Winter’s Unseen Costly Hurt On Homes

Old Man Winter’s Worst Damage Often Doesn’t Appear Until Spring

The good news for winter-weary Iowans: Regardless of what Punxsutawney Phil (who, rumor has it, has been put in the Groundhog Protection Program by the FBI for his own safety) says, spring is coming.

But what cost this winter’s ruthless savagy has inflicted upon your home remains to be seen.

“We’ve had horror stories of people going outside and working in the yard for four hours and they come in and go downstairs and their basement is flooded because it (the pipe) has been leaking for four hours,” Jack Hope, owner of Hope Plumbing, told the Indianapolis Star.

Winter’s greatest punishment on homes often goes unseen until the spring. For example, outdoor faucets that weren’t properly drained before the bitter cold temperatures set in last winter likely created frozen and cracked pipes. This sets homeowners up springtime leaks. The same lousy fate often awaits people who didn’t disconnect their hoses in the fall.

The Hartford notes the cold, painful average insurance claim from frozen pipes is $18,000.

If only the largely unseen til spring winter home damage blues stopped playing there. Collapsed tree limbs and branches from winter’s heavy winds can damage and collapse roofs, bitter sub-zero cold can crack foundations of driveways and lead to weakened and chipped house paint.

Severe winter weather ranks as third-leading cause of insured catastrophic losses after hurricanes and tornadoes, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Losses from snow, ice and freezing temperatures average about $1.5 billion annually.

When spring finally gets here (have no fear, folks, it will come with sweet, sunny winter relief), here’s a Winter Home Damage Check List every homeowner should complete to minimize the long-term hurt winter inflicts on your home and checkbook.

Roof Damage

Nothing works harder at protecting your home from winter’s wrath. Alas, no element of your home takes more punches from winter. Ice dams and winter storms can ravage shingles and cause roof leaks. Property Casualty 360 estimates the average cost to repair roof leaks on a 10 foot by 10 foot area of asphalt shingles at $650.

The Solution: Remove snow and ice dams as soon as possible to prevent water from backing up underneath shingles and causing more damage.


Your home’s primary drainage system can also be damaged by ice dams. Water freezing inside the gutters and downspouts can lead to gutter separations, which can lead to needed replacements and, on average, a $160 bill to install new downspouts. In worst case scenarios, replacing gutters can run as much as $2,400 for large houses.

The Solution: Remove ice dams immediately, consider adding heating elements to your gutters and consider switching to PVC gutters and downspouts and installing gutter screens.

House Exteriors

Cold, snow and hailstones love to do an ugly paint job on your home’s exterior that peels paint, and allows moisture to infiltrate it, leading to wood rot and future repairs. The average cost to repaint a home’s exterior can run $3,000 for a 1,500-square-foot home.

The Solution: Repainting your home in the spring can prevent these problems. Also, painting aluminum siding and fiber cement can give a home a new look without replacing the siding.


Alas, winter can leave your home’s siding with more dents than a demolition derby car. Siding repairs can run from $300 to $1,000, depending on the extent of the damage.

The Solution: Repair damaged siding immediately to prevent further damage. Cost compare shop to get the best repair quote for your family’s budget.


Winter’s most unseen impact often emerges later on in impact cracks on your driveway. Small cracks that naturally develop over time are the perfect place for water to collect. When water freezes, it expands, causing frost heave.  Frost heaves cause large driveway cracks, as well as potholes. This can make just pulling into the garage a bumpy ride.

The Solution: Repaving your driveway corrects these issues and prevents further damage by eliminating small cracks. The average cost to pave a gravel or asphalt driveway ranges from $800 to $1,990 for a 38×16 driveway.

The Foundation

Your home’s resting soil also takes an annual beating from weather. Hairline cracks in the concrete of a foundation that develop naturally over time can expand during the winter months, causing major structural issues if they are not repaired promptly. The average cost to repair a home foundation that has been badly damaged ranges from $5,000 to $7,000.

The Solution: Unfortunately, for badly damaged foundations, foundation renovations are the only option. But cost compare by getting estimates from at least three repair companies to find the best pricing for the job.


Every blow winter deals your home trees feel with the force of a Mike Tyson right hook. Heavy snow and winds can knock down tree limbs, take out power lines, damage siding, and make your landscaping look like the day after a wild college frat party.

The Solution: Trimming trees regularly, especially during the spring and fall, can reduce the potential of storm-damaged trees from hitting your house. Also consider removing troublesome or aging trees from your property. Professional home tree-trimming runs around $591 per tree as compared to $227 on average for do-it-yourself jobs.

Remember, winter is a mysterious, ruthless weather beast. The long-term damage it inflicts on your home and property might not reveal itself until after Old Man Winter has spun his last storm. Knowing what damage to look for can prevent winter from putting a long-term financial hurt on you that can last years after the final snow flakes of the season have fallen.

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