Most Common Winter Home Disasters

Winter can be harsh on your home.  As the temperatures drop and snow and ice build up, you can find yourself dealing with a number of issues, from roof leaks to frozen pipes.

Here are a few of the most common winter home disasters and what you can do to prevent them!

Frozen Pipes

As temperatures drop, pipes can freeze and burst.  This can cause significant water damage inside your home that requires specially trained technicians to address and dry out.  Even worse, pipes that break in areas you may not immediately notice could cause rot and mold growth!

How to prevent them: The most susceptible pipes are in areas of your home that are not well heated.  Water supply lines in basements, crawlspaces, and exterior walls are of particular concern.  The best way to prevent pipes in your home from freezing is to ensure that they don’t get cold enough to.  Make sure that heat is able to reach your supply lines and if your plumbing runs through unheated basements or crawlspaces, consider wrapping them in heat tape.  If you’re still concerned that your pipes could freeze, a short term solution is to let your faucet run at a steady drip.  Running water is harder to freeze, so while this does raise your water bill slightly, it will generally prevent the pipe from freezing.

Ice Dams

When snow on your roof rapidly thaws and then freezes, it can create a dam of ice along the eave.  This can eventually cause additional ice, rain, or snow to push up under the shingles where the water is able to then leak into your home through the roof or exterior walls.  Because every ice dam is unique to your roof and the environmental conditions that created it, you can have ice dams that create slow leaks, fast leaks, affect one room in your home or several, and everything in between.

How to prevent them: Depending on the conditions that created the ice dam, they may not necessarily be preventable.  A few things you can look for are roofs that allow a lot of heat to escape, and as a result create a lot of snow melt, gutters that are clogged and don’t adequately address snow and ice melt, and large icicles or blocks of snow along the eave of your roof.  Because removing an ice dam improperly can damage your roof, you’re best to prevent them in the first place by ensuring your gutters are clear and your roof is adequately insulated to reduce heat loss.  Still, however, ice dams can occur if the conditions are right.

Furnace Puffbacks

Caused when fuel doesn’t properly ignite, furnace puffbacks can cover the interior of your home in dirty soot.  From the ceiling and walls, to the floors and all of the contents, furnace puffbacks are a big mess to clean up.  To make matters worse, this oily soot residue is very difficult to clean and can’t be painted over without special surface preparations!

How to prevent them: Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance.  The fact of the matter is that the best way to prevent a furnace puffback is by having your furnace serviced each and every year before you fire it up.  During furnace maintenance, your technician will check, clean, and / or replace fuel injector heads, filters, and check for any components that may be failing.  This ensures that you have a furnace that is in good shape and less likely to experience issues.


Home fires, particularly those caused by heating systems, spike in the winter months.  Even something as seemingly harmless as a space heater or candle can cause a serious home fire if left unattended. 

How to prevent them: Fire safety begins with adequate (and working) smoke detectors.  Be sure that you have smoke detectors on each floor, including bedrooms, and that you test them regularly to ensure they’re working.  Make sure that heating systems like furnaces, fireplaces, and chimneys are serviced annually and cleaned thoroughly to prevent buildup of creosote and other potentially flammable compounds.  If you use space heaters or candles, be sure to make sure they’re not in use unattended and that they are far away from any flammable objects. 

We hope everyone has a nice winter free of any of these headaches.  If you do find yourself dealing with any of these issues, please don’t hesitate to contact our offices, we’re happy to help!

About Disaster Blaster

Disaster Blaster is an indoor environmental firm serving the Northeastern PA Area.  We have been providing our local area with unparalleled water damage mitigation, basement waterproofing, mold remediation, asbestos abatement, radon mitigation, and fire / smoke restoration services for decades, and are proud to have been named The World’s Greatest Indoor Environmental Firm.  For more about Disaster Blaster, as well as more helpful tips, please visit our website at: or call our office at (570) 963-1123.