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Business insurance

Preventing water damage from melting snow

March 21, 2023

Winter's almost over and warmer weather is just around the corner. Even though we're all looking forward to spring, melting snow can increase the risk of water damage. That's why it's wise to take a good look around your property now to make sure your building stays dry during the spring thaw. Here are a few tips on how to prevent water from getting in.

In winter, before the spring thaw

When temperatures rise and the snow on your roof starts to melt, the risk of seepage rises as well. Snow removal becomes necessary when more than 20 inches of compacted snow or a 9 inches of combined snow, ice and water has accumulated on a building's roof. If needed, hire a roof snow removal professional who's got the right equipment and knows the most effective removal techniques.

Effective roof drainage is essential for diverting water away from a building. In the fall, leaves and other debris can accumulate in gutters, downspouts or drain openings. If they aren't removed, they can prevent water from draining properly.

  • Make sure there isn't any snow, ice or other debris blocking the gutters or drains. Clear them if needed.
  • If you have a flat roof, you may want to hire a specialist so that your roof doesn't get damaged in the process.

After the spring thaw

Once the snow has melted and your roof is clear, it's time to do a visual check of its condition. There are a few things you can do to prevent water infiltration in the future. We've broken down our tips by roof type:

Pitched roofs

  • Check the roofing materials for signs of wear and aging (missing or loose shingles, buckling, upturned corners, etc.).
  • Inspect the flashing around chimneys and air vents. Make sure it isn't damaged or warped and that the caulking is in good condition.
  • Make sure any satellite dishes or other equipment are securely attached.
  • Inspect the gutters and downspouts:
    • Make sure they didn't warp or become detached under the weight of the snow.
    • Check for stagnant water. Pooling water is a sign that your gutters are sagging, which affects the slope.
    • Make sure the downspouts divert water as far away as possible from the foundation.

Flat roofs

  • Make sure there's enough gravel to fully protect the asphalt below. Gravel prevents dark surfaces from overheating and reflects ultraviolet rays, preventing premature damage to the membrane.
  • Examine the roof's general condition and look for any visible abnormalities that could be a potential risk, such as:
    • Signs of erosion
    • Sagging or blisters
    • Holes or cracks
    • Missing flashing
    • Loose or inadequate connections (air conditioning units, ventilation ducts, antennas, etc.)
    • Poorly sealed or leaking joints
  • Inspect slopes toward drains, ideally after a heavy rain. Slopes must allow water to drain quickly so that it doesn't pool on the roof.

Water infiltrations: signs to watch out

Once the ground has thawed, it's very important to check your foundation, doors and windows for any problems and prevent damage due to water seepage. Here's what we recommend:

  • Perform a detailed inspection of the inside and outside of the foundation. Have a specialist repair any cracks right away.
  • Seek professional advice if there are signs of efflorescence (white deposits), seepage or localized humidity.
  • Inspect the seals around doors and windows to make sure they're watertight. Repair caulking and replace weather­stripping as needed.

Finally, check that your business insurance covers you in case of water damage.

Need help to ensure you make the right choices? Don’t hesitate to contact a damage insurance agent.

Desjardins Insurance refers to Desjardins General Insurance Inc., provider of automobile, property and commercial business insurance. These tips are provided for information and prevention purposes only. They are general in nature, and Desjardins Insurance cannot be held liable for them. We recommend using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, tailored advice.