Preventing Ice Dams
Ice dams are formed when air in the attic is warm enough to cause snow and ice on the roof to thaw and refreeze repeatedly. Pools of water then become trapped under layers of ice that seep under your roof covering (tiles or shingles) into the attic.
1. Insulate the floor of the attic. Consider also using a dehumidifier to control water vapor.
2. Seal all openings that would allow vapor to rise into the attic; this includes any holes created from installing light fixtures or ceiling fans.
3. Provide good attic ventilation to replace warm air in the attic with cold outside air. Consult a professional for the best way to avoid ice dams and water damage in your home.
4. Keep gutters and downspouts clear to allow melted snow and ice to flow away from your home.
5. Never climb up on the roof to remove the snow. You can cause significant damage to your roof coverings not to mention yourself if you were to slip and fall. And don’t install large pieces of equipment in the attic. This will only raise the temperature in the winter months.
6. Don’t use salt or other minerals to melt the snow on your roof. These are very damaging to roof shingles and tiles not to mention gutters and downspouts.
Prevent Frozen Pipes
Damage from frozen pipes is the second most common cause of insurance claims in America. The average homeowner will have to spend thousands to repair damage from a frozen, leaking pipes.
7. FOAM: Insulate pipes exposed to the elements or cold drafts. For as little as $1 per 6’ of insulation, you can stop pipes from freezing and save energy. By keeping your water warmer, you reduce the amount of energy needed to heat water in the cold, winter months.
8. DOME: Place an insulating dome or other coverings on outdoor faucets and spigots also reduce the likelihood of the water in your homes pipes freezing, expanding and causing a costly leak.
9. DRIP: By allowing a slow drip from your faucets, you reduce the build-up of pressure in the pipes. Even if the pipes freeze, you have released the pressure from the water system reducing the likelihood of a rupture.
Check Your Insulation
Doors and windows are just some of the places that you should ensure are well insulated before the temperatures start to drop.
10. Check and refresh caulk annually before cold weather sets in.
11. Check for air leaks around windows and doors using a lit incense stick. If the smoke is sucked out of an opening, seal the leak with caulk, spray foam or weather stripping.
12. The easiest place to insulate that will generate the biggest results is your attic. The US Environmental Protection Agency suggests at least 12 – 15 inches of insulation on the floor of your attic (more if you are in a colder climate).
13. If you don’t have energy efficient windows, consider using shrink film window insulation kit from a local hardware store.
Winterizing Outside Your Home
14. Before the storm approaches, lay down a layer of deicing sand/salt to minimize the buildup of ice during the storm.
15. After the storm, lay down layers of deicing sand/salt to melt the snow and ice. Once it begins to melt you can chip away at the layers with a snow shovel to move it off of steps and walkways.
16. Move outdoor furniture, grills, toys and other items to a covered protected space.
17. Seal your deck to protect it against snow, ice, rain and all of the other elements it is vulnerable to.
18. If you have plants outside that cannot take cold weather, consider moving them indoors bringing a little life and décor to the inside of your home. If this isn’t possible, cover plants and shrubs when temperatures are forecast to drop below tolerable levels.
19. Clean your gutters of any debris once all the leaves have fallen and install gutter downspout extensions a minimum of four feet from the house.
20. Turn off and drain all of your outdoor plumbing including hose connections, pool connections, sprinkler systems, etc. After you’ve turned off the water, leave faucets in the “on” position and remove any plastic components.
21. Drain the gas from your lawn mower and service your snow blower with a tune-up.
For more information on weathering winter this season, visit www.greatwinterweatherparty.org or www.flash.org