How Property Damage is Caused by Ice and Snow

Brad LackeyWater Damage, Water Damage Prevention

Ice dams on the roof

Ice dams on the roofThe winter season is upon us which means that those of us who live in the Midwest must prepare for the harsh cold, snow, and ice that is sure to come.  While snow and ice can create a beautiful winter landscape, they can also cause trouble for a home that is not prepared for the winter weather.

Before the worst of the winter weather arrives, it is important to understand how snow and ice can cause damage to your home.  In this guide, we will discuss the main ways snow and ice cause property damage as well as what you can do to help prepare your home and protect it from this type of damage.

If your home is affected by water damage due to winter conditions, it is important to call our professionals at ServiceMaster by Restoration Contractors for water damage restoration before it leads to bigger issues like structural damage and mold growth.

Ice and Snow Damage

The winters in the Midwest can be especially frigid and they virtually always consist of ice and snow, the most damaging elements of the winter.  Ice and snow are dangerous because they can cause water damage, create hazardous slippery conditions, and damage property from their weight.  The best way to prevent this type of damage to your property this winter is to take action before the worst of the winter weather to protect your property.

The following are the most common ways snow and ice can damage your home and what you can do to prevent it:

Heavy Tree Branches

Accumulated snow and ice can be very heavy, and the weight can cause stress to your trees.  Tree branches close to your home that are coated in ice or holding snow may bend or break and cause damage to your roof, siding, windows, or gutters.  Even branches away from the home can fall on garages, sheds, cars, and power lines, resulting in serious damage.

The best way to prevent this from happening is to trim tree branches before the worst of the winter weather arrives.  Make sure to trim back branches overhanging your home, garage, or power lines and consider trimming bushes that could present a problem.  It is best to take care of the tree trimming in the fall while the weather is still tolerable.

Clogged Gutters and Downspouts

The gutters are important for allowing water from the roof to drain away from the home.  If the gutters and downspouts are clogged, the water will remain in the gutters and freeze when the temperature drops.  The weight of the ice can cause damage to the gutter system and even cause it to break away from the home.  The ice in the gutters will also prevent melting ice and snow from draining properly, causing it to spill over the edge form icicles which adds more weight to the gutters.

You can prevent ice from forming in and around your gutters by clearing debris from the gutters and downspouts in the fall.

Melting Snow and Ice

Ice Dam On Roof

The previous step is important because having clear gutters and downspouts will give melting snow and ice a place to drain.  If your gutters are clogged, the water from melting snow and ice may leak through cracks in the roof or get under the shingles where they can cause damage.  The excess water may also run over the side of your house which can cause the formation of icicles and cause water to leak into your basement through the foundation.

Aside from keeping your gutters and downspouts clear, you can prevent leaks from melting ice and snow by sealing cracks in your roof and foundation.  You should also inspect the condition of your shingles before the worst of the winter weather.

Roof Stress from Snow and Ice

When snow and ice accumulate, they get heavy fast.  This can put stress on your roof and cause considerable damage.  In fact, it only takes 4 feet of snow, or 2 feet of compressed snow, to put your roof at risk of collapse.

It is important to have a professional inspect your roof in the fall to identify and fix any issues.  You should also remove the snow from your roof with a roof rake after a heavy snowfall.

Concrete Damage

This issue may not be at the front of people’s minds in the winter, but ice can cause damage to concrete.  This happens when water gets within the cracks and expands as it freezes, causing the cracks to get bigger.  You can prevent this by filling in the cracks in your sidewalks and driveway before the winter.

Tracked in Snow and Salt

During the winter, it is nearly impossible to avoid tracking in snow, water, salt, and dirt.  This can damage your hardwood floors or carpeting if you track too much in without cleaning the floors.  Make sure everyone in your house takes their shoes and boots off immediately to avoid tracking in water and salt.  If anything does get tracked in, clean it right away.

Frozen and Burst Pipes

frozen pipe burst fort wayne indiana

Another problem that winter weather can cause inside your home is burst pipes.  When water within a pipe becomes frozen, the ice expands and puts pressure on the pipe that can eventually cause it to burst.  Once the pipe bursts, water can spill out and flood your home.  Pipes in uninsulated areas are the most at risk of freezing during the winter.

You can help prevent frozen pipes by insulating pipes in uninsulated areas with heat tape and other forms of pipe insulation.  Running your faucets at a trickle on cold days will help prevent pipes from freezing by keeping the water moving.

Frozen Garage Door

It is common for ice and snow to cause garage doors to freeze shut.  When this happens, do not attempt to pry the door open and do not hit the opener repeatedly to try and get it open.  Instead, disengage the door opener and remove the ice and snow.  Then lift the door by hand and reconnect the opener.  You can prevent the garage door from freezing again by keeping your garage clear of ice and snow.

Ice Dams

Ice dams are the most damaging problem caused by winter weather.  Ice dams occur when uneven heating causes ice and snow on the roof to melt and then refreeze as the water reaches the edge of the roof.  This causes ice to form over the gutters and edge which can damage your property from its weight, and the ice ridge prevents other melted snow and ice from draining, trapping it to pool on the roof.  This can lead to water damage of the roof as well as roof leaks.

You can help prevent ice dams from forming by properly insulating your roof.  You don’t want heat from your attic escaping and causing ice and snow on the roof to melt.

Winter Water Damage Restoration from ServiceMaster

Water Damage Restoration with ServiceMaster by Restoration Contractors

Water damage is a potential problem year-round as the ice and snow can cause damage to your home if it is not prepared.  By following the steps above, you can help prevent the most common forms of property damage caused by ice and snow.

If your home is affected by water damage this winter despite your best efforts to prevent it, call our professionals at ServiceMaster by Restoration Contractors for complete water damage restoration.  We will remove all water from your home as well as dry and repair the affected materials.