What Causes Ice Dams?

Considering all the potential problems that ice dams can cause, it’s surprising home-owners know so little about what causes them.
In fact, it doesn’t take much. Only three conditions must be present:
1. A Heavy Snowfall — enough to to leave several inches of snow on a roof. The more snow, the greater the potential an ice dam may form.
2. Continuously cold temperatures — A heavy snow followed by several days of 40 degree temperatures probably won’t result in an ice dam. The air temperature must remain cold enough for water to freeze. When temperatures fall below 20 degrees, conditions are especially favorable.
3. An under ventilated and poorly insulated attic, factors that create what amounts to a “hot and cold roof.”

When these conditions are in place, here’s what happens:

Heat escapes from the living quarters into the attic. The colder the outside temperature the higher the thermostat is set. The heat builds up at the upper levels of the attic, eventually warming the roof deck. Once the deck is warm, snow on the roof begins to melt. Obviously, if the sun breaks out following a snow storm, melting is accelerated.
Water runs down the roof until it reaches the area over the eaves. Since this area of the roof remains cold, the runoff from the melting snow begins to freeze and the ice dam forms (along with a more easily seen symptom of the problem, icicles hanging from gutters).
As the dam builds, it begins to trap more snow melt, extending the height of the dam. But the real problems begin when water begins to pool, backing up under the shingles. Once that happens, damage can be extensive. Damage to drywall, insulation, ceilings, electric, and paint are not uncommon. Ice Guard roofing membrane used in re roofing can help but not totaly prevent water penetration.

The best solution is prevention. Be sure your attic is heavily insulated and your attic is adequately ventilated, with both intake and exhaust, to help diminish the chances of damage from ice dams. Attic insulation and attic ventilation are your best weapons in the fight against ice dams.

Curb appeal, appraisals affect home values

As the housing market shows improvement, many homeowners are once again considering putting their homes up for sale. If you are like many Americans, home improvement projects were put on hold for the last three years, so it’s time to reassess your home and decide what should be updated.

Real estate agents suggest that curb appeal and appraisal booster projects are the guidelines when deciding what projects to undertake before putting your home up for sale.

Curb appeal:
You can enhance curb appeal with these projects:

  • Maintain the landscaping
  • Keep up with the paintwork, both inside and outside of your home
  • Replace your home’s siding, gutters
  • Replace old window frames with wooden or energy-efficient ones

Bringing your home up to your area’s standards is important. Banks and real estate transactions all use appraisers. And appraisers use what are called “comps” or comparables. Those are similar homes in the area that sold for a certain price and then that is used to determine the market value of your home.

Appraisers have certain things they look for as key determinants of value. For example, the location of the real estate (location, location, location!), the livable square footage of a home, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, if it has a fireplace, what the home is constructed out of, what it “looks” like (curb appeal), etc.

What don’t they care about? Well, they don’t care what color your living room is or what brand of kitchen appliance you have. What you want to focus on with appraisal booster projects are high ROI projects that improve the appraisal value and comps. Appraisal booster projects are home repairs that will automatically boost the appraisal of your home, such as energy-efficient windows and doors, wood flooring or the addition of a fireplace. To avoid financial loss and disappointment later, remember to always consult with a realtor or renovations expert to determine how much value planned renovations will add to your home.

The Windy City: Chicago is not always gentle on your home!

While we love living in our beautiful area, the weather can take its toll on our homes. Obvious weather damage includes wind and hail.

The impact of hail on a home is immediately obvious: it can dent some types of siding, rip holes in roofs, and even break windows. Wind can work its way behind siding at the seams and pull panels away from the home, rip off shingles and cause tree branches to break windows.

Your first call should be to your insurance agent. Your second call should be to us. The sooner repairs can be made, the less severe the damage will be. Left unattended, water can enter your home, exacerbating the damage done. Mold can form, which is a health risk.

The next time the Windy City howls, check your exterior and give us a call if you notice any damage.