What to watch out for in your home when the big thaw happens

After a relentless, bone-chilling cold snap kept Albertans stuck inside for weeks, a forecasted thaw on Monday is good news for most residents — but homeowners should take precautions, some inspectors warn.

Attic rain can mean staining, damage and water leaks around lights and bathroom fans

With weather forecasters expecting a significant warming trend for Calgary early next week, some home inspectors are offering advice on the kinds of issues that homeowners can expect. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

After a relentless, bone-chilling cold snap kept Albertans stuck inside for weeks, a forecasted thaw on Monday is good news for most residents — but homeowners should take precautions, some inspectors warn.

Around Christmas, an Arctic blast brought record lows to the province, at times causing wind chills of between –40 and –55. The frigid conditions wreaked havoc on roads and water pipes.

That's expected to drastically change over the weekend and peak on Monday, when temperatures are forecast to climb above the freezing mark, with daily highs on the plus side for about a week.

WATCH | Watch out for attic rain, ice dams, and window condensation with warmer weather:

Watch out for attic rain, ice dams and window condensation with warmer weather

11 months ago
Duration 2:03
A significant warming trend is expected for Calgary. That could spell potential problems for homeowners.

An abrupt change like that can wreak havoc, says Jaclyn St. Louis, who is with Twenty20 Master Home Inspections.

She recommends people take a good look at their homes for potential problems before the weather heats up.

Jaclyn St. Louis with Twenty20 Master Home Inspections says a rapid cycle from deep freeze to thaw can result in some problems for homeowners. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

"Take a walk around your home and see if you have areas where it doesn't look like the rapidly melting snow and ice is going to be flowing freely off your roof," St. Louis said.

Here are the top three things St. Louis says to watch out for.

Attic rain and frost

During a thaw, condensation from the exterior of the home coming through hot exhaust vents can cause condensation through the perforated soffit — which can then lead to condensation in the attic.

When that freezes, it can then create "attic frost."

If temperatures increase, especially rapidly, that buildup will melt, creating a rain effect, St. Louis said.

"It can be quite expensive. You can see damage into your wall cavity, insulation, drywall," she said. "So it's something you want to catch right away."

Homeowners can mitigate the impacts of attic rain through various upgrades such as increasing attic ventilation, upgrading areas with low insulation and relocating hot exhaust ducting.

Condensation and ice on windows

During periods of cold weather, inadequate ventilation and too much humidity can lead to condensation forming on windows, which can lead to an ice buildup.

With a rapid temperature increase, the ice can melt quickly, leading to damage on paint on wood windows, jambs and drywall.

"That's going to create some painting and some maintenance," St. Louis said.

Homeowners can turn down humidifiers and run ventilation fans to remove humid air and increase air circulation, St. Louis said.

Ice or roof damming

Finally, the cold snap could bring ice or roof damming. That occurs when ice forms after the thaw and traps water on shingles, eaves and soffits. That can eventually lead to interior leaks.

"You're going to see moisture staining on your drywall, into your insulation and wall cavity," St. Louis said. "You're probably going to have to replace the drywall, repainting."

St. Louis said people should inspect their homes for potential problems.

Those who have concerns can speak with professionals about assessments, repairs, cleaning and prevention strategies, St. Louis said.

With files from Dave Gilson


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