What to Do If You Experience Winter Storm Damage
When the winter season comes, one of the things it brings is snow. When snow falls from the sky, it can create a beautiful scene: fresh, soft blankets of white snow glistening when the light hits it just right, embodying the vision of a winter wonderland. Kids find fun in it, building snowmen and having snowball fights. But in the midst of that fun and beauty also comes potential danger.
Winter also brings severely cold temperatures, which can become cold enough to threaten the well-being of you, your family, and even your home. Ice forms on streets and sidewalks, posing a hazard to any pedestrians taking on sidewalks and vehicles taking on the roadways. When a snow storm hits, inches upon inches of fluffy snow can block entryways and take over streets.
If you aren’t prepared for a winter storm, then it can be stressful to deal with, especially if the storm causes damage to your property. Freezing temperatures can cause pipes to burst and lead to water damage in your home. Strong winds can knock down branches and trees that end up falling onto your property. Large amounts of snow sitting on your roof can become too heavy and threaten its protective purpose and collapse.
In the event that your property suffers damage from a winter storm, use the following information as a guide on how to respond and prevent future winter storm damage.
Responding to Winter Storm Damage
Ensure Everyone’s Safety
In any hazardous situation, the first priority is safety. No matter how bad the damage is, first check to make sure your family is all safe and accounted for.
Find Shelter from the Storm
Once everyone has been accounted for, gather your family together. Find a spot where your family can stay away from the damage and stay warm and safe. This shelter can be an unaffected, intact room in your home, or it can be your neighbor’s or relative’s place if it’s best to leave the property.
If your home has suffered serious damage, then you must find temporary housing. You and your family should not risk staying at home if it jeopardizes their safety, especially if the blizzard is still ongoing. If this is the case for you, keep receipts for any living expenses. This temporary housing may be covered by your insurance.
Document the Storm Damage
You will need evidence of any damage your home has suffered to provide to your insurance company later on. Take photos and/or record videos of the damage the storm has caused, and make sure those files are accessible and backed up. It’s important to remember to not tamper with the damage before you’re able to document it.
Prevent Further Damage
Salvage what personal belongings you can to prevent them from becoming permanently damaged. Then take the necessary steps to prevent any damage from worsening. For example, stop snow and water from leaking into your home to cause more harm. Board up broken doors, windows, and other openings to stop snow and cold from coming in. Keep receipts of any materials used and work that was done for the temporary fixes. Make sure the actions you’re taking, though, are temporary solutions. You should not conduct any permanent repairs or restorations until you’ve contacted your insurance company and agreed upon the repair cost coverage.
Contact Your Insurance Provider
When the storm has concluded, get in touch with your insurance provider right away. The sooner you are able to meet with a representative and have the damage assessed, the sooner you can have your property restored. Make sure you’re able to provide necessary evidence and documents on hand.
Winter Storm Damage Insurance Coverage
Standard homeowner policies will cover various types of damage caused by a winter storm:
- Wind damage
- Damage from fallen trees and other objects
- Collapsing structure due to heavy ice and/or snow
If your home’s pipes burst, then this may be covered by your insurance. However, it may not be if your insurance provider deems negligence: improper maintenance by failing to insulate pipes or not keeping the home at the necessary temperature.
Winter Storm Damage Prevention
If your home isn’t in good condition, then the chance for it to suffer from storm damage is higher. It’s especially important to regularly inspect your roof, conduct repairs, and install upgrades when needed. Your home’s roof is the main source of protection from the outside weather, so you need to take care of it. Otherwise, it won’t be an effective form of protection.
Insulate Your Home
Keep the cold out by properly insulating your home. You don’t want to waste money on heating your home only to realize that you aren’t effectively heating it and, instead, are wasting money and energy. Weather-strip windows and doors to stop air leaks and keep heated air in your home.
Insulate your pipes to prevent them from bursting. When the temperature is cold enough, water inside the pipes will freeze. Upon freezing, the water expands in size. If the water expands enough, it will place pressure on the pipe and cause it to burst open, damaging your property and belongings. If you fail to properly insulate your pipes, then any pipes that do burst likely won’t be covered by your insurance provider, citing your negligence to conduct proper maintenance.
To prevent pipes from freezing, let faucets drip. Even the slightest drip will help.
Clear Out Snow
Remove snow from your roof so it doesn’t accumulate too much and put the roof at risk for collapse. Shovel snow to keep it away from your home and its foundation. This will limit the potential for the snow to seep into your home and damage the structure.
Landscape and Yard Maintenance
If you have trees close to your home, be sure to trim them regularly so that they cannot break off and harm your home. Clean out your gutters so that they can properly drain and direct any water away from your home. Check that the downspouts also direct water far enough away from your home to avoid foundational damage.
Professional Restoration Services
If your home has suffered damage from a winter storm, ServiceMaster Professional Services can help. We provide storm damage restoration services to help homes and businesses recover from winter storms and the destruction they can cause. Our technicians have the proper training and equipment to stabilize your property’s structure, conduct structural repairs, perform water damage restoration, and remove debris.