Do you know anyone who doesn’t talk about the weather? And of course, no one knows anyone who can do anything about it. As far as your insurance company goes, they would like you to do something about the results of the weather—especially winter weather. You thought that your main concern was to keep the driveway and sidewalks free of snow and ice, but there is danger lurking on the roof—ice dams.
When there are periods of heavy snowfall followed by temperatures that hover near freezing, the melting snow runs down the slope of the roof and refreezes near the edge. As more snow melts and runs down the roof, water builds up behind the ice dam and seeps into the home, damaging drywall, carpeting and cabinets, and sometimes, even collapsing ceilings.
Keep the attic temperature as close to the outside temperature as possible. This means insulating the attic floor and installing adequate ventilation. Peak or roof-mounted vents allow warm air to exit the attic; soffit vents allow cold air to enter the attic—both types are advised.
When the snow is very heavy, the venting and insulation efforts may not help; the only option may be to remove snow from the roof. Leave the rooftop antics to Santa—it is only necessary to clear the bottom six feet to allow the water to reach the gutters and drain to the ground. Before you get up on the ice or snow-covered roof, you might want to contact a qualified professional. There are tools—“roof rakes” or “snow pullers”—which can remove snow from a roof while standing on the ground.
Ice can cause excessive water pressure, which can burst pipes. Holes in outside walls for television lines and cable allow cold air to reach pipes in attics, crawlspaces and along exterior walls, making them vulnerable during extremely cold weather. Disconnect outdoor garden hoses and shut off the water supply to those faucets before the weather gets cold. Insulate exposed pipes, seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations with caulk and drain the entire water system if the house will be unattended during cold weather. During severely cold spells, allow a slow trickle of water to flow through faucets connected to pipes that run through an unheated or unprotected space.
Snow and ice create hassles for many people, and preventing further hassles of dealing with water damage to your house and belongings is well worth the effort. It also gives you something besides the weather to talk about… TPW