Preparing Your Home for Winter Print E-mail

End of October is a good time of year to start thinking about preparing your home for winter.  As temperatures drops, your home will require maintenance to keep it through the winter.

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Here are some tips to help you prepare your home for winter:


1)  Exterior, Doors and Windows

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  • Change or repair weatherstripping around doors to prevent cold air from entering the home and caulk windows.
  • Inspect sill plates for dry rot or pest infestation. Secure crawlspace entrances.
  • Inspect exterior for any cracks and exposed entry points around pipes; apply caulking.
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  • Basement windows: consider protecting its window wells by covering them with plastic shields.
  • Rake away all debris and edible vegetation from the foundation.
  • Make sure that all potential entry points sealed up to keep small animals from crawling under the house.

2)  Landscaping & Outdoor Surfaces

  • Check your grading – make sure it is adequate to direct rainwater away from the foundation.
  • Check your overhead Hydro Line: trim trees if branches hang too close to the house or electrical wires.
  • Remove vines from soffit areas – they will stop proper air flow to the attic.
  • Consult a gardener when your trees should be pruned to prevent winter injury.
  • Seal driveways, brick patios and wood decks.
  • Cover your outdoor air conditioner condensing unit and, if your AC has a water shut-off valve, turn it off.

3)   Roof, Gutters & Downspouts

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  • Inspect your attic: make sure your baffles are opened and acting as air channels, adding extra insulation to the attic will prevent warm air from creeping to your roof and causing ice dams.
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  • Check flashing to ensure water cannot enter the home.
  • Look at your roof with aid of binocular: call roofer to replace worn or missing roof shingles
  • or tiles.
  • Clean out the gutters and use a hose to spray water down the downspouts to clear away debris.
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  • Extend your downspouts (if they too close to the house) up to six feet away from the house.

4) Heating System

  • Furnace Inspection (gas or oil): call an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace. Remove all flammable material from the area surrounding your furnace.
  • Keep outside furnace fresh air intakes free from snow…
  • If your home is heated by a hot-water boiler, bleed the valves on radiators by opening them slightly and when water appears, close them. Call your service company for inspection.

5) Wood Burning Fireplace

  • Call a chimney sweep for chimney cleaning to remove soot and creosote – it is required by Ontario regulations to do it annually. Call WETT inspector if you have any questions or concerns.
  • Make sure you have cap or screen the top of the chimney to keep out rodents and birds.
  • Inspect the fireplace damper for proper opening and closing.
  • Buy appropriate firewood (hardwood only like oak, maple, etc.). Store it in a dry place away from the exterior of your home.

6) Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

  • City of Ottawa requires a smoke detector in every level of the house (including basement).
  • Replace smock detector or an extinguisher if it older than 10 years.
  • Buy extra smoke detector batteries and change them when daylight savings ends.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector near your wood burning appliance, furnace and / or water heater.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they work.

8) Prevent Plumbing Freezes

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  • Find your water main and keep it accessible in the event you need to shut it off in an emergency.
  • Drain all garden hoses and close “secondary” shut off valves inside.
  • If you go on vacation, leave the heat on, set to at least 12 degrees C.