Heritage Restoration, Inc.

2013 Winter Has Come

So far, this winter has given us a glimpse of what the season will bring. We had some pretty strong weather, from wind, to snow, to freezing cold. These extremes are what make living in Rhode Island so special. They also wreak havoc on buildings and grounds. The resulting dynamics between keeping us warm and comfy inside and brutally cold outside reveal clues on building performance.

Frozen gutters

Ice flowing over and through gutters and overhangs are symptoms of a few potential problems. If everyone has it then the weather is terrible, starting with snow, melting and refreezing seemingly instantly. The only thing you can do for that is move south. On the other hand, ice damming is when warm air inside your house melts the roof’s snow and refreezes in the gutter. This is from poor or missing insulation. The remedy is properly insulating the roof to the overhang, or to install an ice melt cable system. There are many kinds, so make sure you follow directions and get the right kind, or hire a professional. Ice from behind the gutter or through overhang requires the roof to gutter system to be repaired or your gutters cleaned.

Snow Control

The storm a few weeks ago was apparently a surprise for many. It wasn’t the amount, but that it stayed cold for so long. The window to remove that snow was about 10 hours and if you didn’t get rid of it, it stayed for about two weeks. Install a weather app on your phone, watch the news, read the papers, and if it stays below freezing for more than a day clean your paths. Throw down some ice melt on walks to prevent snow and ice from sticking. There are laws requiring snow removal on sidewalks and even bus stops outside your store or house, so please do it. That snow and cold scenario was the perfect reason to shovel when you should.

Air Flow

A good reason to build a house is to keep the chill out. Although it seems most buildings breathe a bit more than they should. While construction methods and codes are getting better, many houses leak like sieves. Preventing air flow is key to your comfort, health and keeping your building efficient and healthy. The goal is to stop the air but how is the problem. The quick methods are from putting plastic over windows, to sticking backer rod foam rods in holes and cracks. Spray foam is good in many places, such as between a wood and masonry interface like a sill to foundation, although it does not belong inside masonry walls replacing missing mortar. Use blankets, heavy curtains and other covering to reduce draft and increase heat or cold transfer.

The keys to an existing heating system’s efficiency are cleanliness and functionality. If you have not done so already, get your boiler or furnace serviced. Also make sure your delivery system is set properly. Each type (be it steam, hot water or air) has manual or electronic controls to open and close them, increasing or decreasing heat into a space. Baseboard heat has louvers to open, steam has a valve, air has louvers, so be sure each is in the proper position.

So keep your eyes and ears out, and listen and watch you house for the winter clues.

I also was reminded of tile refinishing options I missed in the last column. The reader’s question was about bad grout and if they should use a coating system over the tile. I stand by the advice of not using a coating system for bad grout alone, but there are choices for ugly tile. Store bought tile-refinishing systems are like many consumer-based systems, they are just not as good as commercial products. The formulations are stronger, bonding is better, and a professional has the experience to apply and make the product look right. And if they mess it up, they own it. If you don’t like what you bought and applied, you are stuck with it. If you hire someone, they have to stand by it for one year. But that only works if you call them back and complain, so speak out! Thank you for the emails.

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