How The Freeze Thaw Cycles & Winter Strains Homes In The Twin Cities & Western Wisconsin
The winter months can wreak havoc on Wisconsin and Minnesota homes for a variety of reasons, and one major culprit are the freeze thaw cycles that put stress on a home’s siding. As temperatures lower, water freezes and thaws over and over. If water can infiltrate your house siding, it creates extra pressure. Over time, this freeze thaw can lead to siding cracks and structural damage.
Ice On Your Gutters
Icicles that form on a home’s gutters are not hazardous to your roof, as long as water is not trapped behind them. However, they can still be hazardous in high traffic areas and need removal for safety reasons.
Ice Dam Formation
There are many reasons why ice dams occur. Common contributors to the formation of ice dams include inadequate insulation and ventilation. These scenarios lead to inconsistent roof temperatures, and water then becomes trapped on the roof without a way to exit. Over time, ice dams lead to wet attics, damaged drywall, and mold formation.
The Start Of Spring Thaw Flood Risks
It’s a common misconception that home maintenance ends when spring thaw hits. As spring comes closer, temperatures begin to rise, and daylighting hours extend. These conditions can lead to spring flooding where heavy snowfall begins to melt. Without a home maintenance plan, water can enter a house and cause damage. Here are three areas to prepare before the end of March.
1. Your Home’s Rain Gutters
A home absent of rain gutters is unable to divert snow melting off your roof away from your home. Gutters allow water to enter the trough and move away from your home. Without rain gutters, homeowners are at risk for:
- Basement flooding
- Foundation cracking
- Landscape erosion
- Leaking behind siding
It may not seem like the best time of the year, but a home gutter system installation actually can take place in the winter months. If your property lacks gutters, it’s wise to contact a gutter installer for an estimate ASAP.
Ensure Your Gutter System Is In Good Working Condition
A key piece of maintenance should be cleaning gutters of debris before spring thaw. That’s because clogged gutters are prone to overflowing, which leads to water pooling near a home’s foundation and crawl space. The result is often costly issues, such as foundation cracking and a wet basement.
Dry rot on your home’s wooden fascia boards is another consequence of gutter clogging. As the dry rot weakens the fascia, rain gutters pull away from the home, rendering them useless.
Evaluate The Effectiveness Of Your Downspouts
One critical component of a gutter system are its downspouts. Downspouts must be long enough to channel water away from the home’s foundation. In the winter months, it’s critical that hinged downspouts are in the open position. Left closed, water will pool next to the foundation and soon seep into the home. It’s also important that downspouts can handle heavy rainfall to avoid problems as a result of a high volume of water in a short period of time. A home can also have too few downspouts, which can lead to rainwater overshooting the roof.
2. Inspect Your Egress Window Wells
Another area that’s vulnerable to flooding is your home’s egress window wells. Without a galvanized steel window well, rainwater and snow can easily enter a home. The window well should also be proportional to the egress window. Egress house windows that lack proper installation techniques are vulnerable to flooding.
Signs your egress windows were installed incorrectly:
- Sloppy caulking
- Air and water infiltration
- Gaps between the frame and windowsill
- Foggy panes
If you notice any of these issues in your windows, contact a window contractor. They can diagnose the problem and propose a solution before spring thaw.
3. Double Check Your Water Sump Pump
A sump pump recognizes rising water levels and flushes water away from a home’s foundation as needed. Homes with water pumps are less likely to experience basement flooding.
One of your spring home maintenance tasks should be checking your water sump pump. The best way to test a water pump is to check that the basket is empty and that the pump turns on and off. Utilizing a hose can verify if the sump pump installation is cycling the right way. You’ll be able to tell when the unit is working the right way if the discharge is clean. It’s also important to verify that the drainage is filtering outdoors-this is critical in the winter when there is a danger of the drainage line freezing.
If other appliances use the same circuit as the sump pump, they can trip the breaker and shut it off. Installing a pump battery with a back-up power source is a smart move because it will not shut down during a power outage, which tend to occur more often alongside spring storms and severe weather.
Preparing Your Home Maintenance Plans For Spring Thaw
House maintenance before any spring flooding happens can prevent water intrusion. This checklist can serve as a quick reminder of home maintenance tasks not to forget. It’s important not to wait until the first warm day, because you may be too late.