Environmental Issue & Sick Building Syndrome Blog

Rules of the Universe Cause Winter Problems

January 23rd, 2016 6:36 PM by Dan Howard

You can call it the “rules of the universe” or “rules of science” but the bottom line is that we can’t escape them. These rules are sometimes more of a harsh reality than others. Winter would be one of those times that they can give us lots of heartache.

Some of these rules of the universe that matter most in winter weather are:

  • Water goes down hill
  • When water freezes it takes up 10% more space, even in closed areas like pipes
  • When a warm gas like water vapor gets to a cold enough surface it will condense
  • Where there is wood or drywall and water, mold will grow
  • If it smells bad, it is not healthy for us
  • Everything can deteriorate with water

                Gutter and Roof Leaks Through Walls: This happens when snow and ice buildup on the roof. When the sun warms a little, snow melts and builds up in the gutter. The warmer house side of the ice dam melts and runs under the ice and into the house walls. One solution to the problem is heat tape in the gutters. The best long term solution starts when installing a new roof. Install a sticky membrane like “Ice and Water Shield” on the roof surface. This is generally a membrane that goes up the roof three feet and keeps the water from leaking through the roof for that distance.  

                Frozen Pipes: When water freezes, it gets 10% bigger. If it is doing that expansion in a confined area like a pipe or plumbing fixture, it breaks. The best solutions are draining the pipes or adding heat to cold areas. Some tricks include heat tape, opening vanity doors and tub accesses or adding a heater to garages or other areas that have pipes in danger of freezing.    

                 Condensation and Mold at Windows, Attics and Basements: Put a glass of ice water on a table on a hot and humid 4th of July. Condensation will collect on the outside of the glass. If there are ten ice cubes in it instead of three in the glass, there will be more condensation. In the same way, if it is very cold outside, more condensation collects where heated areas meet cold surfaces. This is when mold will grow in attics, closets located on outside walls, crawl spaces and garages. You can dehumidify the entire house to have less moisture available for condensation or add heat to the very cold areas so there is less of a temperature difference.


Posted by Dan Howard on January 23rd, 2016 6:36 PM



My Favorite Blogs:

Sites That Link to This Blog: