Dealing with winter in New England

Will this winter ever end? New England has so far surely seen an amazing accumulation of snow this season. Every few days, the Boston Globe reports that we have surpassed the annual average snowfall by yet again a few inches. Let’s see when we will finally see soil again. For now, we have yet another snow day for UMass and our kids’ schools.

In the meantime, it is educative to look at houses in my neighborhood. As you may know, the appearance of large icicles on north-facing eaves is an indication of insufficient attic insulation and unplugged air leakage from the house (for more detail on this issue of “ice dams”, go here or here). Below are a few images that I took over the past days:

This is a nice example where the newer addition is better insulated than the old house (on the right).

Last year, we had both an energy audit and some insulation and air sealing work done on our 1950’s cape through Mass Save and CET. Beyond the fact that it was highly subsidized and therefore dirt-cheap, we now boast an icicle-free house. Yay! Here’s the picture to prove it:

The downside of this, however, is that lots of snow remains on the north-facing roof – and some of that should go. As it turned out, it is close to impossible these days to get a roof rake at any of the local hardware stores because they are all sold out! So here’s my temporary solution – posted in the hope that others find it useful, too:

Get a telescoping rod from the hardware store. Those are typically sold for use as long paint handles (and they weren’t sold out when I went there). Then grab a good quality wooden board (a 1×4 leftover pine molding did the trick for me). Drill a 5/8″ hole in the center and force the tapered end of the rod into it. Mine had a metal thread that cut itself nicely into the soft wood. And that’s it! Here’s how mine looks. It’s not perfect but it’ll work for now.

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