If you live in a climate that is subject to snow, ice and wind in the winter months, be prepared to give your home's exterior a thorough spring cleaning each year. Winter wear on your home can have a major impact if not addressed quickly and properly.
Inspecting Your Home
Inspecting your home for winter wear should be done both inside and out. When your home's exterior has given way to the elements, sometimes the most telling signs are the ones found indoors.
As soon as the weather warms up, take a thorough inventory of your home. Circle the perimeter, checking siding, gutters and the foundation. Go into your basement and attic and inspect the ceilings and walls of the rooms directly beneath the roof. A good inspection won't take you more than an afternoon, but can save you a lot of time and money in the future.
Five Signs of Home Winter Wear
While every home is different, there are several signs of winter wear that can appear in many homes, regardless of material. Keep an eye out for these signs to avoid larger problems come next year.
Vinyl, Masonite, aluminum and sometimes even wood siding can loosen and come away from your home during the winter months. Moisture can cause wood to contract and expand, forming cracks that allow moisture to enter. Vinyl, aluminum and Masonite can all peel away from your home if the adhesive that is used to affix them in place has suffered damage. Look for cracks, loose siding or missing boards. Repair loose boards with the appropriate adhesives or nails, and replace cracked boards with new ones.
If you live in a climate that receives a lot of snow each winter, make sure you check your roof to ensure the weight of the winter's snow hasn't damaged it. If you don't want to physically go on the roof, the best place to look for signs of roof damage is in your home.
Look for walls that appear to bow in or out and ceilings that appear to be cracked or sagging. This means the weight of the snow has weakened the structure of the roof. Other signs of roof damage include discoloration on the ceilings from water seeping through.
Cracks in the Foundation
Frost heaves don't just affect the roads in winter weather; they can affect your home's foundation, too. Small cracks in the concrete can allow moisture to infiltrate. When this moisture freezes, it can cause your foundation to crack more dramatically, sometimes with severe damage. Repair any cracks with special concrete epoxy before they become a structural issue.
Caulk is the substance used to fill up any gaps or joints in your home. It is frequently used around window casements, roof lines and some types of siding. It can dry out, freeze, crack and fall out over time, which can leave these gaps open to the elements.
Check around your windows on the interior for signs of moisture damage or water discoloration. Inspect the outside of the home around these areas for cracked or missing caulk. Fill the gaps with the appropriate exterior caulk to make the repair.
Eaves, soffits, crawl spaces and siding can all soften over time due to moisture damage. If there is peeling paint or missing or cracked siding anywhere on your home, check the wood beneath it. Scrape off old paint, replace cracked or missing siding and replace any wood that appears to be softening or beginning to rot. Failure to remove the softening wood in a timely manner may spread the rot to other areas of the home.
While it's always a good idea to do a thorough check after a particularly snowy or stormy winter, it's also a good idea to do a check of your home's exterior yearly. Sometimes minor damage goes unseen one year, but can spread the next. Inspect your home for signs of winter wear each year, take the necessary steps to repair the damage and know that your home will continue to shelter you for many winters to come.