Winter is the season for frozen pipes and ice dams. Here are some tips on how to prevent them:
• Pipes can freeze anywhere due to exposure from cracks or holes in siding or because of pipes being placed in outside walls with inadequate insulation.
• When it’s especially cold, let the hot and cold faucets drip overnight and open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to uninsulated pipes under sinks on exterior walls.
• Insulate pipes in your home’s crawl space or attic.
• Seal leaks that allow cold air inside.
• Disconnect garden hoses and, if practical, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets.
• If you are going away for an extended period of time, maintain adequate heat inside your home – no lower than 55 degrees.
• Prevent warm, moist downstairs air from infiltrating the attic by appropriately insulating your attic’s floor and using a dehumidifier to control water vapor. Seal all openings that would allow vapor to rise into the attic.
• Research shows keeping the attic air temperature below freezing when the outside air temperature is in the low 20s can reduce the occurrence of ice dams. Provide good attic ventilation to replace warm air in the attic with cold outside air. Consult a professional for the best way to avoid ice dams and water damage in your home.
• Do not routinely remove snow from the roof or attempt to “chip away” the ice of an ice dam. It will likely lead to shingle damage.
• Do not install large mechanical equipment or water heaters in attics, especially in cold climates. Not only do they present an unwelcome fire hazard, but they’ll also increase the temperature in your attic.
• Do not use salt or calcium chloride to melt snow on a roof. These chemicals are very corrosive and can shorten the life of metal gutters, downspouts, and flashings. Runoff that contains high concentrations of these chemicals can damage nearby grass and plants.