Cold-Proof Your Home in 5 Easy Steps

Canadian winters can be hard on both people and real estate. Check out these tips for dealing with common cold-weather concerns in your home.

It’s Too Cold Outside to Clean Windows

Don’t despair. There is a way to wash your home’s windows even when the temperature is below freezing. Use automobile windshield washing fluid, which won’t freeze. Fill a bucket with the fluid. Wearing rubber gloves, wash the windows with a sponge or rag. Use a small squeegee to wipe away the solution. Keep a clean, dry rag in your back pocket for wiping spills and sills. Use this same no-freeze solution to clean metal, plastic, and other outdoor surfaces in cold weather.

Snow Sticks to My Shovel

To keep wet snow from gluing itself to a shovel, spray the shovel with cooking spray (like Pam), silicone spray, or a household lubricant (such as WD-40) before you use it. Snow slides easily off a lubricated shovel, sparing your back from the excess weight. And store your shovel outside or in a cold shed or garage—never inside the house. Snow won’t stick as much to a cold shovel.

My Snow Shovel is Wrecking My Porch

To save wooden porches or decks—not to mention your back—from the ravages of a snow shovel, use a janitor’s push broom to clear light snowfalls. A broom is lighter and easier to maneuver than a shovel, and it won’t chip paint on a deck or porch the way a shovel will.

My Downspouts are Frozen Solid

If you live in an area with cold, snowy winters, it’s hard to avoid ice dams. Warm air in the attic causes the snow on the rooftop to melt, but the runoff freezes again when it reaches the gutter line, where the air is colder. The ice is usually thickest at the tops of the downspouts, which is bad, because when the gutter ice does melt, the thick plugs block the runoff. Here’s a quick solution: Cut the legs off a pair of old panty hose. Fill each hose leg with calcium chloride pellets or flakes, the “salt” used to melt sidewalk ice and sold at home improvement centers. Tie the leg ends and lay these homemade ice-melting devices over the frozen downspouts—or any other section of gutter that is especially thick with ice. Remove once the ice has melted.

My Gutters are Frozen and Water is Trickling In

If you see water trickling down your interior walls, you need to stop it—now! Here’s how: Take a box fan or two into the attic and set them up near a window or louvered gable vent. Turn them on high to suck cold air into the attic. The water on the roof will quickly freeze, stopping it from trickling into the house. The reason that cooling the attic solves the problem is that you have what is known as an ice dam. Warm air in your attic melts rooftop snow, and the runoff freezes again near the roof’s edge, where the air is cooler. The ice that forms acts like a dam, pooling water behind it and causing it to creep under the roof shingles, run down the rafters, and eventually trickle down your interior walls.

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