Opening Your Cottage Early

Spring is finally here – the snow will soon begin to melt, and cottagers from all around the province will soon descend upon the Muskoka region to kick off cottage season. At this point in the season, it’s natural for you to be feeling a little antsy. You might be looking for an opportunity to get away from the city for a while, and as a result, might be considering heading to the cottage a little earlier than you normally would.

Opening your cottage early can have many benefits, allowing you to get ahead of the game so you can start soaking up the sun earlier than everybody else. Opening the cottage early can also present a number of challenges on top of the usual cottage opening checklist that you’ll have to deal with before you can kick back and relax at the cottage. Here’s what you need to know about opening your cottage early this year.

Make sure your road is accessible and you bring shovels and salt
The first thing you’ll need to do before heading out to your cottage is ensure that your road is actually accessible. Check in with your road association or neighbours (if applicable) before you head out.

The last thing you want is to be forced to turn around because you can’t get your vehicle on the road. Roads can be very icy, wet, and slushy during the late winter and early spring, making salt and a shovel a necessity if you wish to get to your cottage without incident. Even in the event that your road has been cleared, be prepared for the last bit of winter to hit and make sure you’re ready to clear snow away.

Will your water still work in colder temperatures?
Just because springtime is upon us, doesn’t mean that subzero temperatures aren’t here to stay for a while longer. Ensuring that your water pumps and lines will work as intended in these temperatures is essential.

These pieces of equipment should be able to function properly around freezing temperatures, but it’s important to stay prepared nonetheless. You’ll have to inspect your water lines, put your pump in the water if it isn’t permanently installed in the lake, and perform other typical cottage opening tasks. Bring the appropriate gear for the occasion such as waders, as snow, ice, and cold temperatures will continue to be present for at least a few weeks.

Keep an eye on your septic system
Snowmelt can lead to excessive water building up in your septic or sump pit, which can lead to backups in tub drains – especially if your septic is only sized for seasonal use. This isn’t usually a problem during the traditional May long weekend cottage opening season, so keep in mind that you’ll have to change your habits slightly to ensure that water does not back up into your home. Doing things like limiting laundry loads, washing dishes by hand, and conserving water in other ways will help prevent backups.

The best time to take care of upgrades and maintenance
Settling in ahead of the May long weekend gives you the distinct advantage of being able to tackle upgrades and maintenance around the cottage. Since few others will be around before the May long weekend, local companies and contractors will have the time to book your projects in. Waiting until the snow has melted means that you’ll be at the back of the line, potentially forcing you to wait all summer before a spot opens.

Opening the cottage early gives you the perfect opportunity to upgrade your windows, doors, and insulation to ensure that the cottage is comfortable all summer long, or you can tackle that nagging maintenance jobs and yard work you’ve been wanting to get around to.

Stay ahead of the game by booking your window and door upgrades with Muskoka Window & Door Centre today.

How to Prevent and Get Rid of Black Mould at Your Muskoka Cottage

The thought of a mould infestation is something that makes every cottage owner shudder. Mould is a problem in too many cottages, especially seasonal cottages that are shut down every winter. Moisture levels often go unchecked during the winter season, leaving cottage owners with a nasty surprise when they return in the spring.

If it’s not addressed immediately, mould can spread to uncontrollable levels, affecting your health and the structural integrity of your cottage. Black mould can be especially damaging, causing serious health complications and wreaking havoc on the interior and exterior of a home.

A Muskoka family recently found out the hard way about the devastating nature of mould, unknowingly purchasing a home that had been infested with black mould. The couple had been told that the house was built in 2016, despite the fact that the foundation had sat exposed to the elements for years prior.

Mould specialists deemed the property to be a complete loss, and so the family was forced to move out of their home after just one month.

Control the humidity in your cottage
It takes just 48 hours for mould to run rampant in your cottage, affecting the air quality, leaving unsightly stains, causing odors that can be tough to remove, and impacting the integrity of walls, windows, and everything inside the property including furniture and clothing. The most effective way to curb this is by more effectively controlling the humidity inside your cottage.

Mould thrives in humid conditions, and so addressing the humidity will ultimately halt the spread of mould. Running a dehumidifier in your cottage, and opening windows or using exhaust fans when showering, cooking, or doing dishes can go a long way in eliminating humidity, as will drying wet towels and clothing outside of your cottage rather than inside.

Prevent moisture from accumulating whenever possible
Without moisture, mould can’t grow. This makes it extremely important for cottage owners to take immediate action to dry wet areas like leaky windows or appliances, basement seepage, or any rain water or snowmelt that has made its way inside. Spills on carpets should also be quickly dried, as this can be a source for moderate mould growth.

Downspouts should be directed away from your cottage in order to minimize the risk of water entering your home, and snow should be shoveled away from the foundation of your home wherever possible. Taking these proactive measures will prevent excess moisture from accumulating in your home, making it an unsuitable habitat for mould growth.

Take appropriate flood prevention measures
One of the most common sources of mould growth in cottages is seasonal flooding, which typically takes place during the cottage off-season. Flooding causes snowmelt and rain water to enter your cottage and its foundation, going unchecked until you arrive to re-open the cottage and allowing mould to grow at uncontrollable levels.

Taking flood prevention measures is important in reducing the risk of mould growth, especially for properties in high-risk flood zones. Sandbags should be used around waterfront properties to slow flooding, and proactive measures like installing foundation vents and sump pumps, applying dry flood proofing coatings and sealants to the foundation and walls, and grading your lawn away from the cottage. While many of these precautions likely won’t eliminate the risk of flooding, they can go a long way in reducing the damage done, and the mould growth that inevitably follows flooding. To find out more about the high performance window and door products offered by Muskoka Window & Door Centre, contact us today.

How to Save Hydro at the Cottage

This past summer, Hydro One announced that electricity bills for their seasonal customers were set to rise by up to 129%, a shocking discovery for cottage owners everywhere. The massive jump in hydro rates came after the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) announcement that it was exploring the idea of eliminating the seasonal rate class, which would affect cottage owners around the province. The changes would see Ontario cottage owners divided into R1 and R2 classes, depending on the cost of delivering power to customers. This means that around half of cottage owners in Ontario may see their bills double.

With these major changes to your electricity bill, it’s always a good idea for Muskoka cottage owners to explore ways they can save hydro at the cottage year round. Saving money on hydro can help you enjoy the cottage more during prime cottage season, and save you some stress during the off-season.

Close your cottage the right way before leaving for the season
The most effective way to save electricity at the cottage is by powering down before you leave for the season, and unplugging appliances and electronics between visits. Anything plugged in while not in use is using phantom energy, even if it isn’t actively turned on. These costs can quickly add up, especially with rates increasing for cottage owners. Before leaving for the season or just for the week, unplug any appliances and devices that don’t require being left plugged in. Doing this will help you save money on your hydro bill with a minimal impact on your overall enjoyment of the cottage experience.

Energy efficient windows and window treatments prevent energy loss
Depending on how old your cottage is and how often it’s used, your windows may be a major source of energy loss. Drafty old windows should be replaced with newer energy efficient windows that eliminate energy loss, demanding less of your heating and cooling systems to keep your cottage warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. If window replacement isn’t an option quite yet, you can reduce energy loss by using energy efficient window treatments like blackout curtain, blinds, and awnings, all of which will work to minimize drafts and energy loss until you’re ready to replace those drafty old windows.

Tankless water heater
Traditional water systems are designed to hold and heat large quantities of water at any given time, using up far more energy than is needed. A great way to reduce your hydro bills going forward is to make the switch to a tankless water heater, which is an ideal water heating solution for cottage owners. Rather than heat large amounts of water at once, tankless water heaters are activated on demand, heating only what you need instead of wasting energy on heating water that is just going to sit in the tank.

Explore the possibility of switching to a small solar setup
Another option for cottage owners is to make the switch from traditional hydro to a small solar energy setup. Solar energy isn’t nearly as costly as it once was, with many manufacturers gearing solar energy solutions towards cottage owners, offering affordable solar panels and batteries that are perfect for powering your cottage throughout the bright summer months.

With plenty of solar energy dealers in the Muskoka region including Muskoka Renewable Energy, Greenside Electric, and Haliburton Solar & Wind, starter kits are easier to find than ever before, helping you kick start your transition to renewable energy that won’t be affected by exorbitant rate increases. Even a solar setup to only power certain items, such as a hot water heater, can save you money over time – especially with the new hydro rates.

To find out more about the high performance window and door products offered by Muskoka Window & Door Centre, contact us today.

Insulating Your Windows for Cold Weather

If your home or cottage never seems to be warm enough during these frigid winter months, there’s a good chance that your windows are old and drafty. Older windows can turn any comfortable home into a nightmare of drafts and high heating bills during the winter, leading to homeowners trying just about anything they can to keep the warm air inside where it belongs. If you haven’t yet gotten around to replacing your old drafty windows, there are temporary measures you can take to keep your home warm this winter.

Apply caulking around your windows
Caulking is one of the most common ways to insulate your windows during the winter months, working to block drafts from entering from outside. You’ll have to begin by removing any old caulking, dirt, and grime around the window’s outer perimeter. Once the surface has been sufficiently dried, simply apply new exterior-grade caulking between your window’s frame and exterior trims boards or the siding. Exterior-grade caulking generally features silicone content that will stand up to the elements for a longer period of time.

Make smart use of window coverings
Heavy layered curtains and other window coverings like cellular shades and blinds are a stylish and effective way of reducing the effects of leaky windows. Window treatments reduce the amount of cold air entering your home through old drafty windows, adding some extra insulation to your windows. The downside to using heavy curtains and window coverings during the winter months is that on colder days you’ll be sacrificing letting sunlight into your home for insulating your windows against the entry of cold air.

Install weatherstripping around the window sash
Weatherstripping is a cost effective and easy to install solution that’ll help you close the gaps in and around your windows, serving as an air-tight barrier that will seal off many of the drafts in old windows. Weatherstripping comes in many different sizes and materials, with options that are ideal for windows of any type and size. While weatherstripping can last for long periods of time, regular window operation can cause it to wear down and detach from window sashes.

Good old fashioned insulation film will help reduce heat loss
Insulation film is the most popular way for homeowners to insulate windows during winter months, standing as a tried and true method of keeping cold air out. Insulation film is a plastic sheet affixed to the interior of your window with double-sided tape and then heated with a hair dryer to shrink it down to size and remove any wrinkles that may allow cold air to leak in. Insulation film is one of the most cost-effective ways of insulating windows, but comes with one major caveat – views are completely obstructed by the plastic film, and windows will not be accessible while the it is in place.

Draft stoppers
Another affordable but slightly less effective way of insulating windows for cold weather is to make use of draft stoppers. These can be quickly installed on the bottoms of windows and doors to lessen the flow of air leaks. Draft stoppers come in various shapes and sizes, acting as a cheap and dirty way to keep your home warmer until the spring. If your old drafty windows are making your winters more uncomfortable than necessary, it’s time for you to replace them. The winter is the perfect season to book your window replacement, as businesses become busier in the spring and summer, making it difficult to have your windows replaced before the cold weather comes around again. To book your free consultation with Muskoka Window & Door Centre, contact us today.

How to Eliminate Winter Window Condensation

Interior window condensation is one of the most annoying things to accompany the arrival of the heating season, obstructing the view to the outside and causing homeowners to constantly have to wipe down their windows. During the cold winter months, some homeowners will find that condensation is produced on the inside of windows. This problem can be extremely damaging not only to the affected windows, but to everything around it. If you’re plagued by winter window condensation, there are a few ways you can reduce or eliminate this annoying problem.

What is interior window condensation and why is it a problem?
Condensation happens when water vapor or moisture in the air is turned into liquid water. It happens after interior air that has been able to warm up and hold more moisture cools down and contrasts, reaching a saturation point where the excess moisture turns into liquid water.

Condensation happens on windows so regularly because the warm air circulating around your home makes contact with cold window panes, causing the air to quickly cool and reach its saturation point, releasing excess moisture as liquid on the surface of the window. Condensation regularly happens on window exteriors, especially during more humid summer months – that condensation is considered to be normal, whereas excess interior window condensation is not.

Condensation on window interiors can quickly become a major problem for homeowners, as it means that there may be excessive moisture in your home. This can eventually cause problems that include mold growth on and around the window, as well as visible rot and decay around the windows. The unchecked spread of mold, rot, and decay can cause damage to your home and to the health of those within it. If this is not remedied, it can cause irreparable damage to the windows and surrounding parts of the home, demanding costly repairs.

Monitor internal humidity levels and adjust accordingly
One of the first steps in eliminating window condensation is to monitor the humidity in your home with a hygrometer, a device that allows you to easily gauge internal humidity levels. Being able to determine how much humidity is in your home is key to deciding how to tackle the problem. If your home contains higher than normal humidity levels, purchasing a dehumidifier is recommended, as it will regulate internal humidity levels which has been shown to reduce internal condensation on windows. If you have a modern thermostat in your home, it may come with a built-in humidity meter.

Lower the temperature
While it may seem counterintuitive to lower the temperature during the winter months, doing so will go a long way to reducing buildup of condensation on windows. Warm air in your home contains more moisture, so lower the thermostat by even a degree or two will greatly reduce its ability to carry excess moisture. If you can spare a couple degrees, lower the temperature inside will reduce some of the humidity and condensation.

Improve ventilation and seal leaks
Improving the ventilation is another major way to reduce condensation on windows. To do this, homeowners can run fans while using appliances like ovens or dryers, or even during showers. Unblocking covered or blocked vents is another way to improve the ventilation in your home – this can be done by moving furniture away from vents and cleaning ventilation covers to ensure that air can easily move around your entire house. Vents should be cleaned if you notice large amounts of dust, as dust can impair ventilation and reduce airflow.

Changing filters and monitoring filter health is another recommendation to improve air quality and ventilation. It’s also recommended that you seal any leaky ducts that may exist in your home, as these leaks are responsible for a huge amount of air loss from your home. Fixing these leaks can improve the flow of air and improve air circulation, reducing humidity and condensation. With the right strategy, your windows can be free of condensation this winter. The winter season provides the perfect opportunity for homeowners to install new windows in your Muskoka home or cottage. Not only will upgrading windows reduce interior condensation, they also work to prevent energy loss, keeping you more comfortable and increasing your home’s overall energy efficiency. To find out more about the high performance window products offered by Muskoka Window & Door Centre, contact us today.

Where Am I Losing Heat In My Cottage?

Cottage owners around the Muskoka region are settling in for another long winter season. As the bitter cold moves in, the stress on our heating systems increases, usually bringing with it a significant rise in utility costs. The rise in heating costs can often be blamed on homes and cottages rapidly losing heat through a variety of sources, increasing the strain on your heating system and your wallet. Cottage owners can take proactive measures to pinpoint and correct sources of heat loss before the blistering weather arrives.

Roof and walls are two of the leading causes of heat loss
The roof and walls account for a combined total of around 60% of heat loss in your cottage. Rising heat escapes through leaks and holes in poorly insulated roofing, causing most experts to recommend that the roof be one of the first places you tackle when looking to eliminate heat loss. It can be curbed by insulating the roof, as well as by sealing any existing leaks or holes that are causing increased heat loss. It’s also a good idea to check out your attic’s ventilation (if you have one in your cottage, of course), as improper ventilation can cause too much heat to escape.

Your walls, which can account for 35% of total cottage heat loss, are a slightly more complicated problem. Heat loss through walls is often caused by overdue maintenance, typically clogged gutters and drains that cause walls to become damp and cold. Reinsulating walls is another recommendation for lessening heat loss, though it can come at a much higher cost than reinsulating the roof – because of this, it’s a good idea to eliminate other potential culprits first.

Leaks are one of the biggest causes of heat loss in your home
The potential percentages of heat loss through your walls and roof are calculated assuming that your windows and doors are in tip-top shape. The presence of leaks or drafts in your windows, doors, and walls are the primary cause of heat loss if you have them since they are a direct conduit to the cold – it’s estimated that up to 25% of heat is lost through drafts, windows, and doors. These drafts often go undetected because they can be extremely subtle – even the smallest gaps around windows and doors can become an uncontrolled source of heat loss.

Some of the biggest trouble spots in old homes and cottages are old or poorly installed doors and windows that have developed small gaps. When these leaks go unnoticed, they can let in as much cold air as a small hole in your wall. The recommended fix for drafts in windows, doors, and walls is to seal cracks with caulking and install weatherstripping around windows and doors, though this may prove to be only a temporary fix to a year-round problem.

High performance windows and doors can drastically reduce heat loss
While fixes like caulking and weatherstripping will do a decent amount to stop the loss of heat through draft windows and doors, the most effective long-term solution is to replace them. The majority of new windows are energy efficient, drastically reducing the amount of energy lost from your home.

Energy efficient windows save you money by keeping warm air inside during the winter months, and cool air during the summer, demanding less of your heating and cooling systems and keeping you more comfortable year round. Upgrading your windows and doors is an investment that continues to pay back year after year, not only saving you money, but keeping you from having to spend your time wrapping windows in plastic, installing weatherstripping, and sealing air leaks every single winter. The winter season is the perfect time to upgrade your home with new windows and doors, saving you money by eliminating heat loss in your cottage, and keeping you more comfortable all winter long. To find out more about the high performance window and door products offered by Muskoka Window & Door Centre, contact us today.

Save Time and Money By Renovating Your Home This Winter

If you’ve been thinking about upgrading your home or cottage in the near future, the winter season is one of the best opportunities of the year to see it through. Increased contractor availability, end of season sales, and less disruption to your overall lifestyle are just some of the reasons to explore the possibility of renovating your home this winter. Winter also provides you with a great opportunity to outfit your home or cottage with energy efficient windows and doors, and to take on some of those small interior upgrades you’ve been waiting all year to get around to.

Contractors have increased availability
One of the biggest advantages of renovating your home in winter is that contractors often have increased availability during the winter months, especially in Muskoka where they are booked solid from Victoria Day to Thanksgiving. Many people live with the misconception that winter is the worst season to schedule their renovations for, meaning that they wait until the spring and summer seasons to get work done. The sooner you can book your renovation projects, the more likely it is to be done before the end of the winter – this is advantageous for cottage owners who are looking to get the most out of their spring and summer by the lake.

Take advantage of seasonal sales
The winter season can sometimes mark the end of a product’s official lifespan, seeing retailers around the country reduce their prices to make room for new products. This is a great time to explore your possibilities and try to score a great deal on things like furniture and building materials to get you ready for your next big home improvement project.

The least disruptive season for cottage renovations
If you’re looking to get the most out of your stay at the cottage this spring and summer, there’s no better time than now to get things done around the property. Winter renovations will save you from having to block off areas of your property during the busy cottage season, ensuring that you and your family can enjoy the entire house during prime summer days. Less disruption to your routine means that your summer will be breezy and stress free, the way it should be.

Great opportunity to focus on energy efficiency
The winter season is the best time to make your home more energy efficient. Old windows can account for up to 25% of total heat loss in a home, shooting your heating bills through the roof. This can be curbed by replacing those drafty old windows and doors with high performing energy efficient models that save you money by demanding less of your heating system over the winter. Energy efficient windows and doors will keep your home warmer in the winter, and cooler in the summer, lowering your utility bills and improving your overall enjoyment of time spent indoors. Improving your home’s energy efficiency means that you and your family will be more comfortable all year long, no matter what the weather’s like.

The ideal time for small interior upgrades
Launching your home improvement projects during the winter doesn’t mean that you have to throw your life into chaos and disorder. The winter can be a great time to start those small interior upgrades you’ve always wanted to tackle. New kitchen countertops or backdrops, bathroom tiles or fixtures, more closet space, or that personal office you’ve always wanted – these are just some of the renovation projects you can take on this winter.

The winter season is the perfect time to install new windows and doors in your Muskoka home or cottage. Upgrading doors and windows prevents excess energy loss, keeping you more comfortable during cold winters, and increasing your home’s overall energy efficiency. To find out more about the high performance window and door products offered by Muskoka Window & Door Centre, contact us today.

Upgrade to Triple Glazed Windows for Superior Comfort

There are many factors to consider when looking into upgrading your home’s windows, including function, energy efficiency, noise reduction, and durability. The most important factor, however, is whether or not new windows are going to make you and your family more comfortable. Triple glazed windows are the best way to ensure superior comfort and performance, letting you enjoy your Muskoka cottage all year round, no matter what the weather outside is like.

What’s the difference between triple glazed and double glazed?
Triple and double glazed windows are the two most popular types of energy efficient windows found in most homes and cottages. Despite their popularity, it can be difficult to understand what the differences are. The true difference between the two windows is a pane of glass and the inclusion of some extra insulation, but these seemingly small additions make all the difference.

Triple glazed windows feature three panes of glass separated by airtight pockets of argon (or sometimes krypton) gas, which provides increased insulation – double glazed windows feature two panes of glass, and only one pocket of insulating gas. The extra pane of glass and layer of insulating gas makes triple glazed windows more energy efficient than their double glazed counterparts, keeping the cold outside during the winter, and inside in the summertime.

How triple glazed windows can make you more comfortable
The increased performance found in triple glazed windows eliminates air pockets found below your windows, meaning that your home is insulated from the cold air outside and, as a result, is more comfortable no matter how cold it gets. This also means that you can spend more time enjoying the view, even in the cold Muskoka winters. Not only are triple glazed windows more energy efficient than double glazed, but they’re also much more soundproof. Triple glazed windows work to reduce sound pollution from making its way into your home, letting you and your family relax in peace, helping you get a better night’s sleep and enjoy quality time with your loved ones without distractions.

More benefits of upgrading to triple glazed windows
The additional layer of glass and insulation allows triple glazed windows to function at a higher level than traditional double or single glazed windows, decreasing the amount of energy your home loses all year long and lowering utility bills by ensuring that your heating and cooling systems aren’t working without purpose. Triple glazed windows become especially useful during the cold Canadian winter months, actively working to keep cold air out of your home and to keep warm air inside. Condensation is also eliminated by properly installed triple glazed windows, giving you a completely unobstructed view no matter how nasty the weather gets.

The showroom at Muskoka Window & Door Centre features a number of triple glazed window units manufactured by Andersen, Ostaco, and other reliable window manufacturers. Upgrading to triple glazed windows prevents energy loss, sound pollution, condensation, and keeps you more comfortable all year long. To find out more about the high performance window and door products offered by Muskoka Window & Door Centre, contact us today.

Preventing Fires at Your Cottage This Winter

Fire Prevention Week might be over, but the focus on fire safety and prevention should continue all year round. Fires can have life-altering consequences, especially when your personal property is involved. Accidents at your cottage can occur anytime during the year, especially in the winter after you’ve closed your cottage. Being away from the cottage for the season means that you have to think ahead when closing the cottage, taking the proper precautions to avoid the very real threat of fire.

Take a walk around your property

Before leaving your cottage for the season, take a walk around your property and perform an inspection. You should be paying particular attention to any power lines surrounding your home. If these lines look like they’re being threatened by growing tree branches, you’ll want to have them professionally cut or trimmed before you leave. If you don’t own the utility poles on your property, you’ll have to contact your hydro provider to trim branches for you. While you’re considering branches that are at risk of interfering with power lines, remember that they’ll be weighed down by accumulating snowfall and may pose more of a problem than they might currently appear to.

Turn everything off and clean up the cottage

The biggest cause of winter cottage fires is baseboard electric heaters that have been left on over the season. It’s important to turn your baseboard heaters off before leaving for the season to eliminate the threat of fire. If your cottage is heated using central heating or any other type of heating, remember to turn your system down to the lowest setting, or turn it off completely. Take a walk around the interior of your cottage and unplug any appliances that don’t need to be on over the winter.

If you plan on keeping the heat running at a low temperature or appliances plugged in, be sure to clear away any flammable material that may pose a hazard. Fire hazards might include papers, rags, clothing, fuel, firewood, combustibles, and anything else that could catch fire while you’re away. It’s also wise to clean your fireplace, chimney or wood stove if applicable, as it’ll save you time in the spring and reduce the chances of a fire breaking out after you reopen the cottage.

Consider a remote alarm system and proactive road maintenance

For Muskoka cottage owners who are still worried about the possibility of fire over the winter season, a number of alarm systems offer remote fire monitoring that can detect the outbreak of fires and alarm the nearest fire department. Taking proactive measures like this can greatly minimize damage to your property in the event of a fire. It’s also a good idea to consider what might happen if the road to your cottage isn’t taken care of over the season. Snow blockage can slow the approach of the fire department and other first responders to your cottage. In some cases, cottage country fire departments lack the equipment entirely to get into an unplowed road. If your road isn’t currently plowed during the winter season, it might be worth looking into regular road maintenance after storms and major snowfalls to ensure accessibility.

No matter what precautions you’ve taken before leaving your cottage for the winter, it’s recommended that you take photos of everything in and around the property. Doing this will make insurance claims far easier in the event of a fire, theft, or damage to the cottage.

For more information about the high-performance window and door products offered by Muskoka Window & Door Centre, visit our website or contact us today.

Winter Cottage Care: Snow Load on the Roof

When closing up cottages for the winter, most people set it and forget it. Unfortunately, this can lead to disastrous results, especially with the heavier snow loads that are expected to hit Ontario this winter, combined with colder than normal late-winter temperatures. This means that your cottage roof is going to be accumulating more snow and ice this year than usual. If you don’t intend on checking up on your cottage throughout the winter months, you may want to reconsider or be faced with an unpleasant surprise in the spring. Heavy snow and ice load on your roof can be enough to damage it, or even cause it to cave in. Here’s what you need to know about snow on your cottage roof.

How much snow is too much?
While this might seem like a simple question to answer, the truth is that there’s no definitive answer to how much snow on your roof is too much. Different roofs will be able to sustain longer periods of time with larger snow loads, and others will become damaged depending on the density and depth of the snow load. The slope of your roof is another important element, as steeply pitched roofs tend to throw snow off of them and avoid heavy drifts, whereas roofs with a slight pitch (or no pitch at all), allow for more significant accumulation of snow and the creation of large drifts.

The answer to this question will also depend on the age and condition of your roof and its components, and whether or not it’s been affected by snow accumulation in the past. While there’s no way to truly know how much snow your roof can handle, you can easily determine if your roof has been affected by a heavy snow load.

The signs of a damaged roof
One of the surefire ways to determine whether or not a snow load is affecting the integrity of your roof is to head to the attic and check on the condition of your rafters. If the rafters appear to be bent, there’s a good chance there’s too much snow on your roof. While you’re checking the attic, listen for any unusual sounds – if you’re hearing popping or cracking, it’s probably time to consult a professional. You can also look for signs of damage by checking if interior doors are sticking or have become difficult to open and close. If they have, the snow load on the roof is probably starting to distort your home’s door frames. Looking for new cracks in drywall is another way to spot damage.

Commit to removing snow, or find a contractor before it’s too late
The most effective way to avoid snow from damaging your roof is to periodically check in on your cottage throughout the season, removing snowdrifts whenever you feel is appropriate. This can be done by using a roof rake to pull accumulated snow and ice down from the roof while taking care not to damage the shingles or flashing. Remember that you don’t have to remove every inch of snow from your roof in order to get the job done – alleviating the snow load will do enough to prevent damage.

If you want to avoid the hassle of having to check on the cottage after each major snowfall or aren’t confident in your ability to remove snow from the roof, you might want to find a contractor to manage the snow load for you. If this is the case, it’s always a good idea to get in contact with somebody sooner rather than later. Schedules tend to fill up quickly during the winter, especially when snowfall is projected to be heavier than normal. Being proactive about hiring a contractor ensures that your cottage will be in good hands all winter, and will save you from having to make a day trip to the cottage. For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high-quality line of window and door products, contact us today.