The Big Thaw - How to Prevent Thaw Damage In Your Home After Snow
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The Big Thaw - How to Prevent Thaw Damage In Your Home After Snow

Melting snow can cause its own issues in the home, here is how to minimise and prevent the damage to your home from a big thaw.

You've just gotten over the complications of a big snowfall. Now you're seeing large amounts of melting snow and wondering if it has the potential to cause more damage to your home. Unfortunately, it can. Nobody said being a homeowner was easy...

Large volumes of snow lying on roofs or other structures on your property can spell trouble if you haven't set up your home correctly to deal with the resultant thaw. If the melt is sudden, then huge volumes of water can suddenly appear and its needs to be drained away in an orderly fashion. Add to this the fact that frozen pipes are also thawing - increasing the risk of burst pipes draining into your home. All in all the thaw can generate its own problems, but luckily We've put together some tips and advice on how to minimise its effects.

Please note: Taking the preventative measures listed below will depend on your own experience and skills. We always recommend requesting a qualified tradesman or professional for complicated jobs - you can connect with qualified plumbers, rooferselectricians and more via our website. 


What are the potential issues caused by a big thaw?

  1. Blocked Gutters & Roof Damage:  Where large amounts of snow lie on roofs, a sudden increase in temperature will result in large volumes of water trying to escape through a property's gutters and downpipes. Where these are blocked or frozen, the thawing water may be forced under roof tiles and roof coverings. This will result in dislodged or cracked roof tiles, damage to roofing membranes and the potential for significant leaks into the home. Additionally, trapped water will cause excessive load on gutters and downpipes which can cause them to burst or separate from the property's structure.
  2. Burst Pipes: Where homes have experienced frozen pipes and have not been able to inspect the frozen area, the thaw will reveal whether a pipe has burst. If a property's water supply has not been turned off and their plumbing system drained of water at this point, there is potential for large volumes of water to flow into the property causing extensive structural damage in the home.
  3. Blocked drains: Thaw water will naturally flow into a property's ground drains to escape. Where these drain covers are blocked with debris, leaves or frozen the water will be diverted and settle within the property. This can ground-based flooding in a property if left untreated.


How to prevent structural damage to your home from the thaw

The extent of the preventative action that you can take will be determined by the speed of the thaw, the weather conditions at the time and your experience.  Here are the actions you can take to prevent thaw damage to your home:

  1. Only go outside when it is absolutely safe to do so. If working at a height please make sure you have the requisite experience and the correct equipment to do so, in addition to ensuring you have someone to stabilise any ladders being used.
  2. When in doubt, find a qualified tradesman to complete the work on Onlinetradesmen
  3. Unblock gutters:  Depending on the type of experience, equipment and access to your roof, a quick inspection of gutters in addition to downpipes will reveal any significant blockages. You can remove debris from a gutter using a trowel or a similar tool. Downpipes can be cleared using a plumbers snake, drain rod or similar. Ice can be cleared using a hair dryer or heat gun depending on the material of the pipe itself. Avoid using direct flames or high heat.
  4. Deal with burst pipes –
    1. Turn off the water supply to your house and water tank.
    2. Where electrics are exposed to water, turn off your electricity supply at the mains.
    3. If your house is insured, contact your insurance company at this point.
    4. Get a plumber out as soon as possible.
    5. Collect any water in buckets to limit the damage
    6. Puncture the plaster in any bulging ceilings to relieve the pressure and limit damage
  5. Minimise flood damage. For this, you need to ensure that all your ground drains are clear for the thaw waters to flow unhindered into the main sewage system. Inspect all the drains around your property clearing snow from them where required, including any connecting main or public drains. Remove any debris from their openings and, if you have access, try to clear any blocked channels using drain rods or similar. It is also a good idea to clear any un-melted snow away from your property's perimeter to decrease the overall volume of water flowing into the drains.
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