Depending on where you live in Canada, the winter weather may be somewhat consistent or it may change from one day to the next. As a homeowner, you want to ensure that everything is ready whether it’s raining, sleeting, or snowing. That means making some preparations before winter arrives. Here are 11 tasks that should be on your list if you want your home to be ready for whatever a Canadian winter can bring about.
1. Begin by Having the Heating System Inspected and Serviced
Whether your home has a HVAC system, a furnace, or some other type of heating unit, it makes sense to have it thoroughly inspected before cold weather arrives. In the event the system needs any type of repair or maintenance, that can be accomplished with relative ease. The result is that the heating system is less likely to break down during the coldest Canadian winter night that anyone can remember.
If you do have a system with an aging thermostat, consider replacing it with a newer programmable model. That will help you save a little on energy costs throughout the season.
2. Check Around All Doors and Windows
Some attention to the doors and windows is a must. The goal is to make sure there are no tiny cracks or openings that would allow the winter air to seep into the home. If necessary, replace the weather stripping around window sashes and the door frame. Don’t forget to check the exterior and see if some caulking would help fill in any tiny open spaces around those windows and doors. This one tip will go a long way toward keeping the temperature inside uniform.
Remember that aging windows and doors that are warped, deteriorating, or no longer work properly will likely need more than a little caulking or new weather stripping. Your best bet may be to talk with a professional about a complete window replacement. That professional can also help you select new exterior doors if necessary.
3. Inspect and Clean the Gutter System
The last thing you need is for the gutter system to back up during the winter. When the snow or ice melts, you want the water to flow away from the roof with ease. Have the system cleaned and checked for any signs of gaps between sections, cracks, or other problems that could cause the gutters to retain debris. This will help eliminate one potential source of damage to the roof as well as protect the exterior walls.
4. Have the Foundation Checked
Why do you need to check the foundation? If any tiny cracks are present, it could allow seepage into the home. That increases the potential for mold and mildew in the basement. From there, you could end up with compromised air quality inside. Along with those issues, a weakened foundation could create more structural issues during the cold winter months.
If there are any issues with the foundation, have them repaired before the winter begins. That will be one less source of trouble while there’s snow on the ground.
5. Hire a Chimney Sweep
If your home still has fireplaces and chimneys, it’s a must to have a chimney sweep inspect and clean everything from the hearth to the chimney cap. The goal is to make sure there is nothing wrong with the chimney liner and that the structure is still sound. In most cases, the cleaning can be done in a few hours. Assuming there are no repairs to make, you can turn your attention to storing up an ample amount of firewood to use if the need arises.
6. Check the Attic Insulation
A trip to the attic is in order before the winter arrives. Your goal is to determine if the insulation is still in good shape, or it needs to be replaced. Consult with a professional before making any changes. It may be that adding more insulation rather than replacing what you already have will work fine. Remember that more efficient insulation in the attic will make it all the easier to heat the rest of the house.
7. Check and Service the Ceiling Fans
Why would anyone be concerned with ceiling fans when the task is to prepare the home for winter? The fact is many people use their ceiling fans to help distribute warm air to better effect.
Assuming your ceiling fans have a reverse feature, it’s possible to have the blades turn in a counter-clockwise direction rather than clockwise. That helps to push down and distribute the warmer air that rises to the ceiling level. By making sure the fans are fully functional, you can use them to lower the amount of energy needed to keep each room at a comfortable temperature.
8. Wrap the Pipes
Many of the water pipes inside the home will be fine. Others need some attention. Specifically, you want to take a look at pipes that are in areas where little to no heat can reach them. These may be in the attic, basement, or along exterior walls.
When and as possible, wrap those pipes so they have more protection from the cold. A plumber can recommend materials that will do a better job of protecting the pipes from possibly freezing during the coldest part of the winter season. You may want to have a professional handle the wrapping so that there’s no question that the material is sealed securely.
9. Make Sure Outside Spigots are Protected
Do you have one or more outside spigots? If so, they need some attention too. The first thing you want to do is remove any hoses that are attached to them. Those hoses should be rolled up and placed in the garage. Remember to empty the hoses thoroughly before storing them.
Make sure that the spigots are closed completely. Once that’s done, wrap them using materials designed to withstand the cold. The same plumbing professional who takes care of the pipes will also know how to wrap outside spigots properly. This will reduce the risk of damaged spigots that could freeze and then begin to run water once they thaw out.
10. Trim the Shrubbery and Trees Close to the Home
It may seem counterproductive to trim the shrubbery and trees near the home. Wouldn’t they create an effective barrier against some of the cold winter winds? That wind is actually one of the main reasons that you do want to trim everything back.
The cold combined with the wind could lead to breaking limbs that cause damage to power lines. Limbs landing on the roof could also create damage that you don’t want to deal with while the temperature is so low. In terms of the shrubs, you need them to not interfere with the function of the heating system. By trimming them back, there’s less potential for leaves or other debris to get into the unit and create additional stress on the moving parts.
11. Arrange for a Complete Roof Inspection
There’s one more area that needs your attention before winter arrives. Call a professional and have the roof inspected. If there are any shingles that need replacing, or flashing in the valleys or around the chimney that is beginning to work loose, now is the time to take care of those issues. These actions increase the odds of getting through the Canadian winter without any type of damage to the roof. As a bonus, a sound roof prevents seepage into the attic, something that would trigger an entirely different set of problems.
While it does take some time and effort to prepare your home for a Canadian winter, the outcome is worth it. Doing so eliminates or at least reduces the risks of finding yourself with a major problem to address when the weather is anything but conducive to spending time outdoors. Once you take care of each of these areas, get ready to settle into your favorite chair and enjoy looking at the snow through a window.