UNION COUNTY, NJ — Frozen pipes, ice dams and leaks are all common seasonal threats for homeowners, and extensive damage can occur if not houses are not properly cared for before the start of winter.
However, despite one significant snowfall and the two recent weeks of subfreezing weather, there are still some temporary solutions for such issues, according to Cory McIsaac of Peter W. Smith Construction.
The Boonton roofing and general contractor services several counties, including Union, and encourages homeowners to actively prepare for winter before it begins. And if ice dams or brown spots appear on the ceiling in the middle of winter, McIsaac said homeowners must respond quickly.
A large project — like replacing a roof — is best taken on to prevent emergencies before winter, and can be burdensome during the cold months. However, quick repairs are imperative.
An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow, or water from draining off the edge. The water that backs up behind the dam and can leak into a home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation and other areas.
Attics that are not properly ventilated and insulated are an underlying cause of ice damming, McIsaac, a New Providence resident, said. Warm temperatures from the attic melt the ice on the roof, which leads to water seeping through the roof, gutters and wall cavity.
McIsaac said homeowners should insulate and ventilate their attic space during the warmer months. The best time to address and prevent ice damming is during the spring, summer or fall, McIsaac said, but the best thing an unprepared homeowner can do is to keep the attic like the outside.
“Make your attic as cold as possible,” he said. “This will cause the water to refreeze, which will slow things down.”
Place and run fans with cool temperatures in the attic to drop the temperature, McIsaac told LocalSource.
Leaks are another common winter occurrence, and are commonly identified by brown spots marked on the ceiling.
Existing leaks expand and contract during the colder months, McIsaac said.
Puddles can easily form from a leaking roof or from drainage pipes. This will result in ceiling damage where water spots and stains may appear wet or dry.
“If this happens, drill a hole and drain it,” McIsaac said. “This is a way easier solution than replacing an entire roof.”
Understanding the severity of damage caused by leaks, Smith Construction has begun to install waterproof membranes, McIsaac told LocalSource. These are rolls of synthetic material usually placed underneath roof shingles that resist the formulation of pooling water on roofs, McIsaac told LocalSource.
Also according to the website, the company will install expansive gutter systems to better drain water into downpipes, which ultimately prevents puddles from collecting.