When the weather outside is frightful, it’s best to seek solace in the comfort and warmth of your home. If the winter winds become particularly persistent, however, they can start to affect your house. Wisconsin winters can be downright disastrous, but this guide to the most common winter home problems, and how to avoid them, will help you and your family stay happy and healthy all winter long.

Frozen doors and windows

Hunkering down indoors may seem like the perfect way to spend a long winter, but if your doors and windows freeze shut, your time spent indoors may go on for a bit longer than you intended. Even worse, you may find yourself locked out in the cold. Frozen doors are extremely common in patio doors that operate on a sliding track. To prevent your patio door from freezing and locking you out in the cold, make sure to lubricate the tracks with a store-bought lubricant or a mixture of warm water and soap. Regularly opening windows and venting your home’s interior will also help reduce the humidity level and decrease the likelihood that the doors and windows will freeze shut.

Burst pipes

Burst pipes are one of the most common winter home problems, and it can become the most detrimental. When temperatures dip dangerously low, the risk of pipes freezing significantly increases. The frozen pipes will then expand and contract with the ice, which could create cracks and leaks. The best way to avoid frozen and burst pipes in the winter is to regularly run water through the pipes. Allowing a small, continuous drip to flow through faucets will help keep water from becoming stagnant in the pipes, which reduces the potential for freezing. Installing insulation around the pipes and caulking any openings or cracks near the pipe will also mitigate the chances of the pipe bursting and causing damage to your home.

Ice dams

Ice dams commonly occur in older houses or homes with insufficient insulation. They form when the temperature in an attic causes the snow on the roof to melt and freeze repeatedly, which creates a solid ridge of ice along the edge of the roof. This dam prevents other snow and water from sliding off the roof. This also causes snow and ice to build up on top of the roof, and it can make the roof sag, or even collapse, over time. Insulating your attic will help the space maintain a more stable temperature. This effectively reduces the chances that an ice dam will form. Insulating your attic will also help protect your home from other costly damages throughout the entire year, including mold, water, and rust.

Power outages

In particularly severe weather, snow, wind, and hail can cause power lines to fail, which leaves your home without heat and electricity indefinitely. While there may not be too much you can do to prevent a power outage, you can better prepare your home to handle them. Installing a backup generator will ensure that your home stays fully charged with heat and electricity throughout the entirety of the power outage. You should also stock up on essentials, such as blankets, heavy clothing, and food items that you can store and prepare without the use of a fridge, microwave, or stove. Make sure to keep lots of flashlights and candles on hand as well.

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.