Winter home maintenance: How to prepare your house for snow, cold

Remove snow from your roof to prevent ice dams, clean your furnace filter
CHICAGO (WLS) -- With the coldest conditions in two years bearing down on Chicago, homeowners are hoping that what happened at the Aragon Ballroom a few days ago doesn't befall them.

SEE ALSO | Aragon Ballroom wall topples over under weight of snow
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Part of the Aragon Ballroom in the Uptown neighborhood appears to have collapsed.



"If you have heat coming from your house and it is heating up snow and melting into the roof edge, you could have a big problem," said Kevin Neuhaus, with Hanson Roofing.

Hanson Roofing has been around for three generations and has 10 crews out freeing rooftops of snow that will get heavier with freezing rain then more snow then plummeting temperatures cementing it all, often into ice dams.

"As that ice dam gets bigger and bigger, it starts to pool in the back and behind there it starts to work its way up underneath the shingles, which are shedding the water," Neuhaus explained. "Once that oversaturates, it starts to leak into the interior of the house, causing problems."

It's particularly a problem for flat roofs, but the pitched variety are also susceptible. Interior heat will be cranked over the next several days, adding to the problem - and other service providers are busy ahead of the deep freeze.

SEE ALSO | More snow expected across Chicago area, then bitter cold

"We are doing a lot of maintenance still, a lot of people are trying to plan ahead for the weekend and just get that routine tune-up done," said Bronson Shavitz, with Shavitz Heating & Air Conditioning.

Shavitz Heating & Air Conditioning is another family business has also been around for three generations. They say maintenance is key to heating reliability. And in years on the job, Shavitz said a clean furnace filter now is the right kind of preparation for what's coming.

"It is kind of like putting an N-95 mask on that furnace and telling it to jump on the treadmill for 3-4 days straight," Shavitz said.

Like Hanson Roofing, Shavitz said the best part of sustained cold is engaged consumers. Because let's face it: most people don't want to get on their roofs, nor do they know much about how their heating systems work.

"You know, take a look at this component, see how it is old it is, and you know here's our recommendations," Shavitz said. "The more that we can do that and help educate the homeowner, is going to be better for everybody."
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