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We saw an amazing map the other day that showed snowfall in every US state except Florida. That doesn’t happen often, but we figured that since it did it would be a good chance to remind people of the most common water damage events that can happen due to cold weather and snow. For many in the US, the thought of getting home water damage from a cold snap doesn’t even register on their radar. But the truth is, any home can be susceptible to cold weather, and that’s especially true for homes in the South that may not be built in such a way to protect the home’s vital infrastructure. So now that almost everybody across the US had a nice scare, let’s talk through what you need to be aware of in order to protect your home from expensive water damage.
Ice dam formations on your roof
This is more common in colder climates where snow and cold weather tend to stick around throughout the winter. But ice dams cause a significant amount of water damage each year and can often times becomes a black mold damage problem as well if left untreated. If you notice icicles forming on your roof’s eave, here’s a blog post we wrote years ago detailing how to prevent ice dams from forming. There’s a number of different techniques people apply to try and rid themselves of existing ice dams, but the truth is these can actually hurt your roof and cause more lasting long term damage. So do yourself a favor and read up on that blog post so you don’t have to deal with water damage from ice dams.
Roof damages from high winds
This one hits close to home as we experienced 70+ MPH winds just last night where we live. Winter storms can often bring with them damaging winds that can rip shingles off your roof. Just a small amount of damaged or missing shingles can end up allowing a lot of water into your attic and/or home if rain or snow accompany the winds. If possible, have a roofing company check your roof after a strong wind storm just to make sure you don’t have any damages that could cause significant water damage.
By far the most common winter weather related water damage comes from frozen pipes that burst. It happens all the time when temperatures plunge. If you live in a colder climate, it usually happens when an exterior hose spigot or other pipe in the crawlspace/basement is exposed to the elements. If you live in the South, the culprit could be plumbing pipes that are traveling through your attic. In either case, they must be insulated or you’re at risk of some serious flooding issues!
Melting snow can impact any home, whether it has a basement, crawlspace, or a slab foundation. If enough snow ends up piling up next to your foundation, it’s going to create a lot of water once it melts. Hopefully when it does melt, your lawn slopes away from your house but if not you could end up with hundreds of gallons of water lurking next to your house. With that much water, over time it’s going to soak into and through your foundation and cause damage inside your property!
While these certainly aren’t the only way hazardous winter weather can cause costly water damage, they are the most common causes we see each winter. So like we always say on this blog, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Water damage costs can be high, and many types of damage aren’t covered by homeowner’s insurance policies. So it’s safest to take preventative steps on your own to make sure you greatly reduce the chances you end up with a problem on your hands!