Tips For Preventing Winter Water Damage
For homeowners, every season comes with its own unique brand of home care based on the weather conditions. When spring, summer, or fall are happening, your home maintenance activities can be high on your priority list but not urgent.
In other words, you can manage jobs such as planting a flower bed, mowing the lawn, or raking the leaves on the weekends. Enter the snowy winter season, and suddenly your home maintenance schedule no longer revolves around your work routine. You may be surprised to learn that winter water damage is one of the worst things that can happen to your home.
An Ounce Of Prevention!
At AdvantaClean, we specialize in professional water damage restoration, but we are also firm believers in preventative measures. Why? We have seen firsthand the devastating effects of high moisture content left unattended and what it does to a house's structure. Not only that, but it puts your family's health at risk. Black mold is highly toxic and potentially life-threatening.
The Reality Of Frozen Pipes
We are all familiar with the reality of frozen pipes in the winter. It is a common topic of discussion for homeowners in cold climates. In frigid weather, a pipe never seems to develop a simple leak — instead, it blows up, spewing gallons of water in its path. Dealing with a burst pipe is horrific, but there is something even more insidious that causes a dangerous level of water damage in the winter.
Winter Water Damage — A Horror Story
Why is winter water damage so treacherous? Think of it this way — in the warmer weather, it is easy to see the flooding and flood damage around your home because it is right there in front of your eyes. In the freezing weather, the last thing on your mind is dealing with a flood. It is simply not expected. Beware — flooding frequently happens during subzero temperatures, but it goes on behind the scenes, lurking on the sly under layers of snow and ice. Anywhere you can see snow and ice accumulating around the foundation, on the roof, or in the gutters is a cause for concern.
Can Snow Damage Your Roof?
Regardless of how cold it gets where you live, your home is subject to the freeze – melt cycle:
- Snow accumulates on your roof
- Anywhere the snow contacts a surface even slightly warmer than itself, it melts
- On sunny days, when the temperature rises a little, the snow begins to melt
- The water from melted snow trickles down, forming a layer on your roof and in your gutters
- At night when the temperature plummets, the water freezes
- As water turns to ice, it expands
- The ice causes breaches in your roofing materials, forces open the seals around your chimney and fill your gutters
- The next day when things warm up, the meltwater is now obstructed by ice and has nowhere to go
- The water backs up into the interior structure of your roof, trickles through the cavities within the exterior walls and overflows from the gutters
- Sometimes the gutters split from the pressure of the ice and water or get ripped off the roof from the sheer weight
Strange as it may sound, gutter repair in winter is often required for damage from snow and ice. The gutters' function is to direct melting snow from the roof safely away from your home's foundation through the downspouts, making them an essential part of water damage prevention.
Keep Snow Off Your Roof And Away From Your Home
Be prepared in the winter to remove accumulated snow. The rule of thumb for your roof is to have it raked after every 6 inches. Beyond that brings on the risk of ice dams, which you do not want. There is also the foundation to consider. Think of the several inches of snow already on the ground and add to it the snow raked from the roof. Snow piling up close to your home is an immediate red flag. Remember that concrete is porous and quickly absorbs any amount of water. On an acre of land, 1 inch of wet snow contains over 7,000 gallons of water.
Always shovel away from the perimeter of your home, at least 6 feet away. Throw it as far out into the yard as possible. It could mean taking care of the shoveling before leaving for work in the morning or right after you get home. Snow is heavy, so don't leave it for Saturday! Depending on how wet it is, snow can weigh from 1 pound per cubic foot to over 21 pounds per cubic foot. That is 1.35 pounds per inch of depth.
Getting Rid Of Snow Quickly
There are no hard and fast rules for getting rid of snow quickly. More comfortable than shoveling is blowing it. You can invest in a lightweight snowblower for home use that will save time and your back. These handy machines can throw snow 10 to 50 feet. That is one of the quickest ways to clear it from around your foundation. Another tip — don't wait until it stops snowing.
Get outside now and start clearing, especially when a large amount has been forecast to fall. It is easier to move a few inches of depth than a foot or more.
Local City Policies
Here is one final tip for snow removal. If you have a lot to manage after a heavy snowfall, you might be tempted to dump it on the sidewalk or street in front of your home. Before you do, contact your city office to ask about local community ordinances. Some cities will implement fines for blocking the sidewalks, and they will be happy to inform you of the options.
Be Prepared For Winter Weather Emergencies
You can see that prevention is the most practical way to avoid damage from ice dams and flooding. Maintaining clear gutters reduces the need for gutter repair in winter. Make yourself a checklist as a reminder. Include everything you'll need to kick into immediate action when a blizzard rolls in.
Don’t get caught unaware, facing water damage home in subzero weather. However, if for any reason you suspect a problem with excess moisture in your home, contact us immediately. Our winter water damage professionals are the first responders for these emergencies.