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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

Spring Cleaning

Spring has sprung and while we often think of “Spring Cleaning”, it’s important to consider the Exterior of your home.  After protecting and keeping you warm during the long winter, your house could use a little massage.  Preventative maintenance is crucial to the value of your home.  How do you keep the place in Tip-Top Shape?  Regular checks and simple maintenance can help you avoid expensive headaches in the future.

Outside The House

Roofs And Gutters

Brutal winter temperatures coupled with ice, snow and winds can wreak havoc on your roof.  You may want to call a contractor if you haven’t inspected your roof in several years.  Give it a good once over noting any lifting or curling areas or missing shingles.  Leaks typically occur around an inadequately flashed chimney, skylight, or other opening. They’re easiest to spot in the attic, so look closely in attic at the rafters for water stains. If you find something of concern, contact a professional for evaluation and repair.  Examine the siding under roof eaves for water or discoloration, indications that ice dams might have created leaks along the roof edge.

Next, check to see if the gutters are safely attached and haven’t sprung any leaks. Clear gutters of debris and check them for corrosion, joint separation, and loose fasteners. Flush out downspouts and be sure they are directing water away from teh foundation to prevent potential flooding.

Right The Foundation

Inspect the foundation around your house before the spring rains. Look for cracks or imperfections, and seal them or call a contractor if necessary. Hairline cracks in foundation walls might be the result of concrete curing or minor settling and aren’t automatically cause for alarm. Mark them with tape and check them again in a few months. If they’ve worsened, call a structural engineer. If they’re stable, fill them with an epoxy-injection system.

  • Fill in holes in siding and foundation walls with expandable foam.
  • Check that the ground around the foundation slopes away from the house (about 1 inch per foot).
  • Look for pellet-shaped droppings or shed wings from termites.
  • Clear the area of leaves, in which rodents can nest.

Also look for low areas in the yard near the foundation that might pool water during a heavy rain. Level these yard depressions by filling them with compacted soil. Tend to any other “ponding” areas around the yard, too, because after a hard rain, standing water can develop. These puddles can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Addtional Structures

Next time you have that craving for BBQ – be sure to take a look at the deck.  Look for water stains where the deck ties to the house. Ongoing leakage can lead to wood decay, weakening the deck structure and the house. If you have any doubt about the structure’s integrity – call a pro to check it out!

Rid your deck of moss and mold. Pressure washers are quite effective, while a stiff shop broom and a little elbow grease can go a long way too!

Looking for more spring maintenance tips?  Wondering what maintenance items to focus on?  Be sure to check our website for more Spring Maintenane Tips or download our sprint

7 Signs of Drainage Issues

colorful gutters on houseYou don’t need to be an inspector to know that puddles in the basement or a lake on the front lawn are signs of drainage trouble. But not all drainage problems are so obvious. Some can be hard to spot unless you know what to look for. Here’s how the pros read seven of the more subtle signs of potential water damage, and why you’ll save big bucks if you tackle these problems now instead of later.

1. Malfunctioning gutters

Rain cascading over the edge of a gutter means that dead leaves and debris are blocking the flow. But that’s not the only sign of malfunctioning gutters. Mud spattered on siding or paint peeling off the house in vertical strips are other indications. If left unchecked, overflowing gutters can rot siding, ruin paint jobs, even cause structural damage.

Best case: Leaves are clogging the downspout, and you just need to clear them out or hire a pro to do it (about $75).

Worst case: Gutters are undersized or improperly pitched and need to be replaced or reinstalled. That could run a few thousand dollars, but it’s still cheaper than new siding.

2. Downspouts that dump

Each inch of rain that falls on 1,000 square feet of a house produces more than 600 gallons of runoff, enough to fill 10 bathtubs to the brim. Dumping that much water too close to the foundation can send it right into the basement, where it can ruin furnishings and flooring and damage mechanical equipment.

Best case: You can add gutter extensions (about $10 for a 10-foot length) to carry the water at least five feet away from the house.

Worst case: The downspouts drop straight down behind large shrubs or other obstacles. An installer may be able to relocate the downspouts (about $150 for each one moved). If not, you’ll need to uproot landscaping to add extensions or underground piping—a sacrifice worth considering if you’ve got water infiltrating the basement.

3. Water stains in the basement

Depending on where the stain appears, you can tell whether the problem is caused by surface water, which can be easy to deal with, or water traveling underground, a more complex situation.

Best case: Stains are high on the foundation wall, indicating that the water is coming (or once came) from an overflowing gutter or surface water directed at the house.

Worst case: The stain extends in a line around the basement, indicating a high-water mark that may recur when heavy rains hit, either because of underground water or because the basement floor lies below the level of municipal storm drains that back up. In that case, an interior drain system and sump pump (around $3,000) are essential for getting the water out if the problem can’t be resolved some other way.

4. Cracks in the foundation

Hairline cracks, as thin as thread, are just cosmetic. Bigger cracks may or may not spell trouble. It depends on the width of the crack, how deep it penetrates, and whether it’s growing.

Best case: A crack appears where the builders finished installing one load of concrete and began pouring the next. Such cracks usually don’t penetrate all the way through. And even if they do, as long as they’re stable you can patch them with hydraulic cement or polyurethane caulk for less than $20.

Worst case: Cracks are continuing to widen, indicating that a drainage problem may be ruining the foundation. Call a structural engineer (not a contractor or waterproofing expert) to diagnose the problem, assess the risk, and suggest a repair.

5. Flaking and deposits on walls

If you see areas of white or gray crust on the basement walls, that’s efflorescence, mineral deposits left behind by evaporating water. Or the wall may be flaking off in big patches, a condition called spalling.

Best case: The efflorescence points to a place where moisture is condensing. It doesn’t cause structural problems, but you may want to scrape off the crust if it looks ugly.

Worst case: The wall is spalling because water is getting inside the masonry. Spalling can be just superficial, but if it’s deep and widespread, it may be a sign of freeze/thaw damage that could progressively weaken the foundation.

6. Mildew in the attic

The attic might seem like a strange place to look for drainage problems, but mildew on the underside of the roof can be a tipoff to serious trouble at the ground level.

Best case: Bathroom fans are spewing hot air directly into the attic, where it condenses on the cold back side of the roof and causes mildew. Venting the fan through an outside wall or the roof (about $200) solves the problem.

Worst case: Moisture from the basement or crawl space is rising through the house and condensing on the underside of the roof. In that case, you’ve got to find and stop the source of the dampness under the house. Then you may have to replace roof sheathing and shingles, a job that runs $6,000 to $9,000 for the typical house.

7. Migrating mulch

When soil doesn’t drain properly, rain may run off in sheets, carving gulleys in the landscape, dumping silt on pathways, and carrying piles of mulch or wood chips where they don’t belong.

Best case: For a few hundred dollars, you can hire a landscaper to create a simple berm (a soil mound) or swale (a wide, shallow ditch) to redirect the water flow away from the house. 

Worst case: You notice the problem when your concrete patio cracks, or paving stones start popping up, because the gravel or sand base material has washed away. After redirecting the water, you’ll need to excavate the patio and start again.

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/articles/drainage-warning-sides/#ixzz1Ymku9vbH