A great seasonal list from our friends at houzz.com. Seasonal maintenance is fundamental to preventing winter water damage. Repairs now will prevent expense later.
Commercial and residential buildings will benefit from early maintenance before cold weather arrives.
- Clean gutters and downspouts.
- Reseal exterior woodwork- fences, pergolas, sheds, and trellises should be inspected and included in the process.
- Check for pest infestation and associated damage- small animals, e.g. mice and squirrels, as well as insects ants, termites, and wasps can present problems and cause damage.
- Roof inspection/repair will protect the building from heavy snow loads and ice dams.
- Chimney inspection, as well as window and skylight inspection will help prevent leaks and water damage.
- Attics and basements shouldn’t be overlooked, particular attention should be paid to attic insulation.
- Wood stoves and heaters should be inspected for necessary repairs/replacement.
- HVAC and heating systems will benefit from service and filter changes.
- Windows and doors should be inspected for replacement and repairs.
- Landscaping, particularly trees and shrubs, will survive winter better protected before harsh weather arrives.
Moisture is often a silent building wrecker. An insignificant slow drip can cause a substantial amount of damage.
REALTORS® and www.houselogic.com publish a very handy list for maintenance as it relates to water leaks and intrusions-
1. When it rains, actively pay attention. Are your gutters overflowing? Is water flowing away from your house like it should? Is water coming inside?
2. After heavy rains and storms, do a quick inspection of your roof, siding, foundation, windows, doors, ceilings, and basement to spot any damage or leaks.
3. Use daylight savings days or the spring and fall equinox to remind you to check and test water-related appliances like your washer, refrigerator, water heater, HVAC (condensation in your HVAC can cause leaks) or swamp cooler, and sump pump. It’s also a great time to do regular maintenance on them. Inspect any outdoor spigots and watering systems for leaks, too.
4. Repair any damage and address any issues and leaks ASAP.
“Don’t procrastinate when you spot minor leaks or drips inside your house. Ongoing small leaks can slowly erode pipes and fixtures, and even cause mold and mildew issues you won’t notice until it’s too late.
Say you’ve got a bit of cracked caulk around the kitchen window. It may not seem like much, but behind that caulk, water could get into your sheathing, causing mold damage and rot. Before you know it, you’re looking at a $5,000 repair that could have been prevented by a $4 tube of caulk and a half hour of your time.”
From Maine Emergency Management-
Frozen water pipes aren’t life threatening, however frozen or broken water pipes do cause damage to homes each winter. If pipes in the walls aren’t properly insulated, they can freeze and rupture. (An 1/8-inch crack in a pipe can release up to 250 gallons of water a day, soaking floors, rugs, and furniture.) To prevent the mess and aggravation frozen pipes cause, protect your home or apartment by following the simple steps below.
- Locate and insulate pipes most susceptible to freezing, typically those near outer walls, in crawl spaces or in the attic. Use insulation made especially for this purpose.
- Wrap pipes with heat tape (UL-approved).
- Seal any leaks that allow cold air inside where pipes are located.
- Disconnect garden hoses and shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This reduces the chance of freezing in the short span of pipe just inside the house.
- Let hot and cold water trickle at night from a faucet on an outside wall.
- Open cabinet doors to allow more heat to get to uninsulated pipes under a sink or appliance near an outer wall.
- Make sure heat is left on and set no lower than 55 degrees F.
- If you plan to be away: (1) Have someone check your house daily to make sure the heat is still on to prevent freezing, or (2) drain and shut off the water system (except indoor sprinkler systems).
- Make sure you and your family know how to shut off the water, in case pipes burst. Stopping the flow of water can minimize the damage to your home. Call a plumber, and contact your insurance agent. Never try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch.
- Always be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around standing water.
“Cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes should be sealed with caulking to keep cold wind away from the pipes. Kitchen and bathroom cabinets can keep warm inside air from reaching pipes under sinks and in adjacent outside walls. It’s a good idea to keep cabinet doors open during cold spells to let the warm air circulate around the pipes.
Letting a faucet drip during extreme cold weather can prevent a pipe from bursting. It’s not that a small flow of water prevents freezing; this helps, but water can freeze even with a slow flow. Rather, opening a faucet will provide relief from the excessive pressure that builds between the faucet and the ice blockage when freezing occurs. If there is no excessive water pressure, there is no burst pipe, even if the water inside the pipe freezes. A dripping faucet wastes some water, so only pipes vulnerable to freezing (ones that run through an unheated or unprotected space) should be left with the water flowing. The drip can be very slight. Even the slowest drip at normal pressure will provide pressure relief when needed. Where both hot and cold lines serve a spigot, make sure each one contributes to the drip, since both are subjected to freezing. If the dripping stops, leave the faucet(s) open, since a pipe may have frozen and will still need pressure relief.”
According to the Associated Press/WABI the Maine Bureau of Insurance recovered the following for Maine’s insured-
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Dealing with auto, life and other kinds of insurance can be a headache, and one Maine agency is dedicating to helping Mainers sort it out.
The Maine Bureau of Insurance said Mainers made 6,007 calls last year and filed 790 complaints on issues related to insurance. All told, Maine residents and businesses recovered nearly $970,000 last year with the agency’s help.
Mainers lodged 254 written complaints and made about 2,800 inquiries to the bureau’s property and casualty division, which includes auto and homeowners insurance.
Another 636 written complaints and 3,213 inquiries were directed to the consumer health care division, which includes health, life and disability insurance.
More information: http://www.maine.gov/insurance
The Bureau of Insurance is diligent in assisting policy holders-
Maine insurance regulators say they helped consumers in the state to recover more than $3 million owed to them during the past year. Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa says nearly $2.2 million was recovered by the Bureau’s Consumer Health Care Division, and almost $950,000 was recovered by the Property and Casualty Division. Cioppa says most insurers operating in Maine pay claims properly and quickly. But when individuals or business owners contact the state because of a dispute with an insurance company or agent, the state can often provide assistance. Cioppa said the Insurance Bureau fielded almost 9,000 inquiries and more than 900 complaints during 2012.
State Farm posts this advice for cold winter temperatures and storms-
When the mercury plummets
Even if you’ve taken the right preventative steps, extreme weather conditions can still harm your pipes. Here are a few more steps you can take:
- A trickle of hot and cold water might be all it takes to keep your pipes from freezing. Let warm water drip overnight, preferably from a faucet on an outside wall.
- Keep your thermostat set at the same temperature during both day and night. You might be in the habit of turning down the heat when you’re asleep, but further drops in the temperature—more common overnight—could catch you off guard and freeze your pipes.
- Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to un-insulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.
Before you skip town
Travelling in the winter months might be good for the soul, but don’t forget to think about your pipes before you leave. What can you do?
- Set the thermostat in your house no lower than 55°F (12°C).
- Ask a friend or neighbor to check your house daily to make sure it’s warm enough to prevent freezing.
- Shut off and drain the water system. Be aware that if you have a fire protection sprinkler system in your house, it may be deactivated when you shut off the water.
If your pipes do freeze
What if your pipes still freeze, despite your best preventive measures? First step: Don’t panic. Just because they’re frozen doesn’t mean they’ve already burst. Here’s what you can do:
- If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, leave the faucets turned on and call a plumber.
- Do not use electrical appliances in areas of standing water. You could be electrocuted.
- Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame because it could cause a fire hazard. Water damage is preferable to burning down your house!
- You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe using a hair dryer. Start by warming the pipe as close to the faucet as possible, working toward the coldest section of pipe.
- If your water pipes have already burst, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve in the house; leave the water faucets turned on. Make sure everyone in your family knows where the water shutoff valve is and how to open and close it.