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How to Prevent Damage To Your Roof: An Interview with Connecticut Gutter & Exteriors

By Kristen Bosse

Please describe a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

CONNECTICUT GUTTER, LLC also doing business as CONNECTICUT GUTTER & EXTERIORS was started over 10 years ago and has grown into a formidable household name for many. When it comes to rain gutters or anything really with respect to the exterior of a home or building, CONNECTICUT GUTTER & EXTERIORS delivers. This includes but is not limited to gutter install/replacement/repair/cleaning/maintenance, roofing, siding, excavation and site work, copper and metal fabrication/installation, painting, masonry, etc. We balance an equal workload of residential and commercial projects day to day. Our sister business, PEERLESS CONTRACTING LLC is involved with larger scope work with General Contractor and Construction Manager roles for work both interior and exterior needs, from the ground up.

How do I prevent damage from ice dams? What are some ways to prevent the presence of ice dams in the future?

Ice dams are formed when snow on the roof is melted by escaping house heat that melts some of this snow. The melted snow then runs south down towards the eaves and rain gutter, when it now moves away from the escaping warm air and it freezes again, usually right around where the gutter is situated. This freezing water quickly turns into a mound on the top of the gutter, and all subsequent melting water runs down and begins to pool and get caught up behind the ice dam. Not only does this feed the ice dam and make it grow, but the pooling water has nowhere to go and so its forced up under the shingle and then into the house walls and ceiling. Ice damming can cause tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage overnight. I have seen catastrophic damage done to every room of a home.

The most effective ways to prevent the damage from ice dams is obviously to prevent the ice dams from forming. This will include properly insulating the attic space of the house so your heat cannot escape. Doing this has the added benefit of keeping money in your pocket, since heat won't be lost and your furnace won't need to burn as much fuel to keep the house at temperature. Another way to prevent the ice dams is to cut them off at their source. This means remove any standing snow! We provide roof snow removal as a service. My teams use special tools to pull all of the snow off of the roof as fast as they can. By doing this, even if you are losing heat and aren't well insulated, you have removed the snow that would otherwise melt to water and both feed the ice dam and get forced into the house.

Other important things to consider to keep the water out of the house in the case of damming, is what's known as an "ice and water barrier" or "membrane". This is a rugged, rubberized or granulated material that is fully adhered to your plywood roof deck BEFORE shingle is installed. The membrane is installed along the bottom 3ft of shingle just above the gutter, in valleys, over penetrations like vents and skylights, on ridges and along rake edges of the roof. We basically outline the entire roof with the membrane before installing a new roof. Some contractors skip this step to keep more money in their pockets and all it does is punish you and your home. Not only is it important to be certain an ice and water barrier is installed with a new roof, but it should be installed PROPERLY, which involves carrying the membrane down over the edge of the roof a few inches and adhering to the top edge of the fascia boards. This way, the membrane covers the seam between the top of the fascia board and the southernmost edge of the plywood roof deck. That seam is EXACTLY where the water enters the house during an ice dam mishap. Believe it or not, so many roofers install the ice and water membrane only of the roof deck itself. The treat the fascia board just below the roofline independent of the roof system. Clearly, it is not.

LASTLY, in a pinch, my techs are trained in removing the ice dams with power tools and a few tricks. Granted, removing the snow on the roof stops the feeding of the ice dam's growth, however, the ice dam itself may already be thousands of pounds and threaten to rip the gutters and all else right off the house, causing massive damage. Sometimes we deem the reduction or removal of the ice dam itself is necessary, and we are equipped to do so as needed.

What are the benefits associated with vinyl siding? Are there any disadvantages?

Vinyl siding these days is made to resemble wood shakes or clapboard from the street while at the same time provide a low maintenance "shell" on the house that doesn't need paint and cannot rot. If that is your preference, you won't have to do too much to keep up the vinyl other then powerwash every few years. As far as disadvantages, I have seen the siding fade in some areas and not in others due to sun UV exposure. I have also seen termite damage underneath the vinyl that went on for many years that the homeowner wasn't aware of due to the siding covering up the damage.

How do I know if I should have my roof inspected?

Easy answer: Do you have a roof? Then you should have it inspected. Even if you seemingly have no problems or water penetration inside the house, have a professional inspect the roof every few years. A new sloped roof should be looked at in 5 years, and every 5 years after. Things happen. Storms lift up shingle. Cable guys drill holes and install dishes in bad places. Squirrels try to access the attic space. Wasps build nests, etc. A flat roof needs an annual inspection though, especially in New England with snowfall and sub-freezing temps.

Why should I consider harvesting my rainwater?

Because it's all about sustainability. That's a big buzzword now because we are taxing the earth's resources. The more delicate we are on human consumption and resource depletion, the longer the earth will be a place that allows for life. Also consider monetary savings through sustainable living. People with elaborate gardens that they eat from don't spend nearly what others do at the supermarket. Solar panels on your roof can greatly cut your energy bills. By consuming less city water and harvesting it yourself, you can reduce your water bill. But let's find a practical reason to harvest rainwater. Think about those people (my wife and I are) that rely on well water. We like to keep our lawn healthy and green by watering it, but we don't want to run our well dry by watering the lawn! Capturing rain water that runs off the roof, lightly filtering it of debris, and storing it around the property is a fantastic (and free) way to water the lawn. Other people use harvesting rainwater for washing their cars and watering gardens. Believe me when I tell you that we are only a few years away from witnessing institutions like schools and hospitals harvest rainwater from their roofs, filter it a few times and then use the water to flush toilets and wash laundry. Think of the savings when you have thousands of toilets being flushed every day and think of the relief on the city water system by having this happen off the grid. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

How do leafless gutter systems work?

There are a few leafless gutter design concepts being utilized today. Regardless of which you choose, the idea is to collect the rainwater run-off off the roof while at the same time separating the leaves and debris that come rolling down off the roof, and then shed that debris off to the ground below. There are many designs, and I've used them all over the years, that really don't do anything well. The hooded designs tend to shed both the leaves and the water, with a moderate to heavy rain. Others quickly get jammed up with pine needles or with maple tree "helicopter" seeds. Some are an all-in-one gutter and cover solution formed out of the same continuous piece of aluminum. While this appears to be an efficient use of material and well designed, they always clog, birds also can penetrate the small opening and God forbid a segment of the hood gets damaged due to a falling tree limb or something, you have to replace the ENTIRE gutter run. Very expensive and not even effective! We solely rely on covers that maintain a low profile and that completely close up the gutter opening so nothing can get in while at the same time provide as much of an opening to allow water to fall into the gutter. The openings are always screened by either a heavy gauge aluminum with thousands of small penetrations or by a heavy gauge mesh or micromesh screen that holds up to the elements and the weight of snow, lets nothing in but water, and keeps leaves and debris at bay.

My last quip on covers is that people need to understand that nothing is maintenance free! Nothing! Our products are guaranteed to never clog within the gutter trough, but the surface really needs a dusting off every 5 years or so. It's common sense. The covers don't jump up and shake themselves off and nothing out there is impervious to getting dirty and dusty, and collecting a film. Assume everything on your home needs maintenance somehow, sometime. So find the best product out there, and budget $150 on average, for a dust off of that product every 3 to 5 years. It's a minor expense to never have to clean your gutters again.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you?

Call our offices 24/7 at 203-878-2411 or 855-4MY-GUTTER or email me direct at frankh@ctgutter.com. Our main website is www.ctgutter.com and it has a wealth of information on it. Call us or visit us today!

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Kristen has written impressive content including press releases and feature stories...

Phone: 2039130483

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