We are off to a slow start in 2015 with just 50 single family residential home sales in January in the twelve communities covered in this Lakes Region real estate market report. The average sales price came in at $311,220 and the median price point was $220,000. In January 2014 there were 56 transactions at an average price of $347,736 and a median price point of $215,000. I don't expect February to be a banner sales month, either, given the amount of snow and cold we have had to contend with.
Drive by just about any house this winter and you'll see huge icicles hanging from the eaves. And while some folks welcome the ice on the lakes to enable winter sports like ice fishing and snowmobiling, ice on your roof isn't greeted with the same enthusiasm. You obviously run the risk of a big chuck of ice falling on your head, but you are also likely to have water dripping inside your home from the formation of ice dams along the edge of your roof.
Ice dams are formed when snow melts up higher on your roof and the water runs down toward the colder eave area and freezes. This constant melt and freeze action eventually will build up something akin to the Hoover Dam on your eaves. If your roof was any flatter you could probably float a small paddle boat up there when the snow melts. Obviously, your shingles are layered and prevent water from leaking in when it rains as the water just runs off. But when this flow is blocked by ice, the water seeps back up underneath the shingles causing that sinking feeling you get when you see water dripping on your flat screen TV in the living room.
The cause of the uneven melting of snow is generally caused by heat loss from the home above warmer areas in the center. Obviously, the unheated eaves are much colder. So the idea is to make your attic space the same temperature as the eaves. There are a bunch of steps you can take to keep your attic cooler and prevent heat loss from your home. Obviously, this will help save you getting ice dam headaches but also saves you money on heating your home!
The first step is to see if you need just a little more insulation in the attic. More is always better, but check with a local insulation contractor to see what they recommend. It may be as simple as rolling out another layer of insulation or blowing some more in. You may also need better ventilation in the attic to get rid of the little bit of heat that is in there. There needs to be a good flow of cold air in through your soffit vents and out through the ridge vent. There should be baffles in between your rafters at your eaves to insure insulation is not pushed down blocking this air flow.
You should also install an insulated hatch cover over the top of your attic access stairway or opening. Even old style recessed lighting cans can cause plumes of heat that warm areas of the roof enough to cause uneven melting. There are newer recessed lights on the market now that can be insulated in order to prevent that. If you have HVAC ducts running through your attic those need to be well insulated and any bathroom exhaust fans should be ventilated through the wall or roof rather than out through the eaves. You'd be surprised how many times we see a bathroom exhaust fan just vented into the attic space instead of to the outside. This can also cause a serious mold issue.
Some home owners that just can't correct the problem install heat tape along the areas that are prone to problems. That generally will work well but you have to have it installed before it freezes. Once there is a dam, you'd say "Damn, it's too late."
You can stop a leak by taking a box fan into the attic and blowing cold air in the area of the leak. They say it works like a charm and will stop the dripping within minutes, but you have to be able to get to the area that's the culprit and sometimes you just can't. Roof raking the edge of your roof can help, but as I found out it can also cause dams a little further up on the roof. Kind of like shooting yourself in the foot, dam it. Often times, we rednecks tend to want to go out there and start chopping away at the ice with an ax or other heavy instrument of destruction. That seems like the appropriate thing to do when water is dripping through your ceiling onto your pool table, but this often can lead to roof damage and shingle repairs. You have got to be careful and a man on a ladder with an ax might not fall into that category.
One sexy remedy would be to fill your wife's (or your girl friend's) old panty hose with calcium chloride ice melter (not rock salt) and form a long tube that you lay perpendicular to the edge of your roof . It eventually will create a channel through your miniature Hoover Dam and drain any water that backs up on your roof. I am proud to say that this year I have a very sexy roof! We'll see how it works...
Pease feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others.
Data compiled using the NNEREN MLS system as of 2/14/15. Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012.
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