Here in Northern Virginia, Winters typically start to show their face in November, with chilly temperatures that can last well into March and even April. Snow is one of the biggest nuisances of the winter season, often causing damage to local homes and businesses. Harsh winter weather can be detrimental to roofs, siding, gutters, and other components on your property. The good news is you can avoid major damage to your home by performing a few preventative maintenance tasks before winter and throughout the cold season. Learn more about the biggest threats of northern Virginia winters and what you can do to keep your home protected.
Heavy snow buildup can pose a danger to your home as it accumulates and melts. Snow build-up can be especially harmful when it occurs on your rooftop. As the snow begins to melt, water can leak under the shingles and into your home. Leaks are even more common on flat roofs. When snow and ice melt on a flat roof, it can cause ponding. Water can eventually make its way into cracks and crevices in the roof, causing irreversible water damage.
An accumulation of snow on a roof can also put unnecessary weight on the structure. Too much weight and areas of the roof may start to bow, affecting the roof’s integrity. To minimize winter damage to your roof caused by snow buildup, undergo roof repair and regular inspections to determine the condition of your roof. Clear away large amounts of snow from the roof’s surface and use de-icing or melting products designed for roofs to melt ice buildup. If you are uncomfortable removing snow build-up yourself, hire a professional to safely remove the snow.
Ice Dams on the Roof
An ice dam is an ice ridge that develops at the edge of a roof. As the ice builds, a blockage can form that prevents melting snow and water from draining off the roof. The water then backs up behind the dam, causing water to leak into the home resulting in water damage to your ceiling, walls, and insulation. Not sure if you have an ice dam? Look closely at the icicles on the exterior of your home. If the icicles are strictly confined to the gutters with no water behind them, then you likely don’t have an ice dam. Also check for moisture and water stains that indicate a leak.
Ice dams often occur during cycles of melting and refreezing. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to prevent future ice build-ups. Make sure your attic is well-ventilated and add extra insulation to prevent warm air from in home from warming the roof. If you have recessed lighting near the edge of the house, make sure the heat from these lights won’t melt the snow on the roof. Also make sure that your gutters are clear of twigs, leaves, and other debris that could create a blockage and potentially contribute to an ice dam.
Frozen water pipes are a major concern for many homeowners in the winter. When water freezes in pipes, it can cause pressure to build up which can eventually lead to burst pipes and significant water damage in your home. To prevent your pipes from freezing, wrap exposed pipes with heat tape or insulation sleeves. Also seal holes and cracks on outdoor walls and around your home’s foundation, as cold air leaks can contribute to freezing pipes. Remember that pipes in exterior walls, crawl spaces, and attics are most susceptible to cold damage, so have these areas well insulated and inspected regularly.
Ice, snow, and fast-moving winds can cause extensive damage to trees during the winter months. As snow and ice cling to limbs and branches, the weight can cause the wood to snap and fall. Depending on the proximity to your home, falling branches can cause damage to roofs, doors, windows, gutters, and siding. Many types of damage, such as siding repair, must be completed by a professional to ensure a seamless look. While there’s not much you can do to prevent a storm, you can reduce your risk of damage caused by falling branches by removing limbs in close proximity to your home.
In the winter, you expect your home to protect you from the frigid outdoor temperatures. However, teeny tiny cracks and crevices in your home’s roof, foundation, and exterior can cause cold air to enter your cozy house. Some of the most common areas for air leaks include doors, windows, baseboards, fans, vents, and electrical outlets. To determine if air leaks are present in your home, call in a professional to perform an inspection. Undergoing an energy audit can help you determine how much energy you’re wasting through air leaks and what you can do to better protect your home against leaks.
Sealing your home is the first step towards preventing wasteful air leaks. If you prefer to complete the maintenance tasks yourself, weather stripping and caulking are the most popular options for sealing cracks and holes around doors and windows. There are also other ways to keep out cool air, such as installing a door sweep along the bottom of your exterior doors or by always engaging the sash lock on windows to ensure a tight fit. Hire a professional to visually inspect the exterior of your home for air leaks. The most common areas for leaks include where the foundation and siding meet, as well as where the chimney and siding meet.
Winter Home Maintenance
Winters in northern Virginia can be rough on your home. To minimize potential damage to your home’s roof, siding, gutters, and other vital components, take the necessary preventative steps to repair and maintain your home. A single winter storm can wreak havoc on your house, causing everything from frozen pipes to siding damage. Performing routine repair tasks before the start of winter and throughout the cold season can minimize some of winter’s biggest threats. For exceptional home improvement and repair services in northern Virginia, contact the pros at Beyond Exteriors.
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