Stop Heavy Snow From Damaging Your Home


Heavy snow is a problem--both as it builds up and as it melts. The Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) says the key to preventing much of the potential damage to homes and businesses is maintaining proper drainage.

Remove snow from window wells and all walls. Watch for snow accumulation on the downwind side of a higher-level roof, where blowing snow will collect and could lead to collapse. For safe removal that won't endanger you or damage your roof, consult a roofing contractor.

To minimize the risk of ice dams forming, keep your attic well ventilated to maintain a temperature close to that of the outdoors. A warm attic melts snow on the roof, causing water to run down and refreeze at the roof's edge where it is cooler. If ice builds up and blocks water from draining, water is forced under the roof covering and into the attic or down the inside walls.

If you can't easily inspect the roof, the attic is the next best place to check for problems. Look for moisture or surface discoloration --and do this every time you go into the attic. The earlier you find a roofing problem, the better.

To reduce possible water damage from melting snow and heavy rain, clear debris from basement drains. Make sure gutters are clean and stable. In addition to ensuring proper drainage, it lessens the chance they will become flying debris in high wind.

Make sure downspouts slope away from the building and carry water at least five feet away from foundation walls. Examine window and door seals or weather stripping. If sealants around those openings are no longer pliable and continuous, reseal or caulk them.

For more information to help protect your home from disasters or more common causes of loss, visit the Freezing Weather section of

The Institute for Business and Home Safety works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other property losses by conducting research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparation practices.


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