Now that winter has loosened its grip on the northern half of the globe, and weather has started to warm, it’s time to take a look at your home and assess what damages the cold weather has done to your home. Snow, hail, freezing rain, and ice can all cause significant damage to your property. A post-winter inspection is needed so you can assess what, if anything, needs repaired. There are four basic areas you should look at: The outside of your home, the roof, the foundation, and your landscaping and external fixtures.
When you’re inspecting the exterior of your home, you want to pay special attention to the seams around your windows. Winter can work a number on the caulk and sealant; identifying places that need resealed can prevent costly water damage further into the structure.
Examine your siding as well. Look for any bulges or warps that can indicate places where water seeped underneath the paneling and froze, creating separation. If you don’t have siding, check the paint for cracks or chips. You need a solid barrier between the vulnerable structure and the moisture outside.
If you can, the best way to inspect your roof after winter is to get out and walk around. That will allow you to feel any soft spots and closely inspect any suspicious shingles. You want to make sure your shingles are lying flat with no bulges or significant cracks. When you do your roof inspection, don’t forget to go inside your attic or crawl space. Examine the underside for any signs of leaks or ice or water damage.
Another part of your roof inspection is the gutters and drain system. Gutters are extremely susceptible to ice damage in the winter. This damage is called by a phenomenon called ice damming. If you see icicles hanging off of your gutters and eaves, you probably have this problem.
Ice dams are thick layers of ice that build up along the edge of your roof. This ice prevents melting snow and ice from draining properly. That water can then creep back up underneath your shingles or under the eave and refreeze, causing even more damage. And even if this doesn’t happen, the sheer weight of the ice can pull your gutters away from your house. This damage leads to more moisture creep back into your house.
If you do have ice dams forming, consult with a roofing specialist or contractor to evaluate the ventilation in your attic. The formation of ice dams is caused by your eaves being colder than the rest of the roof. Laying down additional insulation or increasing ventilation in your attic space are two ways to combat this problem.
Again, the type of damage you’re looking for are cracks or changes in your foundation that can let water in. If the cracks are left unrepaired, additional water damage and erosion can damage your home to the point of failure. If you have a basement, do a slow walk around, looking for water pools or moisture damage that wasn’t there the previous season.
Take a look at the shrubs and any bushes near your foundation. Any excess branches or detritus near your foundation should be cleaned away. Take a look at any trees on your property to see if they need trimmed or even removed. Spring storms can create significant winds and topple winter-damaged trees with ease.
While you’re inspecting the greenery around your home, take the time to inspect any external HVAC equipment. Look at the connections, and any piping, inspecting things for winter damage. Take the time to replace your HVAC filters before the spring dust and pollen starts. If you have permanent filters, wash them and let them dry before the warmer weather fully kicks in. Keep in mind that in general 1-inch filters need cleaning or to be replaced monthly, while 3-inch filters are generally good for a season. The additional initial cost for a 3-inch or 5-inch filter may be greater, but over time, especially if you live in a dustier or more pollen-affected area, you’ll save money.
A post-winter inspection of your home only takes a weekend but can save you a lot of time and money in the future. Using this handy list, you can identify any problem areas that need to be addressed before the next winter hits. That way, you can enjoy the sound of a gentle spring rain and not worry that the dripping sound is more water damage.
Once you're done, you may start cleaning on the INSIDE! We've got you covered with our Spring Cleaning checklist here.