February 13, 2014 — As the snow begins to melt, homeowners need to act quickly to protect their investments in their homes, according to Jeff Caruso, president of Caruso Homes.
“With amounts of just 6 inches or more of snow, homes need critical care that the owner can easily administer in just a matter of hours to avoid the problems associated with water damage,” says Caruso, a master builder with more than 30 years of experience building homes throughout the region. “Homes are designed to shed water and for it to flow away from the home, so the critical areas are windows and doors.”
Caruso says it is urgent that homeowners dig snow out of window wells and basement exterior stairwells, including drains in those spaces. Also critical: remove snow 1 to 2 feet away from outside doors, then dig a path for water to flow away. “This is especially necessary on rear decks,” says Caruso.
“Heat from the house melts the snow, creating a lower surface, and then an ice crust can form an ice dam,” he explained. “When snow melts from the roof, flooding occurs, and in a deep snow, even siding and brick can leak.”
Water infiltration will show up either as a flooded basement, wet carpets – usually near doors – or water stains on the ceilings, usually below the door areas, Caruso says. But the real damage can hide for months, with the possibility of the plywood subfloors swelling, or worse, the growth of harmful molds.
Another problem area is the roof. Like doors and windows, roof shingles are designed to shed water and an ice dam at the gutter can cause water to back up and get under the shingles. Roof leaks caused by ice dams first show up as water stains on the ceilings and walls of the rooms. If a homeowner sees water stains or wet areas, they should contact a roofing specialist who will climb a ladder and break up the blockage or ice dam, usually near the gutter areas, to minimize the leaking.
More winter home care tips from Caruso Homes
Keep your outside condenser unit ice-free so it can breathe and heat your home properly;
Shovel a place for gutters to drain to when they thaw out;
Dig drainage ditches in the snow for water to drain away from your home;
Avoid throwing salt-based ice melt on concrete driveways, walks and porches, as salt can damage the finish of the concrete.