How to Prevent Ice Dams This Winter

How to Prevent Ice Dams This Winter

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of your roof, preventing water from draining.

This can lead to leaks that can cause damage to your roof, walls, ceiling or insulation as the backup behind the dam forces water inside your home rather than draining from the roof as it should.

In order to prevent damage to the interior of your home, you need to understand how to prevent ice dams.

Keep Your Roof Cold

It may seem counterproductive, but one of the best ways to prevent an ice dam is to keep your roof cold. The underside of your roof should not be higher than 30 degrees Fahrenheit in order to allow snow to dissipate without creating large amounts of water. Check to be sure there is adequate insulation and sealing gaps that allow warm air to exit the attic. Your attic also needs ventilation so that heated air escapes rapidly when cold air enters. The problem with a warm roof is that snow melts rapidly, but once it reaches the eaves, which are colder, the water freezes leading to ice dams.

Attic Furnaces

If your furnace is in your attic, it may be difficult to prevent ice dams. One of the best methods for preventing an ice dam if your furnace is in the attic is to add extra insulation between the roof rafters. Keep air space between the roof deck and the insulation to avoid condensation. Before adding insulation, install polystyrene rafter air channels that are available at home centers. Lay insulation batts or blankets over the heating ducts to help reduce heat buildup. If your ridge vents and gables do not dissipate the heat enough, add a motorized vent at one end to remove heat and another vent on the other end to draw in cold air.

Signs of an ice Dam

Even if you take all the precautions mentioned for how to prevent ice dams, it is still possible that one could develop. If you notice dark lines on the ceiling, it is possible you have an ice dam. Even with insulation in your attic floor the bottom of your trusses are often bare. Because they are exposed to low temperatures, they create a cold strip on the ceiling that allows condensation to form. The moisture traps dust and can lead to mold growth creating the lines which are called shadow lines. You can clean the mildew by washing the area in a bleach solution of one part bleach to three parts warm water. Rinse and allow to dry.

Learning how to prevent ice dams is critical to keeping your home from damage due to leaks. For more information about preventing ice dams, contact us by phone or visit our website to speak to one of our knowledgeable staff members.

Important Attic Insulation Factors You Should Consider

Important Attic Insulation Factors Your Should Consider

Installing insulation is not a fun or glamorous home improvement, but it is one that should not be ignored.

Although insulation doesn’t get as much attention as a new coat of paint in your dining room or a new designer front door, it can save you a significant amount of money and make your home much more comfortable throughout the year.

Lower Energy Costs

If you live in an area that gets cold in the winter, you know that keeping your house warm can get pretty expensive. Although turning down the thermostat and wearing more clothing at home can help lower your energy costs, the problem might actually be your unfinished attic. Installing insulation is a project you can complete on your own in just one weekend and that little bit of extra work can save between 10 and 50 percent on your heating bill this winter. The even better news is that it also works for your air conditioning. If you live in areas where the temperature rises significantly, attic insulation can also lower your air conditioning costs by stabilizing the temperature in your home.

Don’t Use Your Attic for Storage

The best way to insulate your attic is to install it in the floor, but if you have covered the floor with plywood to use it for storage, you will have to limit how much insulation you can add. Consider removing the attic flooring and layer additional insulation on top of the old. Although this means you will have to find another location for your holiday decorations and clothes from three seasons ago, the energy savings will more than make up for relocating your stored items.

Choose the Right Insulation

If you are installing the insulation by yourself, you can choose either loose fill or blanket insulation, commonly called batt. Loose fill insulation is packaged in bags and then blown into place using machinery you can rent from a home center or a local rental agency. If your attic has unusual or nonstandard joist spacing or if there are many obstructions, this may be the best option. It is also recommended if you are topping existing insulation or in low-clearance attics. Batt insulation is sold in rolls of various thickness and widths. Batt works best in attics with standard joist spacing and few obstructions. It does not require any special machinery to install.

Tips Before Starting

Here are a few tips to follow before you get started on a do-it-yourself insulation installation.

  • Check to see what insulation you have installed already and remove any compressed, water-stained or moldy insulation.
  • If your home was built before 1900 and the insulation is lightweight, grainy with shiny flecks, it may contain asbestos.
  • Have it tested and if it contains vermiculite, you will have to have it professionally removed.
  • If you live in a warm climate, the Department of Energy recommends an R-30 value. In cold climates, an R-49 value is recommended. R-38 is recommended in temperate climates.
  • Check with your state’s energy office or your local utility to see if there are any rebates or other financial incentives for improving your insulation.
  • Measure the square footage of your attic to determine how much insulation you will need. Loose fill insulation lists the required depths on the bag and how many bags you will need to cover 1,000 square feet at those depths. Use the width and length of the product to determine how many batts or rolls you will need. Always purchase one extra bag or roll to account for errors or mistaken measurements.

These simple tips can help you save a significant amount on your air conditioning and heating bills just by adding insulation to your attic. For more information on insulation installation, contact us by phone or visit our website.

Residential Holiday Lights: Installation Tips For Your Safety

Residential Holiday Lights Installation Tips For Your Safety

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that almost 15,000 people will be injured while holiday decorating this year, a statistic that continues to climb each year. The most common injuries reported stem from falls, either from ladders or roofs, as people install holiday lighting. Before you begin your decorating this holiday season, it is important to learn how to install holiday lights safely.

Tools You Need

The first step in understanding how to put up Christmas lights safely is to understand the tools you need to complete the project. Tools that can make the project go easier include a drill, staple gun, ladder and hammer. Light clips and gutter hooks allow for easy installation and removal. Be sure to use extension cords designed for outdoor use. It is recommended that you choose LED holiday lights in order to keep energy costs down. Timers and remotes also make turning the lights on and off much easier.

Before You Begin

Take inventory of the holiday lights you already have and what condition they are in. Check for cracked bulbs, frayed wires or other damage. Throw out any strings that have even minor damage as they present a fire risk. Test each string of lights to be sure it works properly. If you need to purchase new lights, check to be sure what you purchase is rated for outdoor use. Indoor lights are not protected from rain or snow which can lead to shorts or blown fuses. If you need to use extension cords, try to keep them at a minimum and only use those rated for outdoor use. If your ladder is not in good shape, you should purchase a new one that reaches at least six feet higher than the highest point of your lighting.

How to Install Holiday Lights

Once you have gathered your tools and purchased the lights you want for you home, it is time to begin decorating your home. Make sure your ladder is firm and fully open. It is highly recommended that you do not climb a ladder alone, but have a friend or family member assist you. Be sure you do not place the ladder in ice or water. The first step in how to put up Christmas lights safely is to install the gutter hooks. Do not carry both the hooks and the lights up the ladder. Instead, snap each hook onto the gutter and ask your assistant to hand you the lights to hang them. Take your time as rushing is what often leads to injury. Follow the same steps to install light clips to the roof. Many homeowners have stopped using nails or staple guns as they can damage the roof, but if you must use them, be sure to attach the nail or staple to fascia board.

Other Safety Tips

Always unplug the lights when you are sleeping or are leaving the house. A timer is a great way to make sure the lights come on and go off regularly. If you notice a burnt bulb, be sure to replace it with the same wattage. Wires should never be run through doors, windows or high-traffic areas.


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There is nothing more festive than a home brightly lit for the holidays, but if you don’t follow tips for how to put up Christmas lights safely, you may not enjoy your holiday due to an injury. If you need advice on how to install holiday lights, contact one of our experienced customer service representatives by phone or online today.