Calgary’s unusually cold February is causing headaches for some homeowners, and roofing companies are busier than ever.
The biggest issue is attic rain: a phenomenon caused by prolonged cold spells and improper ventilation.
Kelly Bryden, president of Hubbard Roofing and Exteriors, said this winter is the worst he’s seen.
“In the last week, we’ve had over 150 calls due to attic rain,” said Bryden.
It’s caused by excessive moisture building up in the attic, which then freezes to beams and ceilings. When temperatures rise, the frost melts and leaks through the ceiling.
Poor intake ventilation, exhaust, high humidity or lack of insulation can all speed up the process, making it tough to nail down the cause.
Calgary’s usual freeze-thaw cycle prevents frost from building up too much, but with this year’s constant cold weather, attic rain cases are on the rise.
The real problems development when temperatures start to climb, melting the frost and creating leaks.
“It’s going to come down light fixtures, bathroom exhaust vents, down the sides of walls,” said Bryden. “You’re going to notice stains in your ceilings that you’ve never seen before.”
Those stains could be an early indicator that an expert should be called in to inspect the attic.
Bryden added that attic rain is most likely to affect newer homes because of improved building materials used during construction that result in a tight seal. New builds tend to be more energy efficient, allowing less air to escape through shingles and moisture barriers. Without enough ventilation, humid air is trapped in the attic.
While preventative measures can be taken to avoid the problem returning next season, there is nothing homeowners can do to stop already present moisture from melting, Bryden said.