Before we start, I must mention some omissions in stories about roofs, the snow, and the need, according to several roofers quoted in the stories, to take snow off of roofs. Nowhere was the explanation that the roofs that need snow removed are flat.
Gabled roofs, those with two slopes, and hip roofs, those with four slopes, do not need the snow removed, except maybe to prevent snow slides. Most roofs have asphalt shingles, which tend to grip the snow better than metal or slate roofs. Some metal and slate roofs are equipped with snow hooks, a New England name for a small fence near the edge of a roof, designed to keep snow in place. Another sloped roof is a gambrel, on Dutch Colonial houses, two steep slopes topped by two shallow slopes.
Such roofs have been built in the northern third of the United States and Canada for at least 300 years. The Handyman’s hip roof is 243 years old and is in good shape, holding maybe 6 to 10 inches of snow.
Boston and other cities have townhouses, row houses, double- and triple-deckers, and commercial buildings with flat roofs, and they must be attended to.
Q: I am getting icicles hanging from a gutter over my second-floor deck. Ikeep knocking them down when they grow to 2 feet. Should I continue?
A: Yes, keep up the good work. Delaying the breaking will make the work harder or impossible without messing up the gutters. Two feet is manageable and safe.
Q: Those heating cables on the gutters: Keep them on all the time?
A: No, no. Keep them on only when they are on ice or under snow. Keeping them on when they are on a dry surface is a fire hazard. Also, install them in all downspouts.
Q: Ice is forming on one outside wall of my 1960s Cape. There is a shed dormer on the roof, and its front wall is on the same plane as the first-floor wall. There are no gutters at the dormer roof, which has a small overhang.What can I do?
When you had no ice, you had water. I am not a big fan of gutters, but here is a good example of the need for a gutter. Install a gutter at the top of the dormer. With a downspout or two, it will guide all that roof water to the ground, where you can put an extension on the downspouts to guide the water away from the foundation. In winter, the gutter will freeze, but that is OK because the water will cascade over the front of the gutter, far enough away from the wall to avoid running down the walls. The original small roof overhang is too narrow to prevent water percolating under the overhang and continuing its way down to cover the whole wall.
Q: My new storm windows on the second floor have iced up, and when the ice melts I get water between the storms and my single-glazed main windows. There is no icing of the old leaky storms on the first floor. Is there an easy way of reducing that icing?
MRS. McCarthy, Cape Cod
A: Those new storms are working too well, trapping humid house air that is escaping through the main windows. Try weatherstripping those main windows, to reduce the humid air getting through. Also, put weep holes in the new windows, or open them up if they exist. Drive a one-eighth of an inch hole in the metal sill at the bottom of the storm frame, 4 inches in from each side, as close as possible to the wood sill. You can also open the storm for a few minutes to let all that water vapor out. Two reasons why the leaky old first-floor storms are not icing up: They are leaky enough to allow water vapor to escape. And, because humid air tends to rise.Q: My new storm windows on the second floor have iced up, and when the ice melts I get water between the storms and my single-glazed main windows. There is no icing of the old leaky storms on the first floor. Is there an easy way of reducing that icing?
MRS. McCarthy, Cape Cod
Q: We had granite countertops installed in our house 13 years ago. We had three large pieces of granite installed with two invisible seams. One of the slabs dropped 1/8 to 1/16 of an inch at a seam. We can pick it up to a levelposition with our hands. The granite company thought it quite unusual, but said nothing could be done. Is there a safe way to “shim’’ this to make it level?
AUDREY & RON RANDO, Nashua, N.H.
A: Is there caulking or any filler between the two slabs? If so, that is why the granite company said nothing could be done to remedy the situation. Fiddlesticks! The one piece dropped just a tad, either because the shims decayed or dropped, or the sides, front or back of the cabinet dropped. I personally think the shims failed. You can fix this, but I would try getting on that granite company to put in new shims. Any company worth its reputation will do this. To do it yourself, buy cedar shims in any lumber store. Lift the low slab, and insert a shim wherever the slab sits on the cabinet. You can also buy plastic shims, but they may be too thick to get the slab in the right position. The wood shims come in a package of shims about 2 inches wide and 6 inches long.
Peter Hotton is also in the g section on Thursdays. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions. Call 617-929-2930. He (firstname.lastname@example.org) also chats online about 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. To participate, go towww.Boston.com.
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