Winter ‘Bomb Cyclone’ Puts Homes At Risk

The winter “bomb cyclone” is spiraling across the eastern U.S., expected to bring heavy snowfall and high winds. In Southern states, in particular, the storm could damage homes and roadways that were not built for snowstorms.

Here are some problems to watch for:

Leaky roofs.

Roofs are usually built flatter in the South than up North, which can cause damages during a snowstorm. Once the snow melts, it can get under shingles and cause water damage. It can also refreeze and damage gutters, too.

Try to clear the snow off the eaves of your home so the water can flow down. But “it’s not a good idea to climb up on the roof,” says Jim Bateman, owner of Bateman Custom Construction in Fairfax, Va. “When people have tried that, they end up slipping off the roof.”

Frozen pipes.

Pipes can freeze and crack when ice begins to thaw. “The problem is not the pipes. It’s the water damage that happens after a pipe breaks,” says Ken Mellick, CEO of Universal Roof & Contracting in Orlando, Fla. “When it splits and causes damage, then you’re replacing floors and wood and Sheetrock and insulation. Then it becomes thousands and thousands [of dollars in damage].”

Mellick recommends homeowners wrap any pipes in insulation if they are exposed outdoors, in crawl spaces, under homes, or in the attic to provide added protection from freezing temperatures.


Many heating systems in the South are powered by electricity, which means if the power goes out homeowners could be at risk. Fewer homes in the South also have fireplaces to stay warm. Watch floor heaters carefully whenusing them to stay warm. Remember, blazes can be more difficult to put out in colder temperatures. “It’s very difficult to fight fires when hydrants may be frozen,” says Jack McCabe, a real estate consultant in Deerfield Beach, Fla.

The snowstorm could curtail home sales in the South temporarily. It’s probably going to have a negative effect on sales, because people don’t want to venture out to look for a new home when the weather is severe, says McCabe. For Southern states, and especially Florida, this is really our top sales time of the year. This is when we get all the snowbirds down. … [But] it will pick up in the days after [the storm].”

Source: “The Winter ‘Bomb Cyclone’ May Devastate Homes Not Built to Withstand Snow,”® (Jan. 3, 2018)


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