The cold weather is finally here and there are some common problems that many home owners encounter during the winter months. These problems are symptoms of what is wrong and therefore provide clues to what needs to be fixed. Read on to find out what you can do this year to achieve a more comfortable home.
1 – Condensation on Windows
Possible causes – Inadequate ventilation and/or low-quality windows. When the moisture from the inside air comes in contact with the cold glass, it condenses on the window.
What you can do – If you have a humidifier installed in the house, ensure that the humidity level is not too high, preferably between 30 and 40%. Moisture is generated in bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms. Make sure they are ventilated properly. If you have exhaust fans in bathrooms, it is a good idea to leave them on for a ½ hour after a hot shower. You can also install a timer switch. If you have single pane or leaky windows, the solution becomes more expensive. Most likely you will need new double pane windows. Go see any of the local lumber yards for information on different window styles.
2 – Ice Dams Form on the Edges of Your Gutters or Roofs
Probable causes – The main reason for this happening is a badly ventilated attic. As warm air rises inside your house, it reaches the attic level. When the attic is not properly sealed, insulated, or ventilated, warm air escapes into the attic and heats up the roof. As a result, the snow begins to melt. But since the air temperature is low, it freezes again to form ice dams on the edges of the roofs.
What you can do – Sealing the air leaks is the first step. This will prevent the warm air from leaking into the attic. The next step is to ventilate the attic so that a warm air reservoir is not created in the attic space. The last step is to insulate (up to R60 if you can). You might be able to do some of this work yourself, but it is recommended to get a professional to take care of this.
3 – Your Floors Seem Cold
Probable causes – Insufficient insulation and air leaks in the windows, doors, and walls will make certain areas feel cold.
What you can do – Certainly the rag under the door is a solution, but it doesn’t look very nice. Fixing the door and window seals can help reduce levels of air penetration. Sealing air gaps and cracks in the walls need to be done. Checking the correct insulation levels will also help. A professional can be called in to check and rectify these issues.
4 – Frozen Pipes
Probable causes – Water in pipes can freeze due to pipes being in outside walls exposed to extreme cold, or the heating system goes out and everything freezes.
What you can do – Once a pipe is frozen, the first thing to do is shut off the water supply, and then thaw it carefully while looking for leaks. Unfortunately, if the whole house froze up, you will be chasing leaks inside of walls and replacing toilets and other fixtures. Call your insurance agent, then a plumber and a contractor. As a precaution for next year, the water supply in the pipes which are exposed to the outside cold air should be shut off if possible or heat tapped.
5 – Carbon Monoxide (CO)
Probable causes – In winter everyone tends to be confined in the house with very little ventilation. So sometimes due to your furnace malfunctioning, the CO levels in the house can become very high. CO is an odorless and colorless gas. Some common symptoms of high levels of CO are:
The gas flame in your furnace or heater is yellow instead of the normal blue color.
For oil furnaces or heaters, black chimney smoke, soot accumulation, popping, banging, rumbling, or delayed ignition are some common symptoms.
In wood burners, a smoking fire and improper drafting, even when the flue has warmed up, can result.
What you can do– As a preventative tool, install a CO detector which will sound an alarm if the levels go above safe levels. If you detect high levels of CO, then contact one of our local HVAC professionals to check it out.
Hope these tips will help you have a safe, comfortable and warm winter this year.