Preparing Your House for Winter: Frequently Asked Questions

Inspect your roof, siding and windows to ready your home for winterAs we rocket through the end of November we can already feel the temperature dropping and, if we listen closely enough, we can hear Santa’s sleigh bells beginning to ring. With this brings not only temperatures below freezing, but also snow and ice. Last year was a busy year for homeowners who realized during the Nor’easter was playing havoc with their homes, businesses, and heating bills. Today we answer some of the common questions we’ve seen since last year for preparing your house for winter.

Last year our roof was ravaged by ice dams. How do I prevent those from happening again?

For those of you that don’t know, ice dams form after a large snowfall when a warm roof meets cold snow. The air from the attic is above 32 degrees Fahrenheit and causes the snow to melt. The then unfrozen water runs down the roof and refreezes on the colder edge of the roof. It can cause water to seep in under your roof’s shingles and cause water damage to wall, ceiling, and your possessions.

How do you avoid them? You have to stop the warm air in your attic from seeping through the roof. This means properly insulating your attic and making sure there are no bypasses allowing air to escape. Add vents to draw in the cold air and flushing out warm air, thereby cooling the roof itself.

I have noticed that my windows allow a lot of cold air in, making my house chillier and raising my heating bill. You have any suggestions?

If you want to improve your existing windows, you can do a few things. Installing a storm window along with your current window will both protect the window and reduce the cold air that comes into the house. Be sure to add caulk and weather-strips around the window. Window treatments and coverings can be useful, but are not always.

Another option is to simply replace your windows with energy-efficient windows. These windows will end up paying for themselves, as they reduce heating costs in the winter, air conditioning and electricity costs in the summer, and allow for more light to enter your house throughout the year.

How much snow can my roof really hold? What about old snow and ice?

Roofs built in New England are generally designed to higher loads, with residential roofs at a slope of at least 3 inches vertically for every 12 horizontally. As a rule of thumb if you’ve got 4 or more feet of snow on your roof, you’re in the danger zone. As snow remains on your roof, it melts and refreezes and becomes much denser. 2 feet of old or hard packed snow can weigh as much as those 4 feet of fresh snow. Ice is the most dangerous: freezing rain can add a lot of weight to your roof. If you’ve got 4 or more inches of ice on the roof, it’s time to take it down.

Hopefully these questions helped you figure out how to prepare your house for winter. If you need any more help, or if winter strikes and you get an ice dam, be sure to contact the experts at All Weather Tite. We know how to ensure your house is everything you want it to be in all seasons, including roofing, siding and windows.

Posted in Ice Dams, Roofing.