Written by Andy Gurczak

August 2, 2021

Winter Water Damage: What to Look Out For

Winter can be lovely with it’s chilly temperatures and snowy scenery. However, in addition to all the nice things brought by this time of year, there are also downsides. For example, winter weather also brings increased risk of winter water damage to your home. Furthermore, winter is notorious for being cold and wet, and large amounts of snow and ice can have severe consequences. Therefore, there are three of the top causes of winter water damage. But never fear, there are also forms to prevent it. This winter, spend less time worrying about water damage and more time enjoying the season with your family and friends.

Winter water damage frozen pipes

Top Causes for Winter Water Damage

1. First, burst or frozen water pipes are the most common type of winter water damage

Extreme low temperatures can wreak havoc on pipes. However, it is not from water freezing and expanding. But rather frozen pipes build up significant pressure due to blockage, thus leading to cracks and flooding once the ice melts.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to make sure your outer walls and any exposed pipes are properly insulated. Caulk cracks and holes you see in your exterior walls to prevent cold air from reaching the pipes. Moreover, make sure to shield exposed pipes from freezing temperatures by wrapping them with insulating tape. In fact, old towels can also do the trick. Meanwhile, whenever temperatures are very low or you plan to be away from home for several days, you could leave the faucets lightly dripping.

As well as keep the cabinets under your sink open to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes. Doing so will keep water flowing and can help prevent your pipes from freezing. In addition to that you could also shut off the water in your home if you have access to the valve. However, for maximum protection against hidden or sudden leaks, detection systems do exist. Generally the way they work is that they can monitor water pressure and automatically signal a water shut-off. This technology can reduce the amount of water damage caused by burst or frozen pipes in winter.

Last but certainly not least, you should also make sure that the temperature in your home is always at least 55 degrees, even if you are going to be away for a long trip. What you spend on energy will be more than made up for by not having a plumbing disaster on your hands.

2. Ice dams and roof leaks are also usual types of winter water damage

Icicles may be a lovely winter staple. However, they can wreak havoc on your home if not taken care of. Too many homeowners take their gutters for granted, but they play an important role in directing water to a safe place so that it cannot damage your home. Consequently, if your gutters are clogged, the snow that melts off your roof won’t pass through the drainage system properly. Furthermore, as the water trapped in your gutters refreezes, a wall of icicles will build up, eventually causing ice dams. These ice dams subsequently melt and can damage your rooftop. As well as seep into your attic, causing structural damage or mold.

Moreover, any ice melt that drips over the sides of your gutters can equally damage your property. This is since it has the potential to pool next to your home’s foundation and cause serious additional water damage. Finally, sharp icicles may break off as they melt, posing a serious safety hazard as they fall down. In conclusion, clean your gutters before the cold weather hits to keep the dangers of ice dams and roof leaks at bay.

3. Winter water damage is also commonly caused by outside water sources

The freezing temperature outside can make exterior water sources even more dangerous than in the summer. Therefore, it is important to take preventative action to avoid problems. For example, when the temperatures drop, you should shut off the water to your outdoor hoses and spigots as well as drain any water left behind. This is so that water will not freeze and expand inside of them. Neglecting your outdoor water sources could cause problems when spring rolls around.

Tips to Prevent Winter Water Damage

1. Remove Any Ice and Snow that May Pose a Threat

After snow falls, make a point in removing snow and ice from your home. We generally make sure your driveways and sidewalks are cleared of snow and ice. But We sometimes neglect removing snow from other parts of our home that pose damage risk. Like we said before, your roof, for example. Also, removing snow and ice away from any basement windows is also a good idea. Leaks can happen very easily, and oftentimes, that kind of leak isn’t covered by homeowner’s insurance. Moreover, if you have any cracks in your foundation, make sure those cracks are clear as well. If melting snow gets into the cracks and freezes, that freezing causes expansion, which can then lead to some major damage to your foundation.

2. Check Your Plants And Be Aware of Where They Grow

It may seem like an odd tip, but this is one of the biggest water damage culprits. Plants can cause water damage in a few different ways, and they all have to do with the roots. For example, some plants have roots that are very invasive. Consequently, invasive roots can grow into your sprinkler system, water pipes, main lines, and septic tanks and cause leaks. Furthermore, they can also grow into your foundation and subsequently cause cracks which can lead to leaks.

3. Don’t Let Your Pipes Freeze

Like we mentioned above a frozen water pipes pose a serious water damage threat. And the unfortunate thing is you usually won’t notice a frozen pipe has broken until you have water everywhere. Again, the pipes you mostly have to worry about are any that are outside your house, as well as those inside that don’t have access to heat. Here are a few more tips to ensure your pipes don’t freeze during the cold season.

First, as we noted before, make sure all exposed pipes are properly insulated. Consider getting pipe sleeves. They might be a little expensive, but are definitely cheaper than an insurance deductible. Second, open any cabinets that will allow warm air to get to the pipes. Also, remember to keep your garage door closed and make sure your hoses are disconnected from your spigots.

winter water damage roof cleanup

Although we sometimes try our hardest to avoid damage, some things just aren’t under our control. For this reason,  you might still experience winter water damage. However tempting it may be to engage in a little diy-ing, in most cases, it is not a good idea to try to restore your water damaged home on your own. Without proper training and education, you may end up causing more damage. Contact your public adjuster and have them file your insurance claim today.  With a little insurance help, you can get a professional to make sure your water damage restoration project is done right.

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