CLEVELAND, Ohio – The past two months of winter in northeastern Ohio have been harsh. Heavy snow blanketed our yards and driveways. Freezing winds battered windows and roofs. Icicles hung from the gutters, begging for a social media snapshot.
According to National Weather Service meteorologist Raelene Campbell, Cleveland recorded a total snowfall of 24.3 inches last January, or 6 inches above our average. Compare that to 2021, when the total was 6.5 inches. The February total was 18.9 inches – 3.8 inches above average.
But spring and its warmer temperatures are, thankfully, around the block. And it will give homeowners a chance to get out – and in – and check for damage that might be under ceilings, gutters and roofs.
With this above average snowfall this spring, more than any other, the exterior and interior of your home will need your attention.
“Roofs and gutters are numbers one and two. They experience the brunt of winter. The roofs have no protection against snow, ice and freezing rain,” says David Brock, education and outreach coordinator for the Home Repair Resource Center.
“So it’s not uncommon for ice to form in the gutters and on the gutters. It also depends on the side of the house. If you don’t get sunshine, you’ll be in trouble. You can get ice cubes forming 5 feet long.
The best time to start looking for possible cold damage is around the end of April, provided the flakes have stopped flying.
Start inside the house in the attic or dormer window of your home and work your way down. Check for leaks, water spots on the ceiling, and any signs of daylight. These types of damage won’t cost you a lot of money if you act quickly.
“Once you reach the outside, check the shingles on the roof,” says Brock. “Look for curling and buckling. If you’re not sure what you’re seeing, use your phone’s camera to zoom in on that spot. A ladder may be needed.
“Also check around the perimeter of your home to see if there are any loose shingles lying around. Look closely at the chimney or chimneys for loose flashing around the chimney. Also, if you have any valleys in your roof, you want to check the flashing there.
Remember that water is the enemy of the homeowner, from the attic to the basement. If you have bad or old windows, they will get wet. it’s a sign that your windows aren’t good enough for Cleveland winters.
It may also be that the caulking and glazing around the windows isn’t doing its job and it’s time to do it again.
The best way to catch some of these problems is during a spring rain shower. Check if the gutters are draining properly: this is absolutely the best way to check for drainage problems.
Regina Hanshaw, executive secretary of the Ohio Board of Building Standards, noted in a press release that a little preventive maintenance can also alleviate winter repair problems.
Installing a snow guard and ice guard on the under roof of a house and under the shingles covering the overhang of the roof will go a long way in preventing water from seeping into a house. Installing a waterproof barrier under the shingles at the edge of the roof can also help.
Finally, inspect your brick or concrete porch or patio for any lack of mortar. Repair with concrete filling. Silicone caulk is your home’s best friend for exterior repairs, says Brock.
There are a number of non-profit home repair agencies in Greater Cleveland. The Home Repair Resource Center, an independent, nonprofit agency funded in part by the City of Cleveland Heights, is one of them.
The center is located at 2520 Noble Road in Cleveland Heights and offers classes, such as tuckpointing. During the pandemic, all classes were virtual. From May, classes will resume in person.
The instructors are contractors and masons who teach practical skills. Sessions are weeknights for $25; discounts are available for residents of Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights. For more information and to register for classes, go to https://hrrc-ch.org or call 216-381-6100.