Posts

Ice Dam Dangers

Icicles – Winter can create some beautiful scenes…Biciclesright white snow, glistening frost on the trees.  Even the frozen pond perfect for hockey.  But icicles forming on the edges of your home should send up a warning flag.

Icicles hanging from the edges of your home are often the result of an ice dam formed when melting snow or ice flows down the roof and re-freezes.  That recent beautiful snowfall can become a homeowner nightmare.

There are many approaches to resolving this issue, some more effective than others.  Here are a few tips to get you through.

  • Attic Ventilation – Be sure you have adequate ventilation at the eaves and ridge.
  • Attic Insulation – Inspect and fix any missing or damaged insulation.
  • Use Ice & Water Shield when re-roofing.

The best long term way to avoid ice dam formation and roof ice dam leaks: good ventilation and good insulation!

Looking for more immediate measures or solutions?

  • Heat Tapes or Heat Cables – Tools like these will help melt channels in the existing ice.  It’s not a great permanent fix, but its usually a good step if you’re having an issue that may result in leaking into the structure.
  • Fix Air & Heat Leaks – Attics are cooler in the winter and a great time to look for missing or gaps in insulation.  Look for dark marks that may be caused by air flow.  Attending to these leaks can help prevent or resolve the exterior Ice Dams.
  • Lower The Temperature – We know what you’re thinking…”Turn down the heat? You must be joking.”  We’re not kidding.  Making the house too warm while having improper insulation sends more heat into the attic which means more melting snow until it hits the colder roof edge and freezes.
  • Remove the Ice – sounds simple right?  There are all sorts of ideas out there to remove the ice that may have already built up on the edge of your roof.  Which ever you choose, ALWAYS keep safety your first priority.

#icedam #HomeInspection

4 Simple Checks for Winter Savings

During the cold winter months, homeowners in most of the country find it necessary to turn on the heaters to keep warm. You can save energy when heating your home by taking the time to winterize for maximum energy savings.

Create a Winter Plan

Due to increasing energy costs, winter heating will consume an increasingly larger portion of a household’s energy budget. That’s why it’s important to check your home to insure that your heating dollars aren’t being wasted.

The end of summer and the beginning of fall is a perfect time to get your home ready for the ensuing cold-weather months. Use the steps listed below to help formulate a plan to winterize.

Check for Leaks

Weather stripping and caulking are the least expensive, simplest, most effective way to reduce energy waste in the winter. Improperly sealed homes can waste 10% to 15% of a home’s heating dollars.

  1. Check around doors and windows for leaks and drafts. Add weather-stripping or caulk any holes that allow heat to escape. Make sure doors seal properly.
  2. If your windows leak badly, consider replacing them with newer, more efficient ones. Remember that replacing windows can be expensive – it could take you quite a while to recover your costs from the energy savings alone.
  3. Every duct, wire or pipe that penetrates the walls, ceiling, or floor has the potential to waste energy. Plumbing vents can be especially bad, since they begin below the floor and go all the way through the roof. Seal them all with caulking or weather-stripping.
  4. Electric wall plugs and switches allow cold air in. Pre-cut, foam gaskets that fit behind the switch plate can effectively prevent leaks.
  5. Don’t forget to close the damper on your fireplace if there is no fire burning. This acts as an open window.
  6. Examine your house’s heating ducts for leaks. Since you don’t see them every day, ducts can leak for years without you knowing it. They can become torn or crushed and flattened. Have damaged ducts repaired or replaced. Duct tape can work for a short time, but after a while, it dries up and becomes useless.

Check Your Insulation

Insulation reduces the heat flowing out of your home during the winter months. Ensuring that your home is properly insulated will help your save energy when the temperatures drop.

  1. Insulate your attic. In older homes, thin can be the most cost-efficient way to cut home heating costs. Prior to energy efficiency standards, homes were often built with little or no insulation. As a result, a large amount of heat is lost through walls, floors, and ceilings.  The amount of insulation that you should install depends upon where you live. Insulation is measured in R-values, or the resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the less resistant the product is to heat flow. Ask the salesperson at your local hardware store about the recommended R-values for your location.
  2. Weather-strip and insulate your attic hatch or door to prevent warm air from escaping out of the top of your house. Since warm air rises, this type of heat escape is common.
  3. Seal holes in the attic that lead down into the house, such as open wall tops and duct, plumbing, or electrical runs. Any hole that leads from a basement or crawlspace to an attic is a big energy waster. Cover and seal them with spray foam and rigid foam board if necessary.

 Review  your Heating System

Autumn is the perfect time to perform routine maintenance on your home’s heating system to ensure that it is running efficiently and effectively during the winter.

  1. Replace your heater’s air filter monthly. Since your heater will have to work less hard, it will run more efficiently. Cleaning and removing dust from vents or along baseboard heaters will have the same effect.
  2. If your heating system is old, you might consider updating it. A pre-1977 gas furnace is probably 50 percent to 60 percent efficient today. Modern gas furnaces, on the other hand, achieve efficiency ratings as high as 97 percent. Replacing an old heating system can cut your natural gas use nearly in half!
  3. Use your set-back thermostat if you have one. If you don’t have one, get one. A set-back thermostat allows you to automatically turn down the heat when you’re away at work or when you’re sleeping. you can then boost the temperature to a comfortable level when you need it. It takes less energy to warm a cool home than to maintain a warm temperature all day. Using a set-back thermostat can cut heating costs from 20% to 75%.Reverse the switch on your ceiling fans so they blow upward. This is especially valuable in high ceiling rooms, where heat that naturally rises is forced back down into the room.
  4. Make sure all hearing vents are opened and unblocked by furniture or other items. This will ensure that the air is evenly distributed through the home.