Keep your home protected from a blizzard blast with these tips.

5 tips to prevent damage to your home during a blizzard

When the wind is whipping and the snow is coming down – two ingredients that characterize blizzards – you can't help but have a warm feeling when safely inside your home, removed from the harsh weather elements. At the same time, though, the potential for a roof collapse is enough to send cold shivers down the spine.

The holiday favorite "Let It Snow" may not be music to homeowners' ears when the effects result in destruction. In terms of losses, wintry conditions are in the top three – along with hurricanes and tornadoes – as the costliest, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Much of this stems from the expensive repairs associated with fixing standing structures.

With the right preparation, though, you can shield your place from damage when Old Man Winter rears his ugly head. The following are a few ways of you can go about this:

1. Pare back tree branches

Blizzards are perhaps best known for the amounts of snow they leave, but they also produce major wind gusts, at least 35 miles per hour or more. These gusts can damage your residence's siding if trees are nearby. Check the perimeter of your house and trim all the branches on trees and bushes that could cause damage.

2. Clean out gutters

Living in a densely wooded area can results in leftover leaves from autumn. If you haven't already, clear them out so the gutters can shuttle away melting snow and avoid localized flooding when temperatures warm. This can also help you prevent ice dams, which frequently results in leakage that can damage your ceilings. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety offers some useful tips to avoid the risk of this common cold weather casualty. For example, if you have light figures, ensure that they're insulated, especially if they lie beneath a portion of your attic that hasn't been treated. 

3. Get your home inspected

Speaking of insulation, did you know 90% of homes are under-insulated? That's according to a survey done last year by the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association. Of course, having the proper amount of insulation helps keep warm air in and cold air out, but it also plays a role in your home's risk for developing ice dams, as they're a function of the freeze-thaw cycle. Consider having a comprehensive inspection done by a professional. In addition to providing an assessment of your insulation situation, he or she may also be able to point out issues that need to be addressed, whether in the basement, the attic, or someplace else.

4. Clear snow from roof

If you already have a generous amount of snow cover on your roof and more is on the way, the roof may be in danger of collapsing, depending upon how much is up there and the consistency of the snow. The average roof should be able to withstand 20 pounds per square inch of snow. Anything beyond this amount is cause for concern. How do you know the amount of snow you're dealing with? IBHS offers excellent information that can help you figure it out.

5. Crack faucet dials slightly

If temperatures are expected to plummet, your home's water pipes may feel the effects, potentially freezing. You can reduce the chances of this happening by insulating the pipes in areas of the home that are colder than others. Additionally, before you go to bed, turn the faucets on so water dribbles out. This also reduces the pipes' susceptibility to bursting.

When the weather turns frightful, having these preparations in place can provide peace of mind that your home won't suffer the consequences. For more tips, including what to do in a blizzard when on the road, check this out from the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.