Now that the winter season is officially upon us, many homeowners are getting ready to batten down in anticipation of winter weather. Winter storms cause damage to homes every year, and it’s important to know what kinds of issues to look for and how to prepare adequately. From roofs to basements, almost all areas of your home could be the targets of storm damage. Here are some common problems that can damage your home in the winter. Be ready to face them as a homeowner this winter.
Frozen or Clogged Gutters
Almost every homeowner has heard this command before: Keep your gutters clean in the fall and winter months. This is because falling leaves and other debris common in autumn easily get trapped in your gutters, which cause water backups during the cold season. When water can’t travel through your gutters and runoff system properly, flooding can occur. Also, water will overflow from your gutters and spill down the sides of your house. This is particularly hazardous in the winter when this water freezes and wreaks havoc on your gutters and siding.
Ice dam formation is a frequent problem that occurs along your home’s roof and gutters. Ice dams appear when snow piles up on your rooftop and freezes, creating a ridge of ice along your roofline or gutters. People call them dams because they prevent melting snow from reaching your gutters and safely draining off the roof. Instead, this backup may leak into your home, causing water to pool indoors and leaving you with water damage. If ice dams become heavy enough, they can even rip your gutters off the roof. Consistently monitor the buildup of snow and ice on your roof. And if you notice sizable ridges of ice or icicles forming on your roof, call a professional for removal.
Clogged gutters and ice dams can affect your home in multiple ways. When gutters overflow and water spills down the side of your home, it collects around your foundation. This water may seep into cracks already present in your foundation or create new ones by freezing and thawing. Don’t take cracks around your foundation lightly. Depending on the severity, these cracks may lead to structural damage, and your home’s stability can become compromised. Even in mild cases, foundational cracks let water into your home, which may trigger water damages, including rotting, mold growth, and staining. You don’t want to leave foundational cracks alone to turn into long-term issues.
Depending on your area, winter temperatures can drop to extremely low levels at certain points in the winter. These freezing conditions are a bad sign for your home’s plumbing. If you don’t keep your home adequately heated during the winter, even your indoor pipes can freeze and burst. This is a common occurrence in basements, attics, and crawlspaces. These areas often don’t have access to heating like the rest of your house. Make sure you take steps to insulate these pipes and prevent cracks and bursts due to cold temperatures. Try opening cabinet doors to circulate air better, or wrap your pipes in insulating materials like towels or specialty pipe insulation.
Roof or Shingle Damage
Roof damage is a frequent problem that many homes endure during the winter. However, how are you supposed to know when your roof becomes damaged with a thick layer of snow covering it? You may need to call in a professional to clear away heavy amounts of snow, as these layers may cause roof collapses. Otherwise, you’ll have to turn your focus indoors to notice signs of roof problems. Look for water marks on ceilings and walls. Pooled water on the floor can also be an indicator of roof damage. Furthermore, peeling paint or rotting frames may be signs of water coming from the roof. If you hear trickling or running water indoors, this could also be a sign of an issue (if you’re sure it’s not coming from your plumbing).
Sump Pump Issues
There are two main issues that sump pumps suffer in the winter months: overflowing and freezing. Most sump pumps come with an extension hose that diverts excess water away from the house. If this hose freezes due to frigid weather, it can become clogged, which will leave this excess water with nowhere to drain. This leads to a backup and may cause your sump pump to overflow. Another common issue for sump pumps happens when the weather starts to warm up. At such times, the ice and snow begin melting. Your sump pump may not be able to keep up with all the water and may overflow as a result. Your sump pump may also overflow due to a power outage from a winter storm.
The moral of this story is to always keep an eye on your sump pump during the winter. Ensure you haven’t disabled any alarms on your sump pump’s system that alert you when it clogs or overflows.
Siding Wear and Tear
As mentioned with ice dams and clogged gutters above, water flowing down siding adds a lot of wear and tear to your home. This, combined with the high winds, freezing rain, and hail conditions that winter storms bring, can do tons of damage to your home’s siding. Periodically check your siding after winter storms to ensure there aren’t any gaps or cracks. Openings in your siding will let more water run into your home and cause your energy bills to increase. They can also allow warm air from within your home to escape outside, decreasing your home’s energy efficiency. This is why home insulation is crucial, especially during the winter months.
Now that you know these common problems that can damage your home in the winter, you’ll be ready to identify these issues and address them quickly. It’s best to be familiar with your local repair service in advance just in case you run into any problems this winter. Aloha Restoration provides water damage restoration and remediation services for winter-related issues and more. If you’re in the Chicagoland area, give us a call.