When you're helping clients find homes in colder climates, they may look to you for answers about how homes fare in freezing temperatures. Unfortunately, ice and snow can cause some serious problems. However, taking the proper precautions can go a long way in preventing damage. Here are six common problems homeowners face during freezing winters (and how to prevent them).
What Can Go Wrong With Homes in the Winter?
The following six problems can impact your clients if they don't properly prepare for a snowy winter season.
1. Ice Damming
Ice damming happens when a roof is covered in snow and the top portion of the roof is above 32 degrees Fahrenheit while the lower portion is still frozen. A ridge of ice forms on the edge of the roof which prevents the melting snow from being able to drain off as usual.
Water then accumulates on the roof and will leak into the attic through any openings or cracks. From the attic, it can leak into the exterior walls and insulation. But why does this happen? Ice dams form due to uneven roof temperatures caused by too much heat flowing out of a house. Homeowners can prevent them by sealing any air leakage paths between the house and attic and increasing roof or ceiling insulation.
2. Damage from Debris
Another potential problem during the winter is a house incurring damage from falling debris like tree branches. Wind storms and additional weight from snow can cause tree branches to break. If they break and fall, they can cause serious damage to a home, allowing water to leak through. Being so, it's a good idea to take a look at the trees around a home and trim them in the late fall.
Melting snow and ice can also lead to leaks and flooding. Homes should be equipped with sump pumps and plastic coatings for internal basement walls. Additionally, homeowners should be aware that if their home is on a grade or hill where the melting snow will flow towards them, they'll need to stay on top of shoveling snow. It's also important to keep gutters, downspouts, and drainage areas around the home clear, and to caulk any cracks in windows and walls before the winter season.
4. Overworked Heating Systems
Next, a home's heating systems will need to be firing on all cylinders during a snowy season. It's a good idea to have them serviced in the fall to ensure everything's working properly. When not maintained, heating systems may end up working harder than they need to, which could lead to unstable home temperatures and breakdowns. Additionally, regular maintenance helps to prevent fires and smoke damage.
5. Frozen Pipes
A home's pipes become of concern when freezing temperatures hit. It's important to have them inspected regularly and to repair any cracks or leaks right away. Pipes in attics and crawl spaces should also be protected by insulation or a plug-in heating cable. Further, it's a good idea for homeowners to have an emergency pressure release valve so that if pipes freeze, the increased pressure won't cause them to burst.
6. Sewer Backups
Lastly, when a big storm leaves large amounts of snow, it can cause flooding once the weather warms up and it all melts. If sewer systems get overburdened, they can cause raw sewage to back up into the drains of a home. The result? Expensive and unpleasant damage to floors, walls, furniture, etc. In areas with a history of lots of snow and sewage issues, it's important for homeowners to get a sewer back up endorsement on their homeowners insurance policy.
Help Your Clients Stay Warm, Happy, and Comfortable Through Cold Winters
By knowing the basics of what can go wrong with homes in freezing temperatures, you can help your clients ensure things go right. If you'd like to learn more about all things real estate, Aceable is here to help. From a large collection of blogs to online real estate courses that can help you earn your license, we've got you covered.
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