Since this is an issue that we rarely have to deal with in South Louisiana, we feel that it’s important to cover as many details as possible here to give you an advantage in protecting your property after a hard freeze. Here are just a few more things to consider and inspect around your home when the freezing temperatures are lifted, and remember that many of these points might also apply to your personal vehicles, RV’s, office buildings or other property as well. It’s never a bad idea to have your roof thoroughly and safely inspected after any severe weather event, and a hard freeze is no exception. In a climate that rarely undergoes any extreme changes in temperature or weather types, 2014 has already proven to be an exceptionally unique year for the Gulf Coast. And with this unique shifting and range of temperatures comes a level of expansion and contraction in the framing of our homes and buildings that they simply aren’t used to. You know those spooky creaks and groans your house makes in the middle of the night while you’re trying to go to sleep? That happens when the different materials that make up your home begin to cool and contract in the night after having expanded during the heat of the day.
So if those contracting groans can be heard on an average night after average daytime temperatures, just imagine what must be going on in the rafters and decking of your roof during a two-day stretch of below-freezing temperatures! During the following thaw and the resulting expansion, it’s recommended that you have your roof thoroughly inspected for any weak points in the siding, shingles or the decking itself that may have been caused by the weather, and also to be sure that no pockets of ice or water were allowed to collect where they shouldn’t be. A good part of this inspection can and should be performed from underneath in the attic as well, and you should be on the lookout for any trickling or melting ice in the attic, as this is a clear indication of a leak or a ventilation problem you may have never known existed.
Contact your local roofing contractor or restoration professional if you need help in assessing or repairing your roof, and be mindful that ice may still be present long after temperatures rise above freezing. After the freeze, you might also want to take a walk around your house and examine each of your windows, doors and any other openings where caulking and weatherizing are in place. Check to make sure that you have a tight and seamless seal along each of these openings on the inside and out, as sometimes extreme temperatures can cause cracking or weakening in the caulking of windows and doors, creating air leaks and openings for moisture to intrude into the home. On the inside of your windows, you will probably have noticed condensation from the cold outside making contact with the warmer interior of the glass. Sustained periods of condensation trapped behind blinds or curtains in a heated home can lead to mold, mildew or even moisture damage, so keep an eye on these areas, ventilating or drying them as needed. If you notice that only one pane or window seems to accumulate condensation, then there’s a good chance that the outside seal is weak in this pane and that humid air is being trapped between the two layers of glass. This should be fixed right away before further condensation and mold begin to form within the glass itself and on the surrounding frame and caulking.
Finally, when it comes to ice on windows, whether it’s your car or your home, you should avoid using hot water to clear them off. Even though it’s faster, the drastic change in temperature can ￼ sometimes shock the surface, causing cracks in the coating or even the glass itself. Instead, practice a little patience, using indirect heat such as a defroster or space heater and room temperature water to get the job done safely. In closing, remember that freezing water will exploit any weaknesses already present in a building, and use this to your advantage. Let the freeze pinpoint your problems so you can eliminate their source before the next big freeze, and you’ll be ready for whatever the weather brings your way.