Autumn Roof Care
Fall roof care is particularly important for a couple of reasons.
First, your roof and gutters are rapidly being inundated with falling leaves, which can easily clog your roof’s drainage system. It’s critical that you keep your gutters and roof clean as you head into the cold winter months in order to prevent ice from accumulating on your roof.
Second, winter is the worst time of the year to be dealing with roof issues, so you’ll certainly want to ensure your roof is ready to do battle with Old Man Winter when he arrives so ensure your roof does its job all season long with these winter roof maintenance tips:
Inspect your roof for signs of damage or decay. From a safe spot, closely examine your roof with a pair of binoculars, looking for areas of concern. If you spot any, give us a call so we can come out and take a closer look.
Prepare properly! Before freezing temps arrive, ensure your attic is well-insulated, as the two biggest winter roof problems—icicles and ice dams–are the result of a too-warm roof! Icicles and ice dams form at the edges of your roof and in your gutters, respectively, because ice and snow is melting too quickly from your roof (because your home’s heat is rapidly escaping). Once the relatively warm water reaches your gutters and roof-line, it refreezes since it’s no longer coming in contact with your home’s too-warm roof. There, it can form large icicles and ice dams.
Trim back branches that are hanging over your roof. Doing so prevents high winds and snow from knocking down limbs and causing roof damage come winter.
Clean your gutters, (video) A clogged gutter can overflow and break, putting strain on the roof itself. It can also fill with ice, which will cause thawing damage and strains the guttering. This will ensure melting ice and snow flows easily through gutters and away from your foundation once the cold weather arrives. Gutter guards often aren't worth bothering with. They can make your gutters impossible to clean, which is more hassle than it's worth.
Check your basement for water damage stains and your attic for mildew. Both mildew and water damage indicates that your drainage system isn't taking the water far away enough from your home.
If water is getting back into your foundation, your attic and basement will start showing signs of dampness. To fix this, try extending your downspout to direct the water further away.
Check Your Window Wells
Window wells are a great way to let natural light into your basement and provide ventilation. They also help keep soil away from the window fixtures. But if they are not maintained well, they can put your basement at risk.
One of the major reasons for window well flooding is liner failure. If your liner becomes detached from the foundation wall, soil pressure can widen the gap between the loose liner and the wall. This gives water an opportunity to penetrate when the soil becomes over-saturated.
Before winter sets in, check your window wells. This is the time of the year where the problem can be at its worst. Inspect the liner and replace any that have become loose.
Prepare for Winter Storms
Winter brings freezing rain, Sleet, and blizzards. Get prepared ahead of time so that the next big storm doesn't leave you in trouble.
If you have a generator, you want to make sure that it's working. Also, keep a stash of batteries for lanterns and flashlights in case of power outages and blackouts.
Another good tip is to keep a solar-powered or battery-operated radio in your home. This means that if cellphone reception goes out, you can keep up to date with the news and weather.
Check the condition of your snow shovels, gloves, and window scrapers. Store any heavy snow supplies near the door where you can get quick access to them.
Finally, a buildup of heavy snow on a tree limb can increase the risk of them breaking off. This poses a threat of injury to people and property damage. Also, brush snow off tree limbs after each big snowfall. You can use a broom or roof rake to extend you reach.
Often neglected is one of the most important components of a cooling system--the condensing unit outside that churns away in the heat of summer. This component needs a little TLC as winter approaches.
Clean the condensing unit of debris using a hose with the spray-head set to the highest pressure, clean the fan blades and condensing coils clear of debris and dirt. Let the unit dry completely before covering it for the winter. Left unprotected, the condensing unity can be damaged by wet leaves and debris that contribute to rusting and freezing of internal components. Although these units are designed for outdoor use, covering them with a breathable waterproof cover made for that purpose goes a long way to extending the life and efficient performance of the unit.
Prepare Your Hoses and Yard:
If you’re a devoted gardener, you probably try to take good care of your tools and equipment. Some things are easy to forget, though. For instance, you might not put too much thought into maintaining your water hose, but when it’s left out in the cold all winter, it can experience some serious damage. While that's good news for heavy duty garden hose makers come springtime, its bad news for forgetful gardeners.
When a hose freezes, the water inside expands, causing holes to develop, and ultimately weakening the hose’s lining. The damage can be even worse if the frozen garden hose is still connected to the house because it can lead to issues with the water pressure in the pipes and water lines.
To prevent this kind of disaster, here is a step-by-step guide on how to keep your hose from freezing over the winter:
A high quality garden hose typically lasts between five and 10 years. Of course, if it is not well maintained, its lifespan will be a lot shorter. Any devoted gardener knows that a hose is a critical tool for any kind of gardening or yard work. Take good care of yours.
Yard and Garden
Batten down the hatches for winter with these tips for your yard and gardens.
Fall is a glorious time of year with that crisp clean fresh smell, and the combination of shorter days and tumbling temperatures remind us to get our outdoor affairs in order before winter comes knocking.
Leaf removal occupies a major chunk of outdoor chore time, and rightly so. Leaves that pile up can harm grass and turn sidewalks and driveways into a slippery mess. Taking care of a few simple things in fall can save hundreds-if not thousands—of dollars when winter puts us knee-deep in snow and ice.
Buy Ice Melt. The time to lay in a supply of ice melt is before there’s ice on the way. For a pet-friendly ice melt use magnesium chloride, this will not burn the pads of their feet. It is also recommended not using salt blends on concrete and especially not new concrete. Using sand for traction is still the safest choice for concrete.
Clean and Cover Outdoor Furniture: Clean and cover outdoor furniture, making sure it’s snug and secure for winter.
Keep Grilling: Grill as long as you can. Many homeowners move a grill closer to the house for winter, but choose your location carefully to avoid fire or melted siding.
Check Outdoor Lighting: This is especially important with lights that require stepladders for bulb changes.
Cut Grass: Mow your lawn to at least 4 inches to protect grass from freeze and snow. Leave it to long and it may mat up and develop snow mold disease, which cause bare spots next spring. Trim your perennials down.
Winterizing Your Home Inside
It is just as important to do maintenance inside as outside. Take care of these following elements before winter, so you can enjoy the snow in cozy comfort and not worry about your home.
The heating system is perhaps the most critical element for your home in winter, and the time to check your furnace and other heating appliances is in the fall--no later than the middle of October. Give your system a test run through and make sure all systems are operating. Proper weatherization involves a systematic review of your home's HVAC (furnace). Either have the furnace checked by a service technician or do this work yourself. Most seasonal maintenance tasks are well within a homeowner's skill range.
Test Run: Turn the thermostat to heat mode and set it to 70 degrees, just for testing. You should hear the furnace turn on, and warm air should begin to blow within a few minutes. If the furnace is running fine, turn the thermostat back to its normal setting. If the furnace is not running properly, you may need to call a qualified service technician.
Replace the air filter video: It's easy, and doing so will ensure a free flow of air and a cleaner environment. Each furnace has its own requirements for air filters, so follow the manufacturer's recommendations. A monthly replacement of the air filter is usually recommended. Check out video about different filters:
Inspect and clean heating vents: Clear obstacles to heating vents, so air can freely flow. Many experts recommend having a service technician come in and clean the vents every year or two.
Check for carbon monoxide leaks: This silent killer can easily be detected with either an inexpensive test badge or battery-operated alarm. If you discover problems, call in a professional to identify and correct the cause of the CO leak. Usually, this involves leakage in the exhaust system of a furnace or other fuel-burning appliance, such as a water heater. Don't put this work off; a CO leak is a very dangerous situation.
Check exhaust vents: Some furnaces, as well as gas water heaters, vent through a chimney, while newer high-efficiency models may vent through plastic pipes running through a side wall. Make sure these vents are open and free of obstructions. A vent that hasn't been used all summer may have become home to birds or other animals, which can block the vent pipes and interfere with the furnace's ability to burn efficiently and properly vent exhaust gases.
Winterize Window Air Conditioners: As for window air conditioners, remove them if possible and store for winter. Left in windows, these appliances are very hard to seal effectively against winter drafts. If they can't be removed, then close the vents and make sure to get an air conditioning cover similar to the condensing unit cover described above.
Clean Your Dryer Vents
As the colder months set in, your dryer is likely to get more use. Dryers can be a fire hazard, causing 15,000 fires each year , so it is important to reduce this risk. Make sure to remove built-up lint from the dryer in order to reduce the fire risk and improve your household energy efficiency.
Fist thing, clean the lint filter and lint trap. Next, clean the lint vents. You will need to pull the dryer away from the wall to get behind the dryer and reach the vent. Unhook the vent from the back of the dryer, use your vacuum cleaner to suck the lint out (you can also purchase bushes that hook onto your vacuum to) be gentle when twisting the brush. Then reconnect the vent and turn your dryer on for around 15 minutes. This forces air through the vents and will blow out any lint that may have been in the tubing or stuck in the outer vent.
Check Your Sump Pump: your sump pumps act as the last line of defense against condensation buildup, floods, and water from drains. Test the pump before winter hits. You want to make sure it works; otherwise, you could end up with a flooded basement and foundation damage. Once you locate the exit pipe, check it for any dirt and debris. If there are clogs, remove them. Make sure that the water is being directed well away from your home's foundation. If you have a dual cord pump, both cords should be unplugged. If you can hear a humming sound when you plug in the pump cord, this means that it's working as it should. Remember to plug everything back in though after testing. If you have a single cord pump, pour 20 liters of water into the pump pit until the float rises. You should hear the pump turn on. While on, make sure the water is pumping out as it should, and the pump turns itself off when the water is removed. It may be worth investing in a water detector to further protect your basement from moisture.
Seal Leaky Doors and Windows
Check your windows and doors by opening and closing them. When you close the lock, do you notice a gap between the seals?
If you have old windows, you can add new weather stripping. There is a variety you can choose from:
Once you have changed the weather stripping on your windows, you’ll need to do the same with your door — and check for air leaks. There are some options here too that you can choose from:
Check the exterior trim for any gaps between it and the door frame. Caulk any gaps with exterior latex caulk.
If a draft comes through the bottom, check the condition of the threshold gasket. If worn, replace it. You can also install a weather-resistant door sweep designed for exteriors.
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Winter Roof Care
Deal with Icicles: If your home is already sporting large icicles (small ones are okay), this a key indicator that your roof is getting too warm. These icicles can present a huge danger to your family, pets, and visitors, and they can also damage your roof and gutters as they fall, so you’ll want to take immediate steps to insulate your roof better. Don’t, however, try to remove the icicles yourself, as you could pull off your gutters or injure yourself in the process. Instead, hire a pro to remove dangerous ice and snow buildup.
Address Ice Dams: Ice dams form at the roof-line and in gutters, preventing water from diverting safely to the ground, away from your foundation. They can also prevent ice and snow from properly melting, which can lead to leaks and other serious water damage to your roof. If you suspect an ice dam is forming on your roof, call in a pro to assess and remove the buildup. No matter what, NEVER try to get up on an icy or snowy roof, as doing so could result in serious injury or death.
Spring Roof Care After sheltering you from winter storms, give your roof some TLC come springtime with these roof maintenance tips.
1. Inspect your roof for damage caused by wind, hail, snow, and ice, and give us a call right away if you notice areas that need attention. Look for cracks, missing shingles, discoloration, bent flashing, damaged gutters, and a buildup of debris or mold.
2. Clean out your gutters to remove buildup and keep the spring rains from causing them to overflow. If your gutters can’t accommodate the rain, water will flow right over them and onto the ground around your foundation. This situation can quickly lead to wet or even flooding basements, so make sure you do a thorough job.
Summer Roof Care These may be the lazy, hazy days of summer, but taking steps now to keep your roof in shape will help you better enjoy your home in the cold, wet months that are, sadly, just around the corner. Here’s how to maintain your roof in the summer:
1. In addition to taking the same steps you did in spring, you’ll also want to take time each summer remove algae growth and mold buildup that may have accumulated in the wet spring weather.
2. You may be surprised at how quickly the tree canopy has grown, so inspect the area above your roof to ensure that no large tree limbs hover over it.
Stop Pouring Grease Down the Sink: Which one of us has poured bacon grease right out of the pan down into the sink? Or dumped a pot’s worth of used coffee grounds down the drain? Now, consider this: What you dump today you might be drinking tomorrow. The average American house hold uses about 300 gallons of water each day in the home, according to the Environmental Protection agency. Because of our high water usage, nearly everything flushed down the sink winds up back in the drinking water supply—unless it gets stuck, clogging your pipes and triggering pricey plumbing bills. If you dump bacon grease, frying oil, or other fatty substances down the kitchen sink, prepare to pay a professional to unclog your drainpipes. Grease coagulates as it cools, and once in your pipes, that solidified fat results in heavy clogs that can back up your house's plumbing. Instead of sending fat drippings down the drain, be smart. Set the grease aside to cool. Then scrape it in a non-recyclable container and put it in the garbage where it belongs. Save yourself the hassle and danger by adhering to this list of things that you should never—and we do mean never—dump down your sink.
Avoid Using Caustic Cleaners: It may be the first thing you grab when the sink or tub drains slowly, but over time, caustic oxidizing chemicals found in conventional drain cleaners can take a toll on old drainpipes, resulting in corrosion and leaks. Next time you experience a nasty clog, use a natural drain cleaner that eats away clogs through enzymatic action. It doesn’t work as quickly as caustic chemicals, but it’s gentler and safer for your pipes.
Don’t Cram Stuff Under the Sink: Drain traps, those curved pipes under the sink, prevent sewer gases from entering your home while allowing waste water to pass. They also catch items that may fall into the sink, like jewelry or other debris. Traps connect to surrounding pipes with screw-on joints, making them easy to remove when cleaning a clogged drain. When these joints come loose, though, it leads to under-sink leaks. Prevent trap leaks by keeping the area under the sink clutter-free. That means pulling trash cans, cleaners, or fire extinguishers away from trap so that your household essentials don't bump into the pipes.
Know When to Say No: You might be great at replacing commode-tank flappers, but if you have a major plumbing project, it’s a good idea to call a plumber from the get-go. If you don't know your own limitations, you could end up paying more for a pro to fix your amateur mistakes.
Turn Your Main Water Valve off: There’s nothing like coming home from a two-week vacation only to find your house has flooded. Avoid disaster by turning off the main water valve before you go. Also, open up a couple of sink or tub faucets to bleed the water pressure off the lines. It may seem like a lot of work, but remember that it’s a lot simpler to switch the water off and on, rather than risk major cleanup and expenses in the event of a leak.
Clean Your Tank less Water Heater Every Year:
Don’t Ignore Water Around the Base of the Toilet: It doesn’t have to be a lot; just a tiny puddle or constant wetness on the floor around a commode could signal failure of the wax ring seal. Though it might not look like problematic on the surface, leaking water can damage the subflooring beneath bathroom tile, leading to rot, mold, and expensive repairs. Save yourself added trouble by replacing the wax ring seal sooner than later.
Learn How to Check for Leaks: If your monthly water bill is higher than normal but your water usage has remained steady, you could have a leak. To find out, turn off all faucets and any appliances that use water, like your dishwasher. Then, go to your water meter and watch it. If the meter is moving, there's water flowing somewhere in your house. Translation: You’ve got a leak. This is one problem that needs fast attention. Shut off the water and call your plumber.
Don’t Throw Your Trash in the Toilet: You've probably heard it all before, but it's true. Don’t dump anything in the toilet that doesn't belong. Avoid flushing feminine hygiene products, cotton swabs, paper towels, makeup-removal wipes, or “flushable” cat litter clumps. These products aren't designed to break down in liquid, so flushing them can increase your risk of clogging the pipes. Use your commode only for its intended purpose to prevent trouble.