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Simple ways to make your home ‘winter-ready’

In addition to when they send money overseas, immigrants are putting their savings to good use, as according to a recent report from the National Association of Realtors, the number of properties that were purchased by recent immigrants this year surged, totaling $82.5 billion in sales versus $66 billion last year.

And if these same homeowners want to make the most out of their investment, then they may want to take the counsel of home improvement experts, as the harsh winter weather season is fast approaching.

Immigrants who come from warm climates may not be used to frigid weather conditions, but they can cause significant damage to a home if the proper precautions aren't taken. This is why Julie Rochman, president and CEO of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, says all homeowners should prepare for adverse weather conditions.

"Winter weather can cause numerous problems from burst pipes to roof collapses to interior fires," said Rochman. "Taking steps now to prepare your home or business to withstand the effects of winter storms and freezing weather will help you avoid costly losses later."

Frozen pipes
One of the biggest issues that may arise from freezing conditions are frozen water pipes. When the temperatures dip into the single digits, it may be too much for the water pipes to endure, often resulting in them cracking or freezing up.

An easy way of preventing the pipes from freezing is by allowing one of the home's faucets to drip. Though this may seem like it's wasting water, allowing a faucet to leak a small amount of water will keep the pipes warmer, as water will be pumping through it. Though letting just one faucet to drip should be sufficient enough, IBHS says homeowners should let all of the faucets leak a moderate amount of water.

Snowfall on roof
Another issue that may materialize when weather conditions are harsh relates to the roof. As a general rule, roofs that have been newly installed or are less than 20 years old should not result in a problem. However, if a roof is older than this age and in need of repair, they could collapse if a large amount of snow falls.

IBHS notes that the risk of a roof collapsing is typically dependent upon the roof's condition and how heavy the snow is. For instance, newly fallen snow that measures 10 to 12 inches is the equivalent of about one inch of water in weight, or five pounds per square foot. Anything more than four feet of fresh snow may lead to a roof buckling.

Storms are rarely this big, but if the winter is particularly snowy, snow can get packed on and weigh the roof down. To err on the side of caution, IBHS recommends taking the snow off the roof with a snow rake, which can typically be purchased at any hardware or home improvement store.

Another way new homeowners can protect their investment is by installing weather stripping. Cold temperatures have a way of leaking into the house as the heat that's use to warm the residence goes outside. Homeowners can save on home heating bills by using weather stripping. This is used by feeling for where cold air is leaking in – such as around a door or window – and then applying the stripping to those areas.

Other winter maintenance tips are available at IBHS' website.

Helpful links:
Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety – Winter tips

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