Preventing Water Damage During the Winter

Preventing Water Damage during the Winter

What could be more enticing than a cold glass of water on a hot summer day? Who doesn't like to warm themself up in a warm bath on a cold winter night? We water our lawns, wash our cars and fill up our bird baths, but water can quickly become a nemesis when it overtakes our house due to a water leak like a dishwasher leakage, a washing machine overflow, broken/leaking pipes, etc. We dread water saturating our roof after a severe rainstorm. During the winter, excessive snow melting can make its way into our roofs, gutters, and eaves, leading to potentially significant water damage. Also, in winter, freezing water expands, bringing about cracks and other types of damage.

We tend to have a love-hate relationship with water. It can be highly desirable in certain instances and a bothersome intruder in other ways, especially during the winter months.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, water damage accounts for nearly half of all property damage claims. A Chubb study found that close to 60 percent of homeowners who have experienced a water leak in the past couple of years shelled out more than $5,000 in clean-up costs, and 15 percent spent $20,000 or more.

Winter seems to be the optimal time of year for water damage to occur in and around our homes. But fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent water from being an intruder during winter.

Here, we will explore four practical, effective ways to prevent water damage during the winter months.


3Rs Construction & Remodeling is here to help you with any water damage that may occur during the winter. We are your trusted general contractor in Salem, Oregon.

Inspect Water Supply Lines on your appliances

4 Ways to Control Water this Winter

1) Inspect Water Supply Lines At Least Once a Year

It's advised that you check out your water supply lines, as well as your washing machine, ice machine in your refrigerator, and other appliances that have the potential to leak. Keep in mind that the majority of water supply lines typically last approximately five years.

You might consider replacing rubber hoses with steel-braided hoses, as they typically last much longer.

Avoid Ice Dams on your Roof

2) Avoid Ice Dams

Ice dams will form at the edges of your roof when heat from the attic makes it possible for snow on the roof to melt. The melted snow accumulates on unheated eaves and begins to freeze, creating ice dams. Ice dams, left unattended, will leave you with winter water damage to your roof and home.

Tips for preventing ice dams include the following:


  • Snow Removal – Snow on your roof should be removed when it's approximately six inches deep. You might want to use a roof rake or a long-handled brush.


  • Insulate the Attic – The heat in your home should not be circulated into your attic. Warm air could melt the snow on your roof. Then it refreezes and forms ice dams. Be sure the attic floor is air-tight by sealing any openings.

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  • Provide Ventilation to the Attic – This will keep the roof cool. Warm air will be released through the vents that are located close to the top of the attic. Cold air will flow in through the vents adjacent to the eaves. You'll want the attic temperature to be five to 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the temperature outside.


  • Install a Snow Shield – Installing a snow shield will help to prevent leaks. You place the snow shield under the shingles, beginning from the low edge of the roof and extending up, at minimum, three feet inside the house's exterior wall.


  • Install Water Membrane – Installing a water membrane underneath the roof shingles will help to prevent water from seeping in.


  • Install Gutter Screens – Install gutter screens to help keep out the debris that causes build-up and damage.
Remove snow from the roof during winter to prevent water damage

3) Remove Snow from the Roof

The build-up of heavy snow on your roof can cause both ice dams and structural damage, such as cave-ins, to the roof. For example, melting snow and ice can seep into your roof, gutters, and eaves. This is when a lot of damage can happen. Freezing water expands, causing cracks and other damage.

Here is how you can prevent snow on your roof from causing water damage:


  • Remove Snow – When the snow is about six inches deep, it should be removed from your roof. If too much snow accumulates, this can lead to property damage.


  • Leave Two Inches of Snow on the Roof – At a minimum, leave about two inches of snow on the roof to avoid damage occurring to the roof covering.


  • Use Special Rake for One-Story Home – If you live in a one-story home, avoid climbing a ladder and use a rake with a telescopic handle to remove the excess snow on the roof.


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Protect pipes from freezing by insulating

4) Protect Pipes from Freezing & Bursting

Even a small crack in a pipe can emit hundreds of gallons of water, causing major flooding, damage to the furnace, and substantial structural damage. Sections affected by freezing water can swell, crack, or burst, which leads to water leaks when the water inside thaws.

You can take several measures to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting. They include:


  • Insulate Water Pipes – Insulate the water pipes that are in unheated areas, like a crawl space, attic, garage, basement, and below kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Wrap the pipes with insulating materials like fiberglass sleeves or foam rubber.


  • Allow Warmer Air to Circulate – You'll want to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing when the outside air temperatures decrease to below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. This involves opening the bathroom and kitchen cabinet doors. Transfer items in these cabinets to someplace out of the reach of children and pets.


  • Keep Thermostat the Same Day and Night – It is recommended you keep the thermostat at the same temperature during the day and night. This may result in a slight increase in your energy costs, but the pipes will be much less likely to freeze and burst.


  • Caulk Cracks and Holes – Caulk cracks and holes you see in your exterior walls to prevent cold air from reaching your pipes.

Call on the Water Damage Experts at 3Rs Construction & Remodeling

You can't predict when water damage will hit your home, but you can rest easy knowing that 3R's Construction & Remodeling will help you navigate the mitigation process.

We invite you to call the 3Rs Construction & Remodeling experts if your home floods or you experience other water damage. We know that water problems can easily escalate into needless, extensive damage. Even the smallest amount of water can lead to long-term damage and mold issues. 3Rs is here to remove water and affected areas from your home quickly.

At the first sign of any water leak or damage in your home, contact 3Rs Construction to do an inspection, ease your mind, and schedule any necessary repairs.

Call us at (503) 363-1059 for a quote!

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About 3Rs Construction & Remodeling

We are your trusted Salem, Oregon general contractor with over 3 decades of experience in home repairs, additions, kitchen & bathroom remodels.