It is that season, where the world is covered by a beautiful layer of white fluffy snow. All the mud and dirt is hidden and outside your Pennsylvania home’s window, everything looks calm and beautiful. Winters in Pennsylvania can be beautiful, but they can also be damaging to your home.
Being located in Lebanon Pennsylvania, we know what our Eastern winters are like, and we also know how damaging they can be. Our office built in 1885 and used to be the Lebanon Railway station has seen its fair share of Pennsylvania winters and hundreds of Pennsylvania blizzards. While preparation is key to protecting your home from winter weather, there are actions you can take before, during, and after a snowstorm to keep your PA home from sustaining damage.
Thirteen Ways You Can Protect Your Home From Snow Damage Before The Storm:
Before the snowstorm even hits Pennsylvania we are preparing for it. Most of these can be on your fall cleaning list, some of these you’ll definitely want to take care of before the weather gets cold.
1. Make Sure All Your Gutters Are Clear
While Pennsylvania is known for its beautiful fall leaves full of red, yellow, and orange colors, these fall leaves have a nasty habit of filling the gutters of our homes. If the leaves are left in our gutters the results can be devastating. As snow melts and freezes, the gutters will get weighed down with ice and eventually form massive icicles. These icicles are also beautiful, but the weight from them can tear down gutters and remove the facia from the overhang of your house. The water buildup from clogged gutters is called an ice dam.
A gutter and facia being ripped off the side of your home will expose it to the elements. If left unattended, the facia board can rot, snow and ice can you get under the soffit and build-up. As that snow and ice melt, it can get behind your siding and seep into the very walls of your home. Making sure your gutters are clear is such an important step to preparing your home for Pennsylvania winters.
2. Cover & Repair All Openings To Your Home
Just as indicated in the gutter section, exposed parts of your home in the winter can lead to costly damages. When checking in for openings of your home look at your roof and make sure all shingles are intact and none have slipped out. If a section of your roof is exposed, as the snow melts it will seep under your shingles and lead to your roof rotting and leaking. If there is a large amount of snow and it’s able to get through the roof it can then lead to a leak that damages the interior of your home. From insulation replacement to drywall repair, water is able to destroy large amounts of the home you worked so hard for. Other openings to your home include damaged siding, bubble to facia, and cracks in brickwork.
3. Pre-Salt Your Driveway
Pre-salting your driveway can be extremely beneficial in small storms. You will not even have to shovel your driveway. In larger storms, it will keep your driveway from acquiring a layer of ice as the snow melts and freezes over time. This will help your driveway last longer and will make shoveling the snow easier as well.
4. Move Things Away From Your House
You may have things that are close to the side of your home. For instance, gas grills, trash cans, and outdoor furniture are usually stacked or placed close to your home. The reason you should move these things away from your house during a large snowstorm or blizzard is to keep snow from building up around your home. If snow is able to accumulate on the sides of your house then there is more risk of damage from that snow and ice as it melts and freezes. Large quantities of snow melting next to your home can result in your basement flooding and your foundation cracking from the expanding pressure of the ice.
5. Clear Storm Drains Of Leaves
If your storm drain is clogged with a mass of leaves from our beautiful Pennsylvania trees, then the snow, ice, and water will be trapped in the road, your driveway, and your yard. Clearing your storm drain only take minutes and it will save you the hassle of chipping away at the large puddle of ice that has pooled up in front of your driveway. Not only will this protect you and other drivers, but it will also protect your home and driveway from snow and ice damage.
6. Seal Windows Before A Snowstorm
Be sure to double-check that all windows are completely sealed before a snowstorm. If a window is slightly cracked open, snow, water, or ice is able to get in there, when the water freezes and ice expand, it could damage the window and keep the window cracked open for the whole winter. This will lead to a higher heating bill and damage to your window.
7. Install Snow Guards On Sheet Metal Roofs
You should install snow guards on all sheet metal roofs. This is because as the weight of snow builds up it will come crashing down the side of your pole barn all at once. If that snow builds up along the side of your pole building it can collapse the wall inward. If the weight of the snow doesn’t collapse the load-bearing wall, as it melts it can get behind the sheet metal and rust the screws that are attached to the 2x4s. It is also likely that the snow will rip off the gutters as it comes crashing down.
8. Make Sure Your Sump Pump Is In Working Condition
The most damaging part of snow isn’t snow, it is the ice and water that comes with it. And in Central Pennsylvania, our snow is extremely wet and heavy. As the snow melts and spring rain comes all at once, your sump pump will be working overtime. Make sure your sump pump is in working order because you may not be able to get a new one while you are snowed in.
9. Refuel On Gas In Your Vehicles & Gas Cans
It is always a good idea to refuel your vehicles before a snowstorm. This is because you may be caught in traffic for extended periods of time. Remember in the past when snowstorms shut down Pennsylvania routes 78 and interstate 81? A lot of vehicles ran out of gas while sitting and idling in traffic. But more importantly, to protect your home from a snowstorm, it is important to have a full gas can. This gas can be used to refuel your generator if you lost electricity or to fuel your snowplow.
10. Turn Off Any Exterior Water Sources
Make sure you turn off all exterior water sources before freezing temperatures start in Pennsylvania. If you forget to turn off exterior plumbing to your home, you may experience pipes bursting and leaks that damage the inside of your home. Water damage and replacing underground pipes in the winter is costly to fix.
11. Call Your Insurance Company To Discuss Your Homeowners Insurance
Do you know what your homeowners’ insurance covers? Are you protected in the event of a damaging winter storm? You should know exactly what your homeowners’ insurance covers. Contact Strickler Insurance for a free insurance quote.
12. Remove Tree Branches That Could Fall On Your Home
Looking around the outside of your home are there any tree branches that look to be rotting or ready to fall from a little bit of weight being added to them? If you have an Ash tree in your yard and you live in Pennsylvania it is highly likely that Ash tree is dead from the recent spree of emerald ash borers killing off all of our Pennsylvania ash trees. Another tree to keep an eye on is Norway Maples. These are extremely common in the Pennsylvania area and they are also one of the most likely Pennsylvania trees to have dead limbs. Removing the dead limbs in nearby trees can help protect your home from damage during our Pennsylvania winters.
13. Make Sure You Have Everything You Need Before The Snowstorm
While everyone else is buying milk, bread and eggs here are a few things you should be looking for. We’ve compiled a checklist of things to buy before a snowstorm. This has everything from snow shovels you should have replaced after last year’s broke from the heavy eastern snow to the rock salt you need to resupply.
Complete List Of Things To Buy Before A Snowstorm:
- Rocksalt for your driveway and walkways.
- Windshield washer fluid for your vehicles.
- Generator in case the electricity goes out from the snow.
- Gas for your generator or snowblower.
- Batteries for flashlights if the electricity goes out.
- Rechargeable USB batteries to recharge your cellphone.
- Replacement shovels if last years are damaged.
- Food. Don’t forget the hot chocolate!
- Sleds to go sledding through the PA countryside of course!
- Winter clothes.
- Water in case the electricity goes out
It Already Started Snowing!? Don’t Worry, We’ve Got You Covered
Has it already started snowing in Pennsylvania and you are reading this from the comfort of your beautiful home? Do not worry if you did not take these steps. We have an article on the six ways to protect your Pennsylvania home during a snowstorm and another article on seven ways to protect your Pennsylvania home after a snowstorm. Contact us for a free insurance quote on your homeowner’s insurance.