With more daylight in store you may be admiring the beautiful blanket of snow on your roof. A couple of questions may come to mind:
- Will such a natural beauty cause damage to our home? Possibly.
- Will this blanket of snow help in keep our home more insulated? Yes, but not in a good way and here's why.
By having additional snow on your roof will insulate but it is a type of insulation that you do not want as the attic area was designed to keep cool. With this blanket of snow it could create problems such as an "Ice Dam".
What is an Ice Dam? It is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of the roof. This ridge can continue growing over time without being detected.
How does an Ice Dam form? When temperatures in your attic gets "above" the freezing mark, the snow begins to melt trickling down your shingles, again being undetected for a matter of time. During this melting phase, water will run down your roof but will begin to freeze again once it reaches the cooler area of your eaves. Repeating this process will allow the ice to build up and cause damage.
What damage could an Ice Dam do?
- You may experience leaking in your home in areas such as a ceiling fixture, above windows or any areas that the vapor barrier has been cut in the construction or remodel process allows warmer air to escape.
- The ice dam eventually will back its way up the roof, traveling under the shingles making its way to the plywood creating other leaks and problems.
What ways can we identify a possible Ice Dam problem?
- Unexplained areas on your roof that are more clear of snow than others.
What ways can we fix this problem?
- Carefully remove the snow from your roof either by using a "roof rake" and/or a push broom working upwards from the lower area of the dam.
- Be careful not to chop or otherwise damage the roof itself. If the ice is too thick, just remove the snow.
A word of caution: Working on a roof during the winter months is risking damage to the roof and your house. Contacting a professional may be beneficial to assure the job is done correctly thus protecting your home and its value.
So what is the most common damage behind walls, you ask? Water damage. Water damage, as we are aware, can be caused by roof leaks, window leaks and plumbing leaks. But also, there is "condensation".
Now that winter is just around the corner and the air is beginning to get drier in our homes, so many households are tempted to pull out their humidifier for the season. Although this is helpful for our skin and sinuses, it can be harmful to our homes. Humidifiers can create too much condensation, if not monitored correctly and can lead to other problems such as mold.
Mold spores are everywhere but they need the right amount of moisture to grow. By understanding this, look for signs of too much humidity and possible condensation problems. Some are as follows:
- Excess moisture on the interior of your windows is a huge sign of too much humidity.
- Attic condensation. This can be avoided by making sure you have the proper ventilation.
- Check the corners & walls in basements, especially if you use them rarely. Temperatures will differ from the center of the room compared to the cooler areas near the masonry walls and behind large furniture. Encourage air flow by allowing ample room around your items.
- By properly insulating or wrapping your pipes in your crawl space will prevent pipes from what we hear called "sweating" which is actually condensation. This will invite mold to grow.
- Air exchange throughout your home, no matter what time of the year, is beneficial.
By keeping an eye on excess moisture will keep your home in good condition and your family members safe & healthy.
Regular home maintenance is key to assure your home retains its value as well as keep you from having major headaches for something that could have been a simple fix. Ignored and the small issues turn in to larger problems.
- Water line connections: If you have just purchased your home or even been in your current home for an extended period of time, it may be wise to check your water line connections for leaks. These tips are for your washer, dishwasher and any other appliance connections. Experts recommend changing standard rubber hoses to stainless steel reinforced hoses. A copper line is more flexible and durable than plastic lines for a refrigerator or icemaker. The plastic may become brittle and break causing water damage. If you have moved appliances for cleaning or a recent home renovation, be sure to check to see if lines were crimped in the process. This may not be leaking now but may surprise you one day.
- Toilets, sinks & showers: Many floods in the home include toilets or sinks. Inspect these annually and be sure to use the proper reinforced hose by asking an expert. Examine the tile, caulking and grout; a minor crack these can be a source for a leak that is hard to detect until it is too late.
- Water heater: The addition of a drain pan is a simple fix for under your hot water heater for peace of mind.
- Crawl spaces: If you are using this space for storage, consider using plastic or rubber type storage bins. This will defer any wetness as well as mold prevention.
Minimal investments will keep your "major" investment in prime condition; thus leaving you with less stress in your life and more time to enjoy your home.
The end of the summer rains are a sure indicator to prepare your home for the upcoming winter season.
Let's begin at the top and work our way down. By cleaning your roof and gutters of leaves and other debris you will assure proper drainage. Reattaching or securing your downspouts to guide this rain water away from your foundation is key. Many experts suggest a downspout that extends at least five to six feet for best results.
While cleaning your roof and gutters you will notice which trees are the main culprits. Trimming your trees will not only keep them healthy and attractive, but will help to prevent them from possibly causing further damage to your home.
After checking your downspouts, take note at the grade of the landscape next to your home. This should be sloped "away" from the foundation. If it isn't, this is the time for correcting the problem. Always inspect the interior of your foundation for dampness in case there are leaks.
If you have a home that requires a sump pump in the lower level of your home, it has been suggested these pumps be tested monthly so there are no surprises when you really need it.
It takes effort for preventative maintenance but it is all worth it and cheaper in the long run!