Winter Has Arrived and IBHS Provides Consumer Resources to Reduce Freezing Weather Property Risks

Contact: Brent Henzi

Phone: (813) 675-1035


Twitter: @disastersafety

Tampa, FL (November 20, 2014) – As snow blankets the northern U.S. and many areas battle freezing temperatures, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), a national research and communications organization, offers severe winter weather guidance for home and business owners to reduce their property damage risks.

“With this early onset of severe winter weather, please take the time to understand the various winter weather alerts and stay tuned to the National Weather Service advisories,” said Julie Rochman, IBHS president and CEO. “Also, we encourage residents and business owners to take steps now and use IBHS’ recommendations to protect your home or business today and to be prepared because it could be a very longwinter season.”

IBHS provides the following guidance below, while additional winter weather resources are also available here.


Stay Safe and Warm

Alternative heating is a great way to stay warm during the cold weather, but its use comes with risks. Check IBHS’ alternative heating advice before selecting, installing, or using an alternative heating source.


Build a Plan for a Power Outage

Heavy snow and high winds are a recipe for widespread power outages. It’s important to prepare a plan now before a possible outage. Learn how you can use alternative heat sources and generators safely during a power outage here


Prevent Roof Collapse

Significant snowfall can put a strain on a roof that could cause significant damage and even potential collapse. Unless your roof structure is damaged or decayed, most residential roofs, regardless of the location of the house, should be able to support 20 pounds (lbs.) of snow per square foot of roof space before they become stressed. Determine how much the snow/ice on your roof weighs by using the IBHS information below.

  • Fresh snow: 
10-12 in. of new snow is equal to 1 inch of water, or about 5 lbs. per square foot of roof space, so you could have up to 4 feet of new snow before the roof will become stressed.
  • Packed snow: 
3-5 in. of old snow is equal to 1 inch of water, or about 5 lbs. per square foot of roof space, so anything more than 2 feet of old snow could be too much for your roof to handle.
  • Total accumulated weight: 
2 ft. of old snow and 2 feet of new snow could weigh as much as 60 lbs. per square foot of roof space, which is beyond the typical snow load capacity for most roofs.
  • Ice: 
1 inch of ice equals 1 foot of fresh snow.

Check out more information on snow load dangers and how to remove snow from your roof using IBHS’ winter roof risks infographic:



Prevent Ice Dams

During freezing weather, heat from your home or business can escape through your roof and melt snow on your roof. The snowmelt can then trickle down to the roof’s edge and refreeze, creating an ice dam that leaves additional snowmelt with no place to go but possibly under your roof. The following IBHS guidance will reduce your risk of ice dams.

  • Keep all drains, scuppers, gutters, and downspouts free of debris and vegetation that may restrict proper flow.
  • Remove or relocate heat sources that are installed in open attic areas directly under the roof, such as an attic.
  • Insulate light fixtures in the ceiling below an unheated attic space.
  • If you have penetrations into the attic, such as vents, seal and insulate them so that daylight cannot be seen and airflow is minimal.
  • If ice dams form around the drains, connect heating cables to the drains to prevent ice buildup. Heating cables can also be placed on the roof, connecting them to the drainage system so a path is created for the melting ice to follow.

Discover additional ways you can prevent costly ice dams here.


Prevent Frozen Pipes

Frozen pipes are one of the biggest risks of property damage when the temperature drops. In fact, a burst pipe can result in more than $5,000 in water damage, according to IBHS research. Prevent a costly water damage bill caused by frozen pipes by using the following guidance:

  • Provide a reliable back-up power source to ensure continuous power to the building.
  • Insulate all attic penetrations.
  • Ensure proper seals on all doors and windows. 
  • Seal all wall cracks and penetrations, including domestic and fire protection lines, electrical conduit, other utility service line, etc.
  • Install insulation and/or heat trace tape with a reliable power source on various wet sprinkler system piping. This includes main lines coming up from underground passing through a wall as well as sprinkler branch lines.
  • Place a monitored automatic excess flow switch on the main incoming domestic water line to provide early detection of a broken pipe or valve when the space is unoccupied.

Need more facts on frozen pipes? Check out IBHS’ frozen pipes infographic:

Winter - Pipes

Winter – Pipes


Install Weather Stripping and Seals

Prevent freezing temperatures from entering your home or business by installing weather stripping and seals. This offers two major benefits – it will keep severe winter weather out of your home or business and sealing your property shut also greatly increases energy efficiency by limiting drafts and reducing the amount of cold air that enters. Inspect the following areas of your home or business for leaks to determine possible areas to seal:

  • Windows and doors
  • Vents and fans
  • Plumbing 
  • Air conditioners
  • Electrical and gas lines
  • Mail chutes 

Learn how to install weather stripping and caulking here.


About The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS)

IBHS is an independent, nonprofit, scientific research and communications organization supported by the property insurance industry. The organization works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other risks on residential and commercial property by conducting building science research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparedness practices.