Category Archives: DIY

Most Practical Ice Dam Prevention Products, Plus Costs 2017

Most lower-cost ice dam prevention products offer a short term solution as opposed to really solving the root cause of the problem in the first place. In order to eliminate the problem altogether, you would need to ensure adequate insulation and ventilation of the attic space, and/or install a high-end metal roof.

ice-dams-on-the-roof

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But, even temporary ice dam prevention measures can still be helpful and even necessary when you have no other choice. They can also be significantly cheaper, at least in the short term. So, you may want to consider using the following products, especially if you live in an area that normally does not experience a lot of major snow storms.

Snow Rakes

A snow rake can be used to clear snow off the roof. Preventing the build up of snow on your roof can make it impossible for ice dams to form.

snow-rakes

A snow rake is a long handled rake with a wide head that can be used to remove large strips of snow from the roof of your home. It is fairly light, but sturdy, so that it can remove the snow without damaging the roof itself. However, it is still important to be careful when using a snow rake in order to ensure that the roof will not be harmed.

Tip: You can get a 21 foot long snow rake at Walmart for about $60. It’s highly rated by consumers. Just make sure you know how to properly use it!

What if I have a Metal Roof of PV Solar Panels I don’t want to Scratch?

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If you have a metal roof that you don’t want to scratch or solar panels that you don’t want to damage in the process, you can get the Snow Pro — Extra Soft Snow Rake available in different lengths of up to 30 feet, and ranging in price from $25 to $150 from RoofRake.com.

You will need to be willing to put in the time and effort to use the snow rake whenever snow begins to build up on the roof. This option is, therefore, only suitable for someone who is physically capable of clearing the snow off the roof and is not afraid to use ladder if necessary.

You will also need to be able to reach up onto the roof using the snow rake. Ideally, you should be able to do this from the ground if your home is not too tall. However, you can also use a snow rake from a stable ladder, although this is more dangerous. If you live in a particularly tall building then a snow rake may not be appropriate for your home since it may not be possible to safely reach the roof and clear the snow. The snow rake only needs to be able to remove snow from around the roof’s edges, not from the entire roof, so you do not need to find a rake that will enable you to clear the entire roof.

Ice Melting Cables

Ice melting cables, once installed, are one of the easiest ways of clearing snow from your roof since they simply need to be switched on to melt the snow. They are, therefore, ideal if you are unable to cope with more physically demanding methods of removal.

ice-melting-cables

Ice melting cables and strips come in a number of different forms. Some of these will be more effective than others, but they can also vary a great deal in terms of their price. Investing in high quality ice melting cables can be a good idea if you want to be able to clear ice dams quickly and easily, as soon as you see signs that one is beginning to form.

If you are simply looking for a low-cost ice melting cable solution that you can install yourself, you can get 120 feet of ice melting cables at Lowe’s for about $100. You should check with your home insurance company to make sure that whatever you buy will not void your homeowner’s coverage!

Another option would be to hire a licensed contractor specializing in the installation of ice-melting systems. It would certainly be a more costly option, and you would still have check with your insurance company to make sure the system you install will not negatively affect your coverage. Cost-wise, a professional installation of an ice-melting cable system will cost anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 for most single family homes according to RoofingCalc.com.

Some ice melting systems will be more attractive than others as well as more effective. The best options are those that match the rest of your roof, without standing out too obviously. Ideally, they should not stand out from the rest of your roof during the rest of the year, when there is no snow.

The heat can be produced either by electric cables or a hydronic tube system. The heat melts the snow and ice, either to clear a section of the roof or to create a break in the ice dam as it forms so that the water escapes rather than building up on the roof behind the ridge of ice.

Ice melting cables or heat tape can be simple strips to be installed upon the roof, often in a zigzag pattern. The heated cables can also be covered in squares or long plates of metal. These panels will be made from a metal such as aluminum, which can help enhance and spread the heating effect. They can work over a larger area and they can also be designed to blend in with the roofing shingles so that they are more attractive.

Exposed heat cables and heat tape tend to be less effective than those which are placed under panels. They are also more likely to be damaged. Other products are intended to be placed only along the edges of the roof, where the ice dams are most likely to form. They can target the most problematic areas rather than being used to heat and clear the entire roof. Ice melting products can also come in the form of mesh mats, which can be fitted across a large area of the roof underneath the roofing material in order to melt the snow.

Different types of ice melting systems can be installed either during the construction of the roof itself or on top of the completed roof. Some systems are installed under special metal caps, while others are simply fixed on top of the roofing shingles. Heating cables and panels should be set up in the appropriate way for the shape of your roof, particularly focusing on the areas where different parts of the roof meet and along the eaves, gutters and downspouts.

Heating cables and strips may be placed along the edges of the roof, where the ice dams would otherwise form, or in vertical or zigzag strips that are designed to melt channels through the ice dams in order to enable water to escape. The heating cables must them be connected to a power supply.

The cables or strips can be turned on when snow or ice begins to build up on the roof. The heat will melt the snow and ice, clearing the roof and preventing ice dams from forming. It is important to turn the heating cables off once they have completed their work. If they are left on they may burn out!

Thus, heated ice removal products offer a means of removing snow and ice to prevent ice dams from forming, without having to physically remove it from the roof yourself. You simply turn on the cables or strips when necessary and wait for them to do their work. They are then turned off again.

Snow-melt Salt

ice-melt-salt-pucks

Snow-melt salts can be used to remove ice dams from the roof, however, you should make sure that you avoid using rock salt, since this could damage or discolor your roofing. A calcium chloride snow melt will be a better choice. The snow melt can be applied in a snow melt sock in order to ensure its effects are focused on the ice dam itself. It is best to use the snow-melt ice packs as soon as possible after the ice dam begins to form on your roof, since it will be most effective at clearing small amounts of ice.

The downside of the salt pucks is that you still have to climb the ladder to get them placed onto the roof, which is no fun, unless of course you enjoy the adventure! 😉

roof-melt-tablets

The upside of relying on snow tablets is that they are relatively cheap and easy to use. You can get a bucket of snow tablets at Home Depot for about $20.

But remember, unless you can find some Eco-friendly salt packs or tablets, there will be some potential for damage to your landscaping and/or garden plants, corrosion of nails and screws on the roof and/or in the gutters, and possible discoloration of the roofing shingles or walls of the house. So, this should not be a long term solution, as cons of using salt packs or tablets on a regular basis will probably outweigh the pros.

Manual Labor

Rather than using ice melting cables or snow melt to deal with ice on your roof, it is possible to hack the ice away manually. You can use a sharp tool such as a chisel to break holes in the ice. The melted snow will then be able to escape through these gaps rather than building up and leaking through your roof. It is also possible to melt gaps in the ice dam by pouring warm water over it. These can only be temporary solutions, however. If the weather remains cold, the ice dam can reform within a few days.

This option requires a lot more work than using ice melting cables or snow melt as you will need to physically break through the ice. It is also more difficult and dangerous since you will need to reach the ice formation by standing on a ladder while you are breaking it apart.

Conclusion on Hiring a Snow Removal Crews:

snow-removal-crew

Although it is possible to hire people to clear ice and snow from your roof, but this can be an expensive option and it can take some time to find the right crew when there is a major snow storm resulting in higher than normal demand for snow removal, with limited supply of available crews. — This is a prime example of an ounce of prevention being worth the pound of cure. 😉

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Metal Roofing Panels at Home Depot and Lowe’s: Prices, Colors, Options

Metal continues to be a trending material for home roofs. It offers great variety in style and colors. Styles can include paneling (the most popular option), tiles, shingles/slate, and shake. Whatever other materials can do in terms of style for a roof (i.e. wood shake or ceramic tiles), metal can mimic it. Here are a few reasons why metal is gaining in popularity:

metal-roof-on-a-house

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– the material is recyclable, thus inherently Eco-friendly

– metal tends to be higher in terms of energy efficiency, plus with cool roofs, it can emit UV energy away from a home

– color options up the wazoo

– metal is by nature fire resistant, properly installed metal roofs are fairly wind resistant, and it doesn’t break apart

– more durable than other materials (i.e. asphalt), yet lighter than the other options

– metal panels can be used for other purposes besides a roof

Like all things roofing, a professional contractor is your best bet for installation of metal roof. This article, however, is taking a different approach as we focus on products you can obtain through Home Depot and/or Lowe’s. A local carpenter or professional roofer may still be how the product gets installed, but depending on the home remodeling project and your needs, the DIY approach is within reach for many metal roofing applications.

There are a few caveats to consider if going through Home Depot or Lowe’s as the middlemen in purchasing products. Color options will be limited quite a bit. For the average consumer, metal tiles, metal shingles and metal shake are not readily attainable from these stores. With that in mind, we will focus on the metal panels that are offered and available, plus make note of the other materials needed for installation, all of which are available from these stores.

While metal roofing comes in a variety of metals, this article will stick mainly to steel as that is what the two retail outlets primarily offer. This may vary a bit by region as aluminum is a material known to handle ocean spray/saltwater better than steel. For most areas, galvanized steel is the primary offering for metal roofs. Galvanized steel does a few things, and one of those is making it easier to add coats of paint for further protection and increased aesthetic value.

When it comes to consumer purchasing metal sheets, stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot will offer a quality, durable product. Though less durable than what a pro would probably purchase from their wholesale suppliers. Steel thickness is measured traditionally with a gauge from 8 to 33, particularly for galvanized steel. The higher the gauge, the thinner (not thicker) the panel. Unless specially ordered, plan on Home Depot and Lowe’s to provide steel with gauges between 26 and 33, and most likely in range of 29 to 31.

Because the manufacturers that supply product to these stores will market products for residential home owners, we will spend a brief time on what else you might obtain from them directly. But our goal is to help you in product selection from the two stores, provide helpful tips in working with metal panels and convey (mid 2016) cost information to help with overall planning of your home remodeling projects.

The Basics

Metal panels generally come in two types, with lots of sub-variations or styles. The traditional kind is exposed fastener application. This is the DIY approach that a non-professional can handle for installation. It can mimic the style of the other (modern) type, and can cost less. The trade-offs are that it will possibly last less time, though this depends on how well either type is installed, and is considered less wind resistant. The modern type is applied with concealed fasteners.

Concealed fasteners are what standing seam panels use. Concealed fasteners rely on interlocking of panels, via expert crimping. Where panels are intended to overlay, a crimping tool will join the two panels into a continuous, seamless unit. Think of how a metal food can has its lid secured so tightly, that it seamlessly seals in the contents.

Home Depot provides standing seam panels. But the majority of what is provided from the two stores is the exposed fastener variety of panels. Another significant difference between the two is that the interlocking panels allows the overall metal roof to naturally expand or contract depending on how heat naturally affects metal. High heat (hot days) will lead to slight expansion while cooler temps (winter days) lead to contraction in the metal. With exposed fasteners, the difference is slight, but enough so that over several years, the fasteners will be impacted, loosened, and thus breaking what was otherwise a solid seal. The metal material itself is likely good to go for another 30 years or more beyond this, but because of the exposed fastener system, it may need to be addressed by re-fastening all areas. Standing seam with its concealed fasteners, will generally last a solid 40 years, even up to 75 years, as the seals are not as impacted by the hot/cold cycles.

With exposed fastener panels we’ll focus on two sub-variations:

a) ribbed style and b) corrugated style. The ribbed style resembles standing seam, which has a flatter finish, and is considered a better design choice for a home.

Installation of a ribbed panels

b) The corrugated metal style is more of a constant rippled pattern, similar to how ceramic tiles appear on a rooftop. Corrugated metal panels are a popular or traditional design choice for sheds. Because exposed fasteners are easy enough for anyone to work with, they are not limited to roofs only. Many home exterior remodeling projects will make use of them in a variety of ways, such as a siding material. Do enough research on your own, and you’ll see home owners who’ve discovered interior uses for metal panels in ways that may be bold, but certainly can add character to any living space seeking a industrial appearance.

corrugated steel panelOur primary focus will be for roofs, but not just home roofs. For this article a roof means covering for a home, garage, patio/deck covering, shed, and/or other outbuilding. It’s helpful to understand parts of a roof (for a home) and if not already familiar with that, Lowe’s uses this web page to help with terms like sheathing, underlayment, valleys and flashing, to name a few.

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