How to prevent melting snow from damaging your home

Harsh, snowy winters like the one we are having this year in Massachusetts can be tough on houses, especially homes with wood siding, trim and decks.  All that snow eventually has to melt.  And as snow slowly melts, refreezes at night, and then melts some more the next day, it can cause significant damage to the wood on your home.

snowy climate

There has been a lot of snow this year!

As a real estate agent who has toured literally 1,000s of homes in my professional career to date, I have come across quite a number of properties with wood rot and other structural deterioration caused by repeat exposure to melting snow and ice.  In fact, most homes with wood siding seem to have identical problem areas that are especially susceptible to damage by snow as it melts. In this post, you’ll discover the simple steps you can take after a heavy snowfall to prevent costly damage to your home caused over the years by melting ice and snow.  (You can read safety-related snow removal suggestions here.)

Keep wood decks clear of deep snow

Neglected wood decks look ugly and can be very expensive to repair or replace.  In addition to failing to stain or seal your wood deck, another way you can cause your deck to age before its time is by letting deep, packed snow sit on it all winter.

It’s the slow melting and refreezing of deep snow on wood decks that causes a lot of the damage commonly seen with these structures.  It can take months for several feet of snow on a deck to melt as winter yields to spring and that means your deck will stay wet all that time. And that’s not good for wood!

The solution is to clear your deck of snow every time there is significant snowfall.

clear deck

You don’t have to keep the deck completely free of all snow.  Just prevent feet of snow from piling up and staying on the deck all winter.  By limiting the amount of snow that sits (and melts) on the deck every winter, you’ll prevent a significant amount of damage over time!

Damage to wood siding adjacent to the deck flooring

Damage to your home’s wood siding is another consequence of letting deep snow remain on your deck all winter.  The deep snow on the deck also stays in contact with your home’s siding down at the level of the deck flooring.  The siding can be rotted by the same melting and refreezing snow that is damaging the deck.

rot3

Siding damaged by snow

 

You can prevent rot and deterioration to the wood siding on your home by taking the extra time to fully remove the snow on the deck that is in contact with the siding of the house.

 Rot around garage bays

Another area of damage commonly seen with houses in snowy climates is at garage bays near ground level.  Wooden garage door frames often get deteriorated when the homeowner lets snow pile up around the garage door every winter, year in an year out.  The rot can extend into the garage wall sheathing and studs in extreme cases.

You can easily prevent such damage by fully clearing the snow from your garage doors every time there is a significant snowfall.

Again, you don’t have to strive for perfection. Just get most of the snow away from the garage door frames and you’ll be fine!

Rot around front entry

The final area of deterioration I see frequently is at the front entry of homes.  I have seen a lot of rot on front door frames, sills and kick plates.

rot2

Front entry door damaged by snow

 

The culprit again is snow that is allowed to stay in contact with the front entry.  So take a few seconds to remove all the snow that has accumulated around your front door to avoid this common problem.

clear 5

Snow removal effort pays off

You don’t need to be obsessively vigilant with your snow clearing efforts around your house; leaving some snow remaining in the problem areas identified in this post won’t hurt anything.  Just don’t allow significant snow to stay in extended contact with any of the problem areas detailed above.  I know simply clearing snow from driveways and front walks is a lot of work in and of itself.  It can be very tempting just to let the snow on the deck be and make a few quick passes with the shovel around the garage doors and front entry.  However, the extra effort you’ll put into clearing the deck of deep snow and making sure snow is away from the garage door frames and removed from your front entry will pay off nicely years from now when you are not faced with some expensive (and totally preventable) home repairs!

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