Winter weather

Top five ways winter weather wallops the Northwest

Sorry First Snowflake Freakout Lady. Turns out, those malicious flakes dancing across the Double Doppler aren't the worst thing our Northwest winters dish out. That title goes to ice, or more accurately, pipe-bursting subfreezing temperatures that can turn the plumbing in your walls into impromptu fountains.

Perspective polled some of PEMCO’s most seasoned adjusters to uncover the winter-weather woes that often lead to claims. Here are the top five – along with tips to help you beat winter's wallop.

  1. Freezing temperatures. To protect against costly damage from burst pipes:
    • Shut off outdoor faucets and disconnect hoses before covering faucets with foam protectors
    • drain underground sprinkler systems
    • insulate exposed pipes in unheated spaces like the garage, attic, crawl space, and laundry room
    • during cold snaps, leave a slow trickle of cold water running from the faucet farthest from where water enters your home
    • open cabinets under sinks on outside walls to allow heated air inside
    • set the thermostat to at least 55 degrees
    • close garage doors.
  2. Excess snowmelt or surface water. To keep water from backing up into your home, clear clogs from downspouts and gutters, and keep ground drains free of snow and leaves. Make sure water drains away from your home’s foundation (taking care not to shift your water problem onto a neighbor’s property). That may require removing snow from surfaces that slope toward your house, especially driveways and patios.
  3. Ice- and snow-slickened roads. If you decide it’s safe to be on the road, make sure:
    • your tires are right for conditions – snow tires consistently outperform all-season tires for winter driving
    • you’re using a 50:50 mixture of antifreeze and water
    • you carry an emergency kit including warm clothing, food and water, and a cell phone.
  4. Fallen trees. Before winter windstorms blow:
    • remove branches that overhang your home
    • remove rotten or dying trees
    • call an arborist if you see signs of trouble: pushed-up soil at the base of a tree, leaning or lopsided trees, wood shavings (indicating insect activity), or cracks or hollows in a tree.
  5. Icy sidewalks and decks. When it comes to shoveling walks, our best advice is do what is neighborly, reasonable, and safely within your physical capabilities. Take care that your well-intended efforts don’t create a bigger slip-and-fall hazard (clearing fresh snow from a steep, icy walkway might encourage people – who would otherwise stay off – to use it).

To learn more, check out our Consumer Tips online.