As Snows Fall, Folks Need to Prevent Flakes from Damaging Property

December 10, 2005

Merging storm systems have blanketed the Northeast with several inches of snow. The Plains and other parts of the Midwest were busy digging out in the last few days. The Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) says the key to preventing much of the potential damage to homes and businesses is maintaining proper drainage.

Heavy snow is a problem — both as it builds up and as it melts. Watch for snow accumulation on the downwind side of a higher-level roof, where blowing snow will collect, and could lead to collapse. For safe removal that won’t endanger you or damage your roof, consult a roofing contractor. Remove snow from window wells and all walls.

To reduce possible water damage from melting snow and heavy rain:

* Clear debris from basement drains.

* Make sure gutters are clean and stable. In addition to ensuring proper drainage, it lessens the chance they will become flying debris in high wind.

* Make sure downspouts are sloping away from the house and carrying water at least five feet away from foundation walls.

* Examine window and door flashing, seals or weather stripping. If sealants around those openings are no longer pliable and continuous, reseal and caulk them.

Don’t forget to keep your attic well-ventilated this winter to maintain a temperature close to that of the outdoors to minimize the risk of ice dams forming. A warm attic melts snow on the roof, causing water to run down and refreeze at the roof’s edge where it’s cooler. If ice builds up and blocks water from draining, water is forced under the roof covering and into your attic or down the inside walls of your house.

If you can’t inspect your roof easily, your attic is the next best place to check for problems. Look for moisture or surface discoloration — and do this every time you go into the attic. The earlier you find a roofing problem, the better.

For more information on how to prevent problems caused by freezing weather, visit the IBHS Web site

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