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Winter Home Tips For Your Champaign Home: Ice Dam Prevention

by Rose Price

 

Icicles hanging off your house look beautiful, but they're usually a sign of trouble. 

The same conditions that allow icicles to form; snow-covered roofs and freezing weather, also lead to ice dams (thick ridges of solid ice that build up along the eaves). 

These dams can tear off gutters, loosen shingles, and cause water to back up and pour into your house. Obviously when this happens, the results aren’t pretty.  Paint peels, floors warp, ceilings get stained and worse sag, and the insulation in your attic becomes soggy, which is magnet for harmful mold.  

How it happens:

First, heat collects in the attic and warms the roof...but doesn't warm the eaves.

The snow on the warm roof melts, causing the water to rush down to the eaves…which are still cold.  So, the water freezes again. 

This ice accumulates along the eaves, forming a dam, preventing the water from running into the gutters and away from the house. So the Melt water from the warm roof backs up behind this ice, forcing it to flow beneath the shingles, and finally into the house.

Find out how to get rid of them OR better yet, prevent them below:  

 

Quick Fixes: 

Hacking away at ice dams with a hammer, chisel, or shovel is bad for your roofing—obviously…and is also quite dangerous for you. Throwing salt on them will do a lot more damage than the ice.  So, what do you do?

 Freeze It

Bring a box fan into the attic and aim it at the underside of the roof where water is actively leaking in. This targeted dose of cold air should freeze the water in its tracks.  This method can stop water from flowing in in just a few minuets.  

Rake It

Pounding is bad.  Raking, you can get away with.  Simply use a long handled aluminum roof rake to rake the snow and ice.  You want to make sure it is a dedicated roof rake, so you don’t damage your shingles. 

Steal Your Wife’s Pantyhose

Ok, so maybe you should ask first.  But you can lessen the damage after a dam has formed with a simple trick.  Fill the leg of an old pair of pantyhose with Calcium Chloride Ice Melter.  Then simply lay the hose onto the roof so it crosses the ice dam and hangs over the gutter.  The calcium chloride will melt through the snow and ice and create a channel for water to flow down into the gutters or off the roof, thus eliminating the backed up water.  

 

Permanent Fixes 

Preventing ice dams for good is simple: Just keep the roof the same temperature as the eaves. Do that by increasing ventilation, adding insulation, and sealing off every possible air leak that might warm the underside of the roof.

Taking care of these trouble spots (listed in order of priority) will give you a dam-free winter and will also lower your energy bill!

How to prevent it?

Two words: Heated Cables.  Attach with clips along the roof's edge in a zigzag pattern. Heated cables combat ice dams that lift shingles and cause leaks. This method allows you to equalize your roof's temperature by heating it from the outside.  Keeping your roof one consistent temperature will prevent ice dams from flowing beneath your shingles.  You’ll want to be sure to install the cables well before bad weather hits.

 More Prevention Tips:

1. Ventilate Eaves And Ridge. A ridge vent paired with continuous soffit vents will circulate cold air under the entire roof. Both ridge and soffit vents should have the same size openings and provide at least 1 square foot of opening for every 300 square feet of attic floor. Place baffles at the eaves to maintain a clear path for the airflow from the soffit vents.

 

2. Seal Your Attic. Attics are full of air leaks.  Fill these! This will help keep everything the same temperature in your attic, which will in turn help to keep the roof one consistent temperature. You may want to add some more insulation as well.  Follow the video below for instructions on how to seal attic air leaks.  

 

3. Always Exhaust to the Outside. Make sure that the ducts connected to the kitchen, bathroom, and dryer vents all lead outdoors through either the roof or walls, but never through the soffit.

 

5. Install Sealed Can Lights. Old-style recessed lights give off great plumes of heat and cannot be insulated without creating a fire hazard. Replace these with sealed "IC" fixtures, which can be covered with insulation. Keeping the heat from escaping into your attic.

 

6. Flash Around Chimneys. Bridge the gap between your chimney and house framing with L-shaped steel flashing.  * NOTE * Using canned spray foam or insulation isn't fire safe.

 

7. Seal and Insulate Ducts. Spread fiber-reinforced mastic on the joints of HVAC ducts and exhaust ducts. Cover them entirely with R-5 or R-6 foil-faced fiberglass.

 

8. Caulk Cracks, Gaps and Air Leaks. Seal around electrical cables and vent pipes with a fire-stop sealant. Also, look for any spots where light shines up from below or the insulation is stained black by the dirt from passing air.

Looking to sell your home this winter?  Want more tips like these to keep your home in tip-top shape this selling season?  Contact the Rose Price Team for more Champaign Home Tips.  
 

Thanksgiving Survival Brief

by Rose Price

This thanksgiving will be different you tell yourself!  You’ve decided on the menu ahead of time, you have your guest list and what everyone is bringing, but no matter how well you plan, something always goes wrong.  So here are ten extra tips to help your Thanksgiving go smoothly.   

 

Coolers aren’t just for tailgating!

 Everyone knows that refrigerator real estate is precious closer and closer to the feast, and the day of…forget about it!  So, bring out the cooler support.  You can clear your fridge of all of those large jars of pickles and condiments!  You can basically but anything you will not be needing for thanksgiving in your cooler and forget about it until after the big day.  If you live in colder climates you can store the cooler outside, away from all the ruckus of relatives.  The cooler isn’t just for storing space hogging jars of pickles though.  For instance, you could use it to brine your Turkey over night (just make sure there is plenty of ice!)  Or you could use it as a warming drawer…I mean it is insulated right?!  Line it with aluminum foil, add some folded towels and fill it with hot dishes as they come out of the oven.  

*NOTE* Use a little common sense…Don’t melt your cooler!

 

Pennies…Not just a useless form of currency!

 Pennies make great pie weights!…what’s a pie weight you ask?  Well, let me tell you.  Pie weights prevent your pie crust from rising, leaving you with an awkward bottom to your pie…just put a layer of tinfoil over your crust first, then fill it with pennies, then bake!  Boom, perfectly flat crust!

 

Aluminum foil!  One of Thanksgiving's MVPs

You can also use it as a Roasting Rack.  The point of a rack is to hold the bird above the pan so heat can circulate evenly, but who says it has to be made of wire?  If you don’t already have a store-bought rack you can make you’re own.  1. Crumple some sheets of foil into thick ropes and wrap them in coils on the bottom of the pan, that’s it.  Or you could go the green route and roast atop a bed of halved carrots, celery and onions.  

 

Ah the slow cooker.

 The only thing worst than lumpy mashed potatoes on thanksgiving is cold, gluey ones.  Keeping your spuds toasty while using the burners for other dishes is a piece of pie.  Butter your slow cooker, add some heavy cream to the potatoes, set the temp to low and then stir every hour or so.  Your potatoes will stay warm and silky s smooth!

 

Fat Separator…no not your belt.

The secret to great gravy is skimmed (not greasy) pan droppings.  If you don’t have a fat separator, simply pour your drippings into a large heatproof measuring cup and pop it in the freezer.  The drippings will cool and the fat will rise to the top and solidify, making it super easy to skim off with a spoon!

 

That thermos isn’t just for coffee.  

Put your gravy into a thermos… let sit until you’re ready to eat!  It’s that easy!

 

Local Salad Bar as Sous Chef

Ok this tip is going to be controversial, but it can literally save hours off of your prep time.  Go to your local market and pick up ingredients from the salad  bar that are already cleaned and ready to eat; chopped onions, trimmed beans, sliced bell peppers, hardboiled eggs, crumbled bacon…  It will save you a lot of work!…and you don’t have to tell anyone why you look less frantic this year, simply pour yourself a glass of wine and wait for the turkey.

 

Use your cabinets as cook book stands!

 If your recipes look anything like mine, they are covered in splashes and spills, the letters are barely visible at this point.  It’s a pain to keep flipping back and forth as well. Solution:  Print copies and tape them to your cabinets.  Keep them at eye level around your kitchen.  You’ve just minimized your kitchen clutter and can now  follow directions hands free, take notes on the fly; you could even arrange them in order of your cooking prep!  This is my favorite tip!

 

Bring that Turkey back from the dead!

Oops, did you over cook the Turkey?  Before glumly handing out the dried out bird  your guests, drizzle a little warm chicken broth over the meat.  It’ll moisten and add flavor.  This also helps for slices that have gone from room temp to cold!  

 

Deflect your guests

…in a nice way.  A busy kitchen is the worst when your trying to cook 8 things at once in order to eat on time, as to not disappoint your mother in-law.  So, give your guests jobs…outside of the kitchen.  Have a wine table with wine glasses and bottles as well as carafes of water.  Ask them to open the wine, pour the glasses, set the table, hang the coats, heard the kids.  Anything really, as long as they stay out of the kitchen!

 *Special Thanks to the Food Network 

 

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