Tips to protect your home as Alberta warms up from a deep freeze

Click to play video: 'Protecting your home during drastic temperature shifts in the winter'
Protecting your home during drastic temperature shifts in the winter
While the sudden warm weather after a lengthy cold snap is bringing Albertans out of hibernation, it could also pose some problems for your home. Sarah Ryan has some tips on how to protect your house from damage caused by rapid temperature shifts. – Jan 10, 2022

After weeks of below-average freezing temperatures, a pretty significant warm-up is on the way for Alberta.

The coldest temperature recorded in Edmonton over the last few weeks was -35 C the morning of Dec. 28, according to Global Edmonton’s chief meteorologist Jesse Beyer.

The coldest temperature recorded in Calgary was -32.9 C on Dec. 27, according to Environment Canada. Wind chill values made it feel much colder.

Sunday’s low in Edmonton was -27.3 C and Calgary hit a low of -24.1 C, according to Environment Canada.

Edmonton is forecast to reach highs anywhere from 0 C to 3 C for the next week, Beyer said.

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“This week we have another Pacific air mass moving in with an upper ridge in the jet stream,” Beyer said. “We are finally looking at some better temperatures.”

Click to play video: 'City road crews will be back in Edmonton neighbourhoods when weather warms up'
City road crews will be back in Edmonton neighbourhoods when weather warms up

Calgary is set to warm up a bit more, with highs forecast to reach between 1 C and 12 C this week.

While welcome news to many, the quick increase in temperature could lead to issues for homeowners.

Brandon Steenson works in snow maintenance and recently picked up a side job clearing the snow from his neighbours’ roofs and eavestroughs in Edmonton’s Fulton neighbourhood. Recent snowfall has left a lot of snow piled up on area homes.

“With the change in temperature and the amount of snow on the roof, it’s melting and it could dam up close towards the eaves and create a whole lot of weight there and cause leaks. It could even break, depending on the trusses,” Steenson said.

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“There’s anywhere from a foot to four feet on that house and the drifts can get pretty high… This is definitely home maintenance 101 and most people probably don’t know, but with the snowfall that we’ve had this year it’s absolutely necessary.”

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Steenson said he’s been doing about seven roofs per day for the last few days. While he does charge for the service, he said it’s also about helping out his neighbours.

“I don’t want to see anybody have home issues. I am a handyman, this is what I do, take care of people day to day and whatever I can do to help at the house. I know that a lot of our neighbours are seniors and there’s no way that they’re going to be able to tackle this, so I’m trying to take care of it for them and at the same time, somewhat affordable so they can afford to get it done,” he said.

“I have to pay the bills but yeah, I want to help my neighbours. I actually called somebody to get a quote for this and it was $250 so I was like, well, I can do it for less and I can do it today and I can do a lot of them. So let’s go!”

Click to play video: 'How the abrupt change in Calgary weather could wreak havoc on your home'
How the abrupt change in Calgary weather could wreak havoc on your home

Ali Basha, the co-owner of A2Z Roofing, said the fluctuating temperature can also lead to condensation in a house’s attic.

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“The condensation or the humidity inside a house varies from house to house. The best indication, actually, to find out if your humidity is too high is your glass,” Basha explained.

“You have to watch the glass. If you see the condensation on the bottom of the glass, I would recommend you go in the attic and check because that’s condensation buildup, frost in the attic,” he explained.

Basha said it’s also important to run the bathroom fan while showering, and for about 30 minutes after, to avoid a buildup of condensation.

With the possibility of freeze/thaw occurring, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services is reminding Edmontonians to familiarize themselves with the location of the water shut-off valve in their homes, businesses or condo/apartments in the event frozen pipes burst.

“In the event of a water problem, if it is safe to do so, turn off the water. Turning off the water quickly can help to minimize the amount of water damage that occurs,” EFRS said in a post on social media Monday.

“Are you a renter? If so, find out the name and contact information for your property manager/landlord and keep it in a safe place in case you need to contact them immediately following a water emergency.”

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Ted Molzan, emergency communications specialist captain with EFRS, said damage caused by burst pipes can be extensive.

“Those pipes that we’re going to see that are leaking now have actually already been frozen, the pipe has split. But because it’s frozen, there’s no water coming out of it. So once that thaws out, that’s when these water leaks and the damage starts,” he said.

“It can be pretty bad. The pipes will burst. If it’s an apartment building — if it’s on the third floor — you’ve got water going down to two other levels of the building and into people’s homes. So it can cause a pretty bad situation. As well, there could be electrical risks or anything like that involved with flowing water.”

Epcor provides the following tips to prevent water pipes from freezing and bursting:

  • Keep the heat on: Keep your home heated at normal levels to avoid cold spots. Leave your heat on while on winter holidays as well
  • Insulate the outside water lines: wrap any water lines near outer walls or doors with insulation. You can wrap your exterior water lines with heat tape to help prevent pipes from freezing outside
  • Keep the water flowing: frequently drawing water from the tap may prevent freezing because it creates a regular flow of water
  • Let the water drip from the faucet: running water through the pipe-even a trickle-helps prevent pipes from freezing. Drip hot or cold water to keep pipes from freezing
  • Keep your bleeder valve turned on: If you have a bleeder valve in your home do not turn it off. EPCOR will notify you when it’s time to do so
  • Turn off outdoor hoses: double check your outside hose faucet to ensure they’re closed off. If they freeze, they can burst and may cause water to drain into your home
  • Check your hot water tank: if your hot water tank is located in a maintenance room outside of your home, make sure the area is adequately heated
  • Ask your house sitter to run the water: if you’re going away on vacation, ask the person who is checking on your home to run the taps as running water through the lines in cold weather makes it less likely that they’ll freeze
  • Don’t forget about outdoor water features: if you have a pool or decorative water feature, turn the motor on and keep the pump running and the water circulating

After Monday, Jan. 17, Beyer said Edmonton could sink back into a deep freeze with highs in the -20 C range and lows dipping to -30 C.

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