Keeping Your Home Safe During Extreme Cold

Extreme cold periods during winter can be unpleasant – not just for you, but for your home as well. In fact, if you’re not careful, your may incur damages that will cost thousands of dollars to repair.

Don’t let it get that far. By educating yourself about the potential dangers of extreme cold for your home, you can keep yourself safe and your home in good shape.

1) Frozen Pipes

As any home owner knows, frozen pipes are no fun. Water expands as it freezes, meaning you could be in for a leaking pipe at best and bursting pipe at worst once it’s frozen. Pipes that are especially susceptible to freezing are ones that run outside or against the exterior wall of your home. To prevent it from happening, here’s what you can do:

  • Drain pipes you don’t need. You are not likely to use your swimming pool or garden hose during the winter, so draining them is the best choice.
  • Set your faucets to drip. a constant flow of water means less chance of freezing.
  • Open cabinet doors under your sink to let them warm up from the heat of your home.
  • Know your pipes. Before your first winter in your home, be sure to know exactly where your pipes run and be sure especially those by exterior walls are well-insulated.

2) Protecting Your Home

Of course, extreme cold can affect more than just your pipes. That’s why you should take extra measures to protect your home as well:

  • Clean your gutters and downspouts before winter to prevent ice from forming in them.
  • Inspect the entire exterior of your home (including your roof) for potential damage after, but NOT during periods of extreme cold.

3) Your Foundation

But let’s be honest – the most important and potentially dangerous place for extreme cold to affect your home is your foundation. Weather, especially when it’s unusually cold, can crack your concrete slab, causing significant issues down the road. Really, the issues mentioned above – from bursting pipes to frozen gutters – can all directly or indirectly impact the health of your foundation.

Home foundations can crack during extreme cold periods for multiple reasons:

  • Bursting pipes, which cause water to leak into the soil around your foundation, causing it to expand and put pressure on the slab.
  • Freezing water in the ground, which also causes the soil to expand.
  • Increased moisture once the snow and ice is melting, which exerts additional pressure on the foundation.
  • Expansion and contraction of the foundation itself, in ways that can not be supported by the slab.

If you notice a theme here, that’s no coincidence. By far the largest reason for your foundation to crack during extremely cold periods is an expansion of soil and additional pressure. So how do you keep your foundation, and by extension your home, safe during extreme colds?

By making sure you are well prepared for the eventualities. Texas experienced some unusually cold periods during the past two winters, and as a result many homeowners began seeing issues and cracks in their foundation that weren’t there before winter. To make sure that you don’t become one of those homeowners, being proactive is absolutely crucial.

Before winter, have professionals check the health of your foundation. If cracks are beginning to show, they should be fixed before extreme cold periods could make them worse.

Ensuring that your soil levels of from your foundation at a slope that makes it possible for water to naturally redirect away from your home is another great way to prepare for extremely cold weather. Ideally, the soil level at your foundation should be six inches higher than the soil 12 feel away from that foundation.

Being proactive is absolutely crucial to keep your home safe during extreme cold periods. For more information on everything you need to know about your foundation, contact us!

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