Out Dammed Ice!


As Winter retreats from Edmonton for a few months, it is an excellent time deal with any ice damming problem you might have had. Ice dams happen when uneven temperatures on the roof lets the snow melt on the upper part of the roof and  freezes again at a lower part. icedam3  When the weather warms, water pools behind the ice dam, unable to reach the eavestroughs.  Water that can’t run off the roof will run inside the roof, causing the damage to the roof sheathing in the attic you see here.damage1The white stains are mold growth. The culprit is also revealed, blown in insulation is preventing air flow and roof ventilation. damage2The black area was sopping wet. damage3
Someone added insulation to this attic without installing baffles or ensuring that there was good air flow. ATTIC EAVEAn insulated ceiling requires a well ventilated attic to ensure that the entire roof surface will be at the same temperature. The fix for this attic will require removing insulation from between the rafters and adding baffles, plus making sure the soffits are open so that air is free to circulate. roof-louvers800 If your roof had ice dams this winter, you should inspect your attic. You should be able to see the bottom of the sheathing all the way to the eaves, or you should be able to see baffles, and ideally some daylight at the eaves, indicating that your soffits are open. You should not see stained sheathing, moisture, rusted roofing nails points underneath the sheathing, or suspicious deposits. Inspecting your attic does not appeal? Call East Side Home Inspection 780 477 2666 and we will do it for you.



Cooking with gas

cook with gas

Cooking with natural gas can be more than seven times cheaper than cooking on an electric range.

Natural gas is almost always used to make heat.  You probably have a natural gas furnace.  If you have natural gas available you can save a lot of money by also using natural gas to heat your water, dry your clothes and cook your food.  The more gas you use, the more you will save.  If you need more heat than your furnace is providing, consider natural gas space heaters or garage heaters.

Using natural gas does require more care, you should never leave a gas stove on if you are not in the house, gas appliances have to be installed by qualified people, and need to be properly vented to ensure that all products of combustion are safely disposed of and you will need carbon monoxide detectors.  A home inspection by your East Side licensed home inspector can tell if your appliances are properly installed.

How much cheaper? If you already have gas it is easy to compare by converting heat energy units to electrical energy units. Natural gas is sold by the cubic foot, cubic meter, or by the gigajoule.  A cubic foot of gas contains the same amount of energy as 0.293 kiloWatt hours of electricity, a cubic meter has energy equivalent to 10.35 kWh and and a gigajoule converts to 278 kWh of energy.

Using your gas bill for any month, divide the the quantity of gas you were billed for into the total gas bill.  Now you know how much it cost you to bring the gas into your home for that month.   For the same month do the same for your electricity bill, divide the number of kiloWatt hours into your total bill for the delivered cost of your electricity.

You will find that even though you were charged say, 10 cents a kiloWatt hour, your delivered cost was closer to 25 cents a kWh.  The gas company does the same thing, someone (that would be you) has to pay all the overheads for maintaining the wires, pipes, people and plants that bring energy to your home.  So now you know, say that your electricity for say January 2013 was 25 cents, and your gas cost was $9.00 a gigajoule.   Multiply 25 cents (1 Kwh) times 278, the number or kWh in 1 gigajoule, = 69.50 what the same amount of electricity would have cost you for the gas you used.  (number of cubic feet times 0.293  cubic meters times 10.35)

Do this calculation for a summer month and a winter month, the cost of gas delivered to your home is much higher in the summer because of the fixed costs part of your bill,  you may find that using gas is only twice as cheap in the summer.

If you are confused why less gas should cost more than more gas, think of it this way.  You need to get gas, as in gasoline, for your lawnmower.  The pump price of gasoline is, say, $1.00 a liter, so you get in your car and drive 5 kilometers to the nearest gas station, fill  your 5 liter container and pay the man 5 bucks.   But, you have driven a total 10 kilometers back and forth to get that gas, your car gets pretty fair mileage, 10 liters per 100 km, even so, that 5 liters has now cost you 6 bucks (1 liter to drive 10 km).  But wait, there’s more!  your car insurance is 365.00 a year (you wish), your car depreciated $3650 dollars this year, maintenance and tires add up to however many cents per kilometer they are,  lets say it cost you 25 cents a kilometer to drive your car, and your car also costs you 11 dollars a day whether you drive it or not.   So the trip to buy to 5 liters cost five bucks to fill the gas can, two fifty to get the gas home, and 11 bucks to have a car handy when you need it for getting a can of gas and other stuff.  So instead of using a tiny 5 liter container, buy a 25 liter container, even though it costs five times as much to fill, it saves you four trips,and ends up costing you less.

The same goes buying gas or electricity.  The people who supply you with gas and electricity, the pipes and wires, processing plants and generating facilities have to be there even if nobody is using at them at one particular moment, and all these costs plus whatever else they can gouge you for  and the profits, that as we all know, make the world go around, show up on your bill whether you are buying more gas or electricity or less.


Ungrounded Main Electrical Panels

Older homes in Edmonton use or once used metal water supply pipes, made of copper, galvanized steel or even lead piping to bring water into the house from the city water main.  If they need to be replaced, these pipes will be replaced with plastic water lines.  (We are talking only about the pipe that carries the water into your house up to the water meter.)  The problem here is that older houses with metal water lines traditionally used the water line as a ground for the main electrical panel.  When a water line used for ground is replaced with plastic, a new ground connection, directly to the ground, will have to installed, or a potentially dangerous situation exists.

Loss of grounding through water line replacement is mainly a concern with older houses.  Newer houses no longer rely on water lines for grounding the electrical panel, and have dedicated ground rods or ground plates buried in the earth.  Proper earth grounding may also be an issue for mobile homes, ‘off the grid’ cabins with generators or solar panels and outbuildings such as detached garages that receive power through a branch circuit.

If you live in an older house where the water line has been replaced with plastic, you need to make sure that your main electrical panel is properly grounded.  An electrician or a qualified and licensed home inspector will be able to tell you if you have a properly grounded main panel if you do not know what to look for.

The picture below is an example of a ground connection for an electrical panel that is no longer a ground connection.  The bare copper wire goes into the main electrical panel and is fastened to the inside of the panel and the neutral wire.  The green wire is a telephone system ground wire.  Both used to be bonded to a probably galvanized incoming water line, since replaced with the green plastic water line that can be seen in the lowest part of the picture.  Neither the electrical panel or telephone system is properly grounded anymore.  A special CSA approved ground plate or ground rod will have to buried at least 600 mm deep in the soil and connected to the neutral bus in the main electrical panel to correct this situation. The existing ground wires will need to be bonded, that is, electrically connected to the metal box of the electrical panel using a ground screw inside the panel.