How Do I Protect My House From All This Snow?
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How Do I Protect My House From All This Snow?

Question: My wife and I have just bought our first house in New Jersey. Neither have we ever lived in a house before (we were both born and raised in Manhattan), and we are all feeling the snow that we are getting. The icons are hanging from our gutters. Should we do anything about them? And if so what? Can our pipes freeze? We have showered our walks and steps, but what about the snowdriff surrounding our foundation?

a: Homes in the Northeast should be designed to withstand the winter season. But problems arise, especially if you neglect the maintenance of your home. If your home was inspected before you bought it, read the report to see if the inspector noted any issues. Next, take a better look at those icons.

“Aikins, while good to look at, is no good,” said Kevin Busch, part of Ann Arbor, Mich., Neighborly, a home services franchisor, Min. Vice President of Operations for Prentice. “They are usually an indication of what may be a relatively small problem but may be large.” At the very least, ice can damage your gutters. Go outside and look at your gutters to make sure they are intact. Once the ice melts, clean them.

The major problem will be an ice dam – a layer of ice near the edge of your roof – that can damage your roof and shingles. Go to your attic and make sure the water is not going inside. If you think you have an ice dam, contact the roofing company for advice, as you may need to improve insulation or ventilation in your attic.


Check the exterior of your home, including the trees around your property, to ensure that no heavy branches are putting your roof at risk. Inspect your foundation for cracks, and seal whatever you find. As the snow melts, look for signs of pooling water and send it away from your home.

Make sure your dryer vent, and the exhaust pipe for your furnace and hot-water heater, are clean with ice. Clean the ice from the bottom of the gutter so that once the ice begins to melt, the water can keep moving.

To protect your pipe, keep the house at a comfortable temperature, even at night or when you are away. Insulate the pipes along the outer walls, and on very cold nights, you can keep the cabinet doors open so that hot air can reach the pipes along the outer walls, and let the water run at a slow drip. If you haven’t already, turn off the outer spigot for your garden. Then sit back and try to enjoy the snowy winter in your new home, as the weather will soon be over.

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