Weath­er­ing win­ter

Tips to keep ice dams, frozen pipes and more at bay

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By Mike Holmes

WIN­TER weather can wreak havoc on your home. But even when win­ter does its worst feel con­fi­dent that with the proper main­te­nance, you can make it right. Here are some of the big­gest prob­lems I see and a few things you can do about them. Roof — ice damming: Typ­i­cally the two causes of ice damming are clogged eave­stroughs and in­suf­fi­cient at­tic in­su­la­tion. The at­tic should be prop­erly sealed, ven­ti­lated and in­su­lated with a min­i­mum of 30.5 to 38 cen­time­tres of blown-in in­su­la­tion. Oth­er­wise heat will es­cape, melt­ing the snow on the roof. When it re­freezes, ice damming oc­curs. And, if you didn’t clean your gut­ters or eave­stroughs be­fore win­ter, backed-up wa­ter and de­bris will even­tu­ally freeze and pre­vent wa­ter from drain­ing. This wa­ter will then freeze and ice damming will spread all along your roofline. Ice dams can cause wa­ter to back up un­der shin­gles and en­ter the roof struc­ture, lead­ing to rot and mould. They can also warp and dam­age your eave­stroughs — re­mem­ber, wa­ter ex­pands when it freezes — po­ten­tially caus­ing them to de­tach from your roof. If your house has ice dams, call a pro­fes­sional roofer. If the cause is clogged eave­stroughs he might rec­om­mend us­ing a non-cor­ro­sive de­icer, like a cal­cium chlo­ride flake, which looks like snow. It’s sprin­kled over frozen ar­eas, and once ev­ery­thing is melted the gut­ters can be cleared and cleaned. Foun­da­tion — base­ment leaks: Wa­ter should al­ways be di­rected away from the home, es­pe­cially around the foun­da­tion. Grad­ing, roofs and a sys­tem of eave­stroughs and down­spouts all work to­gether to do one thing — drive wa­ter away from your house. Dur­ing win­ter, shovel snow away from the foun­da­tion, oth­er­wise when it melts, you know where it will end up. Brick ex­te­ri­ors — flak­ing and spalling: Typ­i­cally, there is about 15 to 20 cm of foun­da­tion or con­crete above ground on your ex­te­rior walls, be­low the brick line. Clear­ing snow away from the bricks around your home al­lows them to breathe and helps to pre­vent flak­ing and spalling. The same goes for a wood porch or wood col­umns. Clear­ing away snow will help pro­long the life of the wood. Plumb­ing — frozen pipes: Shut down ex­te­rior lines and/or hose bibs for the win­ter. Most homes have one in the garage and one in the back­yard. HVAC — snow-cov­ered ex­haust lines and vent­ing: Newer fur­naces have an ex­haust line and a fre­shair in­take, both made of polyvinyl chlo­ride (PVC) pipe, which is white. Older homes just have an ex­haust line, usu­ally made of black acry­loni­trile bu­ta­di­ene styrene (ABS) pipe. Lines on the side of your house — typ­i­cally near the lo­ca­tion of the fur­nace — should be vis­i­ble. Clear away snow or it will po­ten­tially choke the sys­tem. Older fur­naces will ex­haust through the roof; newer fur­naces ex­haust di­rectly out the side of the home. Newer homes might also have a power-vented wa­ter heater or hot wa­ter tank (as op­posed to “grav­i­tyfed”). That means there is an ex­haust mo­tor fan on top the heater or tank that turns on when the sys­tem kicks in. Its ex­haust line should be kept free of snow too. Un­safe elec­tri­cal — plug in safely: Make sure you plug elec­tron­ics and ap­pli­ances into ground fault cir­cuit in­ter­rupter (GFCI) safety out­let. We use more elec­tric­ity over win­ter, but avoid over­load­ing cir­cuits. Homes should be pro­tected with a 15-amp cir­cuit, which de­liv­ers 1,800 watts of avail­able, safe power. Also, in­spect power bars and ex­ten­sion cords. If they’re frayed or slightly dam­aged throw them out and get new ones. Watch Mike Holmes on Holmes Makes It Right on HGTV. For more in­for­ma­tion

visit makeitright.ca.

Re­mov­ing snow from wood porches, fences and other struc­tures can re­duce swelling and pro­long the life and main­tain the

ap­pear­ance of the wood it­self.

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