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The Pros and Cons of Channeling Melting Snow Runoff


Did you know that the snowiest city in the US gets a staggering 127.8 inches of snow in an average winter? We know what you’re thinking; no, it’s not Anchorage. It’s Syracuse, NY, courtesy of its near neighbor, Lake Ontario. Whether you live in one of the country’s snowiest parts or just get a moderate dusting, you know that melting snow is no joke.

Like rain, it can get everywhere, but unlike rain, it concentrates on certain parts of your home. As a result, it can expose any tiny flaw in your roof and send water cascading into your home, doing severe damage. That’s why many people choose to channel melting snow runoff to keep these problems at bay.

Let’s explore the pros and cons of this approach so that you can keep your home safe and dry in winter.

How Do You Channel Melting Snow Runoff?

Channeling melting snow refers to using downspout extensions to direct water away from your home. As the snow melts on your roof, it will start gushing along your guttering, down your downspout, and onto the ground below. If you don’t use downspout extensions, water could pool around your foundation and flood your basement.

Installing downspout extensions is a crucial measure for preventing basement flooding. Rather than pooling around your home, the idea is that the water drains away to a safe location where it cannot do damage.

Preparations for Downspout Extension Installation

Before installing downspout extensions, prepare your roof. Your goal is to remove as much snow as possible, so there is less to melt. Use a snow rake to remove as much snow as possible from your roof without endangering your safety.

Next, shovel the snow away from your home, leaving a gap of about 4 to 5 feet around the perimeter. This will prevent melting snow from flooding your basement.

Installing Downspout Extensions

If melting snow runoff is not a problem you deal with often, you may be happy with above-ground downspout extensions. They’re not the most beautiful home accessory, but if you use them occasionally, they’re also not the worst.

There are three main types:

  • Flexible – able to go on forever, as you can connect several extensions and bend them around corners
  • Roll-out – mechanically rolls out when needed
  • Flip-up – will flip up when full of melting snow runoff

Whichever you choose, make sure that gravity is on your side. Water will only flow downhill, so ensure they effectively channel water away from your home.

If you prefer your downspout extensions to be out of sight, a contractor can install them by digging a trench and siting them around 12-14 inches below the ground. This is only possible when there is no concrete surrounding the exterior of your home.

Heated Snow Runoff Control Systems

You could install a concealed de-icing system for your roof for even greater control. These advanced systems used heat to regulate melting snow runoff. The installers will also assess your roof to ensure that your plans for channeling melting snow are up to the job.

Pros of Channeling Melting Snow Runoff

Anything that prevents melting snow from flooding your basement is a great thing. On average, flood claims in America average $3 billion per year. If you’ve got a large basement and have suffered a severe flood, pumping it out and repairing the damage could run to $10,000!

Channeling melting snow runoff away from your home toward the municipal drain is the answer.

A further benefit is that downspout extensions are a cost-effective solution. Flexible extensions can even go around corners. So as long as the water flows downhill, they can move water away from awkwardly shaped plots.

Cons of Channeling Melting Snow Runoff

There are very few downsides to the actual downspout extensions themselves. First, you will need to maintain them, keeping them clean and clog-free. If they clog up with leaves or other debris, they will back up and cause the problems they’re trying to solve.

The other major drawback is that not every property is suitable for concealed downspout extensions. Some potential roadblocks include:

  • The home is surrounded by concrete
  • You are not permitted to install them by your HOA
  • Forbidden by local laws
  • No suitable place to channel water to on your property

If you can’t install underground extensions, above-ground downspout extensions may still be viable. However, they are unsightly and can become a trip hazard.

A further con is that you need to channel melting snow responsibly. You should direct it to the local sewerage system to safely remove it from your property. If not, you risk melting snow flooding into neighboring properties.

Not only is this the death knell for good neighborly relations, but you could also potentially be liable for any repairs needed to their property caused by runoff from your home.

Prepare Now for Melting Snow

The winter of 2022 was severe across much of the country. To avoid snow damage to your home now’s the time to start making preparations. Remember that melting snow is just as much of a threat to your home as the weight of snow when it falls.

Everyone should channel melting snow away from their home to where it can safely drain away. As a result, you’ll keep your basement dry, your roof in good condition – and your bank balance will thank you.

For more great hints and tips for keeping your home in top condition, check out our Home & Decor section today!

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