How Can Seasonal Weather Affect Your House?

Freezing weather conditions form a row of icicles on a house’s exterior.

Weather-related damage to homes is very common in the US. According to research by the Washington Post, one-third of Americans lived in areas affected by major weather disasters in 2021. Meanwhile, half the population claimed to have experienced extreme weather during that same year.

Dramatic weather events, like blizzards, tornadoes, and heat waves can cause damage to homes, but so can regular seasonal climate conditions if you do not prepare for them. For example, cold weather can freeze pipes, snow accumulation can damage roofs, and extreme humidity can cause mold growth.

Since severe weather events are becoming more common, you should prepare for some of these events along with regular weather wear and tear.

Here is a look at common weather-related dangers and how to avoid them.

Frozen Pipes

When water freezes, it expands. This physical change is a standard seasonal process, especially in colder locations. However, if your water pipes freeze and expand, they could crack or burst, leading to flooding, moisture damage, and mold inside your house.

The first step in avoiding this issue is closing off and draining any pipes that are not inside your home’s insulation barrier. However, frozen pipes often occur during extreme cold spells in garages, basements, or exterior walls that don’t have enough insulative protection.

Specially insulated sleeves, foam coverings, or heat tape around at-risk pipes can help prevent this problem. You can also improve the weather-tightness of your garage, basement, attic, and other areas that get very cold during the winter. Finally, you can add weather-stripping around doors, find and caulk air leaks, and fill any gaps in insulation.

Snow Accumulation

Snow might be fun to play in, but it can wreak havoc on your roof, especially if the snow is heavy. In simple terms, the weight of snow depends on its water content. Colder temperatures bring light, fluffy snow, which may only weigh 7 pounds per square foot. If the mercury is near freezing, the same amount of heavy, wet snow can weigh three times as much.

In addition to putting pressure on your roof’s structural supports, excessive snow accumulation can cause other issues. The snow may create an ice dam, which can trap water from melted snow on the roof, causing leakage and moisture damage.

The best option is to use a roof rake to pull the snow off your roof. Even getting the snow off the bottom of your roof and gutters can be a significant help. Doing so will allow snow on the upper portions of your roof to melt and flow off the shingles to the gutter.

Garage Doors Freezing Shut

A frozen garage door can keep you from getting to work or school on time. When water gets on the door components, including the track and wheels, it freezes the door shut. You can often get a frozen door open by disengaging the motor, checking for frozen spots, and gently tapping them to break the ice. You can then try to open the door manually. If it doesn’t budge, you can use a hair dryer to melt the frozen areas.

These methods are often effective, but they take time. For less time-consuming options, opt for preventative measures. If you properly weather-proof your garage door, it won’t freeze in the first place. You can replace old components that may be bent or warped and let air and moisture into the garage. Also, you can create an extra barrier by adding or replacing old weather stripping to stop air and water from entering the garage under the door.

Foundational Damage

Winter weather can affect foundations in several ways. One of the most common is frost heave, which occurs when the ground shifts and expands when the moisture it contains freezes. This phenomenon can happen repeatedly during freeze-thaw cycles, and if it occurs near the foundation, it can cause cracks or crumbling.

A visual inspection of outside walls and interior basement walls and floors can help you find cracks. Also, windows and doors that don’t close properly, sloping floors, and other problems can be additional signs of foundation problems.

Depending on how deep the frost line is in your area, you may be able to stabilize the soil by adding gravel or sand around the foundation. Water will drain through these materials, so there will be no moisture to create the expansion near your foundation.

Warping Door Frames

Sudden temperature changes or drier air can cause exterior door frames to warp. This bending occurs because the wood changes shape due to colder or drier conditions. It can also affect garage doors, causing them to stick or hesitate when opening or closing.

You can address this issue by scheduling regular maintenance on your garage door. A professional can correct minor warping and ensure the frame is ready to handle changes in temperature or humidity.

Cracked Shingles

Because of direct sunlight exposure, the surface temperature of your roof can reach 150 degrees. This heat can cause a wide range of problems.

First, if you use asphalt or composite shingles, the material could start to melt or degrade if exposed to high temperatures for too long. If the weather cools significantly at night, the roof materials will harden and contract in a process called “thermal shock.” Eventually, the cycle of expansion and contraction could cause shingles to split or fracture.

You can avoid these problems by choosing the correct roof type for your climate. For example, clay and concrete roofs are better at withstanding extreme heat. Also, you can install a roof ventilation system, attach reflective strips, or apply a reflective coating to limit the effects of solar heat gain on your shingles.

Dry Wood

Summer heat, UV rays, and dry weather can cause wood to become discolored, brittle, and prone to cracks and chips. Decks and other horizontal wood structures have the highest risk of drying out during the summer.

There are several ways to avoid dry wood. If you have a deck, you can protect it from the sun with umbrellas, a pergola, or extendable awnings. When building a new deck, you can opt for composite materials, which do not dry as quickly as wood. The most straightforward form of protection is to stain the deck. This creates a barrier between the elements and the wood, so it will neither become waterlogged nor dry out too quickly.

Mold Growth

Mold can be a health hazard inside your home. It can occur at any time of year, but the risk is highest during humid weather. You can typically see signs of humidity in your house. Corners of rooms may be moist, or you may notice condensation on windows or a damp smell in your basement.

The way to reduce humidity is to improve the airflow in your home. If it is hot and humid outside, an air conditioner can help reduce moisture inside. You can also install exhaust fans or use existing ones in the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room.

Finally, if it is not humid outside, you can open your windows and even crack your garage door to let drier air into your home and naturally improve airflow.

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