Our Ark-La-Tex winters might not be the coldest in the country, but when the temperature does manage to dip below freezing, the damage to our homes costs just as much and creates just as big a headache as anywhere else.
So preventing a winter frost is well worth a weekend afternoon of odd jobs now and perhaps a few project this spring — just in case.
Here are six ways to save your home from the cold this winter:
1. Disconnect your outdoor hoses from the spigots. Let any excess water drain from the hoses so it doesn’t freeze and ruin your hoses. If you have a garage, store your hoses there for the winter. Outdoor hoses attached to a water source can burst if they freeze.
2. Remove standing water from patios and porches. Water is the enemy of brick and concrete. Pooling water can freeze and crack the material. If the water doesn’t drain on its own, sweep it away with a broom so it doesn’t have a chance to freeze. A project for spring: Have drains installed on the patio. Even better: Have the patio “graded” so it slants just slightly away from the house. That way, water will run off of the patio instead of pooling.
3. Keep water away from your home’s foundation. Standing water around the perimeter of your home can seep into the ground and find its way into the foundation. When the water freezes, it expands, and can crack your foundation. A project for spring: Divert water away from the house by grading the ground slightly away from the building and adding gutters and downspouts to pull water off of the roof and into the yard.
4. Clear leaves out of gutters and downspouts. Piled-up leaves and debris can clog gutters, trapping water and causing it to dam. If it freezes, that pooled water can become an “ice dam,” which can back up melting ice, snow or water from the next heavy rain and force it to find another way off the roof. If that route is through your shingles and into the house, your roof will leak. A project for spring: Install gutter covers that let the rainwater through but keep leaves and debris out. You’ll still have to blow leaves off of the covers, but they won’t pile up inside your gutters and create the potential for ice dams.
5. Trim tree limbs away from the roof. During a rare hard freeze, ice can weigh down the limbs, which can break off and land on your house. If they’re heavy enough, they can damage shingles and cause the roof to leak. Fallen limbs also can land on the electrical lines leading to the house.
6. Prep for winter vacations. If you’re planning a vacation, set your indoor temperature for no lower than 55 degrees, open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors so the plumbing pipes stay warm and won’t run the risk of bursting. Also close the damper of your old fireplace so cold air and wet weather can’t make its way into your home while you’re gone.
Jeb Breithaupt, B. Arch., MBA, has been president of JEB Design/Build in Shreveport since 1983. You can contact him at 318-865-4914 or by visiting www.Jeb.net.