Your home is your castle, and should be treated as such! For most of us, it’s the largest investment we’ll ever make and, in Canada, winterizing it is part of the drill. Follow these ten steps to protect your nest, save money, live comfortably, and sleep peaceably.
Disconnect and Drain Hoses
In order to prevent the possibility of water damage, hoses should be disconnected and drained for the winter. Water expands when it freezes, which can lead to busted hoses or spigots. If possible, pipes leading to outdoor faucets should themselves be drained as well. In extreme situations frozen water can lead to bursting pipes, causing extensive water damage.
Winterize Windows and Doors
Ensure that cold winter air stays outside where it belongs. Closely inspect window and door frames for drafty gaps which can freeze your holiday relaxation and overheat your new year’s budget. Insulation foam or weather stripping will suffice for small openings, while caulking may be needed to seal wider spaces.
…And Replace Aging or Insufficient Windows
In some cases, plugging the gaps may not suffice. If your window is drafty beyond repair, consider a replacement. It won’t be cheap, but long-term energy savings will help. As a bonus, such upgrades will add to the value of your home.
Inspect Your Roof for Leaks and Loose Shingles
You’ve worked hard to put a roof over your head, let’s make sure it stands the test of time. Periodic roof re-dos are inevitable, but in the meantime it pays to perform regular inspections, applying roof glue to any loose shingles. By doing this, you’ll prevent water from leaking into your home, which can potentially freeze, causing painful damage to various nooks and crannies.
Unless your name is Saint Nick, it should go without saying that you’ll want to perform your rooftop visits before Old Man Winter comes around. If heading skyward isn’t your idea of a good time, call a professional.
Get Your Mind Into the Gutter (and Downspout)
Water and ice are bad and should be kept away from your home sweet home. Gutters and downspouts ensure this, but only when kept in working order. Armed with a solid set of gloves (and perhaps a spatula) ensure that autumn’s debris is not blocking your gutter. It’s a messy job but somebody’s gotta do it. Installing a gutter guard can be helpful!
Branches that overhang your roof’s edge should be trimmed back, as snow can cause them to break and crash down upon your gutter.
Finally, ensure that your downspout points away from the foundation of your home. Pooling water can seep into your home’s foundation and freeze, causing long-term damage that will surely be noted by the home inspector should you try and sell your investment. In the shorter term, icy walkways could put you (or grandma) on your butt, with both pride and tailbone the worse for wear.
Replace Your Furnace Filters
Furnaces work hard during the Canadian winter, and dirty filters don’t help. Replacing filters regularly will save energy, improve air quality, and minimize the amount of dust accumulating around your house.
And Possibly Your Furnace
The furnace itself should be inspected periodically to ensure that it’s in good working order. A new furnace is a considerable expense, but is bound to be more energy efficient than your older model, which helps take the sting out of the price tag. What’s more, your new furnace will reduce the chance of an unexpected shutdown, which, according to Murphy’s Law, will occur in the middle of a cold snap. It should also go without saying that a carbon monoxide detector on every floor is modest, and potentially life-saving, investment.
Winterize Your AC Unit
Air conditioners, like sandals, swimsuits, and pitching wedges, are must have items that serve almost no purpose during half of the Canadian year. If your AC is accidentally activated during low temps it could cause damage to the compressor. Some units also have heaters to keep oil warm, a waste during a season of non-use. To avoid this, rotate the disconnect block to the off position. Alternately, if your unit has a dedicated breaker, simply flip it off. When reconnecting the power source in the spring, give the oil a day to heat up before use.
And Your BBQ
Some Canadians are fierce, grilling during wind, rain, sleet, and snow. Others hang up the tongs when winter comes around. If you fall into the latter category, coat your burners and other metal parts with cooking oil. This will help to prevent rust during inactivity. Spiders and insects may be tempted to spend the winter months within your burner unit. Close off this vacation spot by wrapping it in a plastic bag.
Insulate Your Attic
Don’t let heat escape through your attic! Not only does it waste energy, but can cause a melt and refreeze cycle on your roof, contributing to ice buildup. If your attic insulation level is less than four inches, rent an insulation blowing machine and top up!
Check your vents while you’re up there. If they’re clogged, give them a blast of compressed air.
A home is an investment which should be protected, and a living space which should be optimized for comfort. By fortifying your space, you’ll reduce the ill effects of Canada’s infamous cold months. You’ll be thanking yourself all winter long.