This region is hard on houses. For those of us living in the midwest, things can be quite varied in the winter. Unlike the great north, it does not get cold and stay cold here. And unlike the south, we don’t stay above freezing. We actually get the worst weather of all. Sure, in our area (the Kansas City metroplex), we can have some sunny warm days throughout the winter. It’s not unusual to reach 50 or 60 degrees in December, and our really cold weather comes around late January and February. We like to grill out on these warmer days, and go for walks in light jackets. We feel lucky to get some light rain instead of snow. It seems easier than the long days of winter up north where it gets down to freezing in November and stays freezing until March. Unless you’re a house. Recently our weather has been somewhat warm, in the 40s. We’ve had a lot of fog, rain and cloudy days. No ice on the driveway and leaving for work in the mornings is just easier when the temperature is above freezing. But our houses are getting soaked. Water is seeping into cracks and soaking under paint. Our gutters may have leaves in them that are now full of water. Then, here’s the mean trick. We get a real freeze like last night. A freeze that makes the puddles on the driveway so clear and hard we don’t even see the black ice. All that moisture and water soaked into our house is freezing too. With that freeze come expansion. And presto, our houses have just experienced one of the harshest conditions in the country. Here’s what to look for in the spring when things thaw out. Your gutters may have pulled away from the house with the ice load. If there are no deicing wires on the house, it’s likely the downspouts have been frozen solid and torn up a little. Every place water soaked in under paint, is now under threat of that paint popping off. Caulk, snap-on vinyl window trim, joints in the siding, all these things are subject to the harsh effect of soaking and freezing. In addition anything ceramic or clay on our patios is freezing and expanding too. Those big clay pots out on our patio loose a little layer of material at the very bottom every year. Freezing and popping. So even though we get to grill out in mid December, we’ll have to do some repairs in April. Put it on the list. Reattach loose gutters and downspouts. Inspect the roof for loose or missing shingles, especially in the valleys. Touch up paint and caulk where it has popped loose, even the best paint on the market has a hard time standing up to the forces of freezing water. And don’t forget to have the trees cleaned up where limbs broke and fell. It’s all part of living the the great midwest. It’s a sneaky trick, these warm, rainy days, turning into damaging, freezing nights.