By Brian Swartz, BDN
The unseen damage caused by winter can wreak havoc by spring.
“When it finally starts to get warm, take a look at the damage around your property that could happen as a result of winter,” recommends Howard Whelden Sr., who owns One Stop Home Repair at 90 Stillwater Ave., Orono.
A good place to start is the roof and what lies beneath it. “There can be a loss of shingles” caused by winter storms, Whelden says. This winter’s frigid temperatures left asphalt shingles frozen and brittle and susceptible to damage whenever snow was raked from a roof.
And when snow melted — seemingly not often enough during this particular winter — water could freeze at the roof’s edge. This problem causes ice jams behind which water may collect; water that cannot drain off a roof will work its way beneath shingles and, sooner or later, into the interior spaces beneath a roof.
“Damage from ice build-up can be a problem,” Whelden says. “You can get some water backing up into the attic … but it might not come into your house,” which is usually the first sign of ice-related trouble.
Infiltrating water can soak blown cellulose, an insulation material commonly used in Maine. Wet cellulose will compress, which reduces the material’s R-value, and if the material does not dry sufficiently and quickly, “you could get mold problems started,” Whelden points out.
The weight of ice and snow can also damage gutters, he says.
Below the roof, subzero temperatures can freeze vinyl siding, which can develop cracks or holes if struck by solid material (ice, stones, etc.) hurled by a snow blower or plow truck.
For homeowners concerned about possible winter-related damage, “you can call here for a free roof and attic inspection by one of our professionals,” Whelden says. “There is no obligation; we will check your roof and attic for any damage left over by winter.”
And spring is a good time to check problems down below. “We’re going to have some runoff this year,” Whelden says while peering through an office window at the snow banks bordering One Stop’s parking area. “Sump pumps will be running a lot more; they get old, and sometimes they wear out.”
Water drainage can be problematic around (and inside) a basement. Whelden explains that “sometimes the perimeter drains around the foundation can get compromised and filled with silt.” If the end of a drain line is left open, rodents may build a nest in the drain line and inhibit water flow.
Springtime is also when homeowners start planning their home-improvement projects for the year. Whelden advises homeowners to “look around” at a house’s condition “and have a professional come out and take a look and make some suggestions.
“A good, thorough inspection by a professional could let you know what to start first and prioritize your projects,” he explains.
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