Preparing Your Home For Winter

Is your home ready to stand up to the elements–snow, sleet and freezing rain–that threaten our homes in winter? Here are some tips to help you prevent, and deal with, damage related to severe winter weather.

Ice Dams. An Ice Dam is a ridge of ice that forms along the lower edge of a roof. Ice dams are usually caused by heat leaking from the attic, which melts snow on the upper parts of the roof; the water then refreezes along the colder eaves, forming a dam that allows water to penetrate under shingles, possibly leaking into the attic. To help prevent ice dams:

  • Keep your attic as cool as possible. Make sure you have adequate insulation and seal any warm air leaks from interior rooms to the attic.
  • Be sure there is unrestricted air movement under the roof from the eaves soffit to the ridge.
  • Remove excessive snow from your roof.

Snow Loads. Heavy snow loads have been known to cause structural damage when the weight of the snow exceeds the load bearing capacity of the roof, especially with flat roofs or older buildings.

How much snow is too much? The answer varies, but as a general rule of thumb: if there is more than a foot of heavy wet snow, consider having it removed.

Steps to help in snow removal:

  • Make sure the necessary equipment is available and in good condition. These include snow shovels, rakes, and snow blowers.
  • Learn the proper use of all equipment prior to a storm.
  • Determine where removed snow will be piled. These areas should be away from walkways, air intakes and building exits.

Safety is a big factor in determining whether you tackle snow removal yourself or enlist professional help. If you can safely shovel a flat roof, or remove adequate snow with a snow rake, consider these methods first. Otherwise, many homebuilders, landscapers and roofing contractors offer snow removal services. Be sure the contractor is bonded and insured; ask for and check references.

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