Why Does Winter Seem To Cause More Water Damage?

Posted on: 2 February 2022


As cold winds blow and snow piles on the ground, your mind is likely focused on your home's plumbing. Yet even with extra attention, it may seem like winter makes it all too likely for leaks to occur and damage your home. Water damage in the winter isn't only more common, it also tends to go undetected for longer due to the season. Here's why winter can be so challenging when it comes to water damage in the home.

Burst Pipes 

It's true that winter does cause more water damage than other seasons due to the risk of burst pipes. When the water inside of the pipes freezes because temperatures have dropped below 32 degrees fahrenheit, it expands and presses against the pipe. PVC, copper, and cast iron pipes are all prone to breaking open under the pressure of the forming ice. A burst pipe won't start leaking until the ice freezes. If the pipe is hidden in a wall or in the crawlspace, the water damage may go on for weeks or months before you discover it. By that point, you'll definitely need professional water damage cleanup to mitigate the amount of moisture exposure. Insulating pipes in colder parts of the home or using heat cables can prevent this damage in the first place.

Frozen Leaks 

When the water leak occurs in the soil surrounding the home instead, freezing temperatures quickly turn it to ice. Frozen soil disguises a water line or sewage pipe break that may not become discovered until the spring. If the leak is near the basement or crawlspace wall, water damage may occur under the home without you noticing until warmer temperatures arrive. Frozen leaks can be fixed with only a little extra work due to the hard ground, but you have to notice them first.

Roof Ice Dams

The roof is particularly susceptible to water damage in the winter if you live in an area with freezing temperatures and snowfall. This is due to the development of a problem known as an ice dam. Cold temperatures along the edges of the roof cause ice to form. When the snow melts due to warming temperatures or warmth from inside the home, water is forced under the shingles because it can't run off the edge. This can cause widespread water damage throughout the attic, walls, and more.

Extra Demand

Finally, having guests for the holidays can put extra demand on the home's plumbing. This could serve as the final straw for a water heater about to leak or a pipe nearly rusted through from age. With guests keeping you busy, you may not notice the signs of water damage until the moisture has spread far from the original leak as well.

For more information on water damage cleanup, contact a restorer like Midwest Restorers.