Filed Under:Risk Management, Weather Risk

7 parts of your home to check for winter weather damage

Winter weather can damage a house in a number of ways. Spring is the best time to do repairs so those problems don't get worse. (Photo: iStock)
Winter weather can damage a house in a number of ways. Spring is the best time to do repairs so those problems don't get worse. (Photo: iStock)

Winter and the snow and cold that it brings can do some serious damage to a home’s exterior.

There are several very common problems usually brought on by the winter months, including damage done to roofs, foundations and pipes.

Related: 5 easy fall home maintenance projects

Insurance agents can share this list with their clients to help them check their homes for damage and give them an idea of what the costs will be to remedy these common problems after winter:

Damaged shingles

Winter weather can tear shingles off or force moisture underneath them, which damages them further. (Photo: iStock)

1. The roof

Ice dams and winter storms can do a lot of damage to your roof.

An ice dam occurs when snow on the roof melts, runs to the edge and refreezes there, forcing water back up under the roof where it can cause leaks and shingles deterioration.

At the same time, high winds, hail and winter storms can tear off shingles or drive moisture beneath them, causing further damage.

If you’ve found leaks in your roof, you’ll need to repair them to help prevent a complete roof replacement.

Cost

The average cost to repair roof leaks on a 10 foot by 10 foot area of asphalt shingles is around $650.

The total costs range from $500 for simply replacing the shingles to $1,750 to repair and apply a sealant.

The costs to repair a tile roof are around $,1500 for damaged steel tiles.

The total costs for this type of repair range from $450 for repairing metal flashing to $8,000 if the underlayment needs replacing.

Money-saving tips

  • Minimize the damage to the roof by tacking a tarp over the damaged area until it can get repaired.
  • Remove ice dams as soon as possible to prevent water from backing up beneath the shingles and causing more damage.
  • Remove the snow on the roof as soon as possible to prevent new ice dams from forming and causing future problems.
  • Look into getting better attic insulation, as this will help to prevent ice dams in the future as well.

Gutter screens

Gutter screens are easy — and cheaper — to install yourself. (Photo: iStock)

2. Gutters

Ice dams can do damage not only to your roof, but to gutters as well.

That’s because the heavy ice building up on the edge can pull gutters away from the roofline.

At the same time, water freezing inside the gutters and downspouts themselves can lead to separations in some areas, which means that they’ll need to be replaced.

Cost

The costs of gutter repair range from new downspouts to a complete gutter replacement.

The average cost of installing new downspouts is $160, with a total range of $4 for a do-it-yourself job to $160 for a medium-size house.

The average cost of installing new gutter guards to help prevent damage is $200 for do-it-yourself on 200 feet, with a range up to $3,600 for 200 feet of luxury product installed.

The average cost of replacing your gutters is between $1,050 and $2,400 for 200 feet, with total costs ranging from $625 for a do-it-yourself job to $2,400 for professional installation. Money-saving tips

  • You can help lower costs by cleaning the gutters before winter begins and removing ice dams in a timely way.
  • PVC gutters and downspouts cost less than aluminum or copper, but you should choose what best fits your house’s aesthetic.
  • Heating elements are available that can help melt ice in your gutters all winter long; you may want to invest in these while having repairs done to help prevent problems.
  • Gutter screens are the easiest thing to install do-it-yourself, which can save installation costs in the future as well.

House exterior multiple colors

A home with multiple colors will cost more to repaint. (Photo: iStock)

3. House exterior

Cold, snow and hailstones can also take a toll on the outside of a house.

This can result in peeling paint, which if left long enough, could mean that your siding can become susceptible to moisture infiltrating it, which in turn can lead to wood rot and future repairs.

Repainting your exterior in the spring can help prevent these problems.

Cost

The average cost to paint a home’s exterior is between $2,500 to $3,000 for a 1,500-square-foot home.

The total costs range from $500 for a do-it-yourself paint job to $4,000 for homes that have a lot of trim and woodwork to paint.

Money-saving tips

  • Using multiple colors on your home can increase its aesthetic, but can also increase the total cost, as can having a lot of different architectural features or trim to paint.
  • Do-it-yourself jobs can save a lot of money. Be sure to scrape the existing surfaces well, then apply a primer and two coats of paint to avoid having to repaint again soon.
  • Aluminum siding and fiber cement can be painted to freshen up their colors and give a home a new look without replacing the siding.

Siding on a house

A house's siding is its first line of defense against the elements. Any damage should be repaired quickly. (Photo: iStock) 

4. Siding

If the paint has peeled enough on the siding of the house, moisture can begin to infiltrate, causing the wood to begin rotting.

In addition, hail stones or fallen tree limbs can damage siding, whether denting aluminum siding or cracking vinyl. Because the siding is a home’s first line of defense against the elements, it needs to be repaired in a timely way.

Cost

The average costs to repair siding range from $300 to $1,000, depending on the type of the siding being damaged, and the extent. Vinyl is the least expensive material to repair, as well as one of the easiest to do yourself, while aluminum is among the most expensive to repair with costs ranging from $500 to $900.

Money-saving tips

  • The cost to hire a carpenter to repair siding is around $40 to $50 an hour. If you are able to repair it yourself, you can usually save a considerable amount of money.
  • Both aluminum and vinyl are often replaced during repair jobs. Shop around to get a good color match so you don’t need to replace as large a section.
  • Repairing wood siding almost always will require the new section to be painted as well. Painting it yourself can help save on labor costs.

Asphalt driveway

Winter can cause cracks and potholes in a driveway. Sealing is an effective way to correct those problems. (Photo: iStock)

5. Driveway

A little known problem that can occur during the cold winter months is damage to a driveway.

Small cracks that develop naturally over time are the perfect place for water to collect. When that water freezes, it expands, causing what’s known as a frost heave. Frost heaves are responsible for large cracks, as well as potholes in your driveway, making just getting home a bumpy adventure.

Repaving your driveway can correct these issues and help prevent additional damage by eliminating those small cracks as well.

Cost

The average cost to pave a driveway in either gravel or asphalt ranges from $800 to $1,990 for a 38-foot by 16-foot driveway.

The total costs range from about $300 for a gravel do-it-yourself job to $14,880 for a driveway laid with brick pavers.

Money-saving tips

  • If you have a lot of curves or grades in your driveway, this can increase costs.
  • Sealing an existing driveway with tar can help prevent potholes and major cracks by filling up the smaller cracks before they have a chance to expand.
  • Gravel is a less expensive way to fill a driveway, but the small stones frequently get scraped away by plows, allowing rainwater to form potholes. Therefore, paving a driveway with asphalt may be a longer term solution, saving money in the long run.

Cracked foundation

Repair cracks in the foundation to avoid major structural problems later on. (Photo: iStock) 

6. The foundation

The same freeze/thaw cycle that causes cracks and potholes in a driveway can also affect a foundation.

Hairline cracks in the concrete of a foundation that develop naturally over time because of a home settling can expand during the winter months, causing major structural issues if they aren’t taken care of in a timely way.

Getting a foundation repaired in the spring can help prevent more problems from developing as time goes by.

Cost

The average cost to repair a foundation that has been badly damaged ranges from $5,000 to $7,000.

Costs can be affected by the need for an inspection, how widespread the damage is and what types of repairs that may needed. Small cracks that only require sealing can cost as little as a few hundred dollars, while major cracks will require more extensive work.

Money-saving tips

  • If you need extensive work done on the foundation, you may want to get at least three estimates from different repair companies to try to find the best pricing for the job.
  • Remember that landscaping may be affected by foundation work. Nearby shrubs or plants may need to be replaced after the work has been done.
  • Having a trench dug for a well pump at the same the foundation work is done can help prevent problems such as flooding.
  • Always inspect the foundation each spring and seal any minor cracks you find to help prevent more extensive work.

Tree trimming

Trim your trees to keep them from damaging your home during a storm. (Photo: iStock) 

7. Trees

Your home isn’t the only area that can sustain damage during a winter storm. Trees in your yard can also take a hit.

Heavy snow and high winds can knock down tree limbs, taking out power lines, damaging siding, and generally making your landscaping look a mess.

Getting your trees trimmed can help prevent this type of damage, as well as keep your trees healthy and looking great.

Cost

The average cost of tree trimming is around $591 per tree, assuming a total of five trees to be trimmed at once.

Costs range from about $227 per tree for a do-it-yourself job to $709 per tree for large trees during peak trimming seasons. All costs should include the equipment necessary to do the job and hauling away the cut limbs.

Money-saving tips

  • If you have a large number of trees on your property, and are considering having some of them removed, you can sometimes get your trimming done for free by allowing the company to remove a certain number of trees for their own use.
  • To ensure that the work is done properly, always hire a company that is registered with the Tree Care Industry Association. Do not allow workers on your property that wear spike-soled shoes, as these can damage the trees.
  • Check with your utility company before hiring someone to do the job, as some companies will trim trees located near power lines at no cost to you.

Take care of your home

Winter damage can become worse over time if you don’t take care of it in a timely way. Always make sure to inspect your home in both the fall and in the spring to repair any damage that could affect your home’s condition. By taking care of minor issues before winter, you can help prevent larger ones, while taking care of any damage after the cold weather has passed can help your home be ready for anything.

Yuka Kato is a media analyst for Wilmington, Del.-based cost information website How Much. Contact her at yuka@howmuch.net.

Related: Home remodeling time: 9 things to know about insurance coverage

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