Combat Snow at These Vulnerable Places in Your Home

A row of houses covered in snow.

Snow may look beautiful, but it can also be very devastating, especially when it comes to your home. In fact, when it comes to houses there are several areas more susceptible to snow damage than others, including the roof, driveway, and foundation. But you can prevent this damage from happening in the first place. Below we guide you through the process of combating snow in the most vulnerable places of your home to prevent them from making your winter wonderland into a winter nightmare.

Prevent Snow Buildup on Roofs

A man scraping snow off a roof.

The roof is one of the most vulnerable places of your house when it comes to snow, especially if you live in an area that gets large amounts of it. Snow may not look it, but it's actually quite heavy when it piles up. In fact, it weighs anywhere from seven to 20 pounds per cubic foot depending on how dense it is, and wet snow and ice weigh even more than that. To help prevent damage to your roof, make sure the gutters are clean, so that when the snow melts it can run off properly. Cover the eaves with salt brine, which will help melt ice as it forms. Cut any tree limbs around the home that may get heavy from snow and fall on your roof.

Even when you're well prepared, snow can still ruin a roof. In these cases, there's only one option and that is to remove it before it causes possible roof collapse or other damage. The rule of thumb is that any more than three feet of snow should be removed. You can hire professionals to do this, or you can do it yourself. You can either use a snow rake, or you can use a ladder, broom, and a shovel. Leave a few inches on top of the roof so that you don't end up damaging the shingles with your shovel.

Prevent Water Damage on Foundations and Basements

Another vulnerable area for snow is the house's foundation and basement. Sometimes, as people begin shoveling snow out of walkways or raking it off roofs, they forget what snow is in its liquid form—water. If it's shoveled against decks, foundations, and especially basement walls, the snow will melt and can cause some serious damage. To prevent this, you can do a few things. The first is to not shovel the snow into these areas in the first place. Before that, you can prep certain areas of your foundation by sealing them as you would your driveway. There are various concrete and wood sealants on the market you can purchase and apply yourself before snowfall to help seal them from moisture. This can also be done on interior basement walls. Check the basement walls and foundation at this time as well for any cracks where the melted snow may come in, and seal them properly.

Should you have some melted snow issues around the foundation or in the basement, you can rent portable water pumps to get the water out and you can also dry the walls and apply the sealant when you have a dry day to do so. As long as you catch these issues quickly and fix them properly, the damage can be limited.

Keep Driveways and Walkways Snow-Free

A person clearing a walkway in a snowy neighborhood.

Snow and ice can do a lot of damage to our driveways and walkways, as can the products we use to remove them. The best way to keep these areas safe throughout the winter is to do a little preventative work before the winter season and stay on top of the snow removal throughout it. For prevention, start before the first snowfall and check driveways and walkways for any debris. Also, consider hiring someone to seal these areas, or if you have the DIY skills, you can seal your driveway yourself. Sealing is one of the best methods to protect your sidewalks and driveways from snow as it will help keep the moisture out and therefore prevent cracks. On snow days, be sure to keep the walkways as clear as possible by shoveling and/or laying down salt or sand. This will keep the moisture from cracking the pavement and help prevent injuries.

Another option to protecting these areas is to invest in a heated driveway or heated mats, which result in no more icy buildup, no more shoveling, and no more damage. The cost, of course, is quite high, with the sub-driveway systems running from $12-$21 per square foot and the heated mats and blankets starting at around $350 for a 4' x 5' mat. For some, the high cost is worth it once the prices of rock salt, plowing services, and costly damage from salt corrosion to their vehicles are considered.