The housing market is hotter than ever with a lot of people moving in and out of homes.
While homeownership can bring many rewards, words like attic rain, ice damming, and window condensation can cause homeowners stress — but it doesn’t have to be this way.
In a climate like Alberta’s, it is important to make sure your home is operating efficiently before the temperatures rise or fall dramatically, says Rümi home inspector Brendan Graham.
Graham says that Albertans can sometimes leave these risks until it’s too late.
“I often walk into a home that has experienced substantial damage which could easily have been avoided with regular maintenance,” Graham says.
Graham has experience with a litany of common Alberta home issues and has some tips for homeowners trying to navigate the province’s fluctuating temperature swings.
Condensation on windows, attic rain, and ice damming, oh my
One of the main problems that can arise from fluctuating temperatures is condensation on the home’s windows caused by humidity.
“So, you’ve seen that ice build up or under windows when it’s -20 C or colder. That’s caused by the humidity being set too high inside your home,” Graham explains.
That can cause a lot of damage but is easily remedied before it happens with proper ventilation, proper insulation, and better heating in the home.
Attic rain is also caused by improper ventilation and the roof not having enough vents. This can also wreak havoc in your home, Graham adds. Attic rain occurs when the warm air in your home rises and gets trapped in the attic space.
“And then when there is a cold snap the issue is compounded. Then when it warms up, all of that frost in your attic melts and the only place it can go is your top floor,” he says.
“It’s literally raining inside your attic, and it’ll literally be raining inside your home on the top floor.”
The damage is often so severe you’d have to replace your drywall at a high cost.
Don’t forget about your furnaces and downspouts
Another problem that arises in the wintertime is furnaces breaking down, Graham says.
“Maybe it’s your furnace filter that’s too dirty, or perhaps there’s ice buildup on your furnace exhaust, which is a common problem with high-efficiency furnaces,” he explains, adding the best time to do maintenance is before winter hits.
“When we go through these really prolonged cold snaps, imagine how hard the furnace has to work so continuously.”
Graham says it’s important to pay attention to your furnace and catch problems before they happen or when they start popping up.
“It’s important to know that once your furnace does show signs of things that are starting to break down, the ideal time to start addressing those issues is before the season starts,” he says, adding a furnace tune-up before winter can go a long way.
One of the most common winter ailments Graham deals with is flooded basements, especially with the way Calgary’s weather has been changing drastically both from cold to warm.
That’s because the warmer weather causes snow to melt and flood into basements.
“That was the number one issue that we see people call about asking about where the flooding was coming from. It’s actually caused by your downspouts being drained and funnelled into the basement,” Graham adds.
Prevention and maintenance are key
Graham says that as the temperature fluctuates, homeowners should adjust their humidistats.
“The colder it gets, the less humidity you want inside your home,” he says, adding if the temperature is -20, the humidistat should be less than 20%.
“Or even off is what I recommend to the homeowner because you don’t need any additional humidity inside there.”
If you wake up and see ice building up on your windows, it’s important to just open your blinds and let them naturally air out while cleaning up the residue with a cloth so it doesn’t damage your windows.
Rümi is the newest member of the ATCO family and it bills itself as an easy and friendly answer to all your homeowner questions.
Calgary homeowners can schedule a free 15-minute video consultation with a Rümi home inspector to discuss any concerns or questions they have about their home.
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