Fall is around the Corner……

 “It’s important for people to know that Fall maintenance will not only make their homes more energy efficient during the winter months, but will safeguard their homes against potential seasonal ‘disasters’ such as leaking roofs or home fires due to neglected chimneys,” says Dan Steward, Pillar To Post president. 

  1. Check the heating system. Check the filter, pilot light and burners in a system fueled by gas or oil. Fireplaces, boilers, water heaters, space heaters and wood burning stoves should also be serviced every year.
  2. Clean ducts in the heating system. Clean and vacuum dust from vents, baseboard heaters and cold air returns. Dust build-up in ducts is a major cause of indoor pollutants. In a home that is shut tight for the winter, dust increases the possibility of illness. Ducts should be professionally cleaned about every three years.
  3. Test fire and smoke alarms as well as carbon monoxide detectors. Often alarms and detectors go unattended. Batteries should be checked every six months to ensure that they’re working.
  4. Remove excess leaves and damaged branches surrounding the house. Now that leaves have fallen off of trees, it’s a good time to remove any dead branches. Dead branches have the potential to break and fall, ruining roofs or decks.
  5. Maintain gutters. Remove all debris that can slow or impede the ability of the water to drain effectively from the roof. Trapped water can freeze then thaw, an action which could be destructive not only to the gutters themselves but to the adjoining roof as well.
  6. Inspect the roof. Look for damaged or loose shingles, gaps in the flashing at joints with siding, vents and flues, as well as damaged mortar around the chimney. Proactive maintenance can prevent emergencies and expensive repairs.
  7. Inspect exterior walls and window sills. Check walls and window sills for damage such as cracks, gaps, loose or crumbling mortar, along with splitting and decaying wood. Wood trim and siding can suffer from deterioration or loose paint. Caulk exterior joints around windows and doors, which helps keep the home weather tight and helps to lower heating bills .
  8. Maintain steps and handrails. Repair broken steps and secure loose banisters. Broken steps are easily hidden beneath snow, which could cause a dangerous fall. Similarly, a person slipping on ice will grab a handrail for support.
  9. Prepare storm windows for installation. Check all weather stripping and all fasteners. Well-maintained and properly fitted storm windows will help to save on energy costs during the winter months.
  10. Pools, sprinkler systems and outside faucets should be shut down. Homeowners can shut down outside faucets, while the other tasks are best performed by industry professionals to prevent cracked pipes and pool bottoms. 

 Planning ahead in order to complete these Ten Maintenance Tips is important for many reasons. If these maintenance tips are done over the next few weeks, people can then sit back and enjoy the winter, the holidays, lower energy bills and their own peace of mind.

Drip Edge Matters

  Installing a drip edge properly can make all the difference in avoiding problems such as ice damming.
 For clarification, a drip edge is a modified L-shaped flashing used along the eaves and rakes of a roof. The drip edge directs runoff water into the gutters and away from the fascia. In terms of placement, the drip edge should be installed under the roofing felt on the bottom edge of the roof and over the roofing felt on the gable ends, if applicable. The drip edge is supposed to be placed with a ¼-inch gap between the flashing and the edge of the roof sheathing or fascia. This gives a drip line that is not butted directly against wood trim.

It is unlikely that mis-installed drip edges will have a significant effect on the occurrence of ice damming. However, it can increase the water getting into the wall/eave area from ice damming or other causes. It could also lead to accelerated rot at the eaves/fascia area.
Ice dams are a cold weather problem caused by snow melting over heated portions of a building and refreezing at colder portions of the roof, creating a dam. Water produced by subsequent melting then backs up under the shingles, eventually causing damage to insulation, interior finishes, and more. The snow melts due to heat loss into the attic from inadequate insulation, air leakage, and/or inadequate ventilation.
Ice dam precautions include:

  • Making sure the roof is adequately insulated to account for local climatic conditions.
  • Installing raised-heel trusses, if necessary, to allow full-depth insulation and proper ventilation over exterior walls.
  • Sealing all penetrations into the attic from ceilings or walls.
  • Installing continuous soffit-and-ridge vent systems and baffles at the lower side of the roof, with a clear pathway of at least two inches between the top of the insulation and the roof sheathing.

You may also consider insulating around and sealing leaks from ducts and vents in the attic, although the primary emphasis should be on providing proper ventilation and following good insulation practices.