Vinyl siding is the easiest to install, though it can be slightly more difficult in the winter.

If your home needs a new roof, it can be completed during colder weather, though it is not ideal. Always leave that project to the professionals. Adding and replacing insulation is also a good cold-weather project because it will directly impact your heating bills.

You can renovate gutters during the winter as well. However, it is best to wait until spring. If you have persistent ice dams and your gutters are damaged, you may need to repair them while it’s cold outside, especially if you have tried every other ice dam prevention method.

Contact Apple Exteriors for Your Winter Home Prep

Doing an inspection and check-up on the exterior of your home before winter is always wise. But you might need to learn how to make some minor repairs or changes to protect your home. If you need exterior maintenance before the winter hits, call Apple Exteriors.

Schedule your free inspection online or give us a call at 651-36-APPLE (651-362-7753) today!

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