by | Dec 8, 2022

7 Ways a Pacific Northwest Winter Can Destroy Your Home

Here in the Pacific Northwest, winters can be brutal. Your home keeps you warm and safe, but what happens when your shield breaks down? The results can bring more damage than you might believe.

Read this blog post to learn 7 ways winter weather in the Pacific Northwest can be damaging to your home.

Poor maintenance, more problems

We all know winters in the Pacific Northwest can be brutal. The rain, cold weather, and at times snow, cause issues to even the most well cared for homes.

With that said, the largest way we see homes destroyed during the winter is through inadequate preventive maintenance. While a poorly maintained home is generally unnoticed during a dry, warm summer, the issues snap into focus when it’s pouring rain and almost freezing outside.

We recommend visually inspecting your home seasonally to make sure everything is looking alright. Inspect hot spots of your home for materials that are damaged, peeling, cracking, or otherwise not in operating shape. Some hot spots to look out for include your:

If you think there may be an issue, call a professional as soon as possible. The damage caused by not fixing these hot spots could actually lead to more damage than the issue itself.

Constant rain and leaky roofs

It doesn’t matter why your roof has a leak; if it’s there, your home is liable to become destroyed through water damage.

Your roof is the shield that protects your home from the elements. When it breaks down, the shield is broken, leading to water damage that can reduce your home to an unstable mess.

Common issues with a roof that is not ready for winter include:

  • Curled and buckled shingles
  • Missing shingles
  • Pieces of shingles around your home or in your gutters
  • Old roofs (or roofs that just look old)

Freezing pipes

While it doesn’t get as cold as other parts of the Pacific Northwest, the Portland and Vancouver area still can get to below freezing. When this happens for any extended period of time, your pipes can freeze, leading to MASSIVE water damage to your home and belongings.

Why does a pipe burst? The water in your pipe freezes, causing an expansion of the pipes . This expansion causes cracks in the pipes, leading to water leaking through the cracks once it thaws.

While it may seem like we don’t have to worry about this happening in the Portland and Vancouver area given our relatively mild temperatures, in reality we are MORE susceptible to frozen pipes. Areas of the country used to freezing weather have prepared for it with insulated pipes and practices that help their pipes not freeze.

How can you do these same practices to protect your home?

  • Always keep your thermostat above 60 degrees, especially when you’re on holiday and not in your home for a couple of days.
  • Once winter has arrived, shut off outside faucets, remove hoses, and drain any water in pipes leading to exterior faucets.
  • When it’s particularly cold, leave cabinet doors open so heat can reach these areas.
  • Let faucets drip very slowly when it’s particularly cold or if the pipes run through an unheated part of your home.

Snow on your roof

When snow builds up on your roof, it can lead to disaster. Your home’s roof could collapse — leading to not only massive home damage but potentially serious injury.

Even if the situation does not get that dire, snow on your roof can lead to leaks, roof instability, and most commonly, ice dams.

Ice dams are caused when water melts and refreezes at the edge of your roof. This blocks water from draining properly, leading to standing water, leaks, and permanent damage to your home.

To prevent ice dams, make sure to remove ice and snow from your roof when possible. It’s also important to have good insulation in your attic to prevent constant thawing and refreezing on your roof.

Gutter jam-ups

Clogged gutters can also cause a massive level of damage to your roof and home through ice dams.

This happens primarily when gutters are not cleaned seasonally (remember, maintain your home all year), and debris clogs and prevents your gutters from draining properly. This causes sitting water, which freezes and causes a still water lake on the top of your roof.

Once this happens, you’ll need to de-ice your gutters ASAP with a de-icing agent or heated gutter cable. Better yet? Clean your gutters in the fall to ensure the jam-up never happens in the first place.

Wind and tree damage

A common source of serious winter damage to Portland homes includes storm damage. This generally proliferates as damage caused by winds, most notably wind knocking trees over into homes, smashing siding and roofs, causing them to be rendered useless.

Trees also get weighed down by freezing rain, causing tree limbs to break off and fall on roofs.

Wind and tree damage is also very likely to cause damage to your deck. Since your deck is not protected by cover, anything falling will go directly onto it. While the damage from rain can be easily prevented, the damage from a fallen tree branch cannot.

The ONLY way to prevent wind and tree damage is to maintain your trees annually and have them pruned regularly. This will make sure the limbs are strong and not knocked loose when the wind picks up.

Window weakening

When the temperatures drop outside and the heat starts pumping inside, something happens. What is it? Condensation! Where do you see it? Your windows!

While this condensation might seem harmless, it’s not. This condensation leads to stagnant water when not hand dried, leading to rotting window sills and mold. It also causes caulk to pull away from the window and let cold air in and warm air out.

The best way to prevent this is to install weatherproof double paned windows. This will prevent condensation from forming and will be less likely to have the caulk pull away.

Make sure your home is safe from the winds of winter

At Cutting Edge Contracting, we love helping homeowners in the Portland and Vancouver areas winterize their homes and keep their investment safe.

Contact us today to learn how to keep your home safe from winter weather with a solidly built roof, siding, and window shield.

Sean Kelly

About the author: Sean Kelly

Sean Kelly is the COO & President of Cutting Edge Contracting. His background in business, accounting, and the construction industry helped him become the award-winning manager of a nationally-known paint company before joining Cutting Edge.

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