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Tips for Preventing Ice Dams from Forming on Your Roof

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When temperatures plummet and snow starts falling, remember to look up and check your roof for ice. Ice dams are accumulations of ice on the edge of the roof and they mean BIG trouble for you and your home.

Ice dams result in water seepage, which can rot roofs, destroy insulation, and ruin gutters.

In poorly insulated homes, warm air escapes through the ceiling and into the attic. If ventilation inside the attic is also inadequate, all that warm air has nowhere to go. The roof’s temperature starts to creep up higher than the outdoors air temperature, causing accumulated snow on the roof to begin melting.

  • The only way to permanently eradicate ice dams is not to warm your roof up but to actually cool it down with better insulation and attic ventilation. Any other strategy will provide only a temporary fix at best.
  • Attic insulation should be at least 12” deep. Make sure it is installed correctly, without any gaps between sections, and in conjunction with a vapor barrier.
  • Also, check around light fixtures, chimneys, bathroom fans, and anywhere else heat might escape upwards. If you discover small holes, seal them up with caulk, spray foam, or weather stripping.
  • Evaluate your attic’s ventilation system. Are there adequate inlet and outlet vents? If not, look into installing a continuous soffit and ridge ventilation system.
  • If you already have a ice damage, your best strategy is to sit tight and wait for the ice to melt away. Later you should focus on preventing future dams by making the improvements described above
  • If you really, truly cannot stand just waiting until it melts on its own, cut the legs of of a pair of pantyhose, fill with calcium chloride ice melter and lie them down the slope of the roof so that each leg crosses a section of ice and the toes dangle over the edge of the gutter. This should melt small channels in the ice, allowing runoff to occur.

Energy Savings For The Whole House

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Long-Term Savings Tip:
One of the most cost efficient ways to make your home more comfortable year round is to add insulation to your attic. To find out if you have enough attic insulation, measure the thickness of the insulation. If it is less than 7” of fiberglass or rock wool, or 6” of cellulose, you could probably benefit by adding more.

Tips for Sealing Air Leaks:
Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows that leak air.

Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring penetrates through exterior walls, floors, ceilings, and soffits over cabinets.

Install rubber gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on exterior walls.

Look for dirty spots in your insulation, which often indicates holes where air leaks into and out of your house. You can seal the holes by stapling sheets of plastic over the holes and caulking the edges of the plastic.

Install storm windows over single pane windows or replace them with double pane windows.

When the fireplace is not in use, keep the flue damper tightly closed. A chimney is designed specifically for smoke to escape, so until you close it, warm air escapes – 24 hours a day!

For new construction, reduce exterior wall leaks by either installing house wrap, taping the joints of exterior sheathing, or comprehensively caulking and sealing the exterior walls.

Percentage of areas that air escapes from:

  • 31% from floors, walls, and ceiling
  • 11% doors
  • 15% ducts
  • 10% windows
  • 14% fireplace
  • 2% electrical outlets
  • 13% plumbing penetrations

Air Condition Comparisons

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It’s true that central units will use a lot more power than, say, a single window unit on each floor of a two-story dwelling. But if you have more than two rooms to cool, then your best bet is to go with a central unit, which also provides long term resale value and humidity control. “Well-designed central systems win out in terms of being able to filter the air for allergens and pollutants, and for controlling humidity.”

If humidity isn’t your problem, but you’d just like to cool your home, you could get away with one window unit on each floor, if your home is well insulated. Keep in mind that window units aren’t necessarily more energy efficient than central air units. A window unit that is too small to cool a room may run continuously, wasting energy. Central air units cool multiple rooms more quickly and filter out airborne particles-but they also use more power than window units. When you’re shopping for a central air conditioning system, make sure the SEER number (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is 13 or better.

If you’d rather go with window units, then consider these factors:

  • Look for an EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) of 11 or higher for room air conditioners. Today’s ACs use 30% – 50% less electricity than 10-year old models.
  • Make sure your AC is sized properly. It is important to use the right size AC. Select a unit that removes an average of 20 BTUs per square foot of living space or higher.
  • Clean your AC filter every month. A dirty filter makes your AC work harder, which uses more electricity. Regardless of the type or age of the unit, be sure to change filters after every 90 days of use.

Just The Facts – Formaldehyde and Insulation

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You may have heard about Formaldehyde and Insulation –Many customers have asked us about formaldehyde in fiberglass insulation and what we think about our competitor’s promoting a “Formaldehyde-free” insulation.

From the time that fiberglass insulation was invented, manufacturers have used formaldehyde as a binder ingredient to help glue or bind the glass fibers together. A manufacturer is not promoting a formaldehyde free insulation which is a fiberglass insulation using a binder containing no formaldehyde. However, like all glass fiber insulation, formaldehyde free fiberglass insulation does contain trace amounts of formaldehyde, though less than traditional fiberglass insulation. These trace amounts do not present a health concern to you or to your indoor air quality and the environment.

In fact, these trace amounts of formaldehyde are all around us and not just in insulation. Paper towels, fabric softeners, cosmetics, paper money, apples, potatoes and yes….even beer!

So don’t be fooled by those manufacturers touting “Formaldehyde Free” insulation. Get the facts. Owens Corning continues to produce the best quality insulation in the world! Just ask any builder or look at the rankings. The 2006 Buyer’s Guide, Builder Magazine ranked Owens Corning first in “brand used most and highest quality rating”.

Cooling Your Home For Less Is a Breeze

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When summers get as hot as this one, it’s difficult to imagine what people did before air conditioning. Here is some information on figuring out how to most efficiently cool a home.

If you’ve gotten your latest electric bill, you may already suspect that Americans spend more than $22 billion a year on electricity to cool their homes with air conditioning. Continue Reading →