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Heavy snow, quick thaw may cause damage to homes

By Katie Demeria

A record-setting amount of snowfall hit the valley earlier this week, and warmer temperatures are expected over the next few days. According to local plumbers and roofers, area residents should prepare for the impacts of those quick thaws.

Janet Helsley, owner of Gene's Plumbing Services in Woodstock, said the company has seen a very interesting winter.

"People have forgotten how cold winter is really supposed to be," she said.

When people do not close up areas of their homes from the cold air, such as crawl spaces, cellar doors, or broken windows in their cellars, the air gets in and freezes their pipes.

"We have seen quite a few freeze and bust," she said. "During the really cold spell we had a lot frozen up, and people didn't even know."

Helsley said Wednesday morning her staff went out to a cabin where a frozen pipe had burst due to the warmer temperatures, flooding the area around it.

When pipes freeze and thaw quickly, they are more likely to burst, causing damage that can range, Helsley said, from $100 to $5,000, depending on what the pipe ruins.

With fluctuating temperatures hitting the area like they have over the past week, frozen pipes are more likely to occur. Residents can help prevent them, Helsley said, by closing open spaces.

"Or if they don't have much heat in the house, keep the cabinets open so that whatever heat they do have can get to the pipes, too," she said.

If a frozen pipe has already been detected, though, the best option is to call a plumber first.

The freezing and quick thaws can also have an impact on roofs, according to George Forse of Route 11 Roofing Company in Middletown.

"A lot of the damage is caused at the eaves, from ice damage, as a result of gutters not being properly installed, and because of people that haven't cleaned their gutters," Forse said.

Most of the damage comes from easily solvable problems, Forse said. If roofs are maintained well, with the proper ice and water guards, the damage should be limited.

"If they have a leak, which they get during storms and when the snow is melting, it's usually around the pipe dents, which deteriorate from ultraviolet rays," he said.

With spring right around the corner and thunderstorms likely, Forse said residents should look out for bent shingles.

"Often, because of the wind, people need to look for shingles that are no longer flush with the roof, I've even seen some standing straight up," he said. "We get a lot of nasty wind in this area."

Forse said his company is called out about roof repairs frequently this time of year, sometimes for homes that require total re-roofing. He said now is the best time to check to make sure your roof can handle the elements.

Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kdemeria@nvdaily.com

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