Plastic Granite

We’ve all longed for that elegant and classic look and feel of granite countertops in our dream home. We often thought about doing it in our current homes but then the reality of the cost benefit analysis kicks in and we come to the conclusion it’s either unaffordable or it would over improve our homes or both. New products seem to be hitting the market at a torrid pace these days and here’s one that is really interesting – plastic granite or in other words Formica on steroids. Take a look and see for yourself. This could be a cost effective alternative for your next home improvement project.
Click Here to View a Video Demo.

Ice Dam Problems

The recent heavy snows and storms have created a situation that we have not really experienced here before – Ice Damming. I have been receiving lots of phone calls and emails from people having problems with water coming into their homes as a result of ice dams on their roof. The purpose of this communication is to share some helpful information that will allow you to trouble shoot and prevent further damage. Because you have not had a problem yet doesn’t mean you won’t. The warmer weather and strong sun should take the snow off most roofs over the next few days. The melting snow could initially create more problems as the water builds up behind the ice dam. Here is what you can do.

See my recent post below about ice dams to understand the problem:

  • Call a professional roofing contractor if you experience problems

  • Don’t go up on your roof unless you know what you are doing - roofs covered with snow and ice can be slippery

  • Don’t remove ice with an axe or other sharp tools unless you are experienced. Roofing shingles are not made to withstand heavy blows and in the cold weather they are brittle and can crack or break leading to leak problems in the future

Here are a couple of home remedies I have come across that can be helpful:

  • Put ice melt into nylon stockings and tie the ends closed to create a "sausages." Place these in a couple of places along your roof, perpendicular to the edge. The chemicals will slowly melt and create a channel for the water to flow through.

  • If you have a long enough garden hose, attach it to a hot water source and use that stream of hot water to melt channels through the ice dam. You can also melt and clear away the snow about four feet back from the edge of the roof to prevent further accumulation.

  • Use the same method to thaw ice in gutters. You do not need to get all the ice out of the gutter – just enough so it loosens up. As soon as water is flowing in the gutter it will widen out the channel on its own.

Other helpful ideas:

  • Keep snow cleared away from exterior heat pumps so they can operate unrestricted.

  • Make sure your sump pump exterior drain pipe is clear so if your pump kicks on it will have a place to expel the water.

  • Make sure the storm water drainage openings in your street are clear so when snow starts melting it will not back up and create a lake in front of your home or on your property.

  • Remove icicles off your roof edge if possible – especially the big ones. They are dangerous and can actually rip the gutter or fascia boards right off your home. Be very careful when you do this!!

We are currently experiencing days where melting occurs, and then temperatures drop at night so a re-freeze occurs. This is good because it creates a controlled release of snow. However, we will likely experience a rapid melt at some point so be prepared to handle an excess of water. Try to keep snow and ice back from your home and make sure there are drainage channels for water to flow away from your home. If there is any chance of water working its way back to your house try to address that issue before the melt begins.

Good luck and call if you have any questions

Welcome to Snowmageddon 2010!

It’s hard to believe the weather we have been experiencing over the past few days. In my area we had around 32-34 inches Friday and Saturday with another 10 to 20 inches on the way overnight and through tomorrow (Wednesday February 10, 2010). Our lives are full of cancellations and delays. Travel is difficult and a little scary. People are not used to snow packed roads and snow banks that tower over 10 feet high in some places. Intersections are interesting – making a left hand turn is an exercise in faith. You can’t clear traffic until your car’s nose is already into the oncoming lane. Wow! This weather has raised a lot of concerns about snow load and a phenomenon called Ice Damming. No pun intended. I thought I’d share some info that might be helpful.

Be safe out there and pray for spring!

Snow load – most roofs are engineered to handle the snow loads we are experiencing. Safety advisories warn people that removing snow from your roof can be dangerous for obvious reasons, but it can also create problems. First, the additional weight of people tromping around on a roof already heavy with snow can actually cause the very condition you are looking to avoid – collapse. Secondly, it is easy to damage roof shingles removing snow since they are not designed to be scraped with a shovel. It may be best to hire professionals if you feel you need to have snow removed. For most pitched roofs, there should be no problem.

Ice Damming - this condition occurs when snow build up on the edge of a roof and creates a dam sending water back up under the shingles and into your attic. Here are some helpful links to identify the problem and what to do to resolve it.

Trends in Housing Year End 2009 Report & Highlights

The strength of our regional market is evident in these figures just released (link). We are performing pretty well and prospects are bright for continued recovery in our housing market in 2010. Prices in some areas rose a little and days on market (time it takes for a home to go under contract) has dropped. This indicates a market that has definitely leveled off and is preparing for recovery in the coming years.

View the Press Release
Downlaod the PDF