Heritage Restoration, Inc.

Winter is Coming

Winter is coming. No one can tell you if this winter will be warm and dry or cold and wet, but in this world, only winter is certain. The past few years have given us every kind of winter, although last year’s weather was enough to make anyone paranoid.

I consider November as the start of winter with bouts of snow and cold, but last year we did not see any significant cold or wet weather until the end of January.   Then it snowed, and didn’t melt, and snowed again, and didn’t melt, and this went on. The bad part of the weather was in the sustained cold and accumulated snow and ice. This snow and ice wreaked havoc on many old and new buildings. The ice dams were so severe that contractors and homeowners were up on ladders trying to chip off ice, lay stockings full of rock salt, or just watching and weeping as the water ran into their buildings.

There are ways to fix ice dams, although typically it can be complicated and expensive. The problems comes two main issues. The first is the insulation was done wrong. The second is that there is little or no insulation at all. So many buildings either need to breathe more and other breathe less. If you were not able to do anything to prevent ice dams, here is some last minute advice to get prepared.New England fall

Clean Your Gutters. Ice dams start with trapped water. Mark your calendar to clean your gutters by the first week of December. If you are proactive, clean them now then at the end of November. Anyone that climbs a ladder can do this.

Keep the Attic Cold. Knowing your house means looking at the way it was built and modified. Many houses have a cold roof system, where the insulation is on the attic floor. The cold roof system prevents ice damming by keeping your roof cold. If the roof gets warm then the snow melts and refreezes over the gutter, causing the ice to grow and leak into your house. The best cold roof advice is to keep the attic cold. You can open vents, install screened louvers in a window, or do whatever means possible to keep the attic below freezing.

Install A Roof Ice Melt Systems. If your rafters, roof, or cathedral ceiling is insulated with fiberglass or blown in insulation and you had ice damming, then the solution is a bit more difficult, and mostly too late. I don’t consider a roof ice melt system a fix to a problem, but rather a way to prevent a problem. There are many kinds of systems, so pick the one that suits you. Some turn on automatically and some manually. It’s pretty easy to put in, just try fill or cover any holes you make in your roof with a roof mastic or sealant.

Clean Your Roof. So let’s say you are an optimistic risk taker, do nothing, and we end up with Snowmageddon. If your home is prone to ice damming buy a snow roof rake now or have someone on speed dial that can rake your roof. This is better insurance than actually using your insurance. Many homeowners have discovered that homeowner insurance policies cover only about 75% of the actual repair costs, not counting the deductable.

I have found being an optimist or a pessimist is not as good as being a practical planner.