Staying dry in your home this winter

November 26th, 2015

Will your home be dry this winter?

There is nothing more comforting than being warm and dry in your home when the weather rages outside. We don’t get the prolonged sub-zero conditions that our Eastern cousins experience (thankfully) but we do get wet, windy conditions with the occasional cold snap. However, this unpredictability of weather conditions can cause problems.

Outside water bibs or taps

These are a common source of water ingress into a home. With warmer temperatures than the rest of Canada, we are sometimes tempted to wash off any winter grime from our vehicles over the winter. Maintaining good visibility (windows/windshields) and being visible (clean lights) is always a good idea. Another good idea is to disconnect your hose from the water source and drain your hose completely when you’re finished. If your hose remains attached it will defeat the frost-free feature in your outside tap and trap the water inside. Everything looks good until you turn the tap on in the spring and water starts spraying everywhere.

A general rule of thumb is if your tap has a handle that is perpendicular to the house, then it is likely a frost-free tap.

Perimeter drains and gutters

On the west coast we usually don’t get much snow, we get rain – lots of it. If your house is more than 10 years old you should consider having your perimeter drains scoped for evidence of debris build up. A common source of water damage in basements is water backing up through interior drains. This is a direct result of water not being able to find the storm drains to the street. The drain debris can come from a number of sources but it is usually from the gutters and, if your home is older, infiltration of soil/clay into the drains. In severe cases, the drains may have even collapsed resulting in total blockage. Another source of blockage is tree roots. Never plant a bush or tree that has large growth potential near the foundation of your home and maintain clear gutters. You should also ensure your downspouts drain away from the house.

If your gutters are blocked and wet freezing temperatures are forecast, there is a good possibility that an ice dam may form, forcing the water into the soffits and interior walls.

Vacation time?

So, you’ve had enough of the dreary wet conditions and plan an extended winter vacation. Most insurance policies include a provision that deals with vacancy. If your trip is going to be more than four days in length during the usual heating season, there is a clause that states that the interior of your home must be physically inspected by a competent person, in some cases, every day to ensure the heating is still functional and to prevent frozen pipes and fixtures. Turning off your main water supply is also recommended. If you are in doubt about your situation, contact your broker.