4 Types of Damage that Winter Does to a Home

Chilly winter temperatures and harsh, icy winds can take a toll on your health, the roads, and even the house you live in. Here are a number of ways this season’s harsh weather can damage your home.

Melting Snow Can Leak Through Your Roof

Winter Damage

Image via Flickr by Watson Lake

Melting snow will take advantage of any flaw in your roof’s surface and leak through. Loose shingles, cracked tiles, and other roof problems provide all the space melting snow needs to infiltrate your roof’s cavity. When water enters your roof, it can rot your roof sheathing and rafters. That damp environment is also the ideal breeding ground for mold.

Make assessing your roof for damage during fall part of your winter preparation plans. Inspecting early allows time to repair any problems before winter sets in.

Ice Can Freeze Your Pipes

When the mercury dips, your pipes are susceptible to damage. Pipes on exterior walls, against unheated crawlspaces, or close to cracks and holes that expose them to cold air are especially vulnerable. When pipes freeze, water cannot flow them.

Expanding ice can split your pipes, causing leaks when the ice melts. Fixing a broken pipe is actually the cheapest part of most repair jobs, but damage to fixtures and home finishes drives the average price of U.S. insurance claims to $18,000, according to the New York Times.

You can prevent this damage by covering your pipes with foam insulation sleeves, which are available at most home improvement stores. Ensuring warm air circulates through your home can also keep the ice at bay. If your pipes freeze, melt the ice with a hairdryer before damage occurs.

Collapsing Trees Can Fall on Your Home

The trees in your backyard can be vulnerable to the impact of harsh winter winds and the weight of ice and snow. These forces can cause trees to topple over and smash through roofs, windows, and power lines.

The New York Times says insurance claims related to collapsing trees cost between $3,000 to $5,000 in most parts of the country, and $10,000 in the western states where trees typically grow larger. Regularly trim healthy trees to remove weak or dead branches that are susceptible to winter damage. If your tree is dead or diseased, fell it before winter to eliminate the risk.

The Wrong Wood Can Cause a Chimney Fire

We all know fireplaces can potentially cause damage to your home, but you might not realize that using the wrong type of wood for your fires can also put your home at risk. Make sure you only burn properly seasoned, dried wood in your fireplace. You should see lots of cracks at the ends of this kind of wood. When cutting your own wood, make sure you give it time to dry before throwing it in the fire. Without the proper treatment, the wood will smoke heavily. The build-up of creosote from the smoke can spark chimney fires.

Don’t just sit back and wait for damage to occur this winter. Understanding the dangers the season can bring and preparing for them will minimize the impact winter makes around your home.

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