Grab your gloves, scarf, and warmest winter jacket, because it is that time of year to bundle up! Temperatures have dropped significantly and you may have already seen some mild snow accumulation in your area. Bundling up may be your body’s way of protecting itself from freezing temperatures, but what about your home?
It is no secret that very cold temperatures can take a toll on your home, but there are some steps you can take to help lessen the blow of freezing, and below freezing temperatures.
Insulating your home will not only help to lessen your energy bills, and decrease heat loss, but it can also help to prevent more serious problems like ice damming. Most homeowners aren’t aware that ice damming that forms on the edge of your roof and/or on your gutter system primarily comes from heat loss within your attic. This heat that is escaping from your home is melting the ice/snow on your roof which then flows down to your roof’s edge and gutter system in the form of water. When this water hits the, still cold, surface of the gutters and the end of your roof, it refreezes causing ice dams and icicles. Severe ice dams can damage your home and/or pull down your gutter system. Insulation is the first step to preventing this, but there are also proactive solutions for ice damming. We offer a heated gutter system to help melt these ice dams. See more HERE. It is important to check the insulation of your attic, crawlspace, basement, and exterior walls, and to reinsulate if any of these areas are experiencing heat loss.
Keep attic vents and soffits clear
When insulating, however, it is extremely important to make sure that your attic vents and soffits are clear. Blocking these air vents is a very common mistake that people unknowingly make when installing insulation, or repairing soffits. These vents allow for the natural flow of cooler air to enter your attic which helps it to remain a bit cooler, again helping to prevent ice damming. If the attic is very warm, it will naturally heat up the roof leading to the same result of heat loss mentioned above. It may seem like an oxymoron to insulate your house for warmth, and then create a natural flow of cool air to enter the attic, but this perfect combination is key to protecting your home in the most energy-efficient way.
Clean your gutters
Making sure your gutters are clean prior to freezing temperatures and snow storms is another key factor to preventing ice buildup and ice damming. If your gutters are clogged, they cannot work properly, and ice will begin to form on top of all the clogged debris, which can also increase the chances of roof ice buildup. Even in the dead of winter, temperatures do fluctuate. Meaning, that there are times in winter where the temperature will reach above freezing, and during these times the ice in your gutter will begin to melt. If your gutters are clean, the ice, that is now water, will flow naturally, as it should, through your gutters. But, if they are clogged, the water will just sit in your gutter, which means all that water will refreeze in your gutter again when temperatures decrease. This continued buildup will put a heavy weight on your gutters, causing potential for them to be pulled down and even potential for roof damage.
Shut off water to outside faucets
Your outside hoses, and plumbing will continue to have water running through them if the water line is not shut off. Prior to winter, it is best to disconnect any hoses from your outside water line, and drain them. After doing so, you can turn off the water and cover the hose connection for insulation.
Insulate exposed pipes
Like 4, any pipes within your home, especially those near exterior walls and in colder areas like basements and attics should be properly insulated. This will help to not only decrease energy bills by decreasing heat loss, but it will also help to keep your water hotter. One of the most important reasons that pipe insulation is key, is to prevent pipes from bursting in extreme cold. Pipes that burst can cause a ton of expensive headaches that you do not want. Pipes can burst when a waterline freezes because when water freezes, it expands causing pressure on the pipes.
Trim large tree branches near your home
This may be one thing you didn’t think of, but it is important, especially if you have large trees close to your home. When tree branches build up with snow and ice, they get heavy. Often, depending on the winter, the ice and snow is too heavy for the tree branch to handle, meaning that the branch will likely break. This branch, if directly over your home, can land right on your roof. Depending on the size of the branch, and the added weight of the buildup, this could potentially damage your roof and home’s exterior.
Check your roof tiles
Remaining on the topic of your roof, it is very important to inspect your roof prior to the first snowfall. Why? If there are areas of your roof that are rotting, or in bad shape, these areas are likely softer than the rest of the roof. Soft spots mean potential for caving in when additional weight is added to the roof. During snow, especially big storms, several inches of snow buildup can be extremely heavy. If the roof is not in proper working condition, it may not be able to hold this weight, and that is when the potential for roof damage, and caving in of the rotted areas could occur.
To avoid any large potential headaches that can be associated with any of these winter woes, it is very important to winterize your home, and perform some inspections prior to winter. Just as you protect yourself from the cold, you should also be protecting your home. Some of these tasks can be completed by the homeowner, and some are best left to the professionals. Remember to abide by all safety instructions when climbing a ladder.
The Brothers that just do Gutters connect to several different value-based contractors in the area. We can provide you with recommendations for free home inspections, or other services needed to help winterize your home. For recommendations, or for any of your gutter needs give The Brothers a call!