Seasonal Tips

Tips to Prevent Flooding in your Home During the Winter

The spring and summer are usually the worst seasons for home flooding because of the high amount of rain and softer soil that allows water to penetrate to the foundation.  However, home flooding is just as likely to happen in the winter.  Frozen pipes, snow melt, and ice dams are just a few causes of winter water damage, and if these problems are not addressed, you could be faced with serious property damage.  Leaks from snowmelt can cause damage to the ceiling and structural elements of your home while water that gets into the cracks of your foundation can freeze and cause the cracks to get worse.  It is important for homeowners to know how to protect their homes from winter flooding to avoid serious flood damage.  The following tips will help you prevent home flooding from the most common causes this winter.

Remove Snow Near the Foundation

Much of the flooding that happens within a home comes in through the foundation.  During the winter, water from melted snow can find its way into cracks in the foundation and if the water freezes within the cracks, it can widen them, leading to further problems.  When you shovel your driveway after a snowfall, make sure to remove the snow from around your home’s foundation as well.  This will help prevent the melting snow from seeping into the foundation and flooding the basement.

Remove Snow from the Roof

Remove Snow from the RoofWhen snow piles onto the roof, it can put extra stress on the features of the roof that can lead to structural damage.  It can also leak into the home when it begins to melt.  If more than two feet of snow has piled up on your roof, you must remove it to prevent leaks and structural damage.  You must be very careful when removing snow from the roof because ice on the roof can make this very dangerous.

Clear Debris from the Gutters

The gutters are just as important for allowing water to drain off your roof in the winter as they are in the summer.  However, debris such as leaves, twigs, dirt, and animal droppings gather in the gutters during the summer and fall which can block the flow of the water.  If your gutters are clogged during the winter, the water from melting snow and ice will have nowhere to drain and will end up overflowing from the gutters.  This can cause damage to the shingles, siding, and foundation if the water runs down the side of your home.

It is very important to remove debris buildup from your gutters during the winter so that the snowmelt has somewhere to drain safely.  Check your gutters for blockages and make sure the downspout deposits the water far enough away from your foundation.

Avoid Ice Dams

Ice_dam_slate_roofIce dams are a common problem in the winter that is caused by poor insulation.  When heat escapes through the roof of a home, it will melt some of the ice and snow.  The water will then refreeze in a different area of the roof, creating an ice dam that blocks any water from draining properly.  The ice dam will not only put extra stress on your roof from the weight, but also cause water to pool on the roof which can result in serious structural damage.

The best way to prevent ice dams is to make sure your attic is properly insulated.  Check the insulation in your attic and make sure it is adequate to prevent the heat from escaping through the roof.  You should also watch out for large icicles hanging from your roof which are a sign of ice dams.

Water Heater Maintenance

Water heaters are an important appliance in the winter, and they are always susceptible to major leaks.  Any issues from sediment buildup to valve malfunctions can cause leaks that will flood the surrounding area of your home.  It is very important to do yearly maintenance on your water heater which includes checking the valve and looking for leaks or sediment buildup.  You can do the yearly maintenance checks yourself, or hire a professional to do the inspection.

Insulate Pipes to Prevent Freezing

Insulate Pipes to Prevent FreezingFrozen pipes can happen very easily in the winter and lead to serious water damage in your home.  Water within exposed pipes in your basement, attic, sprinkler system, and below sinks can become frozen in cold temperatures which causes a blockage and buildup in pressure.  The pressure from the water will eventually cause a burst, resulting in a major leak of hundreds of gallons of water.

You must make sure that the exposed pipes in your home stay warm enough during the winter to prevent a burst.  Insulate any exposed pipes with heat tape, specialized pipe sleeves, or a quarter inch of newspaper.  Open the cabinet doors under your sink so that the heat in your home can keep those pipes warm.  You can also prevent frozen pipes by keeping your water running at a light trickle.

Inspect the Sump Pump

Your sump pump works year-round to keep excess water out of your basement.  It must stay functional throughout the winter to remove water from the melting ice and snow.  Test your sump pump by lifting the float or putting water in the pit to make sure it is running properly.  If your sump pump malfunctions during the winter, water from the melting snow can seep in through your foundation.

Look for and Address Small Leaks

Look for and Address Small LeaksMost water leaks start out small, but they can quickly become a problem if they are not fixed right away.  A small water leak may also mean that there is a bigger issue.  Look for signs of a water leak including peeling paint, spots on walls or ceilings, mold growth, and a musty smell.  If you notice a leak in your home, contact a professional right away to address the problem.

Professional Water Damage Restoration

Your home is just as likely to experience flooding during the winter as in any other season.  By following these flood prevention tips and constantly checking your home for any signs of flooding, you can prevent winter water damage.  If your home is affected by water damage or flooding this winter, call the experts of SVMPS for our water damage restoration services.  We will remove excess water and moisture from the affected materials and fully restore the damaged area, even in the middle of winter.