Some of you will remember the effects of heavy snow from a few years ago. Many of us had snow damage in one form or another and many lessons learned. With the coming snow today and seemingly larger storms with heavy snows here are some of the things that you can do to prepare.
1. Heavy snows can do considerable damage to landscaping. Consider wrapping dense planting such as Boxwoods, Azaleas and Burning Bush, if you have not done so already (you should have). By making supports with bamboo and wrapping with burlap the weight of snow can be managed and protect this plants from collapsing or breakage.
2. Ensure that gutters are clear of debris so that they can drain properly. Clogged gutter can lead to damaging ice dams. Ice damming is caused when the snow melts on sections of roof that are located over the warmer parts of the attic and freezes as it approaches colder parts of the roof. Sections of roof that are prone to ice damming are usually located over large overhangs that tend to be colder. When gutters freeze, the melted snow and water collect at these sections and can allow water from melting ice to work under roof shingles and enter the home.
3. Large quantities of heavy wet snow can be damaging to homes. Several years ago we saw evidence of this when many historic barns collapsed under the weight of heavy snow fall. One way to address this concern is to remove snow before it has a chance to build up. Many hardware stores carry snow rakes. Snow rakes have long handles and large panel that are used to pull snow off the edge the roof. They usually have rollers on the lower edge so that the rake will roll over the shingles without damaging them.
It is important that when removing snow from the roof that you draw the snow in the direction of the shingles. I have seen many shingles damaged by shoveling in the wrong direction. This will actually lift the shingle and can cause them to become loose, broken or dislodged. As always it is important to be careful when pulling snow off the roof as it is very heavy and can cause considerable damage and harm. Be cautious not to pull or push heavy snow onto fragile landscaping below.
4. Keep walkways clear of snow and ice whenever possible. Oil delivery companies are not required to deliver if there is not an accessible path to fill pipes. Try to shovel walkways often. Many back injuries can be attributed to winter shoveling. It is better to shovel often, instead of trying to move large quantities of snow all at once. Use ice melting salts that will not damage your walkways. Rock salt will damage concrete. Read packaging and use ice melting solutions that will not cause damage.
As always be careful when traveling and pack extra blankets and water in cars in the event that you are stranded for an extended period of time. Avoid travelling in snowy conditions if possible. Planning and forethought can make winter storms fun memories instead of winter disasters.
Jason Horn is a home inspector in Newtown, CT and one of the lead inspectors at Stonehollow Inc., a home inspection firm with offices in Newtown and Stamford. If you have any home inspection related questions feel free to call him at (203) 304-9140