Category: Roofing & Siding


When the Clothes on Your Back Are a Tool for the Task

Setting out to make a repair on his roof, our blogger expected to use a handful of familiar, basic tools. By the end of the day, though, what had proved the most useful wasn't a tool at all!

Drip Edge Repair

Photo: MFranco

Look at any flat roof and, along the edges, you’re likely to see a special type of flashing—the drip edge. Though nothing more sophisticated than a profiled length of aluminum or galvanized steel, the drip edge performs a critical set of functions. For one, it closes up the space between the roof deck and fascia board, protecting the two components from the weather (and from each other). Second, the drip edge guards the roof deck from exposure to wind-driven rain. But most important, the drip edge, true to its name, encourages rain to shed outwards and away from the building, not down the side. Finally, although it’s primarily intended to prevent water damage, the drip edge provides a decorative bonus—it lends an attractive, finished appearance to the roof.

How do you know if your drip edge has been doing its job? Check the fascia board, or in some cases, the underside of the roof overhang. Here, if you notice water stains, you can probably blame the drip edge. But stains are not the only sign of a drip-edge failure. As I discovered on a recent visit to my summer house, some signs are much more dramatic. As I pulled into the driveway, I didn’t see any water stains. No, what I saw was the drip-edge flashing hanging down the side of the garage, having become almost fully detached! My best guess was that high winds caused an outdoor cable to snag the flashing and wrench it out of position. I’m just glad I stopped by the house at the right time. Had I not been there to put the drip edge back into place, a leaking roof or a flooded basement—or both—may have been waiting for me on my next visit.

Of course, I was on vacation and not eager to work on anything (other than my suntan, that is). But knowing that, without the drip edge in place, the house would be vulnerable to damage from heavy summer rains, I had no choice but to move forward with the repair. Within minutes, I’d rounded up the basic tools I’d need. But as it was such an exceedingly hot day—and because I would be working with sharp-edged metal—I had to put extra thought into my choice of clothing. In my experience, when you’re tackling a tough task or working under difficult conditions, your gear can make or break your ability to perform. For that reason, I was happy to test a couple of pieces from the Wrangler® RIGGS Workwear® line—a collection designed specifically to provide durability and comfort on the job site.

Photo: MFranco

The Wrangler® RIGGS Workwear® collection includes everything from jeans and overalls to long-sleeve shirts and button-downs. Because I was facing an outdoor job—in summer, no less—I chose the Short Sleeve Pocket T-Shirt. Though I had read the label and understood the shirt is made entirely from seven-ounce cotton jersey, I was still surprised by the balance struck between its rugged construction and loose-but-not-too-loose fit. Aside from the vented taped side seams and taped neck seam, I also loved the tagless label, because when I’m on a ladder, the last thing I want to worry about is a scratchy collar. Along with the T-shirt, I wore the Ripstop Ranger Pant, named for the durable ripstop fabric that makes the garment not only extraordinarily tough, but also quite comfortable and, in my experience, miraculously breathable.

Back to the job at hand: The initial step was to remove the damaged drip edge and closely inspect its condition. While the wind had done most of the work for me, taking down all but one portion of the flashing, there were still a few nails left to remove. Using pliers, I pulled out the nails, then carefully carried the drip edge down to the ground, where I had set up a rudimentary workbench. If the flashing had been irretrievably damaged, I could easily have gone out and purchased a replacement. After all, home centers typically stock drip-edge flashing in 10-foot sections, in multiple colors and in multiple profiles. But lucky for me, the damage was minimal. In relatively short order, I was able to smooth out the few dents simply by running a block of wood over the metal on both sides. In other words—so far, so good!

Up to this point, what I loved most about Wrangler® RIGGS Workwear® wasn’t that it had resisted tears or allowed freedom of movement. It did do both of those things, but I was most impressed with the breast pocket of the T-shirt. Unlike most breast pockets, this one isn’t merely for show. On the contrary, the pocket was strong enough to hold the pair of pliers that I used on the roof. Plus, inside the pocket there’s a hidden utility loop—the perfect spot to stash a carpenter’s pencil. Those are the kinds of little details that mark the Short Sleeve Pocket T-Shirt as having been pragmatically designed with real working people in mind. Something else I liked: Despite the intense heat, I was managing to stay cool thanks to the vents that are let into the pant just below the reinforced knees. Certainly, the ripstop material is breathable on its own—more breathable than I expected—but the extra airflow goes a long way toward ensuring comfort.

In the final phase of the flashing repair, I had to reinstall the drip edge. To keep it in place over the long haul, I ran a bead of roofing cement along the side that would sit against the roof deck. The cement would help the flashing withstand the next gust of wind or tug from a cable. Once I’d done that, there was only one step remaining—climbing the ladder and repositioning the drip edge. Under normal circumstances, I would have expected to make a few trips up and down the ladder, but here’s where the many thoughtful, practical details in the design of the Ripstop Ranger Pant really surprised me. In the end, I had to make only one trip, because everything I needed to complete the project fit handily on the garment. On the right side, a loop provided a place to hang my hammer. A smaller pocket proved to be the exact right size for a tape measure. With my caulking gun secured in one of the belt loops, I jammed a handful of nails into the cargo pocket, confident that their sharp points would not poke through.

Atop the ladder, I completed the rest of the work pretty quickly, securing the flashing with roofing nails at intervals of about three inches. Then, to finish the job, I ran a second line of roofing cement, this time along the seam where the flashing came into contact with the roof. At any point in the process, the clothes I was wearing could have slowed me down—or simply made the project more of a pain. It’s happened before. But if anything, wearing Wrangler® RIGGS Workwear® helped me take the job from to-do to done faster than I anticipated, with plenty of time left over in the afternoon to enjoy the nearby beach. Best of all, I know that if I’d encountered any problem at all with my clothing, it wouldn’t have been a problem for very long. That’s because the full line of Wrangler® RIGGS Workwear® comes protected by a lifetime warranty. OK, seriously, how many T-shirts or pairs of pants do you own that are covered by a warranty? That’s what I thought.

Photo: MFranco

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Wrangler. The opinions and text are all mine.

 


Never Clean Gutters Again After This One Improvement

If you're one of the many homeowners who dreads the hassle and the hazards of maintaining your gutters, consider the alternative—a storm drainage system that never clogs and requires zero maintenance.

Never Clean Gutters Again

Photo: leafguard.com

Experts recommend cleaning your gutters at least twice per year—at the tail end of fall and at the very beginning of spring. If you live in a home surrounded by trees, then it’s wise to clean your gutters more often, perhaps with each change of season. That may seem like a lot of effort for a system that you rarely see, but think of it this way: gutters perform a critical function. By collecting rain and directing it away from the home, gutters prevent a slew of insidious problems, from mold and pests to leaks and flooding. Water is the natural enemy of any home, and gutters are your first line of defense against its potentially devastating threats.

For gutters do to their job, you’ve got to do yours—that is, keeping the gutters and downspouts clear of leaves and debris. If you fall behind on your maintenance, then you may as well not have installed gutters in the first place. It’s really that simple. Still, a surprising number of homeowners don’t clean the gutters nearly as often as necessary. Why? Well, there’s a simple explanation: People hate doing it. Besides being a hassle, the work can be downright dangerous, as it often involves climbing a ladder up to the roofline. Sure, you can hire a pro to handle the job, but doing so multiple times per year quickly becomes an expensive proposition.

Rather than force yourself to do such a dangerous chore, and instead of neglecting your gutters to the detriment of your home, why not simply install gutters that don’t need to be cleaned? In fact, if you choose LeafGuard Brand Gutters, you never need to clean or even think about gutters again. Thanks to its patented hooded design, the Leafguard system never clogs. Though other products imitate its functionality, only LeafGuard offers a seamless one-piece solution. So let the leaves fall where they may: So long as your home is protected by the LeafGuard system, you can rest assured that your gutters are running clear and operating as intended.

Never Clean Gutters Again - No Clogs

Photo: leafguard.com

LeafGuard leverages the principle of liquid adhesion. That means when rain lands on the hood, the water effectively grabs on to the cover, flowing around its lip and right into the gutter itself. From there, the system channels the rain to the downspouts and then to a safe distance from the home. When things that would normally create clogs hit the hood, they are easily deflected to the ground. So whereas conventional gutters are completely vulnerable to the buildup of leaves and debris, LeafGuard gutters always remain free of obstructions. Only water enters the gutters. That’s why you never need to clean them; they don’t get dirty in the first place!

Though famous for being maintenance-free, LeafGuard Brand Gutters stand out for plenty of other reasons, too. For instance, thanks to their wide bottoms and generously proportioned downspouts, LeafGuard gutters can manage up to 32 inches of rain per hour. That’s more rain than has ever actually fallen in the United States—three times more, in fact, according to the U.S. Weather Bureau. In addition to top performance, LeafGuard also boasts uncommon durability. Not only are Leafguard gutters made of extra thick aluminum, but they’re also coated with ScratchGuard®, a proprietary paint finish guaranteed not to chip, peel, or crack.

First-class installation further separates LeafGuard from the rest. With conventional gutters, slip-prone nails are used to attach gutter hangers at intervals of four feet. LeafGuard, meanwhile, secures its hangers with non-corrosive screws, and it positions those hangers every two feet—double the industry standard. Those quality-oriented considerations ensure that LeafGuard gutters remain attached to the fascia board, never separating from the home. In a unique, patented process, trained and certified dealers custom-fabricate your gutters on-site, working from a continuous sheet of metal. In most cases, installation takes just a single day.

If you’re not satisfied with your gutters, it’s likely because they continually clog. Prevent the water damage those clogger gutters can cause—and, importantly, save yourself the hassle and danger of gutter maintenance—with the get-it-and-forget-it solution offered by LeafGuard, the original one-piece seamless gutter system!

Never Clean Gutters Again - LeafGuard Cutaway

Photo: leafguard.com

This post has been brought to you by LeafGuard. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


How To: Clean Wood Siding

Your home's exterior really takes a beating. Give it an occasional cleaning to brighten up its appearance, get rid of mildew, and prevent discoloration. Sounds like a good idea, right? Well, have we got a tool for you!

How to Clean Wood Siding

Photo: thehydeway.com

Think your wood siding needs a fresh coat of paint? Maybe. Or it could be that your wood clapboard, lap, or shingle siding simply needs a thorough cleaning. Homeowners have always prized wood for its unparalleled appearance, but like any siding material, it requires periodic maintenance. With wood in particular, the challenge is to avoid doing more harm than good. For instance, you might be tempted to clean wood siding with a pressure washer, thinking it would make quick work of things. Do so at your own risk. Using such a high-powered tool can actually cause several types of damage, including stripped paint, gouged boards, and loosened caulk. Plus, if the pressure washer manages to send water through the joints and behind the boards, the errant moisture could end up fostering mold growth or triggering wood rot. In short, unless you’re deeply familiar with the operation of a pressure washer, don’t point one at the most visible part of your home. Besides, if you really want to give new life to your wood siding, it’s likely that water alone won’t do the trick—you’ll need to scrub too. A full-featured garden hose attachment like the HYDE PivotPro Outdoor Cleaning Wand includes everything you need to achieve a satisfying, beautiful result. Read on to learn how to clean wood siding safely and effectively with a single tool.

How to Clean Wood Siding - PivotPro Product Isolated

Photo: thehydeway.com

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- HYDE PivotPro Outdoor Cleaning Wand
- Garden hose
- Wood siding cleaner
- Plastic sheeting

STEP 1
Though far gentler than a pressure washer, PivotPro is broadly similar, in the sense that it releases a steady, directed stream of water. So, before you begin cleaning the siding in earnest, take steps to protect anything that would be vulnerable to a spray of water. If your landscaping includes delicate foundation plantings, it may be wise to cover them all with plastic sheeting. Do the same for any electrical components mounted on the siding (for example, power outlets and light fixtures). Also, do the obvious thing: Shut all the windows. As you go about your preparations, keep an eye out for mold. Dirt can be unsightly, but mold can be truly problematic. Left unchecked, it often causes wood rot, particularly in wet, humid climates. Note any location where you discover mold, so you return to and concentrate on those spots later in the cleaning process.

STEP 2
Point your PivotPro, hit the trigger, and start spraying cleansing water against your dirty wood siding. Work down from the roofline, taking on one 10-foot-square section at a time. At 46 inches in length, the PivotPro greatly extends your reach, even allowing you to spray second-floor siding without the hassles and hazards of using a ladder. In fact, PivotPro never forces you out of your comfort zone. Its pivoting nozzle allows you to spray at virtually any angle, so you can attack grit and grime in corners and crevices, all while remaining on your own two feet—no bending, stretching, or stooping required.

STEP 3
If you encountered any mold during the initial spraying, you’ll need to take action. Whether homegrown or store-bought, there are a number of methods of eliminating mold. Many people swear by the mold- and mildew-fighting capabilities of white vinegar, while others recommend oxygen bleach (not to be confused with chlorine bleach). Another option is to shop your local home center for a specially formulated mildewcide. Whichever cleanser you choose, it can be added to the 16-ounce mixing reservoir built into the PivotPro. Just pour in your cleanser of choice, set your desired cleanser-to-water ratio, then spray the mildew treatment wherever you need it. Finished? Deactivate the cleanser infusion with the push of button. Note: In order to be effective, most mildew treatments must sit for a period of time before being rinsed away.

How to Clean Wood Siding - Scrub Spray

Photo: thehydeway.com

STEP 4
If you encounter stubborn dirt or mold, don’t fret: PivotPro comes with precisely what you need to get rid of stuff that simply won’t budge. For flat surfaces, opt for the adjustable stiff-bristle nylon brush preloaded onto the tool. When you need it, simply swing the brush into place and scrub the siding as you spray it down. Do you need to scrub a narrow area, perhaps around the edges of a trim detail? Switch out the regular scrub brush for the spindle brush, also included. This attachment lets you clean cramped crevices where even hands can’t easily fit. When you’re done with the PivotPro brush, swing it back up and out of the way again.

STEP 5
Finish up by rinsing off any section to which you applied mildew treatment. If you used only water throughout the process, then you can consider the task complete once you have sprayed down the entire home exterior. Depending on the condition of the house when you started, you may notice the difference immediately. As you bask in the glow of a job well done, promise yourself to perform a similarly thorough cleaning on an annual basis to ensure that your siding always presents an appearance you can be proud of. Even more important, continued maintenance goes a long way toward ensuring your siding continues to serve you for many years.

How to Clean Wood Siding - Mixing Reservoir Detail

Photo: thehydeway.com

This post has been brought to you by Hyde Tools. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Is Your Home Ready for Rain?

Rainfall isn't just a number. Find out how much your neighborhood is expected to get—and how you can prevent that stormwater from damaging your home this season.

LeafGuard Free Estimate

Photo: leafguard.com

Can rain really damage your home? Well, that depends on the storm and on whether or not you’re ready for it. One inch of rain might not sound like much, but when spread over a 1,000-square-foot roof, it all adds up to a volume of 600 gallons! With so much rain, some of it’s going to find its way indoors eventually—unless your home is protected.

HOW MUCH RAIN DOES YOUR STATE EXPECT?

Gutters are your first line of defense against stormwater damage. But typical gutters only work right when regularly maintained. That’s why you need maintenance-free LeafGuard gutters. Designed with a unique curved hood, the seamless one-piece LeafGuard system never clogs. You never have to clean, let alone think about, your gutters. And your home remains protected, no matter what the weather brings.

Leafguard Free Estimate - Rain Map

Photo: bobvila.com

Click here to see your state’s average rainfall, then get info on how LeafGuard can help protect your home from whatever Mother Nature throws at you.

 

This post has been brought to you by LeafGuard. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


3 Wacky Tricks for Cleaning Gutters—Plus 1 Good Idea

All in an effort to avoid climbing that ladder and cleaning those gutters, homeowners have come up with some pretty unorthodox techniques. In the end, though, none rivals the get-it-and-forget convenience of a gutter system that never clogs in the first place.

Photo: fotosearch.com

Of the many maintenance tasks that homeowners dread, cleaning the gutters may be the least favorite of all. But like it or not, regular gutter cleaning is a must. When properly functioning, gutters perform a largely unseen but absolutely critical function: they direct rain water—the natural enemy of any home—away from the foundation, siding, and trim. If not sufficiently maintained, gutters eventually clog and overflow, allowing moisture to go where it doesn’t belong. Often, inadequate storm drainage leads to extensive, expensive damage in the form of leaks and flooding or such related issues as mold growth and pest infestations. No matter where you live, it’s recommended that you clean the gutters twice per year—once at the end of fall and again in the early spring. If your house sits on a lot with lots of trees, it may be wise to do so even more frequently. So, how do you go about it? Well, there are plenty of ways to complete the job. Perhaps the most common method involves nothing more than an extension ladder, a thick pair of work gloves, and a bucket. But over the years, some creative do-it-yourselfers have developed their own unique approaches. Here are a few of our favorite among the unconventional tactics that people are using to wage the never-ending war against leaves.

1. Blown Away
You’re probably familiar with the leaf blower as a tool that makes quick work of collecting leaves on the ground. What you may not have considered: A leaf blower can also clear leaves out of your gutters. The trick is to extend the reach of the blower well beyond its usual length. Attachment kits for the purpose may be found at your local home center, or, if you’d rather not spend the money, you can always hack something together with basic plumbing supplies. Don’t have a leaf blower? Try a shop vacuum! It turns out that, simply by swapping hose locations, you can reverse the operation of a shop vacuum, turning the suction tool into a blower. The downside of either approach is that, while blown air can be effective with dry leaves and twigs, it cannot budge lodged-in dirt or decomposing organic material. Also, bear in mind that, in multi-story homes, accessing the gutters typically requires the use of a ladder. For anyone, under any circumstances, scaling an extension ladder can be quite dangerous. But scaling a ladder even while holding a leaf blower? That’s a recipe for disaster and definitely something not to do!

2. Manual Labor
With a long wooden handle and sturdy steel tines, cultivators belong in the arsenal of any serious gardener or landscaper. Often extending lengths up to five or six feet, such tools are most often used to break up weeds and till soil. And due to their size, they enable you to work across a broad expanse without bending or stretching to an uncomfortable degree. What makes the cultivator so handy in the yard also makes it viable for gutter cleaning, at least in a single-story home. Unfortunately, when knocking debris out of your gutter with a cultivator, the gunk has nowhere to land but around your house. So, depending on your aesthetic sensitivities, you might wind up having to clean up all the gutter debris not once, but twice. Another drawback: The cultivator does nothing to eradicate clogs inside the downspouts. In the end, although it’s messy and achieves only partial results, a cultivator can be used in a pinch—but only for single-story homes.

3. Water Wise
Ironically, water—concentrated, carefully controlled streams—can be effective in gutter cleaning, especially when it comes to heavy decaying debris. If you have a garden hose connected to an outdoor spigot, you’re halfway there. The other piece of equipment you need is a long, ideally telescoping hose wand with an angled, down-pointing spray nozzle. If your hose attachment isn’t quite long enough or doesn’t have the right sort of nozzle, you can buy or make a suitable extender. Be warned: Though the method can be effective—for clearing out downspouts, in particular—you’re almost undoubtedly going to get soaked in the process, so put on rain gear before getting started. Also, expect to rinse or scrub away mud, not only from the roof and exterior walls, but also from sections of your lawn, hardscape (e.g., walkways and driveway), and planting areas. If you’re thinking, “Well, that sounds like a whole lot of trouble to go through,” you’re absolutely right!

None of the above are perfect techniques, but people put up with their disadvantages. Perhaps that’s because they allow people with single-story homes to sidestep the need for a ladder. Every year, homeowners go up on ladders to clean the gutters, and every year, people fall. This can be dangerous work. Yes, there’s the option of paying a professional to handle the job, but for a twice-yearly task, the associated costs can add up to a considerable sum. Homeowners are caught between ignoring the gutters, putting their property at risk, and climbing a ladder that puts life and limb at risk. So what’s the solution here?

Photo: leafguard.com

Install LeafGuard Brand Gutters, and you never have to think about your gutters again. Thanks to its unique, patented design, the LeafGuard one-piece seamless gutter system prevents clogging, so you can rest assured your home is safe, while never again having to do seasonal cleaning. That’s right: Say goodbye to gutter cleaning—forever.

Here’s how it works: Water flows over the curved hood of LeafGuard, then falls into the gutter, where it gets carried to the downspouts and then finally deposited at a safe distance from the home. Leaves and twigs, meanwhile, hit the hood and are deflected. Unlike added-on gutter helmets or screens, LeafGuard offers a one-piece product with no seams and no flimsy connections. Stronger and more durable than any other, LeafGuard gutters are made from aluminum that’s 20% thicker than standard gutters. Plus, the system features three-by-four downspouts that are 30% larger than average. That means LeafGuard sheds more water, more quickly.

Custom-fabricated on-site by trained and certified dealers, LeafGuard usually installs within one day, and its sleek design, available in a wide variety of colors, perfectly matches any house style. All the while, its clog-free functionality eliminate all the many moisture-related problems that homeowners so often worry about.

Don’t let a bunch of wet leaves compromise your largest investment. If you want a safe, hassle-free solution to clogged gutters, choose LeafGuard Brand Gutters.

Photo: leafguard.com

This post has been brought to you by LeafGuard. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Bob Vila Radio: Replace Rot-Damaged Trim ASAP

Rotted trim on the outside of your home is a small detail that can become a big problem, and water damage is the prime culprit. Follow these steps to replace your rotted trim—and keep it from happening again.

Exterior trim performs a couple of roles. Besides adding a decorative touch, it seals up corners and edges to keep out moisture. Given the exposure it gets from the weather, there’s no wonder that over time, it’s prone to damage from rot.

Replace Rotted Exterior Trim

Photo: shutterstock.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON REPLACING ROTTED TRIM or read the text below:

To protect your home from further, non-cosmetic damage, check the condition of house trim regularly. Pay special attention to the top and bottom ends, as that’s where water seep in most. If you see rot in one spot, it’s best to replace the entire board. You can always save the undamaged sections for future repair jobs.

Once you’ve cut the new trim to size, apply a coat of primer to all sides, including the back and the ends. Use galvanized nails to fasten the new board into place, then finish off with at least two coats of a high-quality exterior paint.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free.


Genius! Shingles Made of Beer Cans

Don't chuck those 12-ounce cans in the recycling bin! Instead, start saving up aluminum for this wonderfully offbeat backyard DIY project.

Beer Can Shingles

Photo: instructables.com

“Start drinking now if you plan to make this,” writes Instructables user robbtoberfest, the genius behind this wonderfully offbeat backyard DIY project.

For a 24″ x 24″ roof, about the size for a chicken coop or small shed, expect to use at least 40 cans (of the 12-ounce variety). To turn them into shingles, the first step is to build a die—that is, a simple hinged template that presses the aluminum into the desired shape. It’s all explained in the project guide, but suffice it to say that with 1′x6′ hardwood, two square metal rods, basic tools and some beginner woodworking skills, you ought to be on your way to nailing shingles within a half-day.

Installation is as simple as nail-gunning the newly formed shingles onto the plywood roof sheathing. Cover the bottom and side edges of the roof sturcture first, and as you go, be certain to overlap each successive shingle you apply. To cap the roof, bypass the die and simply fold a series of unpressed aluminum sheets in half, lengthwise. Nail those along the ridge to complete the job, and you’re finished. Not a bad way to recycle the refuse from the party last weekend, wouldn’t you say?

FOR MORE: Instructables

Beer Can Shingles 2

Photo: instructables.com


Bob Vila Radio: Fix Ice Dams—Fast!

Though it's no substitute for comprehensive, permanent prevention measures, you can use this clever trick to resolve an ice dam problem before it leaves lasting damage.

If you live in an area of the country with cold winters, you are likely familiar with ice dams. These are the ridges of frozen water that form along the edges of roofs.

Ice Dam Solution

Photo: mastersconstruction.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON FIXING ICE DAMS or read the text below:

Ice dams occur when heated air in your home rises, finding its way into the attic and settling on the underside of the roof. There, the presence of warm air causes any snow on the roof to melt. The snowmelt drains down the roof until it reaches the cold overhang of the roof, where if it refreezes, an ice dams forms.

Ice dams can lead to all sorts of damage, mostly stemming to the fact that, once the ice dams are entrenched, they prevent the roof from shedding any additional melted snow or rain. With nowhere else to go, the captive water can leak into the house, rotting wood or inciting the growth of mold.

Properly insulating the home—that means, in part, sealing the attic from rising warm air—is the best way to avoid ice dams. If you get an ice dam anyway, you’ll probably need to consult an energy-savvy contractor. But in the meantime, here’s a fix that may get you through a crisis:

Find a pair of old nylons and fill one of the legs with store-bought or homemade ice melt. Drape the nylons on the roof in such a way that the stuffed leg crosses the ice dam and the gutter. Eventually, the chemicals will melt that section of the ice, creating a gap through which water can slide down off the roof pitch.

Bob Vila Radio is a daily radio spot carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Bob Vila Radio: Locating a Leak in the Roof

Before you can repair a roof leak, you first need to locate the problem. That sort of detective work is rarely a cinch, but these tips can help you crack the case more quickly.

The toughest part of fixing a roof leak is often to figure out where the water is getting in. It’s not uncommon for water to enter the roof at one spot before traveling, by dint of gravity, to the spot where you finally notice it as a stain on the drywall, for example, or as a saturated panel of fiberglass insulation.

How to Find a Leak in the Roof

Photo: shutterstock.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON LOCATING ROOF LEAKS, or read the text below:

The best way to spot a leak is to head up to the attic on a rainy day. Bring along a flashlight with a good, strong beam and use it to look for areas of wetness. Since water reflects light, so you should be able to find the spot pretty quickly. Once you’ve found it, remember to mark it so that you can find it again a day or two later.

When you have a clear day, make your way up to the roof. Meanwhile, ask a helper indoors to tap on the spot you marked in the attic. Working together, the two of you should be able to locate the shingles directly above the wet area. Communicating via speakerphone here may be prove faster than taking turns tapping.

If you don’t see signs of entry directly above the mark made in the attic, try looking a little further up the roof. Also, check to see if any of the “usual suspects” in roof leaks are located near to where you’re looking. These include dormer valleys, chimney flashing, and the gaskets surrounding pipes and wiring.

When it comes to making the repair, a little roofing cement can go a long way!

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


How Much Snow Can a Roof Hold?

Unusual amounts of snow lead to many things—stalled cars, snowball fights, and airport closings. They also lead to many homeowner concerns over the roof's ability to hold the weight. Find out what you can do to identify or prevent problems.

How Much Snow Can a Roof Hold

Photo: shutterstock.com

Late last year, Buffalo, New York, recorded a record amount of snow—and winter hadn’t even begun yet. More than a few homeowners in the city may have been concerned that their roofs would collapse under the strain of a surprising snow load. Roof collapse is something that many people worry about, with or without several feet of snow heaped up beyond the front door. How much snow can a roof hold, anyway? And are there steps you can take to avoid a worst-case scenario?

Because there are so many variables involved, this isn’t a simple topic to address. The weight of the snow is a critical factor; half a foot of wet snow tips the scale about the same as a yard of dry, fluffy snow. And everything from a roof’s structural design to its shingling material ultimately influences its ability to support the weight. Generally speaking, steep and smooth roofs shed snow more easily than flat, or only slightly pitched, roofs. But ultimately, what amounts to a dangerous accumulation of snow on one roof would be just fine on another roof down the block. Like each snowflake is different, each roof can hold a different amount.

Warning Signs
While you can draw some conclusions by looking at your roof from the curb, it’s indoors where you’ll find the most instructive clues to a potential problem. Head up to the attic and examine the rafters for any noticeable bends or cracks. If you find anything that gives you pause, bear in mind that it’s not necessarily, and most likely isn’t, a sign of impending roof collapse. There are many possible explanations for damaged rafters—for example, termites. And even if snow is to blame, you may be looking at damage from a previous winter. In any case, ask a licensed structural engineer to evaluate the problem promptly.

How Much Snow Can a Roof Hold? - Roof Rake

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Elsewhere—particularly on the upper floors, toward the middle of the house—keep an eye out for new cracks in the drywall or plaster surrounding interior door frames. If those doors are suddenly sticking when they used to open and shut with ease, this could be an indication that the frame of your house has shifted due to a structural issue. Again, wall cracks and sticking doors are not cause for panic; rather, they are reasons to seek out the advice of a licensed professional.

Snow Removal
Some experts maintain that it’s unnecessary to remove snow from the roof, because any home built to the standards of the local building codes should be structurally equipped to handle virtually any snow load. Still, many homeowners wish to take every available precautionary step. Be aware, however, that climbing up on the roof is precarious in any weather; in snow, it’s almost definitely not a wise course of action unless you absolutely know what you’re doing. For everyone else, the safest path is to hire an insured pro, someone who has not only the proper equipment, but also the right experience for the job.

If you have a single-story house, though, one whose roof you can access while keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground, then a roof rake can be an effective, user-friendly way to clear excess snow. Roof rakes are readily available online and in most brick-and-mortar home center. Before you start raking away, take heed of this important point: Don’t try to remove all the snow. In doing so, you could damage the roofing material, which would leave the roof vulnerable to leaks. To prevent this from happening, some roof rakes are fitted with rollers that keep the edge of the rake safely away from the shingles.

One last word of caution: Pay attention to where the snow you’re pulling off the roof is likely to wind up. You’ll want to pick a landing spot other than your head or the heads of bystanders!