If you're a homeowner, you probably know that home winterization is essential if you want to increase energy efficiency and comfort during the winter. In addition to the usual quick fixes, there are a few important tasks to keep in mind when preparing both the interior and exterior of your home for the harsh weather ahead.
Believe it or not, the roof plays a big role when it comes to controlling the comfort in your home. Even more, heavy snowfall and ice can lead to severe damage throughout your home if you don't have a healthy roof.
Winter weather can cause the creation of ice dams. Walls of ice form at the edge of the roof when snow melts and runs down the roof, reaches the cold eaves and refreezes. If you don't have the proper protection, the ice pushes under the shingles, which will cause leaks into the attic or along exterior walls, resulting in water damage that can be expensive to repair.
Make sure you keep an eye out for icicles on your roof throughout the winter. Safety should always be your first priority. Icicles are dangerous because not only can they break off and fall from the roof, but the weight of the icicles can also cause a gutter or awning to fall. If you're worried about potential damage, hire a roofing contractor to inspect your roof to remove icicles or make any repairs before problems arise.
If your roofing contractor determines you need a new roof, use Owens Corning Deck Defense underlayment and WeatherLock Self-Sealing Ice & Water Barrier Products in conjunction with high-performance shingles to help shield your home from moisture infiltration. These two layers of a roofing system are important because they provide extra water-shedding protection under the shingles.
"Ice and water barrier products directly beneath the shingles stop water from getting into the house," says Mel Sancrant, product technical specialist at Owens Corning. "But, it's also important to maintain adequate insulation in your attic to prevent ice dams by making sure you keep the attic at the same temperature as the outside with proper ventilation and insulation."
In the winter, the warm moist air generated by laundry, showers and other household activities can cause moisture build-up in the home. This moist air becomes a water vapor that transfers through your ceiling into the attic. Proper ventilation helps remove the moisture while it's still a vapor and exhaust it out through the vents located at the top of the house.
Insulation will help maintain a comfortable temperature inside the home and promote energy efficiency. It can also reduce the amount of heat loss in your home if installed according to the Department of Energy's (DOE) recommendation for your region. Excessive heat loss through your attic can contribute to ice damming, so proper ventilation and a well insulated home are part of a healthy roof system.
To determine if you need more insulation, simply measure what you have. Most experts agree your attic should have at least a 19 inch deep layer of insulation or you could be wasting money. If your attic falls short of the DOE recommendation for your region and the type of heating and cooling system you have installed, then add another layer of insulation. The DOE's Energy Star website features a chart that clearly showcases the recommended level of attic insulation in each region in the United States.
There are other ways to make energy-efficient updates to your home, such caulking, weather stripping or adding an attic stairway insulator, to easily and effectively increase comfort and reduce heating costs.
A home energy audit with a qualified professional ensures a thorough inspection. In addition to helping you identify if your home is properly insulated and air sealed, the professional will shed light on ways you can conserve hot water and electricity.
Ensure your home has a healthy roof, proper insulation and an adequate air sealing system if you want to achieve an optimal level of comfort and energy efficiency in your home and protect it from the elements this winter.