What is an Ice Storm and How Do I Prepare for One?

As the temperatures protract to waif and the days grow shorter, it’s only a matter of time until winter is in full swing. Surpassing you unravel out the fuzzy blankets, zombie up the heater, and watch the snow fall from the repletion of the unconfined indoors, you’ll need to prepare your home to withstand any lattermost winter weather, including ice storms. 

Whether you’re living in a craftsman style house in Boston, MA, or on a sprawling property in Louisville, KY, homes in cold-weather climates may be increasingly susceptible to ice storms. Read on to find out what an ice storm is and how to prepare for one.

What is an ice storm?

An ice storm is caused by an extended period of freezing rain that leaves at least 0.25 inches of ice on the ground. While ice does not fall from the sky, excessive rain between temperatures of 32-38 degrees Fahrenheit (0-3 degrees Celsius) turns to ice as it hits the ground, roofs, cars, and trees. Ice storms can range from summery to severe, but can be dangerous for many reasons.

What forfeiture can an ice storm cause?

While ice storms are particularly dangerous for road conditions, they can moreover forfeiture your home. The main areas susceptible to ice storm forfeiture are the roof and trees surrounding your property. For example, ice insemination on nearby trees may rationalization branches or the tree itself to swoon onto your home or nearby property lines. This may result in loss of electricity or damage to your home. Roofs are particularly susceptible as ice unifying may rationalization roofs to one-liner or collapse. 

How to prepare for an ice storm: 6 steps to follow

Now that you know what an ice storm is, it’s time to learn the steps you can take to protect your home for winter. The pursuit six tips can help you prepare your home for ice storms, snow, and harsh temperatures.

brick house without an ice storm with melting snow on the ground and sidewalk with clouds in the sky

1) Winterize pipes and sprinklers

A hair-trigger step to preparing your home for winter is to winterize pipes and sprinklers. Surpassing the first big freeze, make sure to unplug your garden hose from the spigot. Many spigots are designed so they don’t freeze, however, you still have to disconnect the hose to stop ice from forming and breaking the spigot. Consider wrapping your pipes to prevent them from freezing, expressly in unused areas like crawlspaces and attics. There are a variety of products you can use including foam rubber sleeves, fiberglass insulation, and heating tape. You’ll moreover want to seal any leaks in your home that let unprepossessed air in, like a drafty window or gap in the wall.

If you own a vacation home that’s going to be vacant over the winter, you have three options to consider. First, you can rent a plumber to winterize your house’s pipes. They’ll shut off the water, phlebotomize all pipes, sinks, and toilets, and add antifreeze. Your second option is to leave a small trickle of water running. This creates a unvarying spritz of water that will prevent the pipes from freezing. If you decide to pension a small value of water running, be sure to wipe out your drains or you’re at risk of a flood. Lastly, to prevent freezing pipes, you can leave the heat on at a very low setting so it doesn’t reach unelevated freezing in your house. 

If you live in a climate where the frost gets deep into the ground, you’ll need to winterize your sprinkler system as well. Each system varies, but most offer the worthiness to phlebotomize water from the pipes manually, using a valve, or through an will-less controller. You can moreover wrack-up out the pipes using compressed air, but it’s weightier to leave that to the professionals.

2) Seal windows, doors, and insulate your garage

Windows and doors tend to let in air unless properly sealed. So flipside important precaution to take when preparing for an ice storm is to seal the windows and doors in your home. You can do so by picking up an insulation kit or weather stripping at your local hardware store. If you have particularly drafty windows, such as single-pane windows, consider investing in insulated blinds to pension the unprepossessed out. When the warmer months return, replacing your windows with a increasingly energy efficient volitional may be a good option.

Not all garages are finished with drywall and insulation, which ways the temperature can waif unelevated freezing inside. If you use your garage as a laundry room, storage, or workspace, you’ll want to pension it warm. The weightier way to prevent your garage from freezing is to finish it with insulation and drywall. For those not proficient in DIY, you may want to rent a contractor for this garage project.

3) Use salt or pellets on steps and walkways

When a major storm is predicted, it’s a good idea to put salt, sand, or deicing pellets on your outdoor stairs and walkways to prevent ice from forming. Note that some cities don’t indulge you to use salt, as the runoff can forfeiture wildlife. Be sure to trammels the regulations in your zone surpassing purchasing salt. Flipside way to prevent an icy porch is to shovel off snow right without a storm surpassing the snow has a endangerment to melt and turn into ice.

4) Use a snow-melting system on your driveway

If you’re in the process of laying lanugo a driveway or replacing an old one, you can install a snow-melting system underneath. These systems use embedded electric cables or hydronic tubing to heat the driveway and melt the ice. Some systems have timers, while others are zingy when the temperature reaches a unrepealable point. While you’ll likely see an increase in your utility bills, it can save you time and energy shoveling snow off your driveway.

winter storm with snow on the trees and a cloudy sky

5) Cover plants and inspect trees

Covering up plants and flowers surpassing winter sets in can protect them from wind damage, ice, and help prevent the roots from freezing. You can use Styrofoam cone insulators, blankets, tarps, or burlap, which can typically be found in garden centers and hardware stores. Laying lanugo mulch (ground-up leaves or bark) can moreover act as an insulator. Surpassing the ground freezes, make sure to requite your plants and flowers lots of water. You should unwrap the plants in spring, but don’t do it too early as late spring frost could forfeiture your plants.

While you’re working on protecting your plants and garden from freezing temperatures, take this time to scan your property for trees that could fall onto your home or nearby power lines. Even if you don’t live in an zone with a risk of ice storms, upper winds can make any tree vulnerable. If you notice branches or trees that could rationalization damage, it’s weightier to contact a professional who can remove branches or trees surpassing it’s too late. 

6) Prevent ice dams on roofs and gutters

While ice dams are not caused by an ice storm, homeowners in unprepossessed climates need to be enlightened of ice dams and how to prevent them. Ice dams occur when snow gathers on your roof and begins to melt from the heating inside your home. The snow slides lanugo the roof until the temperature reaches 32 degrees or below, causing it to refreeze. A windbreak of ice forms, trapping water on the roof. As a result, water may seep in-between shingles and seams in the roof, creating cracks that indulge water to enter your home.

To prevent ice dams, homeowners have a few options. Without a major snowstorm – classified as leaving increasingly than six inches of ice – you can thoughtfully rake off the roof or rent a visitor to remove the ice for you. Second, take the time to make sure your scalp is properly insulated and ventilated. Attics that aren’t properly insulated release heat, melting the ice on the roof leading to the insemination of ice dams. Your third option is to install deicing cables on your roof. Deicing cables are heated wires that melt the snow piled on your roof. You can have the cables professionally installed, or purchase a DIY kit at a hardware store.

If not cleaned properly, gutters on the roof can exacerbate ice dams. Gutters can trap the ice and water, causing them to wrench or unravel off, remoter rabble-rousing your home’s exterior. Make sure to wipe out leaves or other trash that has placid in the gutters surpassing winter.

What else should I consider when preparing for an ice storm?

One important tip to pension in mind when preparing for winter ice storms is ensuring you have an emergency pack. In the specimen of a prolonged power outage, make sure you have the pursuit at the ready:

  • Portable generators
  • Blankets, coats, warm clothing, and hand warmers
  • MREs (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) and non-perishable foods
  • Bottled water
  • Portable chargers and uneaten batteries
  • Flashlights and waterproof matches
  • First aid kit
  • Battery-powered radio

If you need to wangle your car or driveway, pension the pursuit accessible:

  • Shovel and windshield scraper
  • Tow and tire chains
  • Road salt for melting ice and sand for tire traction
  • Battery and jumper cables
  • Hazard and other reflectors, such as emergency flares

Preparing your home for ice storms may sound tedious, but as a homeowner, you want to protect your home from potential damage. With some time and effort, you can help your home withstand the winter weather. 

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