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February 2015 - Cold Hands & Warm Hearts

February 2015 - Cold Hands & Warm Hearts

February can be ice-cold, frigid and imposing, full of hazards and threats. February can also be heart-warming, affectionate and tender, full of love and romance...

February is National Heart Month in both the US and Canada (not surprising for the month of St. Valentine), the month in which we are reminded to focus on heart health. February is the month for which I can instantly recall the number of days without even going through the “30 days has September” chant in my head. February is the only month that actually gains a day every four years.  For such a short month, February actually has a whole lot going on: sometimes good, sometimes bad, but usually memorable.

February is often regarded with resignation, if not downright dread. It’s so cold, and full of snow and ice.  By February, the holidays are just a memory, and, truthfully, most of us are really tired of winter weather. We’re trying not to long too much for the coming spring, but those intermittent days of warmer temperatures inevitably bring to mind visions of green grass and vibrant blooms. There is beauty all around, though, even in those harbingers of hazard, ice and snow. Water does amazing things in the winter, but the crystalline art of snowflakes and the sparkling grandeur of ice can be hazardous as well as beautiful.

Water, which means life for every living creature on this planet, is not exactly life-giving for inorganic objects. Water can do tremendous damage to houses, and roofs in particular. When the temperatures plummet, and water becomes ice, it can cause even more trouble. Ice can build up on the roof and cause stress or damage and serious load issues. The worst damage is often caused on those days when the temperature hovers around freezing — those days the weather forecasters like to call the “wintry mix” days. Water can get into the smallest of spaces and then freeze, which makes it expand, which in turn makes the cracks expand.  The melting and freezing cycle can allow water to work its way down into your home, causing water damage, sagging plaster, rotted wood, and stains.

Obviously, we have no control over that rain, snow, sleet, and “wintry mix.” But what we can do is keep up on proper maintenance, assessing needs and taking care of them before the elements have a chance to do their worst. In addition, if you are putting in a new roof, you can take some preventative measures, such as: 

  1. Ventilate. Make sure that there is adequate ventilation, particularly at the eaves and the peak of the roof. Air space above the insulation allows the cold air to move freely, which can help to prevent the snow and ice from melting.

  2. Insulate. Adequate insulation in the ceiling joints and rafters will help keep the warm inside and the cold outside— where it belongs. A vapor barrier will also help prevent moisture from escaping the house.

  3. Safeguard. Installing a Snow and Ice Shield beneath the shingles can prevent water from getting through the cracks and into your home.

Another hazard of the ice-cold winter is the damage done when pipes freeze. Regarding frozen pipes, we have found some great information and a very helpful infographic from Pennsylvania American Water and Pennlive.

Frozen Pipes Infographic    B.Miller,

Would you like more information regarding frozen pipes? What to do to keep your pipes from freezing and what to do if your pipes do freeze? Click Here for Pennsylvania American Water's tips on frozen pipes.

In the words of Benjamin Disraeli, 
“Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.”  

Enjoy time with your sweetheart on the 14th.
Make some homemade heart-shaped cookies for your kids.
Learn some little-known facts about St. Valentine and work them into casual conversations.
Find out more about American Heart Month and Canadian Heart Month, and resolve to take good care of your heart.

Relish your cold hands and warm hearts
and have a fabulous February!

Want more info on American Heart Month?
Want more info on Canadian Heart Month?
Sources:, “How to avoid ice dams and water damage”, “Frozen Pipes: How to Prevent Them”, “Hail, Ice, Snow can Damage Roofs"