How to Remove Ice Dams

How to Remove Ice Dams

You may have seen big icicles hanging from your home but didn’t realize just how much damage they can cause.  Icicles mean that you have ice dams on your roof and that is a problem.  We will show you what causes and how to remove ice dams from your roof.

What are Ice Dams?

An ice dam is simply a wall of ice that gathers at the edge of the roof where your rain gutters are.  If your gutters are clogged and the water gathers there and freezes it forms an ice dam.  Once this large chunk of ice starts to melt it can seep into your home damaging everything from the attic, insulation to your walls.

Why Do Ice Dams Form?

Ice dams are caused by a couple of different factors, the most common being the gutters weren’t cleaned out of leaves in the fall before the really cold weather hit.  Another reason is that your attic isn’t properly ventilated.  You get warm spots in your attic that starts to melt the snow even when it is really cold outside.  This melted snow runs down the roof until it reaches the gutters where it freezes once again.

How Do You Remove an Ice Dam?

You need to be very careful removing an ice dam, not only is your roof going to be extremely slippery but you need to make sure you don’t damage your home.  Don’t walk on a roof covered in snow and ice, rather you want to get in a roofing contractor to have a look. They have the right equipment to remove the ice dam safely.

Some companies will tell you to remove the gutters in order to rid yourself of the ice dam, not the greatest idea you can end up with extensive water damage if you do so.  You need to first get the snow completely off your roof.  You can use a rake and a broom to remove the snow banks on the roof.  Be careful that you don’t damage any of the shingles.  You don’t have to remove all of the ice from the gutters, once the snow is removed the ice dam will melt as the weather warms up.

Preventing Ice Dams

If you want to prevent ice dams from coming back in the future the first thing you want to do is to make sure that the gutters are cleaned out in the fall.  After that you will need to make sure that your attic is adequately ventilated.  Talk to a local roofing contractor or even an insulation company to see if you need your vents replaced for larger vents.

Big icicles hanging off the side of your home may be interesting to look at but they are dangerous and need to be removed as soon as possible. It indicates a bigger problem, you have an ice dam and if left alone it can damage your roof and cause leaks.  Ice dams are one of the reasons it is so important to have your gutters cleaned before the cold weather comes.

Should You Fix or Replace Your Windows

Should You Fix or Replace Your Windows

Your windows are old, ugly and they are a pain to open and close.  You might be thinking that it is time they are replaced and despite the high cost of replacing your window it will be worth it because of what you will save on your heating bills.

Think again…

There are cheaper and easier ways to cut down on those heating bills that won’t cost you thousands of dollars.  Now you’re wondering, should you replace your windows or repair them, read on and we can help you make that decision.

Rotten Wood Around the Windows

Rotten wood around the windows including the frames and sashes will allow water and cold air to come into your home. The wood can rot because of age or exposure to the weather.  If you only have minor spots of rot then you can fix the area with a bit of epoxy, bear in mind that these windows often look far worse than they actually are. If the rot is extensive then it is time to replace the window.

Broken Window Panes

You may think that a broken window pane automatically means you should replace your windows.  If you have newer and less expensive vinyl windows then yes, you should replace them.  If you live in an older home with vintage windows then get someone into to fix the broken pane.

Broken Seals

When you have windows that are double or even triple paned, the seals between them can get destroyed.  Once the seals have broken you get condensation between the panes and you can’t see out of your windows anymore.  Once your seals break there really isn’t much that you can do to save the window pane.  You can replace them depending on the size of the window or you can opt to replace the pane and sash.

Windows That Won’t Stay Open or Closed

With older windows they don’t always open and close as smoothly as new windows.  Over the years dirt and grit ends up in the tracks, sashes get painted shut and the hardware can break.  If it is just the windows painted shut you can get a utility knife and break the seal.  Cleaning out the tracks is fairly easy and you can do that yourself.  Broken hardware can also be replaced but with older windows it may be impossible to find the parts and in that case it may time to replace the windows.

Drafty Windows

Windows aren’t supposed to let in the cold air but as they get older the caulking breaks down, the weather stripping comes of and the wood that holds the panes in places starts to rot.  You can repair all of these windows with a little bit of caulking or some weather stripping.  In this case it is easier to repair, replacements are expensive and it won’t lower your heating costs enough to justify the expense.

So should you replace or repair your windows?  In most cases you are better off repairing them, if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself then

5 Tips for Winterizing Your Home

5 Tips for Winterizing Your Home

A long harsh winter can happen in any given year and it has the potential to some significant damage to your home, it is in your best interest to prepare ahead of time.  If you aren’t sure where to start then let us give you 5 tips to winterize your home before the first snowflake drops.

Insulate the Windows

One of the biggest areas of heat loss is your windows.  Drafts from the windows can make your home colder and drive up your winter energy bills.  Just sealing the drafts can lower the cost of heating your home but as much as 20% and your home will be far more comfortable.  The good news is that sealing your windows is quick and inexpensive, here are a couple of ways to do so.

  • Cover them in clear plastic sheeting. You can get clear plastic sheeting from the local hardware store, it comes with 2 sided tape and you cover your window and then seal it with a hair dryer.  In the spring you can take off the tape with a little rubbing alcohol and it won’t damage your window frames.
  • Use caulking in the gaps. If there are any gaps around the window then fill them in with caulking, it will keep the cold air out.
  • Use a draft snake kit on doors and window. If cold air is coming in from the bottom of the windows and doors then a draft snake kit, a foam tube with a fabric cover can be put underneath and then you shut the doors and windows blocking out the cold air.

Get Your HVAC System Inspected

The last thing you want is for your furnace to go out in the middle of the winter.  In the fall have a local HVAC company come in a do a maintenance inspection to make sure the system is running smoothly and if there are any problems you can deal with them early.  You also want to make sure you change the air filters so your furnace doesn’t have to work twice as hard to push air through a dirty filter.

Prune Your Trees

Tree branches get ice build-up throughout the winter and that gets heavy.  Older trees with rotten branches can’t handle the weight of the ice and snow, the next thing you know you have tree branches crashing into your roof.  Keep tree branches at least 3 feet away from the roof and power lines if you can.

Check Your Roof for Issues

You do not want to have to climb your roof in February to clean off six inches of snow so that you can find a leak.  If you can even find a roofer to do it, it will cost you a small fortune.  Instead, in the late fall before the weather gets too cold inspect the roof for any potential issues you can fix before the snow flies.  Look for shingles that are broken or curling, missing shingles, moss or lichen growing on the roof or rust spots around the flashing.  All of these indicate problems that you need to get fixed.  Here is how you can inspect your roof.

Check the Gutters and Downspouts

You should clean out your gutters every fall as a rule anyway, leaves and other debris can clog the gutters and cause you a bunch of problems. Clear the gutters and make sure the gutters are firmly attached to your home with no sagging or trapped water anywhere.