Have you heard that this winter is expected to be even colder than the last? The ice, snow and occasional freezes and thaws that come with winter weather in Winston-Salem put even a well-maintained home at greater risk of damage that impacts the comfort and safety of its occupants. By learning how to cope with various situations that may arise this time of year, you’ll be better prepared to protect your home during severe weather.
Accumulations of Ice and Snow on the Roof
A heavy buildup of snow and ice on the roof can weaken the structure and lead to a collapse. The amount of strain placed on a roof by ice and snow depends on the moisture content in the precipitation. Most roofs can tolerate 3 to 4 feet of light, fluffy snow, while just 2 feet of wet, compacted snow can cause structural damage. One inch of ice weighs as much as a foot of fluffy snow, so a 4-inch accumulation from a single ice storm has the potential to cause a collapse.
If it’s not possible to remove the buildup safely with a roof rake, call a maintenance or landscaping contractor who’s licensed, bonded and insured to clear the roof as soon as possible. You’ve waited too long if the roof starts to have a sway-back appearance, or your doors and windows pop open or stick shut.
Ice Dams Along the Edge of the Roof
When warmth from the living space rises into the attic, it can melt snow on the roof. On a sloped roof, this runoff will drain down to the edge where it’s cooler. If the water refreezes when the outdoor temperature drops, an ice dam can form that prevents any additional runoff from draining away. Water can then back up under the roofing and infiltrate the attic, ceiling and exterior walls.
To protect your home during severe weather that can cause ice dams and water damage, be sure to:
- Seal leaks that allow warm air to rise from the living space to the attic.
- Install ample insulation in the floor of the attic to stop heat losses from the living areas below.
- Make sure there’s adequate ventilation in the attic so warm air doesn’t get trapped near the roof.
- Clean out downspouts and gutters so debris and leaves can’t block critical runoff drainage.
Frozen, Ruptured Water Pipes
Water lines that run through unconditioned areas such as the basement, crawl space or exterior walls are vulnerable to freezing during cold spells. When a line freezes, the water inside expands and can burst the pipe. To protect your home during severe weather that may cause pipes to freeze and rupture:
- Check for and seal holes, cracks and gaps around the foundation and exterior walls with caulking or expandable spray foam insulation.
- If the lines are accessible, wrap pipes susceptible to freezing with foam piping insulation.
- When a cold spell is expected, open the bathroom and kitchen cabinets to let warm air circulate around the pipes.
- Open up faucets on vulnerable water lines just slightly, so the water keeps flowing.
Water Intrusions and Damaging Floods
Frequent temperature fluctuations in the winter months cause thaws and freezes that increase the risk of water intrusions to a home. To fully protect your home during severe weather, take these steps to reduce the chance of water seepage or flooding:
- Shovel snowfall away from the basement windows and foundation as soon as possible.
- If melting water is pooling in some areas because of snow or ice accumulations, clear a path so it can drain freely.
- Make sure the catch basins on the street are clear of obstructions so water can escape instead of backing up on your property.
- If you have valuables stored in the basement, relocate them to another level to safeguard them from water damage.
Faulty Home Heating Equipment
Heating equipment that isn’t properly maintained can cause serious harm to a home and its occupants if it malfunctions. To ensure your family’s safety and protect your home during severe weather:
- Make sure heating equipment is properly vented so hazardous combustion fumes don’t compromise air quality.
- Always keep flammable materials away from heating devices.
- Test the smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors regularly, and check that batteries are functional.
- Have the furnace inspected by a licensed HVAC professional before you turn it on for the season.
To learn more effective ways to protect your home during severe weather, or for help with any home comfort concerns in the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina, contact us at Logan Home Energy Services today.
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