Winters in upstate New York can be particularly unforgiving. The price we pay for picturesque summers is a brutal winter season that doesn’t just have us shoveling snow by the foot but can also cause us to worry about our homes. The cold and moisture of northern winters conspire against the integrity of our homes’ construction, strain our heating systems, and can even bring in some unwanted pests as well.
As challenging as this may sound, there are preventive steps you can take to protect against some of the worst that winter has to offer. Here are some ways winter weather is hard on a home. How to prevent them may be easier than you think.
As your furnace goes back to work in the winter, it isn’t always 100 percent ready to start. As a complicated piece of machinery, many things can go wrong when so many moving parts begin to move again. If you have an older furnace but aren’t ready to replace it yet, schedule an annual maintenance call to make sure everything is in working order, and be sure to begin each winter season with a brand-new air filter.
Like many materials, concrete expands in heat and contracts in the cold. When a temperature change is sudden, this shift can put too much stress on the concrete in your foundation, causing it to crack. While foundation cracks are inevitable in any home, severe cracks can cause seepage, mold, and water damage—a real nightmare in winter. Check for horizontal or diagonal cracks in your foundation, and enlist a professional to repair them before the heavy snows hit.
We’re all trying to avoid unnecessary visits right now, but certain houseguests will insist nonetheless and set up nests in your attic as the weather gets colder. You may think there’s no easy way in, but raccoons are clever, persistent, and deceptively strong, and they will bend or pry open your attic vent covers in search of shelter. Once they’re in, they’ll tear up your insulation, make a commotion, and do further damage to your attic vents as they come and go. Try to make sure your attic vent is well-covered, but also keep an ear peeled for noises emanating from the ceiling, and be ready to call an animal-control specialist.
Sump Pump Failure
The biggest snowfalls we get often aren’t just high in inches—they’re high-density, too. That “packing snow” can land hard on your sump pump drain, putting undue pressure on it and causing flooding. Make sure you know the location of your sump pump drain and keep it clear after heavy snowfalls.
This is arguably the most catastrophic way winter weather is hard on your home but preventing it is easy. Burst pipes occur when cold air freezes exposed piping and causes ice to form. Pressure then builds within the pipes until it finally has nowhere to go. A burst pipe can cause flooding and require you to turn off your water supply to some or all of your house. Fortunately, you can prevent the problem by insulating exposed piping and blocking off any drafts that could bring cold air to them.