If you live in an area that is similar to our hometown, Oakville, Ontario, you know that by this time of year, the temperature has started to drop. While it can be quite beautiful to see the trees adorned with snow, it is absolutely crucial that you get your house ready for winter if you have not done so already.
We love to keep cozy inside during these winter months, but there are a number of things that you should do to do to protect your house from possible damage.
Here are some helpful tips to make sure your home is “Winter Ready”:
1. Gutters. Ensure you check and clean your gutters. This sounds like a simple one… But it can cause a lot of issues if not done regularly! Especially if you live in an area with lots of trees and/or tree canopy. If there are any leaves or other debris leftover from the fall season, this could result in clogs, corrosion and eventually, flooding. If water is not able to flow freely through the guided path of the gutters and eavestroughs, the water will soon find its way over the edges and create other, much more expensive issues such as basement leaks and/or foundation damage. Also, be certain that the gutters and downspouts are secured as they should not be sagging. During the winter, and especially during large snow or ice storms, the elements can sometimes separate the eaves away from the house. Downspouts should be directing water at least 5 feet away from the house to avoid any serious water damage. Grading is another thing to consider when trying to protect your home from winter water and melted snow. The dirt should all be sloping away from the base of your home. You may have to add extra soil every few seasons to ensure the grading is proper.
2. Fireplace. It is important to inspect your fireplace to make sure that there is no animals, nests, build-up or large cracks. To be extra diligent, it might be best to hire a chimney sweep or chimney specialist to come and have a more in-depth look, possibly with a camera, as it could be a fire hazard if it is not well-maintained. The damper should open and then be able to close, tightly.
3. Windows & Doors. In order to keep the heat INSIDE during the winter, it may be wise to check all weather stripping around windows and doors to make sure they are sealed so heat does not escape. Caulking will help solve any small drafts.
4. Heating System. As a prudent home owner, you should have a professional come in and inspect your heating system (ideally, before turning it on for the season). Don’t forget to replace your furnace filter often as well to ensure proper functioning of your furnace and safer air quality. When you turn on your furnace, it is also advisable to replace all batteries in your Carbon Monoxide & Smoke detectors – if something happens to go awry with your heating system. If you have a ceiling fan, rotate them so they run in a clockwise direction – this will blow warm air
5. Pipes. It is crucial to turn off all exterior water fixtures and drain them, such as hoses, hose bibs, sprinkler systems, etc. Any pipes inside the home that are not well-insulated may benefit from an insulation sleeve being installed. Frozen pipes can be a very messy and very expensive issue to solve, especially if it is not caught right away.
6. Humidity. With your heating system running all winter long, the air tends to get quite dryindoors. Dry air causes a number of issues both within your home and within your body – from dry skin, static, and increased chance of catching a cold. A humidifier is the best protection against the dry air. You can get portable humidifiers or have one installed on your furnace. Just be sure to maintain them and clean them so they are not spreading mold spores throughout the air too! Humidity is also necessary to ensure hardwood and wood furniture does not crack or get damaged.
7. Trees. Before the first ice hits, any and all trees should be checked. With the ice and snow that will be landing on the branches, the weight of this makes the older, larger branches more susceptible to breakage – and that means potential damage to your homes, sheds, fences, garden beds, etc. Any dead trees or branches should be removed.
8. Attic. During the colder months, animals such as squirrels, birds, bats, or racoons can find shelter in your attic… If access holes are available! Having a pest control company come out to inspect your roof, vents and any other access points along the roof and roofline is a sure way to confirm your attic does not become a pest motel.