The damaging effects of winter freeze-thaw

Posted in Home & Property Insurance, Personal Insurance Tips

The damaging effects of winter freeze-thaw

In Canada, major fluctuations in winter temperatures can cause damage to the exterior of your home. Find out why this happens and preventative actions you can take.

Canadian winters a challenge for all

As Canadians, we all know what havoc weather can reap on our lives. This is especially true when the weather is inconsistent! One day might be sunny and -10°, with the next day’s weather rising to 2° and raining.

These variable weather patterns can add a lot of inconvenience to our daily planning. It’s difficult for us to choose the right clothes, know when to add extra time on our commute, or when it is appropriate for hot versus iced coffee!

More importantly, you have probably winterized your property to be ready for extreme cold temperatures and extreme weight from the snow.

The fluctuation in temperature and precipitation can cause your property harm. The unfortunate victims? Your home’s concrete driveway, steps and walkways, and your vinyl siding. Find out why this happens and what you can do to mitigate the impacts.

Problems Caused by Freeze-Thaw Cycles

Freeze-thaw occurs through repeated melting and freezing of water that continually seeps into cracks or the pores of the surface, eventually breaking the surface apart.

Deterioration of concrete from freeze-thaw actions may occur when the concrete pores are filled with water which then freezes. When water freezes to ice, it occupies 9% more volume than that of water.

If there is not enough space for this expansion, freezing may cause distress in the concrete. Distress will continue throughout many winter seasons and will result in repeated loss of concrete surface.

For example, it may snow on your concrete driveway, and then warm up a little the next day. This causes the snow to start melting. That night or the following day, the temperature drops, and the snow freezes again, expanding in the cracks and pores of the concrete.

Another main cause of damage from freeze-thaw is the use of harsh de-icers. If the surface hasn’t been sealed properly before using de-icers, the water will melt and seep into the natural pores in the surface. Then the water will expand when it freezes again, causing cracks to form in the surface.

Preventative Actions You Can Take

In the short term, keep snow under control. Shovel your driveway and patio regularly and clear a three-foot perimeter around your foundation. This will reduce the amount of water that is sitting on your concrete in the thaw phase and will reduce your need to use de-icing products.

Concrete sealing will protect it from moisture and from the pressures of the freeze-thaw cycle, preventing costly damage. A topical sealer, such as a wax-based sealer that rests on top of the surface, will wear away over time. This is especially true in areas of high foot or vehicle traffic.

Reduce the damage to your home's exterior with these preventative actions aimed at reducing the impact of freeze-thaw cycles!

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If you are not sure what your home insurance covers, we invite you to talk to an insurance brokers at one of our five different offices today to review your home insurance policy. 

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