Snow, it was beautiful but troublesome last year in the Washington DC Metro Area, wasn’t it? If you were one of the unlucky warriors battling the blustery blizzard’s effects inside and outside your domain, you were definitely not alone. The snow was so significant that the weight caused caveins of flatroofs and the melting from ice dams forced rivers of ice water down our windows and walls.
Unless you want to find yourself shoveling snow buildup off your roof again this year, here’s some prevention tips & advice:
- Gutters. Keep your gutters free and clear to keep water flowing away from your home.
- Heat Tape. Find it at your local hardware store. Install along your rooflines (most houses will cost $500-$1000). Install where the roof meets the gutters and your unprotected water pipes and shut off valves. Very important to read directions about installation – could be damaging to plastic pipes.
- Roofing Underlay. If your roof got damaged last year and you need to replace the roof, don’t shortcut and install ice and water shield, a roofing underlay material that blocks moisture from getting through. It only costs $500-$750 for an entire roof.
- Insulation. Make sure you your attic is properly insulated. If your heat is escaping out your roof which can cause gutter damming. Check with an insulation specialist to see if you have enough to keep the heat down in your home, not up warming up your roof.
- Snowblowers save backs. There are electric models but if your electricity goes out frequently in storms (and you have no generator), then it’s of no use. Infrequent use and expensive? Share with a responsible neighbor.
- Generator. Power outages are here to stay. Besides the lost food, the room at the motel, no television or computer what else did loss of electricity shut down at your house last year? A generator’s size determines what necessities are powered in your home. Read more here about generators. Ice and snow melt at 35°F. Liquid water freezes at 32°F. Minor temperature differentials can lead to major freezing/melting problems so keep your temperature inside stable.
- Pantyhose. If all else fails Steve Cockerham of Betty’s Azalea Ranch says, “Throw pantyhose up on your roof”. Well, there’s a little more: Fill the leg of an old pair of panty hose with a calcium chloride ice melter. Put the filled up pantyhose leg on the roof so it crosses the ice dam and overhangs the gutter. Use a long-handled garden tool to position it.The calcium chloride will eventually melt through the snow and ice and create a channel for water to flow down into the gutters or off the roof breaking up the dam. Remove in the Spring to avoid strange looks from the neighbors.
- Wrap Bushes, Brace Trees. Fast-growing trees & multi-leader bushes can be weighed down by heavy ice and snow. You should wrap trees like birch (that have more than one trunk) and bushes like arborvitae, that have lots of branches. Again, pantyhose come to the rescue or any soft cloth or loosely bound with Bungee Cords available at hardware stores. Remove in Spring. If you’re worrying about a tree, take care of it now. Call a professional arborist like Wood Acres Tree Specialists to analyze the structure of the tree and cable the branches if needed.
If you’re feeling temporarily safe because the weather forecasters keep downgrading the winter weather report - Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You’ll be patting yourself on your (not so aching & frozen) back later.