Eight Tips to Prevent Winter Mishaps at Home
Mother Nature has been kind to us here in Southern Ontario over the last couple of weeks, but we all know the weather will eventually get cold and snow will be here before we know it!
And just like we get our cars ready for winter conditions, we need to get our homes ready for the cold, snow and ice.
Here are some helpful tips that will make getting your home prepared for winter easy!
Winter Home Preparation Guide
Keeping our homes in great condition is needed for good living conditions and for eventual re-sale. There's nothing worse than having to deal with a leaky window, broken furnace or a burst pipe in the middle of winter or scrambling at the last minute to make much-needed fixes because you decided to sell.
While this guide is about winter home care and prep, you could use this as a general guide to home maintenance.
These eight tips and tricks will help prevent any unfortunate winter mishaps:
Have your furnace professionally serviced.
A routine maintenance check-up each fall will help ensure your furnace is running properly and efficiently. I also recommend updating older thermostats to one that can be programmed, as having an efficient HVAC system (including the thermometer) will save you money on heating costs.
Inspect windows and doors for leaks – and don’t forget the basement windows!
In order to prevent heat loss, make sure your windows and doors are properly sealed. Check the weather-stripping around windows and door frames and if needed, replace anything that is stretched, torn or showing signs of over-wear. You should also be checking for drafts and caulk both inside and out where necessary, to keep the heat in and the cold out.
Sweep the chimney.
Before you use your fireplace, make sure your chimney and vents are clean and in good condition by having your chimney looked at by a professional. This will help prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide from building up and finding its way into your home.
Clean out your gutters.
I do this twice a year because I’ve seen a lot of water damage from this – but fall is the most important time to make sure your eaves are free of debris such as leaves, dirt and sticks. Clogged gutters prevent the draining of rain and melting snow which could result in household leaks. Also, make sure your downspouts extend away from your house by at least five feet to ensure that water runs away from your house and not towards it.
Inspect the roof.
While cleaning your eaves, inspect your roof for any missing, loose or damaged shingles. If your roof needs attention I recommend calling a roofer to help you with the repairs or maintenance (please don’t get on your roof to try and fix your shingles!). And this is a great time to ask your roofer to look at the caulking around the chimney and air vents and make any repairs needed to prevent water damage and cold air leaks.
Turn off any faucets outside.
Water left undrained can freeze, which can cause your pipes to burst. Disconnect your garden house and drain the remaining water to ensure you don’t have any issues over the winter and so you can quickly reinstall your hose in spring!
Trim your bushes and trees.
Make sure any overgrown bushes or trees are trimmed back away from your house and electrical wires. This will help decrease your risk of property damage and power problems. And like your roof, if you have large trees or branches that need trimming, call in the professionals!
Pad exposed pipes in unheated areas.
This is an easy and inexpensive method to help prevent water damage from a frozen/burst pipe. Even the smallest of pipes can cause a lot of damage. Insulate pipes that run along the exterior wall of your home or are located in unheated areas with insulation sleeves. Look for vulnerable pipes in the basement, attic, garage, and crawl space.
And finally, I highly recommend stocking up on all the winter essentials now, like:
- Salt and/or sand for walkways, driveways and sidewalks
- Snow shovel(s)
- Extra gloves and hats for those wet snow days that require multiple pairs of gloves when shovelling
- A winter kit for your car (blanket, flashlight, etc. – see the province’s winter driving guide for more information about getting your car winter-ready)
By taking the time to get your home ready for winter now, you will save time and possible frustration and money in the long run!