Winter treats our homes with all the tenderness of a sledgehammer slamming into drywall and a hungry shark devouring a meal. For some seasonally unreasonable reason, winter has a grudge for our homes. When reached for comment, Old Man Winter declined, saying he was too busy plotting another winter storm to hurl on Iowa. Mother Nature herself was unavailable, having her publicist tell us something about plotting heavy Iowa spring rains.
In 2018 alone, winter storms put a $3 billion insured hurt on America’s homes and business, according to Munich RE. And Old Man Winter isn’t going soft in his old age. He’s only getting grumpier. The alarming truth of that painful number: Insured losses jumped a full $2 billion from 2017.
“Nature is a force to be reckoned with,” notes industry analyst Sushant Mehta.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the two most common homeowner insurance’s claims related to winter weather and freezing are frozen pipes (which brings an average insurance claim of $8,000) and ice dams (which can be hell on a roof).
“A burst pipe alone can cause $5,000 in water damages, so it pays to be prepared,” said Jessica Hanson Hanna, senior vice president of public affairs for the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA).
So as cold as it is outside and as comfy, warm and relaxing as your La-Z-Boy Maverick Rocker Recliner might be, it pays in spades to ensure you have safeguarded your home from potential catastrophe. This is the worst time of the year to hibernate on your home’s maintenance needs.
“As the days grow shorter, colder and darker, it’s tempting to just hunker down and forget about home and garden chores until the spring,” BobVila.com’s Donna Boyle Schwartz writes. “But winter is no time for conscientious homeowners to take it easy – there is a lot of maintenance to deal with during the ‘off’ season.”
Be sure to take these essential Mid-Winter Home Maintenance Steps to protect your home and property from being a victim of a vicious and costly winter storm.
- Schedule Your Home’s Free Energy Audit. Soon you’ll be basking in energy savings of 5 to 30 percent.
- Finally Remove Any Lingering Leaves Hanging Around the Gutters or Yard. Since they’ve long since lost their seasonal beauty, there’s no reason to keep them around anymore. Leaving fallen leaves on your lawn can smother the turf and cause mildew growth, which in turn can kill grass. For as Boyle Schwartz stresses, “Winter is no time for hibernating from chores.”
- Kick Hanging Icicles to the Curb. Remember, you don’t live in Iceland and pretty icicles are a serious damage and safety threat to your porch, walkway and even your body if they fall and break. Icicles are also possible signs of one of winter’s worst home headaches: Ice Dams. Ice dams occur when snow and ice builds up inside gutters and overflow, thereby blocking water from draining off the roof. Ice dams can lead to interior leaks and roof damage. Take a broom or shovel to any icicles hanging around your home after a big storm.
- Insulate Your Pipes Already. We can’t overstate this one. A $10-$20 trip to Menards or True Value for heat tape, fiberglass or foam-rubber insulation can protect your pipes from a consequential structural breakdown.
As tempting as it may be to sleep while winter wages war outside, this is no time to be inactive.
Though nobody needs reminding (especially in February), we can’t stress enough the cold reality of living in Iowa during winter. The Iowa Home Security Emergency Management department states it best: “Iowa’s lead (winter) hazards are those associated with ice storms, blizzards and heavy snow.”
For as Boyle Schwartz stresses, “winter is no time for hibernating from chores.”