Every 9 months, the home goes through a trial and tribulations phase. The entire house is put through a bunch of different tests that put a little to a lot of stress on the structure and components. Structural integrity is tested unlike at any other time during the year. The winter is merciless. It’s like a virus that plagues your home. No matter what you do, the cold will seep through your letterbox, crawl underneath your doors, bombard your roof from above and even permeate through your windows. Can you imagine the stress the freezing temperatures are putting your exterior through right now? The hundreds of pounds of snow on the roof, make it groan and ache. The icy mornings kill your lawn and tempt your driveway to crack and split open. It’s incredible how tough modern homes are to even get through to the other side after 3 months of torture. It’s not a given however, sometimes homes don’t get through unscathed. The question is, are you ready?
The ice dam
The gutters are designed to channel rainwater that’s dripped from your roof, into a drain. It’s there to stop pools of water from the building which can damage your concrete slabs, soften the mortar between the stones in your patio and drown your lawn. Standing water is also a slipping hazard. So the next time you look up at your gutters, don’t see them as a simple feature, one which wouldn’t really change your living standards of it wasn’t there. But here comes the winter, ready to put the PVC material through its paces. During this time of year, powerful gusts arise out of nowhere. The cold wind sometimes picks up leaves from trees that haven’t totally shed their dead leaves. These leaves can land on top of your roof or in your gutters.
What happens when the temperatures go below freezing? The rainwater trapped in your blocked gutters will freeze. A long, slender but heavy block of ice forms in your gutters. This can indeed, make the gutters fall off your roof. It goes without saying, that this is very dangerous and potentially life-threatening. Here’s how to fix this issue.
- Pour some boiling hot water over a patch of your garden. This is where you’ll place a ladder so you don’t want any ice to be around.
- Climb the ladder and check your gutters for blockages. Clear the leaves out with your hands and put them into a bucket, or let them fall down below.
- You don’t need a ladder, if you have a long brush you can use it at an angle, to sweep the leaves out of the gutters.
- Using a hose, check to see if the water runs down the gutters and into the drain, performing a normal flow and exit cycle.
If you’re trying to simply get rid of the ice, using a hose to melt the block is pretty much your only option. This will take time, so be careful and adapt to the changing weight and strength of the gutters you’re leaning against.
Disastrous cracking consequences
Those that already live in a very cold climate, will tell you woes about cracking foundations. Canada and Scandanavian homes are built with a special foundation material. There’s not as much water or oxygen bubbles in the mortar and or concrete. When the freezing temperatures arrive, they will cause everything they touch to retreat or to contract. When this is done suddenly or for prolonged periods of time, it can cause the foundation of your home to squeeze together. When this occurs, cracks begin to form. This is incredibly dangerous because it can cause your home to sink. It may even cause the foundation to split up and become so loose that your walls begin to wobble and potentially collapse.
It’s vital that you melt and sweep away the ice and snow around your home regularly this winter. Don’t allow ice and snow to sit around the bottom of your home for too long. If you’ve ever wondered why some poor soul such as your neighbor is outside shoveling his driveway or brushing away clumps of snow and ice around his home, this is why. Wrap up warm and go outside to essentially, create a winter-free border around your home’s foundations. A stiff copper bristle brush is excellent at breaking down and sweeping away the ice. Standing pools of water, also cause damage to the foundations. All the more reason to keep your gutters in good order.
A moisture melee
Contrary to what you might believe, winter isn’t a dry season. In fact, it’s the second-highest rainfall season, after autumn. The fascinating thing is, we misinterpreted how much rain actually falls in winter because it comes down in the form of snowflakes. Even though this does make the landscape dry and baron, it still counts as rainfall. The water in the snow slowly evaporates and picked up in the wind. This then creates stronger winds because now the guests have more weight due to more molecules. If you have any kind of opening in your home, the wind will blow this moisture-rich vapor into your house. This can lead to a sudden build-up of mildew. Mildew is a green and black-ish fungus. If left alone it can cause breathing problems, a foul and musty stench and be difficult to scrub off once it sets in.
The easiest way to get rid of it is with a firm kitchen scrubber pad, dipped in hot water and bleach. The bleach should be one-part of five. Thus, 20% bleach and 80% hot water is the most effective mixture. Be careful not to scrub too hard as the bleach can tear off some of the wallpaper or paint. Closing off any entrances that the wind could be used to get inside your home is a long-term solution. Closing the shutters on your ventilation fan is quite effective. Making sure the room is heated and free-flowing air is allowed to circulate around will prevent moisture from accumulating in one area.
Convulsions in appliances
When you come downstairs in the morning and take hold of kettle or coffee maker, you can sense how cold the appliances are. They also seem a little brittle and inflexible. This is of course because they are. The cold makes everything contract as any and all moisture is driven out by the cold temperatures. Thus you will find that many of your appliances are going through a considerable amount of stress during the dead of winter when temperatures are well below freezing. One of the worst things that can happen is your large appliances begin to falter and even break. Dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators and such, have lots of moving parts that can work under pressure. When the pipes are frozen solid and then suddenly forced to jolt into action, this can cause a rupture. The same goes for piping as the metal will rupture when suddenly made to flex under water pressure.
However, you can find plenty of westinghouse parts for various appliances throughout your home. If you’re a kind of ‘fix-it-yourself’ type of person, this is a fantastic website for your needs. It’s rich with hundreds of different parts, for many different models and they can be bought online and shipped to your home. If you have hired a repair professional, this is one way to cut down on costs and time. Order the parts yourself and give them to your repairer and they can fix the appliance without the need to wait for them to order items themselves.
A failed HVAC unit
The exterior of your home will be taking a lot of punishment during these chilly times. Chief among the victims will be your air conditioning unit. We use the HVAC to give us warm air and circulate fresh air around the house. This is crucial during the winter because you’ll be trying your best to keep all windows and doors shut for every second of the day possible. The wind chill and the freezing temperatures can make your home feel unfavorable very quickly. Thus, you must be wary of your HVAC’s health. The number one enemy for it is the ice. When rainfall is plentiful, followed by a sudden sub-zero ambient temperature, ice can build up inside the unit.
It is vital that you put a cover over the unit without blocking the intake fan. This can be a Rockwool blanket, or perhaps just an old throw. Anything that will keep the internal temperatures above freezing, even if it’s just by one degree, is going to save you the hassle of making repairs. The general wear and tear are lessened by the fact that the HVAC unit doesn’t have to operate under stress and use more power to heat the air that it pumps into your home.
As the old but gold saying goes, winter is coming. Actually, it’s already here but luckily, it’s not too late yet. We’re still in January, the first month of winter. Brush away the snow and ice from the foundations of your home. Clear the gutters and melt the ice. Make sure your appliances aren’t frozen from the inside.