How to Winter Proof Your Home

Have you covered all your bases?

As winter storms continue to pummel parts of the country, homeowners are scrambling to make sure their homes are safe. Mike Holmes, star of Holmes on Homes as seen on HGTV, and of the recently launched Holmes: The Magazine to Make It Right, shares his tips on how to keep your home safe and sound as you weather the storm.

1. The most important thing to remember when prepping your home for bad weather is that you don’t want water from melting snow to get behind any exterior sheathing — the stucco, siding, or bricks. If it does, the wood framing and structure will get wet. You want your exterior structure to be able to repel water, but if any does get in, you want the water vapor to be able to escape. It’ll dry out eventually, but repeated wetting and drying will lead to rot. You also don’t want the water to get further inside; if it soaks the insulation, that’s bad, because it’s very difficult for moisture to escape once it’s trapped within the building envelope.

2. Start by clearing snow away from doors and windows. Snow melting could come in windows, doors and other openings in the house which could lead to mold issues.

3. Watch out for and remove ice dams. An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow (water) from draining off the roof. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into a home causing damage to walls, ceilings, and insulation. To prevent the formation of the dam, be diligent about removing snow from the roof using a “roof rake” or push broom.

4. Keep the walkways and steps clear. However, when clearing walkways and driveways made of concrete, do not use salt. Salt eats through concrete and causes it to crack. Use eco-friendly products that don’t contain harmful chemicals.

5. Make sure to keep snow away from all air vents that bring air in for furnaces and hot water tanks.

6. Should your area receive a large amount of snow, make every effort to hire a pro and remove large snow deposits from roofs and away from intakes, doors, and windows, as large quantities of melting snow, especially on roofs, can cause a great deal of damage to not just siding and insulation, but gutters as well.

For more helpful tips on caring for your home, look for the February issue of Holmes: The Magazine to Make It Right on newsstands January 11.

Popular Videos

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest