Monday, January 30, 2017

Cold Day In Hell: How To Avoid Winter's Biggest Home Disasters

Winter’s something of a double-edged sword. Yes, you get Christmas and new year’s to look forward to, and all that frost and snow can make certain areas look truly beautiful. On the other hand, we don’t get a lot of daylight, we spend a small fortune on heating bills, and our homes can occasionally take some serious damage. We’re still not quite out of the woods yet, so here’s a list of some of winter’s biggest home disasters, and what you can do to avoid them.
Frost Heave
From Flickr

If you’ve never heard of it before, frost heave is where the soil around your home bulges up as ice forms in it and builds towards the surface. Sometimes, the weight of the soil can restrain this vertical growth, and cause the ice to swell outwards in massive (and invisible!) lens-shaped formations. This may not sound too bad on the surface, but if it’s left for too long frost heave can crack a house’s foundation and risk the stability of it all. One of the best ways to avoid this happening is to keep an eye on your gutters. When they’re clogged or otherwise have a restricted flow, they won’t disperse water properly, and can create massive deposits of ice in the soil around your home.

Frozen Pipes
From Flickr

One of the most frustrating and expensive home disasters you can experience, there are few things that make a homeowner shudder more than the words “frozen pipes”. If one of your pipes freezes, cracks and burst from the outward pressure, it can release hundreds of gallons of water in mere seconds. While fixing this can be lengthy and expensive, there are much more affordable ways to prevent it happening in the first place. Wrapping your pipes with cheap foam insulation is usually good enough to stop your pipes from freezing. You can even get a new heat cable with its own insulation. Many of these are designed specifically to minimize the chances of water pipes freezing. Most importantly, don’t try to save money on your heating bills by shutting your thermostat down when you’re going to be out of the house for an extended time. This increases the risk of frozen pipes dramatically, and the money you’ll save certainly won’t cover the cost of repairs!
House Fires
From Wikimedia

You may not associate house fires with winter, but they’re much more prevalent in the colder months than at other times of the year. One of the biggest causes of this serious home disaster is faulty fireplaces. If you’ve been using yours without much thought since you moved into the home, you need to get a professional to come in and inspect it. This will help you to determine whether or not the fireplace is in safe working order, and whether you’ve been using it in the safest way possible. House fires aren’t the only tragedy that can be attributed to faulty fireplaces. If your chimney is blocked by debris, or there are any cracks and leaks in the brickwork, it could fill your home with toxic gasses.   

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