Once the white stuff starts flying, the age-old question of “where do we put all this dang snow?” can be heard from driveways across the Upper Peninsula. It may be tempting to make a huge pile in your yard and call it good. But think again – snowmelt can be a big problem, causing thousands of dollars of unexpected property damage if not dealt with properly.

If you’re ready to learn how snowmelt can damage your home and some easy ways to keep your property investment safe from the pitfalls of water damage – read on!

Snowmelt and How it Can Damage Your Property

When Most of us think of snow, flooding typically doesn’t come to mind. However, snowmelt flooding is much more common than you’d think – especially in the U.P. And here’s the thing, it’s not just spring you need to worry about – snowmelt flooding can happen any time there is a rapid temperature change.

The three biggest culprits of snowmelt property damage:

  1. Cracked foundations
  2. Faulty gutters
  3. Improperly designed or installed runoff systems

See, where you put your snow matters. A quick thaw can cause loads of water to saturate the soil surrounding your property. This is why I always recommend trying to store snow piles away from your home’s foundation.

The three biggest problems caused by snowmelt:

  1. Flooding. A pool of melting snow paired with heavy spring rains is a recipe for a flooded basement.
  2. Mold. As with any water intrusion situation, mold and mildew become a significant probability. Mold can be hazardous for families – especially children, the elderly, and immunocompromised individuals. If you’re concerned about mold in your home – schedule a mold inspection with a certified professional today.
  3. Water damage. Think about what’s in your basement right now. Would you be upset if a flood damaged it? If you want to protect your basement family room, baseball card collection, or family heirlooms, keeping snowmelt away from your home should be a top priority.

How to Keep Snowmelt from Infiltrating Your Home

Are you wondering what you can do to keep snowmelt from damaging your home? Well, you’re in luck because there are actually quite a few mitigation tactics you can employ!

Stop Snowmelt Flooding with This Handy Check List:

  • As a rule of thumb, always keep snow 5 feet away from your home’s foundation.
  • When shoveling, work away from the home – pushing snow towards the street.
  • Live on a hill? If so, be sure to shovel snow so that it doesn’t flow downhill towards your foundation when it melts.  
  • Hire a professional to safely shovel your rooftop to prevent build-ups (this will keep snowmelt from bombarding your gutter system when it melts).
  • Clear any leaves and debris from your gutters to keep them flowing like a champ.
  • Add downspout extensions to direct snowmelt away from your home.
  • If your home has a sump pump, test it to be sure it’s working by pouring a bucket of water into the basin to engage the pump.
  • If you spot water in your basement, never ignore it.
  • If you have flooding in your home due to snowmelt, clean and dry the areas right away to avoid mold. 
  • Clear snow and ice build-up from drainage areas around your home to prevent backups.
  • Inspect your basement walls for cracks or signs of water intrusion.
  • Ensure caulking around basement windows is in good shape and not crumbling.
  • Check your roof for a build-up of ice. Ice damage can allow melting snow to enter right through your roof.

With this checklist in hand, you should have the resources you need to avoid snowmelt floods in your home this winter and spring.

Snow Guards or No Guards?

A close up photo of a slate roof with snow guards installed to prevent snowmelt problems. They look a bit like cleats for your roof.
Snow guards can be a lifesaver when you live in the Upper Midwest.

Snow guards are jutting plastic or metal devices that prevent accumulated ice and snow from sliding in sheets off your roof. I love snow guards because they facilitate a gradual melt and breakdown the snow mass into smaller, more manageable sections.

If you’ve ever shoveled your driveway after a plow came by, you understand how heavy snow and ice can be. One cubic foot of ice weighs more than 50 pounds! Snow guards will keep an avalanche of heavy snow and ice from causing personal and property damage. This usually happens when warmer weather follows a snowstorm.

Yes, roof guards are an investment, but if you live in the U.P., I guarantee they will pay off in dividends. In fact, they could save you from a personal injury lawsuit one day. Snow guards aren’t always helpful in every region of the country, but in the Upper Midwest – they can be a lifesaver, literally.  

Schedule Your Home Maintenance Inspection Today

If you’re wondering if your home is ready for winter or are suspicious about signs of water intrusion in your basement – I encourage you to schedule a home inspection today. I’ll come out to your property and make sure everything is squared away for the inevitable spring thaw.