Avoid Winter Old House and Barn Problems

Avoid Winter Old House and Barn Problems

Here is advice in three key areas:

With snow removal from home and barn roofs, focus on safe, easily-accessible spots like low-pitched roofs and shed additions, and get professional assessment and assistance. Use a snow rake, available from many hardware stores. Keep gutters and drains free of ice and snow, and keep downspouts clean at ground level.

Ice dams and icicles along a house’s eave are a tell tale sign of heat loss through the roof.  (The goal is to keep a cold roof!) Historic homes are often under insulated and not properly sealed to prevent heated air from entering the attic space. Warm air leaks heat the roof, causing the snow to melt. As the water travels down the roof, it refreezes as it reaches the cold eave forming an ice dam and often spectacular icicles. Water can then backup behind the ice dam and leak into the house causing extensive damage to the interior of your home.
Check around chimneys and roof vents for signs of warm air leaks. If the melt is evenly dispersed, you may just need to add additional insulation throughout the entire attic floor. Take notes (and photos) of your problem areas so you can make appropriate repairs in the spring.
Tossing ice melt (tied into knee-high nylon stockings) into those problem areas can help alleviate problems temporarily. 

Be extra cautious working around the house in winter conditions.  Steep pitched roofs and high area are best left to the experts.

More Ideas

Helpful websites:

Ice Dam Basics

Ice Dam Prevention

Roofing Document - Ice Dams

Before you start to tighten up the house, make sure you have the moisture issues under control! Sealing up a house with high relative humidity levels will increase mold and mildew problems.  Weatherization suggestions: 

•    Install proper weatherstripping around doors and windows
•    Make sure glass in doors and windows is tightly glazed
•    Use door and window locks to keep them shut tightly
•    Install storm doors and windows
•    Seal gaps in structural and foundation materials with caulking or spray foam
•    Limit draw from chimneys by keeping dampers closed when not in use
•    Caulk gaps in siding and around doors and windows
•    Close gaps in HVAC, chimneys and fireplaces
•    Install good window treatments that help insulate from the cold window pane
•    Insulate your attic floor
•    Seal and insulate attic access
•    Install programmable thermostats

Thanks to Noelle Lord for her help with the weatherization list.