gutters have to be totally clean," says Mark Brick, and
he adds that they should be cleared after the trees are
completely bare of leaves.
Prepare yourself winter is around the corner.
How to stay warm and lower costs? Read on!
Peter Quale of Handyman Connection suggests using a
roof rake, which is available at most hardware stores, to clear snow
from your roof and prevent ice dams from forming. Heat from the attic,
he says, will warm the snow and ice on your roof, and ice dams can
prevent this melted water from reaching the gutters. Snow on upper
decks should also be cleared for the same reason.
Sealing all exterior air gaps is important,
especially for older homes. "Typically older homes arent as
energy efficient," Quale says. "There are a lot of
gaps." Buy a silicon caulk that is for exterior use, apply it
anywhere on the exterior of the house such as around windows or
doors where air might get in, and put weatherstripping around all
doors. Quale suggests buying insulation for electrical outlets and
switches simply unscrew the faceplates and put in a little foam.
"You wouldnt believe how much air comes through those,"
he says. Quale adds that your furnace should have a
"tune-up" and that all air filters should be replaced.
To help prevent rodents from entering your house,
use a mortar repair caulk to fill any cracks in your foundation. Quale
also recommends clearing your lawn of all grass clippings and leaves
before the first snowfall, so that mice do not burrow beneath the snow
and destroy your lawn.
Mark Brick, president of B & E General
Contractors in Milwaukee, points out that where the water goes when it
hits the ground is also important. He says to check the grade around
the house the ground should be pitched away from the foundation
and to make sure that the water spouts have extensions that are at
least three feet long.
To keep ice dams from forming on your roof or in
your gutters, Brick suggests buying electric heat wire or heat tape,
which can be run down the valleys of your roof and inside the gutters
to prevent water from freezing. He also has some advice regarding
Christmas lights. While "its important to express your holiday
spirit," he says, you should take the lights down after the
holiday season has passed. The lights, he says, "create a webbing
for the ice to stay in, and become a maintenance problem in your
Architect Ilmar Junge, of remodeling contractors
Junge & Associates, points out, "If youre not wearing a
hat, all the heat goes out the top of your head," and he says the
same can be said of a house. The most expensive measure, he notes,
would be to have professionals pump insulation into your ceiling. If
you have an open attic, however, Junge says you can lay the insulation
yourself. He adds that the insulation should be at least 12 inches
thick and should have a heat resistance factor of R38 or greater.
Another place to consider adding insulation, Junge
notes, is in the space between the foundation blocks and the floor
joists around the perimeter of the house, which can allow quite a bit
of air infiltration. Homeowners, Junge points out, can perform this
job themselves simply cut pieces of insulation with a knife and
stuff them into the space.
Installing new windows, especially low-emissivity,
or "low-e" windows that reflect heat back into the home. If
new windows are not an option, Junge recommends using plastic film on
your windows. "Film at least keeps air from coming in," he
says. Junge also extols the virtues of proper air circulation your
house should "breathe," he says and a well-maintained