6 types of winter storm damage to avoid for your home

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Recognize the risks of winter storm damage to your home and how to avoid them


A little snow is nice to see, but blizzards can devastate a home with winter storm damage. You may be used to the sub-zero temperatures and the snow, but cleaning up after a winter storm is far from your preferred activities at this time of year. Even light snow can weaken your infrastructure and leave your house more vulnerable to the next big storm. This guide outlines six types of damage your home can see after a winter storm.

1. Winter storm damage to your roof

The first place winter storm damage can significantly affect is the roof. The top of your home protects you and your family from all types of precipitation. But over time, the damage adds up and weakens your roof. Winter storms do the most damage with these effects:

  • Shingles: Heavy snow and powerful winds can cause shingles to crack, letting precipitation to go beneath this outer layer. The worst storms can send shingles flying, leading to homeowners paying to replace the shingles or for a new roof entirely.
  • Dents: Dents are another sign of roof damage you’ll see in the winter. You’ll typically see them after hailstorms, affecting the shingles, vents, spouts and gutters. Hail and other treacherous storms can also damage the flashing around your roof. You may see dents on your home’s roof and the top of your car.
  • Ice dams: Another common way winter storms damage your roof is with ice dams, ridges of ice that develop around the edges. These dams do their worst damage by building up so much ice that melting snow can’t fall to the ground. Thus, the water stays behind the ice dam and leaks into the home. Ice dams form from heat loss due to air leakage, exhaust systems and poor insulation from the house.

2. Chipped Windows

Your windows are also vulnerable to winter storm damage. Large hail and heavy snow can chip a window and cause cracks. Even a small mark can quickly spread during the winter, so it’s critical to be vigilant of this damage. Winter storms can also negatively affect the trim around the windows and the glazing. The worst damage may come with your insulation.

Your home’s insulation comes from multiple sources, with windows and doors among the main ones. In the summer, sunlight enters through the window and warms the interior. Conversely, wintertime means cold air slips inside if your windows don’t provide adequate insulation.

Windows should have a high U-value, which determines the rate heat transfers through. Energy-efficient windows save up to 15% on utility bills. However, chipped and cracked windows compromise the insulation and make your heater work harder than it should.

Related: Prepare your home for winter – Easy tips!

3. Flooded Basement

The snow is pretty when it’s on the ground, but it causes significant problems when it melts. When the snow total equals multiple feet, there will be a lot of groundwater you’ll have to deal with when spring comes. The excess water can seep into your house and damage your basement without proper waterproofing.

Waterproofing entails sealing gaps to ensure water can’t penetrate an area of your home, such as the basement. To protect your basement, clear snow and ice from your downspouts so water can easily flow through. Additionally, clean snow off your roof and driveway consistently. Though it can get tedious, it’ll save you headaches in the future.

4. Mold Buildup

You can spend time and resources to prevent water damage, but sometimes you can’t stop it from happening to your house. Water damage in the home often leads to mold. Sensitivity to mold is different for everybody, but it can adversely affect your health. People with asthma and immune system issues can have bad reactions to mold exposure.

Some steps to avoid mold and water damage include dehumidifiers, sandbags and sump pumps. An industrial dehumidifier is an excellent tool for removing moisture from the air and reducing mold growth. However, be careful with this machine or a sump pump. Use these devices on dry surfaces because electric shock is a risk.

Mitigating water damage is essential for your health and your wallet. Detect it early to lower the number of repairs needed. Otherwise, you could end up paying more than $12,000 for how much damage the winter storms caused.

Related: Winter storm mitigation: How to weather the extremes of snow and cold

5. Damaged Gutters

In the winter, snow can build up and stay there for days and weeks at a time, as temperatures in some places remain below freezing for a long time. The piles of snow strain parts of your snow’s infrastructure. Heavy amounts of precipitation can compromise your gutters and weigh them down. Eventually, they’ll start to bend. At worst, the gutter system will crack and fall toward the ground.

When heavy snowfall happens early and often, it’s hard to stop gutter damage from occurring. But there are ways to lessen the burden. Start by cleaning your gutters before winter arrives so water can flow easier. Also, you’ll want to ensure they have a proper slope so the precipitation doesn’t clog. Built-up water in your gutters leads to other problems with the siding, walls and foundation of your home.

6. Cracked Concrete

Winter storms adversely affect the home and can harm other parts of your property. For example, over time, deep freezes and snow lead to damage to your driveway if it contains concrete. During these storms, the precipitation will enter through the cracks. Even groundwater will harm because it’ll freeze once temperatures dip below freezing.

As it gets colder, water starts to expand. Water expands by approximately 9 percent  at freezing temperatures. The precipitation will spread the cracks and create potholes in your driveway. Before winter arrives, check your driveway for gaps and seal them with material like tar. Driveway damage can lead to unwanted issues with your vehicles. The same ideas apply if you have concrete flooring in your house, such as in your basement.

Related: How to prepare your small business for winter

Protecting Your Home for the Winter

The winter season brings challenges, especially for homeowners bracing for snow and other winter storms. The torrential weather can cause these six types of winter storm damage and more to your property. Take preventive measures before the season arrives so your family is safe when winter’s deep freezes occur.

Agents, take a look at our Homeowners Program to add to your portfolio of insurance solutions.