Homeowners navigate problems with winter thaw out


While these warmer temperatures and sunshine are a welcome change, the thaw-out is coming with its own set of problems for homeowners, like leaking roofs and the potential for flooded basements.

"Patience is a virtue," said Carmel homeowner Jan Strawbridge, who is doing all she can right now to be patient in the face of a roof that's leaking into her master bedroom.

"We have to wait for all that snow out there to melt," explained Strawbridge as she looked out her bedroom window.

Until the snow and ice are gone, the ice dam on her roof isn't likely to disappear. It's the water from that melting ice that's getting under her shingles and running into her ceiling and walls.

"It's not actually leaking right now, but it was leaking all along that dry wall ridge and down the wall," she explained, pointing to the water stains that have shown up already on her ceiling.

Strawbridge isn't the only homeowner struggling.

"We're probably talking in the neighborhood of about ten calls a day at least," said David Gorsage with Michaelis Corp of the calls the restoration company is getting now that the ice and snow are melting.

"Ten calls a day from people who are frustrated or frantic about water coming into their home from an ice dam," explained Gorsage.

Gorsage said the next problem after the leaking, comes mold.

"If there's a mustiness, that's an indication its starting," said Gorsage who said it takes about 72 hours for mold to start forming.

The trick, said Gorsage, is not letting water collect and just sit there, stagnant.

"You probably should poke a hole into it, which they have here," Gorsage said, showing where Strawbridge had poked holes in the ceiling so water collecting there could drip out and into a bucket.

The roof though, said Gorsage, won't be the only place homeowners need to worry about as the thaw continues. 

Storm drains could be backing up if they're covered with snow, ice or leaves left over from fall.

"Pull the leaves out of the drain. If you don't do that, it floods," said downtown resident Andy Werner as he and his neighbors cleared their drains.

"You can flood yourself," says Steve Fusek of Fusek Hardware downtown. "You want to keep the water away from your foundation. You want to get it away. Too much water getting toward the house is never a good thing."

So he recommends storm drain extenders, which snap onto the end of the downspout.

"Seems to be doing the trick so far," Werner said.

"I'm particularly concerned (about) Indianapolis and north in Indiana, because we had some ice build up and now snow came in on top of that," Steve Cain, a disaster preparedness expert with Purdue Ag Extension said.

He fears when the new snow melts, the ice beneath will stay awhile.

"Could create a dam where the new rainwater comes in and it just goes back to the house crawl space or basement," Cain said.

That means it's time to check that your sump pump is working, said Gorsage, along with its battery back-up.

"Double check to make sure the back-up is working and obviously the float is activated on your normal sump pump so that you're good to go when that water starts to melt into your foundation," Gorsage explained.

For Jan Strawbridge, the water in her bedroom is quite enough to deal with already, without worrying about problems in the basement.

"It is frustrating and I wish that spring would come," she said.

As it does though, the warmer temperatures will bring their own set of problems for homeowners to navigate.

How to prevent ice dams