12 Tips on How to Prepare Your Home for the Winter
Homeownership comes with a lot of responsibility. Not only do you want to take pride in your home, but also ensure you are maintaining it to avoid costly damage down the road. Being aware of any seasonal maintenance your house requires can help you keep on top of the little jobs to keep your home humming. Besides, it helps keep your energy bills down while reducing the risk of severe damage that will affect your home insurance rates.
When fall arrives, 12 things will need your attention. Here we outline what’s involved so you can add them to your to-do list or plan accordingly by hiring a professional to help you out.
1. Heating system repairs
Call your local heating expert to have them come in and do a heating system tune-up. You can also arrange a maintenance schedule so that they call you in the spring and fall to provide maintenance for your HVAC system.
The technician will first inspect your furnace to see if repairs are required. They will clean your heater and do some basic maintenance so it is in working order. An important check includes leaks for carbon-monoxide to keep your family safe when your heater is operating.
With regular maintenance, you will avoid costly repairs in the future and help keep your heater functioning with minimal energy waste.
2. Adjust ceiling fans
Not everyone has ceiling fans, but if you do, you probably only use them in the summer. But did you know that you can also use them to improve heat efficiency in your home during winter as well? Reversing your ceiling fan will make it run clockwise, producing an updraft. This will force hot air back down as it rises to the ceiling, keeping your rooms warm.
The higher your ceilings, the more effective running your ceiling fan in reverse becomes. You might find you can turn your thermostat down as heating efficiency improves.
3. Clean eavestroughs and gutters
The summer can leave debris in your eavestroughs and gutters, leading to several issues once winter arrives. First, debris can cause ice dams when the water has nowhere to go. The clogged gutters force water back up into your roof, which leads to leaks and expensive water damage.
Remember, home insurance companies can deny claims if they feel damage occurred due to long-term leaks that were not fixed. Full gutters can also cause issues with siding and wood trim. If you’re not comfortable climbing a ladder, you can get a professional to come in and do the work for you.
4. Fix attic and roof issues
Your attic can be the source of air leaks that affect your home’s energy efficiency. In the winter months, heat can escape through the roof if your attic is not insulated correctly. When heat escapes, it melts the snow on the roof, which can lead to leaks and issues such as ice dams, as mentioned. These can lead to costly damage, which can increase your home insurance rates if you file a claim. Air leaks can also occur in the attic. You can take a look for yourself or consider having a qualified roof inspector take a look.
5. Roof maintenance
The unpredictable weather of the summer can lead to issues with your roof, such as missing shingles that can increase the risk of leaks. As suggested above, a roof inspection is an excellent way to keep your roof in tip-top condition.
A roof inspector will climb up and look for any issues with your roof. They will also check your attic for signs of leaks. A walk around your home will identify other potential problems with other roof elements, including your eavestroughs and fascia.
6. Seal air leaks
Caulking is used for sealing air leaks in cracks, gaps or joints. You can use it to seal areas around door jambs, window frames and other areas that might have leaks. Areas to check include:
- Electrical outlets
- Door and window frames
- Electrical and gas service entrances
- Fireplace dampers
- Attic hatches
- Cable TV and phone lines
- Dryer vents
- Vents and fans
- Wall- or window-mounted air conditioners
- Recessed lighting
Weather-stripping can also be used to seal air leaks around windows and doors. They come in different sizes for doors and windows and can be used on outer areas as well as to seal moveable parts where windows and doors open. This includes the seal between the door and door jamb, the lower door at the threshold and in between double doors. Windows that operate using a crank will also benefit from a tighter seal around the areas that come into contact with the windowsill.
7. Divert water
Your downspouts should be leading water away from your home’s foundation. You can add extensions to keep the water about a meter away from your foundation to avoid damage.
8. Manage exterior faucets
A rookie mistake for new homeowners is to forget to turn off exterior faucets. If water remains in exterior pipes, it will freeze when temperatures drop. Pipes can burst, leading to unexpected flooding. If this happens, your home insurance company might not cover damages as you will be at fault. To avoid this issue, follow these steps:
- Disconnect garden hoses
- Drain water in faucets
- Turn off the shut-off valve inside your home
9. Drain lawn-irrigation systems
It would be best if you drained your sprinkler-system pipes to avoid freezing, which can also lead to bursts and leaks. Follow these steps:
- Close the main valve to turn off the water supply to drain the water.
- Open the drain cap between the main valve and backflow device to remove trapped water.
- Drain residual water from sprinkler heads by gently lifting them.
You might prefer calling in your gardener or local sprinkler expert to avoid causing damage to your system.
10. Assess trees
Have an arborist come in and assess the condition of any trees on your property. They will identify and address issues such as overhanging or broken branches potentially falling on your home due to heavy winds or the weight of snow and ice. Unhealthy trees can also put your home at risk as they are more likely to be uprooted in winter storms.
11. Clean your chimney
Poorly maintained chimneys increase the risk of fires. Arrange for a chimney sweep to come in for a maintenance call to clear away creosote and blockages.
12. Check fire extinguishers and alarms
This is especially important if you have a fireplace. You want to ensure your home is equipped to alert your family and the fire department in case of fire. You also want to be able to handle small flare-ups before they have time to turn into a full-blown fire.
These tips will help get your home winter ready. You can avoid costly water damage from leaks while also improving your home’s energy efficiency. With minimal investment, you can decrease your energy bill while also protecting your home from the ravages of harsh Ontario winters that can lead to insurance claims!
For more information and tips on preparing your home for the winter, call Oegema Nicholson at 613-224-1455 or contact us here.