8 Quick Tips for Solving Winter Woes

Winter brings snowmen, sledding, and toasty evenings by the fire. It also brings a special set of maintenance issues that require a homeowner's attention. Proper planning and preventive upkeep will help you deal with these worries efficiently, so you can spend more time sipping hot chocolate and reading books while you wait for spring to arrive.

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  1. Window Frost


    Frost forms when your windows are exposed to moist air inside your home and cold air outside. It can be beautiful, but also damaging. Proper weatherization and the right balance of heat and humidity can go a long way toward minimizing window frost. If all else fails, and if you still have single-paned windows, you might want to replace them with double-paned.

    Related—How To: Avoid Frost on Windows


  2. Ice Dams


    Ice dams occur when a home's heat rises and melts snow on the roof, which then refreezes in the unheated eaves. The water that backs up behind the ice dam can leak into your home and cause damage to both your interior and exterior. Ventilation and proper insulation are key to keeping ice dams at bay.

    Related—How To: Avoid Ice Dams and Water Damage


  3. Icy Paths


    When snow piles up on your walkway then melts and refreezes, you’ve got a sheet of ice on your hands. Your best bet is to get the snow off the walk before it freezes, but once it does ice up, try a few of the many products designed to help you combat a slippery path.

    Related: Rock Salt vs. Sand to Prevent Slips


  4. Malfunctioning Snowblower


    When the big storm comes, you'll want your snowblower to start up easily and operate properly. Perform an annual maintenance checklist before bad weather arrives so you won’t have to reach for Plan B—the snow shovel.

    Related—How To: Maintain a Snowblower


  5. Icicles


    Beloved by children, hated by homeowners, icicles form when sunlight or another heat source causes rooftop snow to melt, which then refreezes at the edge of the roof. The problem is in your attic. If you properly seal, ventilate, and insulate, those charming but chancy icicles will never develop.

    Related: Icicles—Charming or Chancy?


  6. Freezing Pipes


    When water freezes in the cold of winter, it expands. That means any water sitting in your pipes runs the risk of causing a fracture—or worse. Avoid disaster by properly winterizing outside and maintaining a safe temperature inside. And know where your water main shutoff is, just in case!

    Related: Everything You Need to Know About Winterizing Pipes


  7. Troubleshooting the Furnace


    No one wants to wake up to a cold house on a winter morning. But if you do—and it's cold not just because you turned your thermostat down—it's likely you have a furnace problem. Before calling in a professional, run through a quick troubleshooting checklist to find out if the problem is an easy fix you can manage on your own.

    Related—How To: Troubleshoot Your Furnace (in 9 Quick Steps)


  8. Fallen Trees


    A fragile tree can wreak havoc if it breaks under the burden of heavy snow. It could fall in your yard, across the drive, or even worse, on the house. Take preemptive action by performing a careful inspection of the trees on your property. If you see any of the telltale signs of weakness, call in a professional to help you head off a crisis.

    Related: Top Tips for Identifying a Hazardous Tree


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