Winter has come, now what?

Winter Roof Maintanenance by Forcewashing Vancouver WA

Winter has come, now what?

Winter Roof Maintanenance by Forcewashing Vancouver WAThere are a lot of things that we do to prepare for winter, and the checklist that we provided to you in one of our earlier posts is a great reminder and in printable form. But what about the things that we need to know about once winter has come?  Here are some fun and interesting pieces of information when winter hits your home.

  1. Being in the Pacific Northwest we are all very familiar with moss due to our moist environment (rainy is probably a better term) moss grows rapidly. Did you know that moss doesn’t die during the winter months in the Pacific Northwest? That’s because it doesn’t get cold enough. In fact, moss grows more rapidly! YIKES!
    • Fun Fact: Moss is a plant that grows naturally on just about any surface, including the ground, trees, sidewalks, patios, sides of homes, trailers, and of course roofs. Moss produces tiny spores that become air-borne and land on roofs with just a simple gust of wind. During the moist, cooler months, these spores grow into moss. Moss can be a very expensive thing to remove if you let it get out of hand, that’s why at Forcewashing we recommend that you keep on top of your annual moss removal with us. Did you know that you can setup an annual appointment and leave it to us to contact you and schedule your moss removal and moss treatment to keep that pesky moss away!
  2. DO NOT get on your roof to remove unwanted snow.
    • While it could be dangerous to let a large accumulation of snow sit on your roof due to its weight, it should be left to professionals to remove. Roof anchors can be installed and used to secure professionals to the roof enabling a safer and secure method to be on a frozen slippery roof while removing snow.
    • Roof anchors can be permanently installed to assure that any work on your roof by professionals is done safely. Forcewashing can install those for you when we are cleaning your roof.
  3. Frozen Downspouts, what do you do? The good news is we live in an area that doesn’t stay cold for long which means, simply leaving your frozen downspouts alone is the best option because the snow and or ice will melt.
    • If you have snow buildup around the bottom of the downspout, clear it of snow to allow the melt off to freely leave the downspout.
    • Consistently frozen solid downspouts not cleared away may require immediate attention, especially if the weather report says longer periods of colder weather is ahead because over time the ice can back up into your gutters which creates extra weight on your gutter system. This weight may increase the odds of your gutters and downspouts tearing away from your roof or siding, which can lead to bigger problems involving water leaks and improper drainage.
  4. Icicles and Ice Dams – huh?
    • An icicle forms when the sun is shining during subfreezing weather snow or ice melts by the sunlight but refreezes as it drips away. As this happens, the run off will continue to cause the icicle to grow.
    • An Ice Dam are ridges of ice that form at the edge of a roof and prevent melting snow from draining.  It occurs when you have ineffective insulation allowing the home to lose heat. The heat escapes through the roof and that causes the bottom of the snow accumulation to melt. The melted snow slowly trickles down the roof and refreezes when it reaches unheated eaves causing a blockage. Melted snow starts to backup and can seep under your shingles and drip down into the attic and that can increase your chances for the water to seep further into your home.
    • Ice Dams should be looked at by a professional to be removed and consideration should be made to the home owner of insulating the home further to prevent this problem in the future.
  5. So, how do you remove icicles or do you?
    • Let’s talk about preventing icicles first…the best way to prevent icicles from forming in the first place is to clean out gutters before freezing temps hit. This will help to keep items like leaves from clogging the downspouts and allowing water to build up.  Here is where Forcewashing can help you again, cleaning gutters is one of many specialties that we have and we are VERY good at it, just look at the reviews that we have gotten from our customers as proof!
    • But let’s say you didn’t have a chance to schedule that appointment to clean your gutters and the inevitable happens, cold temperatures followed by some NW sun; ICICLES!
    • The number one thing for you to remember here is DO NOT KNOCK DOWN THE ICICLES YOURSELF!  Falling ice is unpredictable and you could run the risk of hurting yourself or someone nearby. The other thing that knocking them down yourself could do is bring the gutter system with it which can be a costly expense. The best thing to do is call a professional who more than likely will get on the roof and use a tool to knock the icicles down safely with no people or animals around.
  6. Hanging lights on your home. While we know many of you are very happy to do this yourselves, we would like to offer a little advice that will make this a painless and fun experience.
    • Check your ladder. Each year before you use your ladder, we recommend checking it thoroughly for safety. Is it still in good working order? Is it rusted; if so think twice before using it.
    • Never hang lights on your home alone, get a partner to be there with you during the process. A partner can spot you on the ladder, can hand you the light strings so they don’t get tangled on the ground, and its always fun to hang lights with someone so you both can say “ooh” when the lights work!
    • Make sure your ladder is firmly planted on the most level ground you can find and lock it in place. Follow the National Safety Council’s advice, “Always keep three points of contact with a ladder – two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand. When using a ladder, use one with slip-resistant feet and wear clean, dry and slip-resistant shoes.”
    • Make sure to use a surge protector if you can, and make sure electrical connections are clear, clean and dry.

We hope you found this information helpful. To all of you, from all of us we wish you a very joyous holiday and a happy new year!

Let’s get ready for winter!

Removing Fall Leaves from Gutter Forcewashing Vancouver WA

Removing Fall Leaves from Gutter Forcewashing Vancouver WAAt Forcewashing we want our customers to be ready for winter with a list of key tasks that you can start doing now. So while you’re enjoying the leaves falling, take your time through the list and let’s get prepared for winter together!

Interior Winter Checklist

  1. Check your heating and air conditioning system in your home
    • Have a professional come out and check the system to make sure you are ready for winter. Make sure that you have a spare filter on hand.
  2. Clean your chimney and order firewood
    • Have your fireplace cleaned and inspected by a professional chimney sweep.
    • Order your firewood.
    • Review old wood left over from last season, if it’s rotten you will need to remove it; if it is still in good condition, move it to the top of the pile so it is used first.
  3. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
    • Because we tend to close up our homes pretty tight during the winter and use our fireplaces or wood stoves more it’s important to make sure that all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order.
    • Change your batteries to new ones if you haven’t done that in a while and use the old batteries on other battery operated items in your home that are less important.
  4. Time to switch from cooling to heating on your thermostat
    • A livable temperature for the home should be set, but remember that between 50-55 degrees will help to prevent pipes from freezing when the weather drops.
    • If you are able to schedule your temperature, consider shifting to a lower temp when you are not home and a higher one when you are.
  5. The Attic Check
    • We have something in common with critters of all kinds and that is when it’s cold we seek warmth and an attic is very attractive to critters. Because of this, it’s important to do a few extra steps in making sure your attic remains critter-free.
    • Walk around the outside of your home and check your gable vents and make sure they are intact. Having a screen placed behind your gable vent could help to prevent critters from entering.
    • Make sure that there are no holes in your soffit and fascia. This can be a critter doorway.
  6. Get an energy check of your home
    • Hire a professional person to come in and perform an energy audit of your home. This will identify areas in your home that need some TLC to keep your home comfortable and utilizing the energy to its best performance.
  7. Check the seals around your windows and doors
    • For your exterior doors, make sure you can’t see daylight around your exterior doors, if you can, consider hiring someone like a handyman to apply foam insulation around the doors.
  8. Get your winter gear out!
    • Air out or dry clean your winter coats and gear.
    • Restock any salt or deicer.

Exterior Winter Checklist

  1. Check the exterior wood of your home
    • All of the wood trim on the exterior of your home needs to be protected from the elements such as trim around your windows or exterior doors. If you find trim that is rotted, it will need to be replaced by a professional; staying on top of things by keeping your wood painted and caulked is a good idea. If you find cracking caulk or paint that is chipping away, scrape it away and redo it.
    • Check your deck by pouring water on it to see if the water beads up and your deck seal is good. If the water is absorbed into the wood, it’s time to clean and seal your deck.
  2. Clean your gutters & Downspouts
    • When gutters get backed up they can overflow and the water can run down your home which can cause the deterioration of your exterior to speed up.
    • Forcewashing can help here by cleaning out your gutters and removing all the debris. At the same time, we can make sure your gutters are in good working order!
    • Make sure that downspouts are emptying away from your home, if needed add downspout extenders.
  3. Concrete or Asphalt Driveways and Patios
    • Time to get the moss out of those driveways and patios – nothing is worse than having a moss covered driveway or patio and then it snows or worse ices….that makes for one very slippery surface. Call Forcewashing and we will remove that moss on those surfaces.
    • Inspect your concrete or asphalt driveways and patios for cracks. Filling any cracks before you apply a sealer is key. A mason worker could assist with filling the cracks, and they will use the best approach and product to limit further cracking.
    • While you’re looking at your patio, cover the patio furniture; just make sure that they are nice and dry so that you won’t develop moisture when it is covered.
  4. Pool and Sprinkler Shutdown
    • If you have a pool, this is the perfect time for repairs if they are needed. We suggest hiring a pool contractor to inspect and shut down your pool system for the season.
    • Sprinklers or drip irrigation systems should be shut down for the winter. As part of this you will want the lines to be blown out – hire a professional for this, it’s worth the extra money and will prevent broken lines when you turn it on in the spring.
    • Outdoor water faucets are usually unprotected which means if we don’t drain them the water can expand and that could cause all sorts of problems. Shut off the water valve to your outside spigot, open the exterior spigot valve and let the water drain out.  You won’t get every drop, but what’s left if it freezes will be able to expand without breaking any pipes or seals. Leave the water shut off to that faucet until you need it again in the spring and don’t forget to empty and store your garden hoses!
  5. Check your trees and bushes
    • Check for any branches that are dying and have them removed. While you should not trim your tree during the fall, if there are branches that are brown and dying or that are too close to your home or on your home you need to have these removed. Weakened or dying branches when frozen can easily fall causing damage to your home.
  6. Reverse your ceiling fans
    • If you have a reverse switch on your fan, after turning on your heat consider reversing your ceiling fan to force that warm air down. Remember, warm air rises!
  7. Check your roof!
    • It’s the best time to get your roof ready for the winter by removing all the moss and debris that it has on it. This helps to maintain a healthy roof and expands the life of it.
    • At Forcewashing when we clean your roof we are also looking for loose or missing shingles and can fix those for you.
  8. Garden tools and Mower
    • Clean and sharpen the gardening tools before putting them away, this will ready them for spring when you pull them out.
    • Your lawn mower should have an empty fuel tank if possible, check your lawn mower’s manual for cold-weather storage steps.

We hope that you find these lists helpful, we recommend printing them and saving them as a good reminder for every fall season.  We hope you enjoy the fall season and look forward to working for you.