Life hacks that will make a difficult winter easier

A few weeks ago, a stain on our downstairs ceiling seemed to appear out of nowhere. Brown water dripped above our heads and pooled on the floor. I looked up, grimacing as I put two and two together.

Ice buildup + dammed water = leaking roof. Ugh.


My husband has mostly kept up with the roof raking during the past few months, but it hasn’t been quite enough to counteract the constant freezing temperatures and feet of snow dumped with each new storm.

That’s why on the morning of The Great Leak, we headed to our local hardware store in search of ice pucks — little hockey puck size discs of salt that can be thrown on a roof to melt ice and keep ice dams at bay. Unfortunately, so did everyone else in Bangor.

We headed home defeated, but not before a quick stop at the women’s lingerie department at Target for a jumbo pack of knee-high nylons and a 5-pound bag of Ice Melt.

Lesson one in life as a true Mainer: Learn and memorize the essential life hacks for surviving winter.

1. Make your own ice melt packs. Fill nylons, coffee filters, or other small permeable containers with ice melt and place on ice or in areas where ice tends to build up.

Photo by Mike Dowd

Photo by Mike Dowd

2. A warm morning is a good morning. Toss clothes and towels in the dryer or hang them by the fire while showering. That way when you step out of the steamy bathroom, there’s a warm towel to dry off with, and cozy pants to slip into.

3. Solve the inevitable ‘lost mitten curse.’ Cut the tube part off of a sock and sew it to the bottom of your child’s mittens. The sock tube will go a ways up their arm and help keep the mitten on, especially after a shirt or jacket is pulled on over the tube part.

4. Create a rubber cover. Suction a plunger over an outdoor water spigot if you’re not sure the pipe behind it has completely drained. It will keep the spigot covered and warm enough keep the pipes inside the wall from freezing and bursting. In the words of the co-worker who told me about this hack, “It’s not sexy, but it works.”

5. Keep un-supervised pipes warm. If you’re planning on leaving or have the heat down, leave cabinet doors that hide pipes open. The open doors will allow the warm air to wind around the pipes and hopefully keep them from freezing and bursting.

Natalie Feulner

About Natalie Feulner

Natalie Feulner is a journalist and “semi-crunchy” cloth diapering momma to a rambunctious toddler named after a county in California. She drinks too much tea and loves to climb rocks but not at the same time.