Your Rochester home + extreme cold = potential problems

Let’s face it: this is one of the coldest winters on record in Rochester, NY, period. We’ve recorded more sub-zero temperatures this year so far that we did in the previous few winters.

Suffice it to say that in Rochester, we’re no strangers to cold, but it’s not common to be steadily below zero (and this far below zero) for this long. With that in mind, there are some concerns that every homeowner should be thinking about when (if!) the freeze ever decides to ease up.

Water is one of the only molecules on earth that actually EXPANDS when it freezes (ever had a pop bottle explode in your freezer?) Although most of us don’t have too much water outside, we do have some portions of our water systems exposed outside.

First thing you should check is all of your exterior water faucets.  If they look like this:

Evidence of a blown faucet

Evidence of a blown faucet

chances are you will be needing to replace that faucet. Fortunately, they are a fairly easy fix, but PLEASE remember to turn off your water service or shut off valve (if your plumbing is partitioned) before disconnecting.  You’ll want to do this as soon as the temperature gets back above freezing. A steady drip can lead to soil erosion, foundation problems, and of course a higher water bill!

Lights: If you have many exterior lights or motion detectors, it is certainly possible that some of them fell victim to the extreme cold.  Have you ever taken a hot glass out of the dishwasher and poured a cold liquid into it and had it shatter?  The same is possible from cold to hot (bulbs heat up VERY rapidly) and can lead to bulbs shattering.

Rapid cold -> hot could end up like this

Rapid cold -> hot could end up like this

Cracked driveways:  One of the biggest fallouts due to the cold in this area is the roads. Most Rochesterians have experienced the dreaded run-in with a monster-sized pothole.  Potholes started out as nothing more than small cracks in the asphalt. When water creeps into the cracks and freezes, it expands. This widens the cracks to an even larger size. Add in a few tons on the end of a plow blade a few times, and Voila! – you’ve got a new pothole.

How pavement cracks evolve

How pavement cracks evolve

You may not necessarily be plowing your driveway, but if you don’t seal your driveway often, you can can experience cracks of your own. Ignoring them won’t do you any good.  Many varieties of sealants are available at hardware stores, and you can also pay someone (or DIY!) to seal your driveway as well.  Here, and ounce of prevention goes a long way.

Hopefully these tips have helped you start to think about what some of your first spring-thaw projects should be. This cold isn’t normal, but there are things we can do to combat it and prepare for it next time around!


Have a Question about Your Home?  Ask Jim!  Need a home inspection?  Click Here!

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