6 Major Areas of Your Home to Check Before Winter

Low temperatures, cold and forceful winds, and heavy snowfalls can be a cause for concern for your home. Read why and how the harsh winter elements can impact your home and how you can decrease the damage or the chances of it happening. 

The first snowfall of the year can look pretty to some, but to others, it can be the start of a snowball effect on the exterior of the home. Why? Over the years, you might start to notice that your electricity bill is rising, and it's easy to forget about checking your eavestroughs, roof, or siding around your home.

What problems could arise during the winter months?

  1. Excess weight on the roof
  2. Ice damming
  3. Plumbing problems
  4. Basement/foundation issues
  5. Drafts from the doors and windows
  6. Siding damage

1. Excess Weight on the Roof

If you live in a newer home, the weight on your roof may not be a hazard throughout the winter months - depending on where you live. If your home is older, this may be a cause for concern. 

Over the years, roofing structures tend to get weaker because the weight of the roofing materials causes stress on the wood and joists. When a heavy snowfall arrives, that puts added pressure onto the roof and has the potential of caving in. 

Before winter hits, take a look at your roof. Do you notice any sagging? If you do, contact a local roofing contractor to fix the problem.

2. Ice Damming

Ice damming usually occurs when there is a significant amount of snow on the roof. If the temperature in the attic is above freezing, it warms the roof sheathing, which melts the snow lying on the shingles. The melted water then flows down to another part of the roof that is cooler – usually the overhang and eaves - and the water freezes. 

Ice dams can get so heavy that your roof may not be able to support the weight, causing damage to your home. Big ice dams can even potentially cause bodily harm if someone walked by and it fell, or your roof collapsed.

To help prevent an ice dam, you can keep your eavestroughs clean, ensure your attic has proper and continuous ventilation, and identify areas of heat loss throughout your home and insulate them.

Related: Issues With Ice Damming

3. Plumbing Problems

There are days and nights where temperatures will plummet, causing pipes to freeze and possibly burst or leak. How to avoid this problem:

  • Make sure the exterior water pipes are empty and off for the season
  • Turn on your faucet to drip slowly throughout the temperature drop
  • Insulate the exposed pipes with foam pipe insulation or heat tape
  • Open cabinet doors under the sinks to allow warm air to circulate

4. Foundation Issues

The thawing and freezing of the ground can shift and move the earth, which causes strain on the foundation. The strain can lead to cracks and other damages such as basement flooding in the spring and other stress issues related to the structure of your home. 

To help prevent this from happing, repair foundation cracks when you see them, waterproof your basement, or fix yard drainage issues.

5. Drafts from the Doors and Windows

You may have started to notice that your electricity bill has risen over the years, and this could be due to drafty windows and doors. Drafts cause the cool air to enter your home and are one of the causes of condensation in your attic, leading to ice dams in the future. 

Stand by your closed doors and windows, and if you feel cold air entering through seams, that means you have a draft. Contact your local window and door contractor to see your next steps.

6. Siding Damage

Siding damage could be from several things, such as critters trying to escape the cold weather for the winter. The animals create holes in the siding, letting the cold air and water enter the exterior wall. Because of these holes, you now have more drafts through the wall and potential structural rot or cracking due to water and ice.

Before fall comes, complete a walk around your home and ensure there aren't holes for critters to infiltrate. If you suspect that there are already animals in your walls, call an animal control professional.

Yes, winter can look pretty, but it can lead to harmful problems later on. Check your home before fall to ensure there is enough time to try and fix these problems.