Holiday Lights: Dos and Don’ts

holiday lights

The holidays are less than four weeks away! Before you begin stringing holiday lights and hanging garland, there are a few dos and don’ts you should keep in mind, ensuring you don’t damage your roofing system in the process.

Do Inspect Holiday Light Sets

Carefully inspect previously used light strings and extension cords. Frayed or otherwise damaged electrical cords should be responsibly disposed of. There should also be no broken sockets or loose connections. The lights could short out and cause a fire. Additionally, any string lights or extension cords you plan to use outdoors must safely stand up to the elements; look for the UL-rating.

Don’t Use a Staple or Nail Gun

Fans of the holiday classic, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” will recall Clark Griswold (played by Chevy Chase) using his trusty staple gun to attach lights directly onto the roof. Not only was this dangerous, it was incredibly damaging to his roof! Stapling or nailing holiday lights into your shingles can damage them and ultimately cause a leak. Instead, use clips designed to securely fasten lights to shingles and gutters.

Do Use a Sturdy Ladder

Always use a good, sturdy ladder when installing your lights. It’s also a good idea to make sure someone is helping you with your display – one person on the ground to hold the ladder steady and the other hanging lights. Better yet, hang lights from the ground, and in less time than it took Clark with a pole that extends to help you hook the clip directly onto the gutter or shingle.

Don’t Overload Your Outlets

When Clark plugged in his lights, overloading the circuit, he took out most of Chicago –  leaving his neighbors in the dark. Unlike Clark, you probably won’t run this risk, but you can certainly pop some breakers and possibly create a fire hazard. Always use lights according to manufacturer instructions.

Do Purchase LED Holiday Lights

Incandescent holiday lights are terribly inefficient, and despite careful storage, often emerge damaged. LEDs, while a little more expensive, are a much better option. They use up to 75% less energy and last 25 times longer. Because they also produce very little heat, they are much safer to use for both indoor and outdoor lighting.

Don’t Leave Your Lights on Unattended

Don’t leave holiday lights on when you go to bed at night or when you leave the house. Should a problem develop, it’s essential for someone to react quickly, thus thwarting potential property damage or personal injury. Add a timer so you don’t have to worry about remembering to turn your lights on and off.

Do Properly Store Your Holiday Lights

At the end of the season, when you must put your lights back into storage, make sure to use cord holders to avoid a tangled mess. You can also make your own using leftover cardboard or empty paper towel rolls. It’s also a good idea to store them in a well-sealed container to prevent possible water or rodent damage.

Winter is Coming: Prepare Your Roof Now

 

protect your roof

Winter is one of the toughest seasons – especially for roofs. Protect your roof from snow, ice, and dips in temperature using the following advice.

Inspect Your Roof

Doing a roof inspection on your own is easy. According to GAF, the United States’ largest roofing manufacturer, you should check your roofing system twice per year. In the fall, you’re checking to make sure the roof is ready for the added weight of snow and ice, as well as BIG temperature swings between day and night. Those temperature variations can cause roofing materials to expand and contract, stressing the materials.

There are five key things to look for while doing a roof inspection from the attic:

  1. Water leaks or staining
  2. Outside light coming through
  3. Sagging decking (between rafters)
  4. Proper ventilation – make sure vents are clear
  5. Measure and calculate adequate attic insulation levels

If you don’t have an attic, an outdoor visual inspection is the next best thing. You can do this from the safety of your yard without the risk of going up on a ladder. However, for a more comprehensive roof inspection, consult with a professional roofer.

Clean Your Gutters

Your gutters are an integral part of your roofing system. Made up of a series of interconnected troughs, they help channel water away from the house, but only if properly maintained. A clogged gutter, on the other hand, can result in backed up/stagnant water that can cause water damage and/or attract unwanted pests. If you haven’t already, you should clean your gutters before fall transitions to winter.

Prevent Ice Dams

Ice dams form as heat rises from a home, causing accumulated snow to melt, which travels down the roof until it reaches the eave line and gutters where it refreezes due to colder temps. Ice dams have destructive effects, including drenched insulation, rotting joists, the formation of mold, and collapsed rain gutters.

Proper insulation and ventilation of the attic space helps to keep heat from reaching the roof, thus preventing snow melt in the first place. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, adding insulation to an unheated attic will have the greatest impact on energy consumption, saving you money on heating and cooling bills.

Replace Your Roof

While built for durability, the life expectancy of your roof depends on several additional factors, including design, installation quality and the material used to cover it. Local weather can also influence lifespan – and potentially cause premature roof failure. Lack of long-term care and maintenance or if your roof is not properly ventilated can accelerate the aging of most materials.

Potential signs that you roof needs to be replaced:

  • Moss
  • Dark streaks
  • Cracked shingles
  • Curling or cupping shingle edges
  • Bald spots where granules are missing
  • Your neighbors are having new roofs installed
  • Your roof is more than 20 years old – few roofs last longer than this

We want to hear from you. What are some ways you prepare for winter?

Preventing Ice Dams this Winter

ice dams

With plenty of snow, and a freeze-thaw cycle of sunny days and frigid nights, ice dams are not a foreign sight for Denver area residents. They are, however, an unwelcome sight! Unfortunately, these giant icicles hanging from the eaves are quite dangerous to people walking underneath, as well as a sign of serious problems to come with your roof and/or attic. Thankfully, there are several things you can do to prevent the formation of ice dams, or to reduce the damage after they have formed.

What causes ice dams?

For ice dams to form there must be snow on the roof, the outside temperature must be below freezing, and, at the same time, higher portions of the roof’s outside surface must be above freezing while lower surfaces remain below freezing. Under these conditions, the snow on the higher portion of your roof will melt, causing water to flow down to the eaves where it refreezes forming an ice dam. The dam grows in size as it is fed by the melting snow above it.

What damages can occur?

When an ice dam gets big enough, melted water backs up behind it and seeps underneath the shingles, where it will eventually drip into your home’s attic insulation and down into the ceilings and exterior walls beneath the eaves. If the ice dam breaks free, it can pull shingles and gutters off it, damaging anything it falls into or on: cars, pets, people, windowsills, etc. If the roof sheathing remains wet in this environment, mildew and/or mold can grow, which can later cause rot.

How can I prevent ice dams?

Preventing ice dams begins at the top – your roof. The roof should have adequate pitch with minimal valleys to prevent heavy snow buildup. If considering a new roof, metal roofing materials, or cool roofing materials are your safest bet for preventing ice dams. Venting is also important as this allows a constant flow of cold air therefore preventing the snow from melting and causing problems. For more information on preventing ice dams, contact your local roofing companies Denver contractor at: (303) 789-1505.

Home Maintenance: Prepare Your Home for Fall

home maintenance

Fall is one of my favorite times of year (second after winter!). There are so many wonderful things that come with the changing of the seasons: leaves changing color, pumpkin spice everything, and crisp fall air. As we say goodbye, sweet summer, it’s wise to start preparing our homes for the season ahead. Here are a few home maintenance projects you can complete in preparation of the fall season.

#1. Clean Your Gutters: It is a good idea to remove leaves, sticks, and other small objects from your gutters once in the fall and again in the spring. Cleaning out debris-ridden gutters eliminates the risk of overflow and water damage. If your gutters are clogged, it can cause water to accumulate in areas of your roof, leading to an increased risk of decay, moisture and leaks. You can have your gutters professionally serviced or clean them yourself.

#2. Seal Air Leaks: Caulking or weatherstripping will help seal leaks around leaky doors and windows – helping you stay warm, save energy, and reduce heat loss. Other sources of air leaks include knee walls, attic hatch/opening, wiring holes, plumbing vents, and recessed lights. The Department of Energy has some useful tips on how to select and apply the appropriate caulk for your windows and doors. You can also learn how to choose and apply weatherstipping.

#3. Do a Roof Check: The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) recommends a biannual roof inspection. An asphalt shingled roof has a lifespan of up to 20 years, whereas, a slate roof can last 50 years or more. While you can replace roof shingles without going through the hassle and expense of replacing the entire roof, it is important to take the time to really look for signs of deterioration, damage, and missing/loose shingles. If you’re unsure, hire an expert.

#4. Spring for a Chimney Sweep: If you have a wood-burning fireplace that you plan on using come winter, fall is the perfect time to make sure its chimney is inspected and cleaned. A clean chimney will also ensure that your fireplace is operating at its most efficient. Hire a professional chimney cleaning company, typically called a chimney sweep, for a clean and efficient fireplace. You can find certified chimney sweepers at the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

#5. Install a Programmable Thermostat: Installing a programmable thermostat can reduce your energy usage by automatically adjusting your home’s temperature settings while you’re away or sleeping. When used properly, a programmable thermostat can save up to $180 per year in energy costs, according to ENERGY STAR®. WiFi and smartphone controlled models, while more expensive, generally tend to pay for themselves in just one season.

#6. Ensure Your and Your Family’s Safety: As fall turns to winter, you will want to be diligent, making sure you and your family remain safe. Before winter hits, replace the batteries in your home’s smoke, heat, and carbon monoxide detectors. Test each one to make that they are working properly. Now is also a good time to draft or review a fire safety plan with your family. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a good resource for information on fire safety/escape plans.

8 Must-Do’s for Winter Maintenance

winter maintenance

Fall is here which means winter is near! As the cold weather nears, now is a good time to prepare your home for the shift in weather conditions with these essential winter maintenance tips, no matter where you live.

  1. Tune Up Your Heating System

Brrr…it’s going to be a cold one. Make sure your heating system will get you through the winter months by scheduling an annual furnace tune-up. A technician will inspect your furnace to be sure the system is clean and in good working order. If you act now, you’ll minimize your risk of needing emergency repair services during freezing temperatures.

  1. Adjust Your Ceiling Fans

Adjust your ceiling fans so that the fan’s blades run in clockwise direction. Do this after you’ve turned on your heat. Energy Star states that this will produce an updraft, which pushes heated air down from the ceiling. Set your thermostat down a few degrees. This simple task affords you both energy and monetary savings.

  1. Prevent Icicles & Ice Dams

Winter brings snow-packed roofs to Colorado residents. That’s a given. As the snow starts melting damaging icicles and ice dams can occur. Take steps to prevent potential damage this year by ensuring that there is adequate roof ventilation as well as sealing gaps that allow warm air to pass into the attic from the house.

  1. Inspect Your Roof

Inspecting your roof is one task that’s easy to overlook. Don’t! With a pair of trusty binoculars in hand, scan your roof for damaged, loose or missing shingles. Look at the condition of the flashing too. Back inside, check for daylight peeking through cracks or worn spots in your roof {Tip: the attic provides the perfect vantage point}.

  1. Clean the Gutters

If your gutters are clogged, water can back up against the house, potentially damaging your home’s roof, siding, and trim. Clogged gutters can also result in leaks and ice dams. Using your gloved hands or a trowel, carefully remove any detritus from the gutters, and any residue from the roof shingles. Follow up by thoroughly flushing the gutters out.

  1. Clean Your Fireplace & Chimney

You should make sure your fireplace, chimney, and vents are clean prior to burning the Yule log. This will prevent chimney fires and prevent carbon monoxide poisonings. Search for a certified chimney sweeper at Chimney Safety Institute of America. A professional will inspect and thoroughly clean your fireplace and chimney.

  1. Caulk Around Your Doors & Windows

Caulking around your windows and doors are small projects that can have a big impact on how much energy and money you save. It’s a project that rewards you throughout the year; not just during the winter. Do-it-yourselfers of any skill can easily caulk and weather-strip their entire home in a short amount of time.

  1. Restock on Winter Essentials

Don’t delay – restock on ice melt or ice before the first winter storm hits. If you have one, check to make sure your snow blower is properly maintained, and ready to go. Replace damaged or worn shovels, sleds, and winter toys well ahead of the crowds {if applicable to your situation}.

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