Snow damage to your home, especially the roof, can take a variety of forms and be costly to repair. Removing snow after a heavy or prolonged accumulation is the best thing to do, as long as you use the right tool, like a snow rake.
If, however, you already have snow or ice damage to your home, react quickly and call in the professionals sooner rather than later.
If winter comes and goes and you haven’t had any big problems, it’s still a good idea to inspect your home inside and out to catch and address any little issues before they become big ones.
When snow accumulates on your roof, it insulates the heat coming up through the roof, causing the snow touching your roof to melt first. When it refreezes, that expanding water needs a place to go, so it may force its way up underneath the shingles. When the ice melts, it can travel inward and damage the wood, ceilings and walls.
Ice will also build up in your gutters, damming them up. This can damage the eaves and even tear the gutters off the house if enough ice builds up. You can reduce or get rid of the ice by using roof tablets that melt the ice using calcium chloride – although there is some risk of damaging the shingles – or chip at the ice. If the ice is bad enough, you’ll want to hire a pro to melt it. They’ll sometimes use steam to melt the ice. Never use a blowtorch and don’t knock icicles off the shingles or eaves, as that can damage them.
More Roof Risks
Your roof is also at risk from snow-laden branches and trees falling on your home. Possibly even worse, a tree on your property falling on your neighbor’s home could cause you to potentially be liable if you’re found to have been negligent.
Your worst-case scenario is so much snow buildup that the roof caves in. Repairs could be tens of thousands of dollars at this point, so it’s a good idea to check your insurance policy to make sure you’re covered for this problem.
Even if you have no moisture coming into your home from the outside, condensation can form inside your attic, which can cause wood rot and mold.
To stay dry, your attic needs to be properly ventilated and insulated so that outside air can move through the attic. What you don’t want is air getting trapped in the attic. Your attic also needs to be insulated so that no warm air from the rest of your house rises into the attic. The attic temperature should always be pretty close to whatever the outside temperature is, hot or cold. If it’s cold outside but warm air from your house escapes into the attic, condensation will form. That escaping hot air is also wasting money on your heating bill.
If you have condensation, get a roofing and insulation contractor out to fix your ventilation and insulation problems. If you’re running a humidifier in the home, that may also be contributing to the condensation.
Flooding or Frozen Pipes
Besides snow and ice issues on your roof, you may be at risk of flooding in your basement when all that snow and ice melts. Homeowners insurance policies don’t cover flooding. You need an additional flood insurance policy for that. If melting ice and snow does flood your basement, you’ll need to act fast to minimize the damage.
If your pipes freeze, keep in mind that the freezing isn’t usually what causes the most problems; that happens when the pipes begin to thaw and water gushes through the cracks caused by the ice.
When you realize your pipes are frozen, immediately turn off your water; then you can assess the extent of the problem and call the plumber. You can also thaw the pipes yourself with a space heater or hair dryer.
The bottom line is, take all the proactive measures you can to protect your home from the elements, and, if problems still occur, react as quickly as possible. Calling a pro can get expensive, but will most likely save you money in the long run. How do you protect your home against snow and ice – or what repairs have you had to make? Share in the comments below.
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