5 Types Of Home Damage To Prepare For Ahead Of The Winter Time
Depending on where you live, you could very well be in for the remainder of a long, harsh winter — or you could be nearing the end of your winter. In some areas, winter barely hits at all. But if you’re living in a location prone to severe winter weather, there are only so many preparations you can make ahead of time. Winter weather tends to be more unpredictable and tempestuous than tropical weather. While those in hurricane-prone areas can prepare with storm barriers, it’s a bit more difficult to shield your house from a sudden drop in temperatures, and the ice that comes with it. Furthermore, a blizzard causes accumulated snow that can stick around for much longer than flooding. Of course, some of the damage caused by severe winter weather is similar to that caused by other weather events. For that matter, it’s always a good idea to have your home insured against as many natural disasters as possible. Nonetheless, it’s often difficult to predict precisely what is going to affect your home, especially if you have yet to experience severe winter weather before.
It’s always a good idea to have some of a cushion in your budget, if possible, for home repairs. But you’ll probably want to have even more of a cushion for home repairs following severe winter weather — whether you’re dealing with damaged pipes, or need new shingles on your roof. And you should keep in mind that when winter weather is involved, you can’t always make repairs happen immediately. Even the most experiences of professional roofers, for example, can’t be expected to install new shingles if your house is still covered in snow and ice. Furthermore, if you make certain repairs too early in the winter, the damage could recur before the season is over. With that being said, we’re going to look into some of the winter weather damage — and repairs — you might want to expect. The more prepared you are for the type of damage that can occur over the winter, the easier it will be more you to not only prevent that damage if possible, but repair it when prevention isn’t possible.
1. Roof Damage
Roof damage is perhaps one of the most common types of damage a house can sustain during the winter time, for a number of reasons. For one thing, many of us don’t maintain our roofs to the extent that we should. It’s likely that you should install new shingles on your roof on a similar-regular basis, or at least check to see if new shingles are necessary before the old ones fall off. Many of us move into homes with roofs that are already fairly old and need to be either repaired or replaced entirely. Depending on the quality of the shingles, a typical roof can be expected to last from 20 to 50 years. But its life expectancy can definitely be diminished if the new shingles put in place are low quality, and if your house is undergoing a winter storm, you can expect a roof to take much of the damage. Winter storms can include snow, rain, or even hail — the last of which is particularly hard on a roof, as it essentially involves an onslaught of hard chunks of ice. The wind is also quite rough on a rooftop, battering it at sometimes freezing temperatures. A roof can be covered in ice for days or even weeks on end, especially if it is initially coated in snow, which later hardens into ice. Furthermore, if the caked ice and snow melts suddenly, water damage can be sustained as well. Rather than having your new shingles put in place during the winter, however — which could cause injury to whoever is working on the roof should they slip and fall — you should try your best to wait until winter is over. At that time, the new shingles will be less likely to sustain early damage. Keep in mind that if you’re buying new shingles, you should make an investment for the long term; it’s a good idea to spend the money on those that will last through the next few winters. New shingles made of asphalt, for example, are more likely to last in the colder weather versus the hot weather. Ultimately, new shingles essentially patch over certain parts of a roof that are damaged. If the roof has been overly damaged by the winter weather, you’ll need more than new shingles or a simple roof repair — you might need a new roof entirely. But don’t make that assessment until the winter is finished.
2. Damaged Driveways
Chances are that even if you haven’t dealt with severe winter weather before, you know that a lot of snow will probably equal time spent shoveling it out of the driveway. But you may not realize that the winter weather can do a lot of damage to your driveway. If your driveway is made of gravel, it’s one thing. However, if you have a completely paved driveway made of concrete, you may be looking at more damage after the winter is finished. You could accidentally damage your own driveway while clearing it of snow — it can be difficult to tell if you’re scraping your own driveway too much when you’re working in severe weather. But beyond that, water can seep into the small cracks in your driveway, and when it freezes that water will expand, make the cracks deeper and wider. You may not be worried about the aesthetic appeal of a cracked driveway — but when those cracks become potholes and damage your tires, you’ll take notice. This is why many people wait to take care of driveway resurfacing issues until after the winter is over. If you resurface your driveway just before winter, you could very well have to do it against during the spring. Resurfacing it and handling concrete crack repairs just after the weather has heated up will not only be easier on whoever is handling the resurfacing — it will also ensure that the repair is much more likely to “stick”. Of course, the driveway is not the only concrete surface you’ll likely have to deal with after a winter storm. Patios are also made of concrete, most often — so you’ll probably have to have concrete repairs done then as well.
3. Frozen Pipes
It’s difficult to prevent your pipes from freezing over the course of a particularly harsh winter. Now, there is a common trick that some employ to keep their pipes from freezing. It usually involves leaving at least one faucet dripping at all times. However, the issue with this is that no matter how slowly the faucet may seem to drip, you can actually lose a lot of water over time, and ultimately spend more money on your water bill than you initially intended. Although keeping your home general heated typically will either prevent freezing or delay it, there’s no way to guarantee that your pipes won’t freeze. The issue with frozen pipes is that — particularly if they’re old — they can potentially burst. If they merely freeze without bursting, you’ll still likely be inconvenienced by a lack of water for hours or even days. This is why it’s a good idea to stock up with fresh bottled water before the winter storm sets in, just for your own good. (You’ll also want to keep space heaters around, just to be safe.) With that being said, if your pipes burst you’ll likely need to have them repaired or even replaced much sooner than you would other winter damage problems. The fact is that though this can take time and a good bit of money, you won’t want to delay it — as more freezing can set in. If you expect severe winter weather, you may want to have a plumber check your pipes for damage or weakness ahead of time. At the end of the day, you’ll want to check your pipes on a regular basis anyway — but you should stay especially vigilant during the winter.
4. Deck Issues
If you have a wooden deck or porch of any kind, you’ll very likely have to expect some degree of damage from severe winter. For one thing, wood is rather porous and soft compared to stone and concrete. This means that it can be more easily damaged by ice, or even snow. For another, decks are often mounted above ground, which means that they can start swaying unexpectedly during particularly harsh gales of wind. The fact is that you’ll want to cover your deck with a tarp as soon as you suspect the storm to be settling in — however, even if you secure it in place, it may very well fly away. As we discussed sometimes occurred with roofs after the snow and ice melted, your deck may very well endure water damage. This means that it will rot, or at the very least sag. You’ll most likely have to either repair or replace your deck entirely after the winter is over. Again, much of this is dependent on how well you proof your deck for the weather ahead.
5. Fencing Damage
Like your deck, your fencing is likely made of wood — or metal. Obviously, metal is more durable than wood, though metal itself can become rusted over the course of the winter, due to the water that collects following snow and hail. But both types of fencing can potentially be uprooted following particularly high wind forces. You can prepare ahead of time by double checking your fencing, and seeing if it is properly in place. But if it does sustain damage following a winter storm, you should collect the pieces of fencing you can find (depending on where you are and the storm, it’s possible that some of it may be damaged beyond repair or even impossible to find) and set it aside. This way, you can get in touch with the company that took care of your fencing in the spring time, and have it repaired. An issue with the winter is that the ground can freeze, making it difficult to install new fencing or repair fencing that has already been put in place. As always, preparation is key to getting the best possible results for your home in the long term — but there are some things that you really can’t be sure about, and cannot be expected to predict.
Many of us don’t necessarily expect damage from winter storms. We expect damage from hurricanes and tornadoes; we see these types of weather events as natural disasters. However, blizzards are not as covered by the news, and we’re often told to hunker down at home when they do happen. This isn’t bad advice — but your home needs to be kept safe and protected as well. As we’ve noted, you can’t always prepare for every time of damage, or prevent it. But you can at least make sure that your budget has accommodations in place for the necessary repairs. Furthermore, you can make those repairs at the right time, which will ensure that by the next winter, you’ll be less likely to have to repeat them. The more attention you pay to winter weather, and the more seriously you take it, the less you’ll have to pay in repairs — and much of what you have to worry about can easily be handled through simple maintenance and vigilance.