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Quick Facts About Snow and Water Damage

Thursday, December 26th, 2019
water damage

Sources of water damage don’t always come in liquid form—not at first, at least. Snow is a good example. In winter, a powdery, fluffy snowfall is good material for snowballs or a snowman. However, as we all know, it doesn’t stay that way indefinitely. Eventually, the melting process turns all that snow on and around your home into water.

One inch of snow on a typical residential roof melts into about 100 gallons of water. That’s not much compared to heavy rainfall. Nevertheless, several aspects specifically relating to snow make it a real factor in winter-related home damage.

Melting Snow and Seepage

Rainwater runs quickly off the roof and into gutters. Snow often melts gradually, however, applying a more ongoing source of water to shingles and roof structure. Over a longer time frame, slow seepage from snowmelt on the roof may infiltrate through small leaks and into the attic where it can saturate insulation, cause mold growth, and other damage. 

Ice Dams

Melting snow on the roof doesn’t necessarily stay that way. As runoff reaches the lower, often colder portions of the roof, the snowmelt may re-freeze, forming ice dams. These obstacles obstruct the flow of runoff into gutters, causing water to pool on the roof. Shingles and roofing materials are designed to shed moving water—not to resist water pooling. Water penetrates roofing materials, causing damage in the attic and perhaps dripping all the way down through the ceiling into living spaces.

Ground Saturation

Snow on the ground can also be an issue. Slow-melting snow seeping deep into the ground can oversaturate the soil immediately adjacent to the home’s foundation. This process can undermine a slab foundation or penetrate basement walls and cause water damage, mold growth, etc., inside the basement.  

Roof Damage

Another characteristic of snow is its surprising and potentially damaging weight. One foot of snow deposited on the roof of an average size home will typically weigh over 18,000 pounds. Extreme weight can damage shingles and the roof structure, leading to water intrusion inside the house.

3 Causes Of Winter Home Water Damage

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

ice damsWhile water damage may occur at any time of year, cold temperatures and inclement weather can combine to trigger winter water damage such as leaks and water intrusion, particularly in residential structures. Another aspect of winter damage is the simple fact that it’s an inconvenient time of year to have to dry out a house. To reduce seasonal risks, be aware of these common sources of water damage in winter:

Frozen Pipes
Ice forming in a water supply line can cause internal pressure as high as 2,000 p.s.i. and rupture the pipe, releasing hundreds of gallons per hour. Install pipe insulation on all supply pipes potentially exposed to freezing temperatures such as in the crawl space or up in the attic. When a hard freeze is forecast, open faucets slightly and allow them to drip to relieve pressure if pipes freeze. If water flow stops during extreme cold, assume a pipe has frozen. Don’t wait until it thaws to find out there’s a rupture. Contact a plumber immediately.

Ice Dams
When the underside of the upper portion of the roof is disproportionately warm, snow melts faster. Water runs down to the colder portion of the roof then freezes again, obstructing flow of runoff into gutters. Pooling water then seeps through shingles and sub-roofing and causes water damage in the attic. Uneven roof warming is caused by excess attic warmth. Prevent ice dams by making sure the attic is properly ventilated to remain uniformly cold. Seal ceiling cracks, gaps and other openings with caulking to prevent heat loss into the attic. Also inspect attic insulation to verify that it meets current Department of Energy standards.

Snow Melt
Melting snow around the perimeter of the house can saturate deep into the soil and leak through the foundation and basement walls. Shovel accumulated snow away from the house before melting occurs. Seal cracks and gaps in the basement wall and, if you don’t have one, install a sump pump.

It’s cold outside! Knowing the types of winter water damage that can occur can help you avoid these hazards.

Ice Dams: How Water Flows Uphill

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

ice damIce dams on your roof result from unsuspected causes and cause unexpected damage. The connection between those mounds of ice along the eaves of the roof and the temperature inside your attic may not be obvious. Likewise, the mechanism of how a line of ice way up there can trigger roof leakage and serious water damage down inside the house is often hard to understand. Here’s how the process behind ice dams works.

  • Snowfall usually covers your roof evenly. However, it may not melt that way. Household heat migrating into the attic rises up to the area beneath the peak of the roof. This concentration of heat warms the underside of the roof near the peak, while the rest of the roof below remains in a frigid, frozen state.
  • Water from snow melting at the warmer upper part of the roof runs down to the lower, frozen area of the roof at the eaves and rapidly re-freezes. This gradually forms a barrier called an ice dam that prevents roof runoff from entering the gutters. As snow-melt and runoff increases, water gradually backs up on the roof.
  • Roofing shingles are designed to resist water in motion running down the roof and into the gutters. They are not designed to resist pools of standing water. Pooling water infiltrates behind the shingles, penetrates the joints between roof sheathing and leaks into the attic.
  • Attic insulation becomes soaked, degrading its insulating effectiveness, and providing an excellent breeding ground for toxic mold. Wooden attic structure is also saturated. Roof leakage finally drips down through the ceiling into living spaces and water damage occurs inside the house.

Prevent ice dams by keeping attic temperatures uniformly cold. Make sure attic vents are open. Keep household heat out of the attic by sealing cracks in the ceiling and gaps around light fixtures and pipes that pass through the ceiling. To minimize heat energy infiltrating the attic, also make sure depth of your attic insulation meets current Department Of Energy standards.

For more on preventing ice dams and resolving water damage that results, contact the professionals at Rytech, Inc.


4 Steps for Drying Out a Wet Basement

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

If drying out a wet basement is on your to-do list, you’re not alone. According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, the majority of residential basements have moisture issues. In almost 40 percent of those, toxic mold growth is the unwelcome result. Other downsides of dampness include mildew, musty odors that permeate the entire house, water-damaged structure and inability to utilize basement space for storage or other purposes, due to the constant presence of moisture.

Drying out a wet basement often requires a multi-faceted approach to eliminate all potential moisture contributors. Here are four main sources of wetness and what to do about them.

drying out a wet basementReduce Condensation

“Sweat” on cool concrete basement walls and cold water pipes indicates a condensation problem. Warm, moist air migrating into the basement naturally condenses when it contacts these and other cold, underground components. To cut condensation; keep air moving with fans, heat a clammy basement during winter, insulate pipes and install a dehumidifier.

Clear Gutters

What’s a gutter on the roof got to do with moisture in the basement? Overflowing gutters cascade water around the perimeter of the foundation, deeply saturating the soil and permeating basement walls. During rainy seasons, clogged gutters serve as a continuous source of moisture infiltrating the basement.

Resolve Runoff Issues

Rainfall and snow-melt should flow away from the foundation. When it accumulates in pools instead, water soaks into basement walls. Grade landscape away from the house to encourage runoff into the yard. Also, flower beds around the perimeter of the house with open soil readily admit more water into the ground than areas covered with turf.

Drain Away Ground Water

If the natural water table beneath your house fluctuates, it may exert pressure on the underside of the foundation, allowing moisture into the basement. To relieve the pressure, a tile drainage system can be installed around the perimeter of the foundation. Usually, this is accompanied by installation of a sump pump in the basement floor.

Find out more about drying out a wet basement before mold growth and water damage result. Contact the professionals at Rytech, Inc.

How Can I Protect My Home From Snow and Ice Damage This Winter?

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

snow and ice damageWater damage to your home often occurs in the wake of snow and ice damage. The accumulation of frozen precipitation from winter storms can result in expensive damage to the exterior and even the interior of the house.

Because snow and ice tend to melt slowly, the prolonged exposure to continuous seepage may cause the roof and exterior walls to leak. In addition, icy tree branches can break, frozen pipes may rupture and sudden, rapid snowmelt can inundate the basement or other interior spaces with excess runoff.

Preventing snow and ice damage is the first step to avoiding water damage that occurs as a result.