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Winter is coming: Be prepared for costly, damaging storms

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Winter is coming: Be prepared for costly, damaging storms

(BPT) - Winter weather is difficult to predict. Use these tips to help protect your home from the costly damage winter storms can bring.

Take care of your roof

  • Keep your gutters clear. This keeps ice from accumulating and backing up under the shingles.
  • Trim trees year-round so branches don't fall on your house.
  • Worn-out, missing or damaged siding and roof flashing can let water and ice into your home. Be vigilant and replace them.
  • If your chimney is leaning or the mortar has seen better days, get it repaired.

Prevent ice dams

  • Eliminate heat sources under the roof, such as lights and heaters in the attic, that can contribute to thawing.
  • Keep the attic cool and ventilated to stop or slow the refreezing cycle.
  • Consult a roofing professional to remove snow or standing water before an ice dam can form.
  • Invest in a roof rake, a tool that allows you to stand on the ground and safely brush snow off the roof.
  • Avoid trying to chip any ice dams off your roof, as you could damage the roof. Ask a roof specialist for help instead.
  • Talk with your roof specialist about sealing the roof deck with a moisture barrier.

Prevent water damage

  • Ventilate the attic and insulate the attic floor to stop warm air in the house from melting snow and ice on the roof.
  • Wrap exposed pipes with insulation sleeves or 2 inches of Underwriters Laboratories (UL)-listed heat tape.
  • Caulk cracks and holes in the home's outer walls and foundation. Holes left by cable installation can also leave pipes exposed.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to let warm air circulate around pipes.
  • Trickle water from faucets connected to pipes that run through unheated or unprotected spaces.
  • Locate the home's main water valve — typically in the basement or outside near the curb — so you can turn water off quickly if a pipe does burst.
  • If you leave the house unoccupied for an extended period, shut off the water and have a professional drain the system. Turn the heat down, but don't turn it off.

Clear surfaces where you walk or drive

  • Keep walkways, steps and driveways clear of snow and ice.
  • Treat these areas with rock salt or de-icing products.

For more information on ways to protect your home, visit USAA.com/HomeSafety.

Safety guidelines are not intended to be all inclusive, but are provided for your consideration. Please use your own judgment to determine what safety features/procedures should be used in each unique situation.

USAA means United Services Automobile Association and its affiliates.

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