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Home Inspections in Oakland County MI & Surrounding areas

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January Newsletter

January 20, 2016

Greetings and Happy New Year! We hope you had a joy-filled and peaceful holiday season. While the snowy, winter weather was slow to start it's starting to pile up quickly now! In this month's issue we answer important questions about the snow on your roof. How much is too much? What can you do to predict and prevent damage? Plus a practical guide to fireplaces and your home maintenance tips for January. Enjoy!

Can snow damage your roof?

Accumulating snow is pretty and dangerous, fun and aggravating. A peaceful winter scene with the stillness of winter and gently falling snow is lovely. But try driving across town, slip sliding through intersections while you run out of windshield washer fluid trying to keep a clear view through the windshield, and you'll hate the stuff! As snow accumulates, just like anything else, it get heavier. How much snow can your roof hold before collapsing? Are the icicles fun and decorative, or are they causing damage?

Heavy Snow
Slanted roofs allow the snow to slide off as it builds up. Occasionally, snow can build up so much that the weight of it can cause significant damage. Most homes can withstand around 4 feet of snow before collapsing becomes a risk. But many older homes will begin to strain under 2 1/2 to 3 feet of snow. How much can your home take?

If you are concerned in the least about the amount of snow on your roof, call in a roofing professional to evaluate the situation. They will examine how structurally sound your roof is, as well as help identify any weak spots, rotting, or insulation issues.

Icicles are a symptom of issues that your home may have with insulation and ventilation in and around your roof. If your home is losing heat through the roof it causes snow to melt then drip and refreeze as icicles. This causes not just icicles but "ice dams" on your roof, which are far more damaging. Ice dams are a build up of ice which prevents water from running off the roof and away through the gutters. The excessive water buildup can cause leaks to your roof.

If you have a lot of large icicles hanging from your roof the best immediate solution is to remove the snow from your roof as quickly as possible. If your roof is especially high or sloped, be safe and hire a professional to clear your roof. A professional will also be able to dislodge the ice dams without damaging your shingles, gutters, or roof. Do not take this task on yourself unless you take the necessary safety precautions and you know what you are doing.

One last word of wisdom: insurance companies have been known to deny claims from snow damage to your roof. The reason is that most homeowners insurance policies require annual inspections of your roof to make sure it won't leak. Check with your insurance company and schedule your roof inspection with Sterling Home Services!


Woodburning Fireplaces 101

True story - The homeowners hadn't had the chimney inspected for a couple of years. The chimney cap was damaged and a family of raccoons moved into the chimney. These raccoons clogged up the chimney and infested the lower level of the house with fleas! From the chimney to the woodbox, let's take a look at maintaining your fireplace!

  • Chimney cap! - make sure your chimney has one and it is properly installed. The chimney cap keeps the raccoons, birds, and debris out of the chimney.
  • Chimney exterior - check the masonry, metal, flashings at the roof - if you see any rust, crumbling, or loose bricks you may need repairs.
  • Chimney interior - have your chimney swept clean by a professional chimney sweep once a year or after approximately 80 fires
  • Not a furnace - the fire in your fireplace is for a short duration fire - no longer than 5 hours
  • Never leave a fire unattended
  • To make a fire:
  1. Open the glass doors/ screen curtain
  2. Place the kindling, newspaper and logs inside
  3. Open the damper and a window. The window only needs to open a couple of inches, it will help the smoke go up the chimney and prevent the room from filling with smoke.
  4. Test first by lighting a match and blowing it out in the fireplace, watch where the smoke goes. It should go up the chimney.
  5. Light the fire and enjoy!
  • Keep a nonflammable rug in front of the fireplace to protect the carpet from flyaway sparks
  • Wait at least 3 days before removing ashes from the fireplace, wear a dust mask and use a shovel to scoop ashes into a metal container.
  • Never use a vacuum to clean up ashes due to possible live coals that may be hiding in there!
  • Leave about an inch of ash in your fireplace to act as insulation to allow the coals to heat faster and retain heat easier.


January Home Maintenance Checklist


  • Organize your home improvement files, schedule inspections and maintenance for the upcoming year for items like: furnace, roof, appliances, ventilation, etc
  • Inventory your home - make a room by room inventory - you can use a digital camera to document your belongings, to make it simpler if you ever need to file an insurance claim - You can also use this inventory to make sure your homeowners insurance is comprehensive
  • Deep Clean - give your kitchen appliances a deep clean: the oven, microwave, refrigerator, dishwasher, garbage disposal - There are many products available to make this cleaning safe and effective
  • Replace the filters in your furnace
  • Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms
  • Plan and schedule any home repairs or updates for the year, even call ahead and schedule the contractors of your choice before their schedules fill up

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