February is the Month for Put Backs
February is the perfect month for “put backs”—basically repairing any damages that may have happened to your home during the winter. Although you may be tempted to work on home improvement projects, this is the time of year where homeowners should really be checking for damages in and around their home before bigger problems arise.
There are several areas in the home that homeowners should be looking at towards the end of the winter season to see if they need repairing.
Repairing Winter Damages—Things to Look For
1. Drywall Damage
Water damage from harsh weather conditions can be severe enough that you will have to replace your drywall. Minor stains and damages can be more easily repaired. However, if the walls have been wet for a long time, walls will start to lose their insulation and mold may start forming. It is imperative that you contact a professional for any drywall damage, as the effects of damaged drywall on the person(s) in a home may be harmful to health.
How Damaged Drywall Can Affect Health
Mold will grow anywhere there is moisture, both in the air and on surfaces. Mold grows well on paper products, so it’s no wonder that during the winter season, mold often forms in drywall. It is imperative that homeowners check for mold and call an expert immediately if they spot mold in their drywall.
Exposure to damp and moldy environments can sometimes affect health. Molds can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation. People with mold allergies may have more serious reactions.
In 2004, The Institute of Medicine found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people. Inside your home you can control mold growth by:
- Controlling humidity levels;
- Promptly fixing leaky roofs, windows, and pipes;
- Thoroughly cleaning and drying after flooding;
- Ventilating shower, laundry, and cooking areas.
2. Roof Damage
Winter storms can cause damage to a homeowner’s roof. An ice dam occurs when snow on the roof melts, runs to the edge and refreezes there, forcing water back up under the roof where it can cause leaks and shingles deterioration. High winds and hail can also tear off shingles or drive moisture beneath them, causing further damage. If you’ve found leaks in your roof, you’ll need to repair them to help prevent a complete roof replacement.
How Does Snow/Ice Cause Leaks in Your Roof?
They are called “ice dams”. Here’s what happens—snow builds up on the roof and tends to melt from the bottom up, but a cold snap freezes the water, making the dam. Then, more snow melts above the dam but is stopped by the dam and backs up under shingles, leaking into the attic and often into houses. Gutters freeze up and fill with ice, so the water has nowhere else to go.
The roof must be made colder. To do that, install insulation or more insulation in the attic floor, and keep it out of the eaves and soffit vents.
Ventilate the attic: Install a ridge vent along the entire length of the roof’s ridge. Install soffit vents on the soffit, which is the under part of the roof overhang.
3. Freezing Pipes
Freezing temperatures can cause damaged water pipes. This can lead to lack of running water, and in some cases, water pipes will become so cold that they will burst, forcing homeowners to replace them completely.
Tips to Keep Your Water Pipes From Freezing
Homeowners can follow these simple tips to better ensure that their pipes don’t freeze in the winter months.
Tip #1: Keep the Heat On
Even if you’re leaving your house for a period of time, you should still keep your heat on to prevent water pipes from freezing. It doesn’t have to be as warm as you normally keep it, but it is suggested that you keep your house above 50 degrees fahrenheit to prevent freezing.
Tip #2: Allow Faucet to Drip
If you’re afraid a pipe will freeze, you can allow the faucet to drip slightly. Allowing the faucet to be open like this will relieve pressure from the system. If a pipe freezes, what actually causes it to burst is the pressure between the blockage and the faucet.
Tip #3: Keep Interior Doors Open
Often times, pipes are located in cabinets inside one’s home. When temperatures drop, it’s a good idea to keep these cabinets open so that the heat from your home can circulate into the cabinets, keeping the pipes warm.
Tip #4: Seal Up Cracks and Holes
You should caulk any holes near pipes on the interior and exterior of your home. This will help to keep warm air in and cold air out.
Tip #5: Apply Heating Tape
For pipes that are easily accessible, there is electrical heating tape available that can be applied directly to the pipe
Tip #: Add Extra Insulation
If pipes are located in an area with little or no insulation, like basement and attics, extra insulation may need to be added to keep pipes from freezing.
4. Plowed Over Mailbox
A little less common, but some homeowners get their mailbox plowed over in the winter when snow accumulates. Wind damage and hail damage are also common issues homeowners experience in the winter.
Top Winter Insurance Claims and How to Avoid Them
In 2014, an analysis of claims data found that hail damage, wind damage, and trees collapsing were some of the most expensive winter weather claims made to insurance companies.
- Average cost of repairing hail damage: $10,000
- Tree collapse: $6,000
Unfortunately, when it comes to things like wind damage and hail damage, homeowners often find themselves at the mercy of nature. You will likely have to take steps to repair any damages done to your home. However, for things like tree’s collapsing, there are ways to avoid damage. Homeowners should tend to their trees. High winds, ice, and sleet can send branches — or worse, entire trees — crashing down. Always trim limbs that overhang or touch your house.
While the winter season can bring many unpleasant damages that need fixing to your home, there are precautions that can be taken. Also, handymen are highly skilled in fixing the common damages that can pop up in your home during winter.