After recovering from a hard freeze such as the ones we’ve experienced recently, your home may be just as vulnerable to water damage now as it was in the days of preparation leading up to the severe winter weather we were warned about. As important as it is to ensure that pipes are properly sealed and wrapped and that the home is sufficiently inspected before a freeze, it is just as vital to conduct a thorough evaluation of the home AFTER the freeze to be sure that no immediate damage was done and to mitigate the extent of any potential damage found. The following are just a few areas around the home that should be checked after a hard freeze, and a few ways your local home restoration professional can help you form a clear picture of your home’s true health and hardiness after the ice has melted.
One of the more noticeable systems around your home to inspect after a freeze are your gutters. It’s a good idea to give them a thorough inspection and even a test rinsing of your downspouts after a hard freeze to ensure that the system is still intact and draining properly. Ice only adds to the problems that can be caused by clogged gutters, so you’ll want to be sure that your gutter system is free of obstructions, and also that each of the seams are still solid and intact, as freezing water and icicles are sometimes the best indication of a point in your gutter system that was already weak or leaking before the freeze. Test each of your downspouts with a hosepipe to ensure a steady and leak-free flow away from your home’s foundation, and try to address and repair any weak points, leaks or clogs in the system before the next hard rain or freeze to prevent damage to other parts of the home’s exterior. If your home is surrounded closely by tree limbs, you may want to consider getting one of two different types of gutter protection systems to make maintenance cleaning and freeze protection easier for you. The first type is a wire mesh screen that can be installed over the top of the gutters to prevent leaves, branches and other large debris from clogging the lines. The second type is a special kind of foam insert that fits inside the gutter itself and allows only water to drain through its pores while preventing clogs and blockages from other debris. Although both types serve as significant enhancements and time-savers, it’s important to remember that neither one will replace the need for regular maintenance, and their true purpose is to make cleaning gutters easier, not to eliminate cleaning altogether.
The more subtle system that also needs a careful examination after each hard freeze is your home’s plumbing pipes and floor penetrations. If your home is raised, the pipes underneath should have already been wrapped or insulated before the freeze to prevent bursting from the freezing liquids inside. Once the freeze is passed, it’s important to get back under there and examine the pipes and surrounding soil for any leaks or standing water that may have been caused by the freeze, before further and even more severe damage continues. A burst pipe or a simple pipe leak isn’t always obvious, and by the time it makes itself known it may have already cost you a fortune in repair and utility bills. This pertains especially to slab homes, whose pipes run within and beneath the slab and are not always readily available for inspection and leak detection without the help of a professional plumbing or water restoration contractor. The best thing to do in this case is to err on the side of caution if you suspect that any of your pipes may have been affected by the freeze. A certified restoration contractor like ECS can schedule a moisture assessment of the entire home for a nominal fee, and let you know beyond the shadow of a doubt if any other action is necessary to protect your home from secondary water damage after a freeze. Using a special infrared thermographic camera, we can take real time digital video images of your floors and walls, look through them without touching them, and determine if any water has escaped from your pipes and into the surrounding materials.