Winter Home Maintenance

Stay ahead of ice dams. Ice dams form because the edges of a home’s roof are colder than the upper regions (where more insulation is below), causing ice to form around the eaves. Snow melts above, and the melted snow backs up behind a “dam” of ice, potentially causing leaks and permanent damage to the roof and home (Hint: Prevention is far easier than treatment!) 

Before winter weather sets in:
Remove debris from gutters — water can back up, causing leaks and ice dams or damage to your roof and siding.
Inspect and upgrade attic insulation and ventilation.
Purchase a roof rake.
Remove snow as quickly as possible after storms — use your roof rake to regularly remove snow from the roof of your home (or hire someone to do this for you).

What to do if you notice the beginnings of an ice dam:
Carefully remove snow and ice if possible without damaging roof and gutters.
If you have heat cables, turn them on. Heat cables cannot prevent or fully remove ice dams, but can melt enough of the ice to create a channel for water to flow out, preventing some damage.

2. Keep an eye on trees. Big snowfalls and ice can settle onto tree limbs, making them heavy and more prone to breaking — which can be especially dangerous if a tree is within reach of your house. Ease the burden on your trees by brushing off snow after each snowfall, using a broom to extend your reach. Don’t shake the tree to remove snow, since this can cause brittle limbs to break. 

3. Keep paths cleared of snow and ice. Regular shoveling (or snow blowing) is the best way to keep walkways, driveways and sidewalks safe and ice-free all winter. Keep some pet- and plant-safe ice melt or sand on hand to provide traction on stairs and other slippery areas.

4. Have your fireplace cleaned. If you haven’t done so yet, have your fireplace cleaned by a certified chimney sweep. Regular cleaning is a necessary safety measure for wood-burning fireplaces and wood stoves, since buildup of creosote (from past fires) inside the chimney can potentially cause a house fire. Gas fireplaces should be checked too —even though gas is a clean-burning fuel, there could be an old nest or other debris blocking the chimney.

5. Prevent frozen pipes. Because water expands as it freezes, frozen pipes can burst, leading to extensive water damage and costly repairs. 

Steps to prevent pipes from freezing in winter:
Insulate pipes — at least those by windows and doors, and in unheated areas of the home.
Disconnect your hose from the outside hose bib (outside faucet).
If prone to freezing, leave faucets dripping slightly — the theory is that running water does not freeze.
Keep the heat set no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit when you are away.

Too late? Here’s what to do if a pipe freezes:
Turn on the tap of the frozen pipe and leave it open while treating the pipe.
Allow warm air to flow safely to the affected area — always use any heat source (electric heating pad, blow dryer, space heater) safely to avoid potential harm and damage to your home and its occupants.
If you’ve found one frozen pipe, check all the taps in the house — if only a drip comes out, there is likely another frozen pipe.
If you cannot access the frozen pipe, or if your efforts to thaw it do not work, call us and our licensed plumber will come help.

6. Protect entryway flooring. Between tracked-in snow, ice, road salt and sand, entryway floors can really take a beating in the winter. Increase the longevity of your flooring by using floor mats both inside and outside each entrance to your home. Provide a boot scraper or brush outside for removing excess snow, and a waterproof tray inside for placing wet shoes and boots.

7. Check your emergency supplies. With snow and ICE comes more potential for power outages — be prepared with fresh bottled water, shelf-stable foods, flashlights and batteries, first-aid supplies and a hand-cranked radio and smartphone charger.

8. Keep heating system running smoothly. If you notice any strange new noises coming from your heaters, or if one area of the house suddenly seems colder, have the system looked at by us right away, as these can be signs something is wrong. Make sure to change the air filters in your furnace regularly.

9. Check batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors monthly. This is especially important during winter, when we keep windows closed and use wood-burning stoves and fireplaces more often. Make sure you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in each bedroom, on each floor of the house and in the kitchen. Check detectors monthly and change batteries as needed.

10. Stop cold air from getting in. Feel a cold breeze? Take action in early winter as soon as you notice a problem. Boost your home’s energy efficiency and stop cold air in its tracks with these tips: Check and repair caulking around doors and windows and anywhere something penetrates a wall, like outside faucets and air vents. Check weatherstripping on doors and windows. Lastly, seal cracks in foundation walls.

We hope these maintenance tips help you get your home ready for the cold temperatures, ice and snow we have in store for us! Also, if you have any heating, plumbing, ductwork problems and services make sure to give us a call or use the app and we will have one of our certified technicians/plumber out to your house! P.S. we have great Christmas specials going on until December 31, 2016.