Home Upgrades to Further Protect Against Severe Winter Weather
We can’t stop the harsh winter weather, but we can prepare and strengthen our homes to defend against it.
Strengthen Your Home
As your budget allows, consider home upgrades.
Winter Ready Home Preparedness Guide
These steps can help you to prepare your home before the winter season.
1. Upgrade your windows and doors
During the winter months, vulnerable windows can begin shrinking and warping (especially wood frames). When warm air escapes, ice can build up on windows and as it melts, water damage can occur. If water gets into window frames or walls, cracked glass and hardware damage can result.
- If windows or exterior doors show signs of age, have gaps and cracks, or other areas of concern, replace them with:
- Windows with double or triple pane glass
- Exterior doors that include a high thermal resistance (R-value)
2) Invest in a generator
Winter weather can lead to power outages, leaving your family cold and your home vulnerable to frozen pipes. A generator can help keep your home warm when the power is out.
- Determine if a portable or permanent generator is the right solution.
3) Improve your roof
A new roof can better protect your home during the winter. Adding snow guards can prevent snow from sliding off and causing snow load issues on another portion of the roof or physical injuries. Heating cables can help prevent ice dams that often lead to water intrusion damage.
- Install snow guards or snow cleats.
- Install roof heat cables along the eaves of the roof to prevent ice dams. Make sure the heating cables are UL Listed, FM Approved, or Canadian Standard Association (CSA) Certified.
- When replacing your roof:
- Talk to your contractor about adding an ice and vapor moisture barrier.
- Upgrade to a FORTIFIED Roof, based on decades of IBHS research, which offers additional protection from wind and water damage.
4) Install a water pressure relief valve
Pressure relief valves can reduce the chance of pipe bursts and water damage if pipes freeze.
- Install an emergency pressure relief valve in your plumbing system.
- Learn how to shut the water off to your home and know where your pipes are located.
5) Replace insulation
Proper attic insulation can help better retain your home’s heat in the winter by reducing drafts. Adequate insulation helps prevent ice dams as well. The typical lifespan of insulation is 20–30 years, but it is good to have attic insulation checked every 5–10 years to ensure it is still in good condition.
- Install attic insulation that has an R-value. The R-value depends on insulation type, thickness, and density. The higher the R-value, the greater the effectiveness of the insulation.
6) Upgrade your appliances
An updated HVAC system and programmable thermostat runs more efficiently and reliably. Keeping the heat on during severe winter weather allows your home to protect itself.
- Consider replacing your HVAC system if it:
- Is 10+ years old and you have high/rising energy bills
- Has weak air flow
- Has frequent or short cycling
- Is not blowing hot air
- Makes loud noises, is leaking, or is requiring frequent repairs
- Install a programmable thermostat.
- Keep it no lower than 55°F during winter.