Protecting Your Home Against Destructive Winter Weather
The elements take their toll on houses during the winter months. Ice storms, freezing temperatures, sleet and snow can cause damage. What can you do to protect your home against destructive winter weather?
Ice damming occurs when snow on a rooftop melts and refreezes in and along gutter systems...or even before it reaches the gutters. This leads to water leaking into the attic and soaking wood, insulation, or drywall. Ice damming may even ruin gutters.
The ice damming problem stems from an interior problem. The reason the snow melts and causes ice damming in the first place is largely due to heat inside the home escaping through the attic. The same air leaks that cause ice damming outside cause drafts and cold floors inside the home. By sealing air leaks throughout the home and improving attic insulation coverage, you can reduce the amount of heat escaping into the attic, retain heat for a more comfortable home, and even lower your heating bill.
When water freezes, it expands, occupying 10% more volume frozen than as a liquid. Where freezing water occupies a confined space—such as the soil around your foundation—it can exert tremendous expansive force 20,000 to 80,000 pounds per square foot. Such extreme force can heave sidewalks, break apart a concrete patio, crack a foundation wall or push a deck post up out of the ground. Frost heave and hydrostatic pressure can both wreak havoc on your foundation.
Foundation types are another factor. Block foundation walls may begin to push in and bow. Poured foundation walls may crack and tip inward at the top. If ignored, both of these foundation problems will cause further cosmetic and structural damage inside a home. By anchoring or bracing basement walls, you ensure the structural stability of your foundation.
Basement Leaks and Nasty Crawl Spaces
Besides frost heave, moisture accumulating around your foundation can lead to basement leaks and nasty crawl spaces. In the winter months, deep snow drifts can form against the side of a home. When the snow finally begins to melt, water can leak through gaps in mortar joints or siding, run over the sill plate, or seep in through cracks in the foundation walls. Water in basements and crawl spaces can lead to musty odors, mold, wood rot, and eventually structural issues. Unfortunately, in the crawl space, damage can go unseen for quite some time.
Regularly inspecting a crawl space is important. A moldy crawl space can lead to health issues, and a wet basement can ruin drywall, flooring, and stored valuables. Properly waterproofing your basement or encapsulating your crawl space provides dry, usable space and overall healthier living conditions.