Like any place in the north, winter in Pittsburgh brings its beauty and its bitterness. Yes, constantly shoveling snow is annoying. And yes, taking 30 minutes to get 4 layers of clothes on your kid to walk 30 feet to the car puts a damper on your day. But winter can go from an annoyance to ‘oh my gosh I can’t believe this is actually happening to me’ to life threatening pretty quickly. We talked to some local home improvement professionals to ask them what Pittsburgh residents should be doing to make sure their home gets through the winter in great shape and keeps you warm and comfortable throughout!
Check your roof
Our friends at Hausler Roofing gave us some great advice for our roof as winter approaches. “Make sure you have your roof inspected in the fall,” Mr. Hausler said. “Even minor issues can become massive problems once temperatures drop and put pressure on your roof. If you think about it, your roof is almost always underseige. But in the winter, ice and snow can tilt the balance against you and towards Mother Nature. Once the problem worsens, water can easily get into your attic and cause a lot of problems.”
If you have the skills (and can keep yourself safe!), walk your roof and look for any damaged shingles. Repair the little stuff so it doesn’t turn into big stuff!
Make sure you have proper insulation
Insulation serves many purposes. Not only does it help make your home more comfortable, but it makes it more energy efficient. And its benefits don’t stop there. What most homeowners don’t realize is proper insulation prevents ice dams. Ice dams occur because heat escapes through your ceiling and then rise to your roof deck. Once that warms up, it melts the snow, which then drips down until it reaches the overhang of your roof (which remains cold because it doesn’t sit on top of your hot attic). Once there, it freezes and forms an ice dam. Why should you care about ice dams? “Ice dams can do a number of things to your home…none of them good,” said Mark Distanio of RestorationEze. “First, they can ruin your gutters. That can be expensive to replace or repair depending on the amount of damage. But second, they can greatly reduce the useful lifespan of your roof. But lastly, they can cause a lot of water damage in your attic that could either fester and lead to black mold or even drip through attic and into your home. There’s a lot of temporary fixes for ice dams, but without making sure hot air stays in your home and cold air can stay on your roof deck, you’re fighting an uphill battle.
Here’s a great video explaining the relationship between your heater, your attic, insulation, your roof and water damage and mold:
Have your heater tuned-up
This should be a no-brainer every fall, but very few people actually do it. Make sure you get your heater tuned-up each fall. Not only will it hopefully prevent any problems from occurring when you need the system to function the most, but it will extend the lifespan of your heater. And if you’ve ever paid for a furnace or boiler, you know how expensive they can be!