Feb
17

Protect Your Chicago Home During the Big Thaw

February 17, 2011

The Chicago area could tie a record today with a possible high of 60 degrees.

After being hit with the third-largest snowfall total in Chicago’s history, the warm temperatures mean a major thaw across the region.

This could be an enjoyable time for Chicago homeowners, or a nightmare.

“Homeowners need to be preparing now to deal with water issues when all that ice and snow melts,” said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List, which offers consumer reviews on local service companies.

“Best-case scenario: Gutters and landscaping will drain the water away. Worst case: Major water damage in ceilings, walls and basements.”

Preventative steps to take now:

guy clearing snow from his roof.

Don't try this at home. Well, do, but be careful. Tribune photo.

*Clear as much ice and snow as possible from all areas near the outer walls of your home and in the window wells to minimize the chance of water seeping into your foundation.

*If you are concerned about water getting into your basement, box all your belongings up and move out the furniture to save as much as you can before the flooding begins.

*Check your home for damaged gutters and down spots and make the most out of what you have. It would be hard to replace them right now, but you should at least have them on your radar.

*If there is still a ton of heavy snow and ice on your roof, hire reliable help to help remove it properly.

What to do if water enters your home:

*Stay out of rooms with wet, sagging ceilings or water above electrical outlet level.

*Turn off circuit breakers in the affected areas if it is safe to do so. Unplug all electrical devices.

*Know what your insurance policy covers, call your agent and get the process started. Take pictures of the damage.

*Find a reputable contractor who can detect structural issues and save you future headaches. Check out Angie’s List for a list of recommended professionals in your area.

“Homeowners who suspect they’ll have issues should inspect their homes and look for reliable local contractors if they need help,” Hicks said. “Don’t wait until the ceiling actually collapses. The best contractors will be working around the clock, so it’s in your best interest to get in line ahead of the crowd.”

Then you can enjoy Chicago’s unseasonably warm weather.

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Tracey

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