Unprepared homeowners, especially in the South where snowstorms are infrequent, can expect extensive damage and expensive repairs.

Here are five steps you can take to limit the damage.

Check the forecast

Sudden changes in temperature can cause snow to melt rapidly, increasing the risk of meltwater and flooding. Watch the forecasts to get an idea of how quickly you should act to prevent water damage.

Homeowners who live near rivers and lakes sometimes have to drive faster than others. Cold temperatures often cause ice jams, which occur when pieces of floating ice accumulate and block the flow of water.

The biggest problem with ice dams is flooding, says Jennifer Gray, CNN meteorologist. The most common places for ice to build up are usually near bridges and river bends. When large chunks of ice flow over the bridge, it acts as a dam forcing the water to retreat behind it.

The risk does not necessarily decrease when the ice begins to melt. Instead, it can cause more water leakage and contribute to flooding.

To reduce damage from snowmelt and flooding, Erie Insurance advises homeowners to shovel and remove debris and snow from nearby storm drains.

Removing snow from your house

Snow should be removed from the house before it begins to melt.

One cubic foot of compressed snow contains two to three gallons of water, according to the University of North Dakota. When the snow melts, it sucks up everything in its path.

The NDSU advises homeowners to shovel snow several feet away from their homes to prevent water from dripping onto basement walls, seeping in and causing damage.

Removing snow from the roof before the temperature rises can also help prevent serious leaks. A 1,000-square-foot roof covered with one foot of snow holds 2,500 gallons of water, according to NDSU.

Check the gutters. Even if they are clean, water can turn into ice and cause blockages that lead to the formation of puddles, large and small.

And don’t forget to clear small spaces – shovel the snow from basement windows, doors and outside stairs, advises Bieritz Insurance Agency. According to the insurance company’s website, melting snow and ice can cause flooding in Cooperstown, New York.

Test your flood protection

A submersible pump, which pumps excess water out of the basement through a pressure line, can be installed at the lowest point of the house to prevent flooding.

If you have one, take this simple test to see if it works: Pour water into the well around the pump, which will raise the float and start the engine. When the water poured into the well begins to flow, your home must be protected from flooding.

Some submersible pumps are powered by water, others by electricity. In this case, you will need to install a second power source, such as a backup battery or generator.

SEC America Corp, which distributes replacement batteries, states: The backup battery for submersible pumps ensures that your pump will continue to operate even if the power goes out due to a power outage. Since most well pump failures are electrical rather than mechanical in nature, installing a battery backup system is one of the most effective ways to prevent pump failures.

Turn off the water

Cold temperatures can cause water pipes to freeze, crack or burst.

Frozen pipes are one of the leading causes of property damage when temperatures drop, according to the Insurance Institute for Home and Business Safety.

I hope you took precautions before the winter storms to protect your pipes from freezing. According to the IBHS, the most common methods are to insulate the pipes and raise the thermostat in your home.

If your pipes are frozen, you will notice when your faucets become clogged or stop delivering water.

Because frozen pipes often cause cracks, shut off the water before the ice melts. This will prevent water from entering your home and causing costly damage.

Then call the plumbing company for help. They can defrost the pipes, check for cracks, and make repairs before the problem becomes too big.

Sweep your house

Sometimes, despite all your efforts, snow does fall on your home.

When this happens, you need to act fast. Dry any building materials or wet items such as carpets, furniture, insulation and drywall to prevent mold and other damage, explains Erie Insurance.

The longer you wait, the greater the damage – and the more expensive the repairs are likely to be.

You should also document the incident by taking photos and videos of the damage before and after the contact. That way, when you report it to the insurance company, you have the evidence to support your claim.

CNN’s Pedram Jawaheri and Alison Chinchar contributed to this report.

frequently asked questions

What happens when the snow has melted?

As the sun shines and the earth warms, the snow begins to melt and run off. Runoff water can infiltrate into the soil where it contributes to plant growth. If the soil is already saturated (enough water), runoff water flows (comes?) into lakes, streams, rivers, and other water bodies.

How to prevent snowmelt floods

How to protect your property from flooding when the snow melts.

How does melting snow affect flooding?

Snowmelt and Flooding In addition to flooding, the rapid melting of snow can also cause landslides and debris flows. In alpine areas such as Switzerland, snow melt is an important component of runoff. In combination with special weather conditions, such as. B. abundant precipitation during snowmelt, which can even be a major cause of flooding.

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