Niagara Gazette

Web Extra

January 31, 2014

Don't let ice, snow damage your home

WASHINGTON — Does anyone have a roof rake I can borrow?

 The recent frigid weather has brought homeowners a host of problems. Many friends and neighbors (including me) have come home in freezing temperatures to an ice-jammed gutter or the dreaded sound of dripping water because of a burst pipe. And then there is the feeling of panic when you turn on your faucet and nothing comes out.

We called an expert to ask the home maintenance questions that are on everyone's chapped lips these days. Alan Beal, president of Mid-Atlantic Inspection Services, took our questions last week in between calls from his own clients desperate for some cold-weather smarts.

Q: Does this bitter cold wave, with many days below freezing, require special care of a house?

A: Yes. A lot of times, people ignore the general recommendations of what you should do to winterize your house. Some years, you can get away with not doing some of the things, but when it gets to subfreezing temperatures . . . you can have some serious problems if you have not shut off the valves for the exterior hose connection or had your gutters cleaned.

Q: What is the definition of ice damming?

A: Ice damming is when snow melts off the roof and then refreezes because the gutters are either clogged with leaves or blocked with snow and ice or both. The melted water has nowhere to drain, so it pools and starts to back up. If you see icicles, it's a clue that this is happening. The water comes over the gutters and drips down to form icicles. So if you see them, you are at risk.

Q: Should you try and knock the icicles down?

A: Well, if they are large, they could start to pull your gutters down, and you don't want anyone to be hit by a falling icicle. So you might knock them down carefully to reduce the load on the gutter. But it won't really change your susceptibility to moisture intrusion due to ice damming. The reason you are getting them is that the water isn't draining properly.

Q: What about roof rakes?

A: Roof raking is not a bad idea because you can get rid of the snow that is melting. But you have to be very careful doing it and also be careful not to damage the roof. You can also hire gutter cleaners or roofers to rake your roof.

Q: What can you do to prevent ice damming?

A: Have your gutters cleaned four times a year, at the start of every season. It's especially important to have it done at the end of the fall. Unfortunately ice damming can happen even if you have your gutters cleaned. If you have an attic, you should add insulation to keep warm air from going up to the attic and allowing ice to form on your roof. If you have a home energy audit, they will also identify places in the attic such as the recessed lights and ductwork that should be caulked or otherwise sealed.

Q: What advice can you give us on preventing frozen pipes?

A: Make sure you know where your home's water shut-off valve is, because if you get a burst pipe, you have to turn off the water. If you have a home with additions or a crawl space, these can be big risk areas for freezing pipes because the walls aren't insulated properly. If you can get to the pipes, you should insulate them with a special black rubber foam pipe insulation that wraps around individual pipes. If you have had issues before, keep the light on in that room and use a space heater, following manufacturer's instructions for proper operation, to provide more heat to keep pipes from freezing.

Q: What's another thing to check?

A: If you have a drain line from your HVAC system or a humidifier attached to them and it drains outside, make sure to check the drain frequently in freezing weather to determine that it's not frozen.

Q: What about window condensation?

A: People with older houses and single-pane windows with no storm windows get a lot of condensation in this weather. It later can freeze, melt and damage the woodwork. You should mop up the moisture with towels and try to keep it away from the wood.

Q: If it snows a lot, what are things we should be aware of in home maintenance?

A: Make sure the exterior vents are clear, and the same with downspouts that drain and don't go into an extension. Uncover your dryer vent.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Web Extra
  • 110720 Walmart.jpg Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 22, 2014

  • Sparring justices find little disagreement at the opera

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg revealed a different view of U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday when she described about her passion for opera, one she shares with Justice Antonin Scalia.

    July 22, 2014

  • Starved Pennsylvania 7-year-old weighed only 25 pounds

    A 7-year-old Pennsylvania boy authorities described as being so underweight he looked like a human skeleton has been released from the hospital.

    July 22, 2014

  • NIA Biz Column art 1 072114 Electric cars will get charge out of new IBEW 237 battery station

    Those who drive electric cars now have a free location to stop and charge their batteries, thanks to a new charging station recently built at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 237 at 8803 Niagara Falls Blvd. Beside offering free charging, the stations gave a class of apprentice electricians a chance to learn how to assemble the stations. "We think it's a great training tool," said Russ Quarantello, a business manager for the union.

    July 21, 2014 4 Photos

  • NIA Ukraine plane art 072114 Rebels take full control of plane crash bodies

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • ent_taylorswift.jpg There's less good music now — here's why

    Taylor Swift, the seven-time Grammy winner, is known for her articulate lyrics, so there was nothing surprising about her writing a long column for The Wall Street Journal about the future of the music industry. Yet there's reason to doubt the optimism of what she had to say.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140516-recalls_1357_88cb85dbc81b724b4ae9c83db4426fd8.jpg Auto recalls break single-year US record with six months to go

    With six months left in 2014, automakers have already recalled more vehicles in the United States than in any other year on record.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Why does the Vatican need a bank?

    The Vatican Bank's history reads more like Dan Brown than the financial pages, but its worst -- and weirdest -- days may be behind it.

    July 20, 2014

  • Survey shows colleges flouting sexual assault rules

    More than 40 percent of 440 colleges and universities surveyed by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., haven't investigated a sexual assault in the past five years, according to a report released Wednesday.

    July 20, 2014

Featured Ads
House Ads
AP Video
Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page