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Managing Midwinter Leaks

Playing in the snow, skating on an icy pond, or curling up in front of a warm fire are some of the activities that people love to engage in during the winter months. Fixing a water leak? Not so much.

The good news is, you don’t necessarily have to wait until the spring thaw to stop the moisture from entering and damaging your home. Here’s what to do to get rid of that leak.

Midwinter leaks
Midwinter water leaks are never good!

Where’s the Leak?

The first step you must take is to find out the exact source of the leak. After all, there’s a good chance that the problem may not originate in the exterior of your home.

The leak may be coming from an interior pipe which may have cracked, loosened, or frozen. In these cases, patching or replacing the faulty pipe would be all that is necessary to eliminate the moisture. Also, the heater or air conditioner in your attic might be allowing water to escape from the housing and drip into your home, in which case you would need to contact an HVAC specialist to take care of the issue.

That (Ice) Dam Leak!

However, it’s quite possible that the water may be coming into your home from the outside. In the winter months, one of the most common leakage issues comes from ice dams, which are sheets of ice that form at the roofline and/or inside your gutters.

Over time, the ice formation can wedge itself underneath shingles and soffits, and when the dam melts, the water invades your home. There’s no simple way to get rid of ice dams other than to carefully chip the ice away with an awl or mallet. Calcium chloride or heat from a blow dryer may also assist you in melting the ice dam.

Midwinter leaks
If you see large icicles on your gutters, chances are good that there’s an ice dam on your roof.

Flashing Through the Snow

Another frequent entry point for water is where metal flashing is installed, such as around roof vents, vent boots, chimneys, pipes, or other walls. This aluminum flashing can rust, break, blow off, or be pried loose by water runoff or ice dams. Generally speaking, repairing this problem involves removing the leaking flashing, cutting a new piece from an aluminum sheet, and securing it over the leaky areas with caulk and/or nails.

Is the Leak Coming From a Shingle Spot?

If you think moisture may be coming into your home due to a broken, cracked, or missing shingle on your roof, then you might have to climb onto your roof to fix it. Ideally, you would want to replace the problem shingle and perhaps those around it. But for a quick fix, you can use roofing tar or roofing cement to seal the leak.

It’s OK to Ask For Help

But unless you have roofing experience, you’re better off calling a roofing professional to repair (or replace) your roof. Contrary to popular belief, roofing work can be done in the winter months.

In fact, you’re more likely to receive prompter service because winter is the slow season for roofing companies. However, it should be noted that roofers cannot replace shingles if the outdoor temperature is less than 26 degrees Fahrenheit, because the shingle material and sealants are more likely to fail.

Midwinter leaks
Nobody likes to be outside working in sub-freezing temperatures.

How To Keep Leaks from Making a Return Visit

Once you do find and fix your leak, it’s important to try to keep the problem from happening again. To ward off ice dams, consider installing heated cables on your roofline. Also, it’s wise to insulate your attic and make sure your roof is airtight; this will help stop the freezing and melting cycle that produces ice dams. If your repair job is not designed to be permanent, go ahead and start the process of scheduling a roof repair or replacement when the spring rolls around.

If the leak occurred in or around your gutters, it may be time for a gutter replacement. Harry Helmet has been replacing gutters for its customers for over forty years. So if you want the peace of mind of having your gutter replacement completed by an experienced professional, contact Harry Helmet today for a free, on-site estimate.

Written by Del Thebaud

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