Baby, it’s cold outside!

water damage minneapolis, mold damage minneapolisHow many times did you sing that song over our cold Christmas season in Minneapolis? To be fair, the cold snap did not only hit the Minneapolis area over the holidays, but it was also pretty much the entire state of Minnesota. Did you know that bitter cold temps don’t only affect your lifestyle, they can affect also affect your home?

The first thing that typically occurs when the outside temperature drops are that we inhabitants start to close up the house. We close the windows and doors and even start installing different weatherproof products (insulation, weather stripping, spray foam, etc.). The problem often is that we are stagnating the interior and trapping moisture inside the house. This is especially the case if there are many occupants creating moisture by breathing, bathing, cooking and exercising. Also, we create stagnant odors and allow airborne particles to be locked in the house with us (germs, dust, mites, microbes, etc.). Kind of gross right? But oh how we love those people we share our air within our homes!

The next thing that usually occurs is we activate the heating system to compensate for the falling outside temperatures. This has the tendency to dry the interior out (get your hot oil treatments out!) but in doing so can encourage expansion and contraction of interior materials and cause cracks in drywall, doors that don’t fit, separating wood trim, heaved floors and other problems.

If you have a gas forced-air furnace, a benefit is that the furnace and its blower motor and filter help cleanse the interior environment. The concern is that you always need to maintain a balance where there is not too much or too little moisture being added to the now locked-up house. Too much moisture can cause the formation of mildew and mold, cause the windows to steam up, cause doors to stick and just create a damp, humid environment.

Furnace humidifiers were created to compensate for the dry winter interior air that can be caused by the furnace heat but are often set too high and then create a moisture condition. During the winter months, it is important to create air movement with the use of ceiling fans and draw fans.

Okay, we have now closed up the living area of the house and activated the heating system, but there are two specific areas that are out of sight that react differently and need to be paid attention to. These areas are the attic and any crawl space your house may have. These two areas are different from the exterior or interior but are affected by both.

Both areas typically do not have a heat source, maintain colder temperatures than the interior of the house and can be sensitive to the formation of condensation. The condensation can create a mildew and mold concern, dampen insulation, deteriorate wood framing, encourage infestation, and more. I have actually seen icicles hanging down inside of an attic space caused by the separation of a heat duct running through that area and humidifier left on high.

In a crawl space, it is not uncommon to have plumbing water pipes running through the area that can be susceptible to freezing up.

Our team at 24Restore have seen many water pipes cracked from freezing. What can happen then is a slow leak all winter, causing water to collect throughout the crawl? Crawl spaces must be sealed up during the winter months. Any vents need to be closed, outside access needs to be sealed and any holes need to be caulked or foamed. If this is done properly, these areas usually will stay above freezing just from the warmth radiated down from the living space above. Sometimes we see crawl space ceilings (the bottom of the first floor), is insulated to keep the house warm. The problem here, however, is that the crawl space now will become colder, negatively affecting any plumbing present.

If you have a newer-generation house (built within the past 50 years) with the roof and attic area framing having been done with trusses, there is another concern.

Roof trusses are a pre-fabricated wood framing often in the shape of a triangle, which creates the roof pitch and supports the roofing material. The exterior and interior temperature can impact these one-piece roof trusses simultaneously. Visualize this large wood frame triangle set on top of your house walls creating a sloping roof and then we insulate the upper-level ceiling, which is actually the bottom of the triangular truss. This insulation covers the bottom section of the triangle while the upper areas are not insulated and are exposed to the outside temperature.

So what happens? The bottom that is insulated stays near the interior temperature of about 70 degrees. The upper sections of the truss maintain the exterior temperature of about 10 degrees. The lower parts expand with the heat, the upper parts contract with the cold and something has to give. This condition is called truss lift and usually shows up with some creaking or popping noise up in the attic and then suddenly you notice a crack separating in the center of your house where the upper-level walls meet the ceiling.

We have had many homeowners tell us they think they have a large animal living in their attic and are afraid to look. Soon thereafter is when our team usually discovers cracks, not large critters …although sometimes critters and cracks can come together (but that’s another issue for another blog!).

This truss lift condition usually recedes when the outside temperature starts to rise but can recur during the next cold season. So, the more insulation you put in your upper-level ceiling, which is encouraged since about 70 percent of heat loss is up through your roof, the more potential you have for truss lift. Unfortunately, this condition is difficult to address and I have found that what works best is to lower your interior thermostat temperature a few degrees in very cold weather. This will bring the outside and inside temperature closer together and hopefully avoid the point where the truss lift occurs. *Fun fact! Keeping your temp below 70 is also better for your indoor air quality and the health of your family! We set ours at 68.

Also, remember that heat expands and cold contracts. This condition becomes more evident around the outside perimeter of your house where the ground freezes, but the interior house temperature remains warmer. Rigid construction materials such as brick, foundation walls, concrete walks, etc. can become damaged or cracked when the ground freezes and moves slightly adjacent to these rigid construction materials.

Finally, don’t forget that the cold also causes certain materials to stiffen and become brittle, which allows them to be more sensitive to damage.

So what have we learned here? Our houses are probably more stressed than we are and they need our help. Be aware, provide ventilation and use your heat source conscientiously. Always try to control moisture to avoid mold and any water damage.

I hope you found this helpful. Now get outside for some fresh air and enjoy the warm-up over the weekend Minneapolis!

24Restore’s highly trained team is available 24 hours a day, every day, to help with any mold or water damage concerns you may have.

~ the people ~ the equipment ~ the expertise~

“24Restore came within an hour of our water damage to assess the problem and restore and reconstruct our kitchen and my office. Everyone from 24Restore was professional, kind and did an outstanding job of damage assessment and restoration.”

- Barbara R.

Your service was excellent. The young man was thorough and very dedicated to completing the job. He’s a good one. I would recommend your services to anyone who need them.

- Keith

Your team has been absolutely amazing, professional, sympathetic and wonderful. They took my mess and made it manageable as I shed a few tears, which they also consoled with empathy. At a time when we have floods and tornados city wide you responded within hours. Thank, I am impressed and I have passed the word on to many.

- Genie

Very good experience……everyone I dealt with through 24 Restore was very professional and very kind.

- Nancy

This note is a note of thanks and appreciation of the services provided…..we could even say our home looks better than before we incurred our water damage…Job well done!

- Jay and Susan

I don’t often take the time to write a follow up complimentary letter. However I was very impressed with 24 Restore and felt they went above and beyond to surpass expectations with WOW service. Thank you for the great service and great job that your team did to get my house back in shape.

- Jane

I have recommended them to many of my friends. They are the only service that I have ever used that always gets my stains out and that clean my carpets beautifully. I can’t say enough good thins about them

- Laura

Thank you for all the work put in to get out home……It would have been an impossible task for us to have accomplished in such a short time. We appreciate all that you have done for us! We are so grateful!

- Ken and Kathe

Yes. I appreciated the ability to funnel all activities thru a one-stop shop proved to be very valuable in a disaster project such as ours demo, construction and finish as well as work directly with insurance company. The team has been professional and those on site have been respectful of our home and schedule.

- Reed

Alex did a great job scheduling, coordinating, and keeping me informed. He made sure that everything was done in a timely manner. I always felt that my job was a priority. All the workmen did a great job and were very polite. I am pleased with the results. I would highly recommend your company!

- Linda – Minneapolis

From the time of initial contact to the time of job completion was 24 hrs. Very pleased with job outcome. Will definitely use you again. If ever in need.

- Kevin – St. Paul

Response time was awesome. We we’re bewildered by what was happening and what needed to be done. 24hr came in and took care of what needed to be done.

- Susan – Plymouth

I thought 24 was very professional and timely work.

- Veronica – Lake Elmo

24Restore was very responsive and did a thorough job plus they cleaned up after themselves.

- Jean – St. Cloud

The job was exceptionally well done. You were recommended to me by Dennis Carlson, a freind and I would definatley refer 24restore to friends and family.

- Jan – Anoka

Very Professional!

- Gordon – Andover

Everyone was on top of everything and got back to me in a reasonable time. Clean up was done absolutely perfect at the end of each job.

- Pam – Arden Hills

The guys who worked here were great, polite, personable and hard workers. They did a great job! So thankful this is over!

- Ron and Jackie – Minneapolis
Over 2000 Reviews!