Winterizing is an important part of protecting your home from winter damage, but what if you didn’t do it? Whether you were expecting a mild winter, waited too long, or simply forgot, you could be facing serious damage to your house. Here’s how you can assess your home for winter damage and make the necessary fixes.
If a strong winter storm hit your neighborhood, your roof almost certainly took a beating. Inspect your room for damaged or missing shingles. If only a couple of shingles are damaged, you can replace them yourself as long as your roof isn’t too steep to work on safely. If there’s significant damage or signs of a leaking roof, hire a roofing company to assess the full extent of the damage.
Ice dams are another common roof problem. Once they form, ice dams can be melted with calcium chloride or gently chipped away with a claw hammer or ice pick. You can prevent future ice dams by improving insulation in your attic and keeping the gutters clean. If your gutters have pulled away from the eave, you’ll need to refasten them with new hangers and repair or replace broken gutter segments.
The worst-case scenario of winter roof damage is a tree branch crashing through your roof or the roof caving in after being overloaded by snow. If your roof has suffered serious damage, you’ll have no choice but to call a roofing company for emergency repairs.
A snowy winter means a wet spring, and if melting snow flows toward your house instead of away from it, you could find yourself with a flooded basement. Excess moisture not only damages your basement flooring and drywall, it could also harm your foundation. While a handy homeowner can patch drywall and repair flooring, foundation repairs require a professional.
Hopefully, the damage hasn’t affected the foundation yet. Either way, you should make adjustments to prevent future flooding. Ensure your gutter downspout is clear and directing water away from your house and have your yard graded for proper drainage. Resloping a yard can be costly, but it’s much cheaper than repairing foundation issues. If you get another heavy snow before spring arrives, shovel as much snow away from the foundation as possible.
If you leave town and turn off the heat or forget to leave a faucet dripping on frigid nights, you could find yourself with frozen pipes. If you turn on the faucet and nothing comes out, there’s a good chance you have frozen plumbing. First, check for signs of cracks or leaks. If you don’t find any, leave the faucet on and try to melt the frozen pipes by blowing on them with a hair dryer, starting close to the faucet and working down the pipe as ice melts.
If there’s a crack in your plumbing or your pipes have burst, you’re in an emergency plumbing situation. Shut off the water at the main shutoff valve and call a plumber immediately.
Next winter, prevent frozen pipes by insulating pipes located along exterior walls and in crawl spaces, attics, and other unheated areas. Keep your thermostat set to a minimum temperature of 55 degrees, even if you’re leaving town. And when temperatures drop especially low, leave faucets trickling to prevent freezing.
These are some of the most catastrophic things that can happen to your home during a harsh winter, but they’re not the only way that freezing temperatures and stormy weather can cause damage. While you can repair damage as it occurs and assess your home’s status each spring, the best way to deal with winter damage is to prevent it. Next year, make home winterization a part of your fall schedule.