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Preparing For Spring

Walter Krebs - Thursday, February 08, 2018
Preparing For Spring

What to look for in February that can you help plan for spring maintenance.


It is twelve degrees below zero as I write this.  You would think that writing a spring maintenance blog now is premature at best, and just silly at worst.  But, your house has things it wants to show you now that may not be visible or obvious when the weather has warmed up enough for flip flops and shorts.  Here are five things I think you should look for, while there is still snow on the ground:

One:  Basement windows – Many basement windows are in poor shape compared to the other windows in the home.  They may be the original units in an older home.  Or, maybe the ones that were installed in the basement were, simply, cheap.  The result is:  substantial heat loss.  You can’t tell this in the spring and summer, but you will notice it in the winter.  The area below the window could be very cold, and, you may even have a build-up of ice on the glass or frame.  Document this and contact a window contractor.  As soon as it warms up, you can have those windows replaced.

Two:  Window wells – Sure, the spring rains can tell you a lot about your window wells and their installation.  But, so can winter weather.  If the snow tends to pile up against the glass, you know something was not done correctly.  You may need to correct the vertical or horizontal depth of the well or install a clear cover.  Snow will melt.  And this water can enter your home and cause serious damage if your window well is not operating as it should.  Share your findings with a qualified contractor and arrange for repairs when the ground warms up.

Three:  Weather stripping – Every window and door in your house has it.  But, do you think you will notice if your weather stripping has failed when it is warm and sunny outside?  Maybe not.  Do you think you will notice when the cold, northern-winds of February have penetrated your sanctuary?  Umm, yes!  So, put on an extra sweater and note the cold spots for repair, when it warms up, sometime in April.  I hope!

Four:  Insulation and ventilation – Again, we don’t usually notice problems with insulation in the summer.  In the winter months, we do.  Ice-damning is common in many older bungalows.  From the street you will see ice that has formed at the eaves.  You may even see large icicles hanging from the gutters.  Although the ice formations may be interesting and even beautiful, this is a sign of heat loss into the attic space. 

Inadequate insulation and missing vapour barrier allows heat to escape from the living space into the attic.  This warm air melts the snow on the roof.  When the water reaches the cooler overhang of the eaves, it freezes and forms an ice-damn.  The ice-damn traps any additional water from snow melt, or unseasonal rains, on the roof instead of allowing it to run into the gutters.  Water will find a way to continue moving to lower ground.  It usually finds a way past the roof coverings and into the living space.  The result is:  an expensive roof repair and expensive repairs to the home’s structure and interior. 

If you observe ice-damning in the winter months you should assume it has occurred in previous years too.  And that there may, already, be damage.  A home inspector can help you check for damage.  But a qualified contractor should ultimately be hired to make repairs and upgrade the attic’s insulation and ventilation.

Five:  Hose bibs – In the case of frozen garden taps, I admit, you won’t have to look very hard to discover this problem.  If you do not have a frost-free hose bib or, at least, an interior isolation valve, you will discover this issue without too much effort.  Because, the cold outside temperature will freeze the water in the supply line to the outside tap.  When this water freezes, it will expand and cause the pipe to burst. 

You will know this is happening when your basement floods…

So, if you forgot to upgrade your old garden tap or you forgot to close the interior isolation valve, please do it now! 

Thanks for reading my spring maintenance blog.  You are welcome to contact me with your comments and questions.  Stay warm…

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