FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A winter storm watch is currently in effect for certain Northwest Arkansas counties until 12 a.m., Friday, Feb. 4.

To help Arkansans, the American Automobile Association offers up some tips on how to prepare your home for winter weather.

Below freezing temperatures can cause havoc to homes’ heating systems, plumbing and exterior, so AAA says maintaining your property before the cold strikes is essential to reduce your risk of winter damage.

“The time to prepare your home for the upcoming cold weather is right now,” said AAA Spokesperson Nick Chabarria. “Taking smalls steps to ensure your home’s interior and exterior are ready can help you avoid high repair costs and headaches down the road.”

What You Can Do to Protect Your Home

  • Remove hoses from exterior faucets
  • Repair or replace weather stripping around windows and doors, vents and fans, plumbing, air conditioners and electrical and gas lines.
  • Use caulk or insulation to seal all crack, holes and other openings on exterior walls.
  • Let faucets drip a little bit to prevent freezing pipes.
  • Well-insulated basements and crawl spaces will help protect pipes. Close foundation vents and windows to basements. Wrap vulnerable pipes with pipe insulation.
  • Know where your water shutoff valve is so that you can turn off the water in case of an emergency.
  • Air inside the walls, where pipes are, can be much colder than air in the room, so set the thermostat at a reasonable temperature, even if you will be away from home.
  • Keep bathroom and kitchen cabinet doors open to let warm air circulate around the pipes.
  • Close your wood burning fireplace flue damper when you’re not using it. Follow all manufacturer instructions for gas fireplaces including those with pilot lights, which may require the flue to be partial open at all times.

Winter Damages Covered by Homeowners Insurance

Winter comes with snow, and sometimes lots of it. If your roof collapses or is damaged due to the weight of snow or ice from a storm, a standard home insurance policy may cover the damage.

Another threat to your home in the winter season are cold snaps. Water left standing in pipes when the temperature drops may expand with enough force to cause it to burst, leading to serious water damage if the issue isn’t immediately identified. Damage caused from burst pipes as well as the repair costs are covered by most standard home insurance policies, as long as regular maintenance is performed, and owners maintain heat in the building.

What’s Not Covered by Homeowners Insurance

Most storm damage is covered under Home Insurance, however there are exclusions that could apply.  

Flash floods caused by a sudden rise in temperature during the winter months can cause significant damage to your home that will not be covered by your standard home insurance policy, but flood insurance can be purchased separately.

Most damages not covered by insurance are due to homeowner neglect or lack of maintenance. These may include damages resulting from extreme cold due to failure to maintain heat in your house.

More Winter Liabilities

In addition to the above risks, slips and falls on your property are always a possibility in winter. Such incidents are likely covered by the liability coverage that comes with your home insurance policy, but it’s a good idea to double check with your insurance agent. If you do experience an incident like this, help with potential legal aspects may also be included in your policy.

Is Your Home Insurance Ready?

By taking the necessary precautions and preparing your house for winter, you can avoid having to make an insurance claim this winter season. Trimming threatening trees, shutting off your water and drain pipes, and cleaning your gutters are all things that can be done before it gets too cold.

AAA Insurance reports the average frozen pipe claim in the region costs more than $7,400, according to a press release, although, the amount can be higher depending on damage to personal property.

AAA says if a winter disaster does strike, having the right home insurance coverage will help. The company advises Arkansans to review their policy with their agent to be ready.