Winter storms create problems with landscapes, plumbing and foundations

January 15, 2019 - 6:03 am
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The Kansas City area is bracing for another blast of winter weather as residents continue to clean up the damage from the last one.

Homeowners who have limbs and trees down because of the heavy snow should consider calling professionals, because the process of cutting wood and cleaning it up can be hazardous, experts say. 

Not all tree services remove brush. Those that do are mostly booked solid. 

"I have a really long driveway, so I spent a couple of hours just trying to get myself out where limbs have fallen," said Joe Hendrickson, who owns Hendrickson Tree Care. "Now I'm working on my clients' properties, clearing driveways."

Even if a tree has lost a large portion of its mass, it still has a chance to be saved by a trained arborist. Clearing snow from low-hanging branches is okay, but it can be dangerous to use a ladder, Hendrickson said.

Frozen pipes are a concern for a lot of homeowners who are still waiting to have their electricity restored.

The trick to keeping pipes from freezing is to keep the water moving, even in a cold house, said Steve Connolly of Connolly Plumbing.

"Make sure that you let both sides trickle, the hot and the cold," Connolly said. "But even more than a trickle; you want (the stream) to be the size of a pencil lead."

Basic plumbing repairs can run $300 to $600 if the problem is caught early. The longer water sprays inside the house the more damage it causes.

The winter process of freezing and thawing can cause a lot of problems with basements and foundations. 

The latest storm can cause cracks in foundations because of all the water that will be introduced into the soil from thawing snow. 

"We've been experiencing drought conditions over the middle to late part of 2018, which creates settlement issues," said Aaron Goucher of Olshan Foundation Solutions.

After a big rain or snow, the issues can worsen.

"We're going to see the soils begin to rehydrate, and overhydrate in some cases, which will cause walls to begin to be pushed in from hydrostatic pressure," Goucher said.

The sooner cracks in the foundation are addressed, the cheaper repairs will be.

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