Get Your Home Ready for Severe Weather

Published on: October 25, 2014
Storm and lightning strike | AC Southeast®

During the winter months, homeowners in the southeastern United States face many different types of severe weather. The sleet, hail, ice, heavy rains, seasonal storms and repeated temperature fluctuations that occur can take a heavy toll on a home and its occupants. Getting your home ready for the hazards that winter weather brings can help prevent damage and ensure your family’s safety.

Ice Accumulations on the Roof

The amount of ice that a roof can tolerate before it becomes structurally compromised depends on the depth and density of the precipitation and the pitch of the roof. Sleet or freezing rain places a heavy burden on a roof, and just a few inches is enough to cause serious damage or a collapse.

When severe weather dumps ice on the roof, remove it using a roof rake or have a landscaping, maintenance or roofing contractor clear it off as soon as possible. Don’t wait for symptoms that indicate a collapse is about to occur, such as a sagging roofline, cracks in the walls, or windows and exterior doors that won’t open.

Ice Dams on the Edge of the Roof

If heat from the living space infiltrates the attic, the warm air can melt snow or ice on the roof. On a sloped roof, any runoff drains down toward the cooler lowest edge, where it can refreeze and cause an ice dam. When this happens, additional runoff has nowhere to go, so it backs up under the shingles and seeps into the attic and ceilings, or runs down the inside of the walls. Take these steps before severe weather occurs to thwart the formation of ice dams:

  • Air seal the attic to stop warmth from rising from the living areas.
  • Add more insulation on the attic floor to minimize heat loss from the conditioned space below.
  • Ensure that the attic is adequately ventilated so heat doesn’t build up beneath the roof.
  • Clean out gutters and downspouts so rain or melting ice and snow can drain away freely.

Frozen Pipes That Rupture

Homes in the Southeast often have water lines routed through an attic, crawl space or outside walls, which makes them vulnerable to rupturing if the thermometer dips below freezing in severe weather. The water inside a pipe expands when it freezes, and the pressure can cause the line to burst. Take these measures to prevent the havoc caused by ruptured pipes:

  • Install pre-formed insulation sleeves on accessible pipes located in areas susceptible to freezing.
  • When freezing temperatures are predicted, leave the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors open so heated air can circulate around the plumbing pipes.
  • Open up faucets just slightly on vulnerable lines to keep the water flowing

Water Intrusions Caused by Seepage and Flooding

Heavy rains and the thaws that follow snow and ice storms increase the threat of water intrusions that can harm a home and its contents. Here’s how to reduce the possibility of flooding or water seepage caused by severe weather:

  • Check for and correct any issues up on the roof, such as missing tiles or shingles, damaged vent covers or deteriorated flashing around the chimney.
  • Seal gaps and cracks around windows, exterior doors, the foundation and siding and wherever plumbing pipes, electrical wires and HVAC vents penetrate the shell.
  • Make sure the basement sump pump is functional and the sump pit isn’t blocked by debris. Move valuables stored in the basement to another level to avoid possible water damage.
  • After a storm, clear snow or ice away from the foundation and basement windows.
  • Ensure water runoff has a unobstructed path to drain away from the foundation.
  • Check that catch basins on the street aren’t blocked by snow, ice or debris so water doesn’t back up toward the home.

Malfunctioning Heating Equipment

Reliable heating equipment is essential to maintain comfort during severe weather. If the equipment malfunctions due to a lack of proper maintenance, the safety of your home and family is put in jeopardy. To prevent this:

  • Ensure that stoves, space heaters and fireplaces are adequately ventilated.
  • Regularly test the functionality of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and their batteries.
  • Have the furnace inspected, cleaned and tuned up by a licensed professional contractor.

For help finding an expert HVAC contractor in your area, contact us at AirConditioningSouthEast.com today.