Tips to Prevent Water Damage from Snow Melt
A commonly overlooked result of heavy snowfall and ice accumulation during the winter is the potential water damage that can occur when snow melts. Water damage to the roof and interior of the home is a real risk as ice and snow gradually thaw and melt during the course of the winter. This runoff can damage woodwork and walls inside the attic and interior of the home if there are leaks present in the roof or walls to allow moisture and runoff to seep in.
Understand the Weight of Snow
Snow and ice place a considerable weight burden on your roof as they accumulate. Fresh snowfall adds weight to existing snow pack on the roof and can further stress the structure. A layer of ice can add even more weight to the snow, so knowing how all of this weight combines and affects your roof is important to protecting your home. Fresh snow has an equivalent of water in inches. For example, 10-12 inches of fresh snow is roughly one inch of water. 3-5 inches of packed snow is equivalent to about one inch of water.
Preventing water damage is an important component in protecting your home during the winter. Even snow accumulation around the foundation of the home can be a potential risk for water damage. What’s more, frozen soil can prevent melting snow and ice runoff from absorbing into the ground, causing water to pool and potentially enter the structure of the home. Here are some tips to prevent water damage from melting snow and ice.
Seal Foundation Gaps or Cracks
One of the first things to do to prevent water damage from snow and ice melt is to seal any gaps or cracks in the foundation. You can do this with hydraulic cement or masonry caulk. Inspect interior walls for openings as well. Water can infiltrate even the smallest opening, so make sure that your home’s foundation and walls are properly sealed. Also, if you notice any sloping toward your foundation, have this corrected to prevent water from accumulating around the foundation.
Clear Gutters and Downspouts
Removing leaves and debris from rain gutters and downspouts will allow snow and ice melt to runoff freely from the roof, into the ground, away from the foundation. This is a chore you should do during the late fall after all trees near your home have dropped their leaves. This will help prevent water damage to your roof and foundation as snow and ice periodically melt. Keeping gutters clear will also help prevent ice dams from occurring as runoff re-freezes along the eaves of the roof. These are a primary cause of water damage during the winter.
Clear Snow from the Roof
A good way to help reduce the quantity of snow melt from the roof is to periodically clear snow pack from the roof with a snow rake. By removing quantities of snow from the roof, you can reduce the amount of runoff that comes off your roof. Though in most circumstances, snow and ice runoff should not present a problem, water damage is a possibility whenever there is a large enough quantity of runoff–especially when that runoff freezes again. Use a roof rake with an extendable reach to clear snow pack from the safety of the ground. You can also have roof heating strips installed on the roof to prevent snow and ice from building up on the roof and avoiding the need to manually remove excessive quantities.