What You Must Do Now to Save Them…

Our horrible winter is finally nearing its end. As unpleasant as the ice, snow and frigid temperatures were for many of us in much of the country, our houses and yards suffered even more — unlike us, they couldn’t come inside.

Fortunately, most winter home and yard damage isn’t hard to repair, particularly when it’s dealt with promptly. Significant costs even might qualify as casualty-loss tax deductions — see IRS Publication 547, Casualties, Disasters, and Thefts, for details.

What home owners can do now to help their homes and yards recover…

Danny Lipford
Today’s Homeowner

Winter ice and cold can cause leaks, cracks and other problems for homes. Seven steps to take now…

Clean and repair gutters. Remove branches and winter debris from gutters or hire someone to do it. Also, check the condition of the gutters themselves. The spikes that hold gutters in place sometimes pull out from the home during the winter under the weight of ice or because wood surrounding the spike contracted in the cold. Replace any affected gutter spikes with gutter screws, which will stay in place better.

The seams between sections of gutter also can pull apart during winter. Reseal as needed using gutter caulk, such as DAP Butyl-Flex Gutter & Flashing Sealant (800-543-3840, www.dap.com).

Identify roof leaks and potential future leaks. Winter cold and ice can cause the sealant securing the metal flashing around chimneys, skylights and other roof openings to fail. Inspect your flashing as closely as possible. If you cannot safely climb onto your roof, use binoculars to look for loose or displaced flashing from the ground. Also, take a bright light up to your attic during a heavy rain, and check for drips and wet spots, particularly around chimneys, vents and skylights. If you find leaks or loose flashing, apply a flashing repair sealant, such as DAP Gutter & Flashing Sealant, or hire a roofing pro.

Ice can cause shingles to buckle or shift, too, most often near the perimeter of the roof. Inspect these shingles up close or use binoculars. Out-of-position shingles often simply can be pushed back into place or renailed. If damage is more significant or you cannot safely reach your roof, hire a professional roofer. Roofers often charge less than $100 for simple service calls.

Examine unheated pipes. Pipes in unheated basements and crawl spaces may have frozen and cracked in the winter cold. Such cracks typically cause obvious flooding, but take a close look for slow leaks and drips, too. Even a slow leak could significantly inflate your water bill and potentially lead to water damage and/or mold.

Fix driveway cracks. Ice and cold can crack concrete and asphalt driveways. These cracks will grow larger if left untreated. Quality sealants include Quikrete Concrete Crack Seal for concrete drives (800-282-5828, www.Quikrete.com) and Latex-ite Driveway Crack Filler/Crack & Joint Filler for asphalt (800-851-5606, www.Latexite.com).

Warning: Wait for a warm, dry spring day before sealing. Driveway sealants often fail when temperatures dip below 50.