Common Causes of Winter Water Damage and How to Prevent Them

winter rime backgroundAs you're preparing for winter, one of your main concerns should be about preventing water damage to your home during the winter months. Most people tend to think of water damage as a spring and summer problem because of flooding during storms or from melting snow. However, winter water damage can be just as severe. Learn the main causes of winter water damage and what you can do to prevent them. What leads to winter water damage? Ice Dams Many people haven't heard about this serious roof problem, but it can be quite common and devastatingly destructive to a home. Ice dams occur when roof temperatures fluctuate. Some snow on the roof will melt and run off, but as it runs and hits a colder area (the eaves) on the roof, it freezes again. Ice dams form when water consistently runs into cooler areas of the roof and freezes there in layers. The mounds of ice that form on your roof's edge soon start to hold water on the roof that should be running off. Water can wick underneath shingles and flashing and begins to damage the structural elements of your home; it can soak and destroy framing, drywall, window casings and trusses. Burst Pipes Frozen pipes are one of the most common sources of water damage during the winter. When you live in a well insulated and properly heated home, frozen pipes may not even be something you are concerned about. However, even homes that are generally heated well can have this problem. Fortunately, most problems with burst pipes can be avoided with simple prevention measures. What can you do to prevent winter water damage? First, it's essential to take the time to clean your gutters before the first snowfall. Winters in the Midwest can be unpredictable, but clean gutters can really help to prevent ice dams. If water is permitted to sit in the gutter because it can't flow down and out, it will freeze there and begin the dam cycle. If possible, also have your roof inspected. An attic that is well insulated, ventilated and properly heated will lead to better heat distribution. You won't have trouble with ice dams if your attic is not trapping warm, moist air that melts water that will freeze on the eaves. Try to shoot for an ideal winter attic temperature of about 68 degrees. If you find that your attic is humid during the winter months, install a dehumidifier to help reduce attic moisture for better overall temperature control. To prevent pipe trouble, let your water steadily drip, especially in taps that don't see much use, like a basement bathroom sink. Keep your home temperature warm even when you are going on vacation. Also, have a water damage prevention and restoration company check for and insulate exposed pipes, like those in basements, attics, or garage cabinets that could be more prone to freezing and bursting.
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