Watch for Water Issues on the Roof
Large accumulations of heavy, wet snow can put tremendous pressure on the roofs of homes and buildings. Gravity tends to lend a helping hand with clearing snow from high-pitched roofs, but for flat or low-pitched roofs, you may need to intervene if the snow accumulation is severe.
Signs that the weight of the snow is compromising your roof may include visible sagging in the snow buildup, ceiling leaks in your upper floor, cracks developing in interior drywall or masonry, and creaking or popping sounds coming from the roof. In extreme scenarios, snow accumulation can lead to roof collapse.
Removing this snow yourself can be extremely dangerous, especially on multi-story homes or where there are already signs of roof damage. Because of this, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with professional rooftop snow-clearing services in your area before severe winter weather strikes. The earlier you can get the snow cleared after a major snowfall, the more likely you are to prevent serious damage.
Gutters should be cleaned out before the snow falls as well, to help prevent water and ice buildup that could eventually find its way into your home. When colder weather arrives, clogged gutters can be spotted by looking for large icicles hanging from them and/or an accumulation of ice on the roof.
Falling icicles can be extremely dangerous, especially if they’re large or have a long way to fall. Larger icicles may also be more likely to fall because of their weight. Bright sunshine can partially melt and loosen icicles, and high winds are also a risk factor for falling ice. It’s unsafe to use a ladder in icy conditions, so if there are large icicles on your home that are out of reach, it’s best to use caution and make sure no one stands beneath them until they melt on their own. If icicles form in lower areas where they can be knocked down with a broomstick, you should perform this maintenance early and often, while the icicles are still small. Stand well to the side as you carefully knock them down.
Prepare Your Pipes for the Cold
Inside the house, prevent water issues by insulating water pipes exposed to freezing temperatures. Pipes that border an exterior wall have the greatest freezing potential, so they should be insulated with a towel or other piece of cloth. In extreme cold weather, the water lines should be opened slightly to allow water to drip slowly into an indoor sink. This encourages water flow and makes freezing pipes less likely to occur. Neglecting your pipes can bring severe consequences, as the cost to repair damage from a rupture ranges anywhere from $5,000 to $70,000, according to State Farm Insurance.
Keep Your Walkways Clear
It’s important to keep walking paths near your house clear of snow and ice both for your own mobility and for the safety of others who might need to use those areas. Some local municipalities mandate that snow be shoveled from public walkways and sidewalks shortly after it falls, but even if this is not required, removing snow is essential to prevent slips and falls. Once the snow is out of the way, cover icy patches with salt, sand or other type of commercial solution to deplete the ice and provide better traction. If you put a layer of salt down in advance of the storm you can give yourself a head start on keeping things clear.
You should also be sure to wear appropriate shoes: either boots with rubber treads, or rubber over-shoes or strap-on cleats to help give you traction with ordinary shoes. Walk slowly and carefully, taking small steps.
Take care of yourself while you work on snow removal. Large snowfalls or any heavy and wet snowfall should be handled with a snow blower instead of a snow shovel. Shoveling snow is a high-intensity activity that puts stress on the heart, according to Harvard Medical School. Prolonged shoveling can also result in exhaustion and back injuries. It's important that all lifting be done from the knees, not the back. If you must clear wet, heavy snow with a shovel, be sure to take frequent breaks in a warm area and make the job a little easier by spraying a coat of cooking spray on your shovel. It will help the snow clump together and prevent it from sticking to your shovel.