It’s still fall and we’re enjoying fresh, crisp weather, the bold rich colours of leaves, pumpkin pies, tractor rides and apple cider. As much as we don’t want to think about the mercury falling, winter’s chill will soon be in the air and white fluffy stuff will be on the ground. And if the weather reports are accurate – we’re in for a deep freeze, according to the Canadian Farmer’s Almanac! So now is the time to get your home winter-ready and make any necessary repairs before expensive damage could set in.
See below for tips on home repairs you can make now to ensure your home is winter ready.
Don’t get crackin’ with doors and windows. Inspect windows, doors and frames for cracks, broken glass, chipped caulking and signs of rot. You want to keep the warm air in and the drafts out. As an added bonus, this could also result in a lower heating bill! Fill in gaps with silicone caulking or weather-stripping and repair or replace framing if necessary. If you have single pane windows and your budget allows for it, replace your windows with more energy-efficient ones to prevent heat loss. Also, replace broken storm doors and check that they close tightly.
Fix driveways and walkways. Cracks in your driveway and/or walkway can be dangerous, and when covered in snow and ice, they could result in dangerous walking conditions on your property. Water can also seep into cracks or holes and freeze, causing further damage. So make sure to tend to these repairs before they create more damage to your cement or paving stones.
Sweep the porch. Once the temperature plummets and the snow starts accumulating, your porch and deck will take a beating. So now’s the time to clean your deck of debris. After cleaning, apply a non-slip, water-repellant finish to protect your deck. Moisture from ice, snow, sleet and rain can lead to cracking and warping. Also, take the time to fix handrails to ensure they’re secured.
Light the way. Replace worn or damaged outdoor light fixtures and make sure bulbs are working. Your porch and walkway should be well lit for visitors, especially as patches of ice may be hard to see.
Heat things up.
- Tend to your furnace by asking a professional to make sure it’s in good working order before you turn on the heat. This is also a good time to change the air filter as this will help improve your furnace’s efficiency and make it easier to heat your home.
- Oil tank. If your home has an oil tank, make sure it’s not damaged, rusted, corroded or has a break in the fuel line. Have the tank inspected annually by a heating service professional and know its expected life span. Your province has regulations dictating when it should be replaced.
- Wood burning fireplace and chimney. Before you start sipping on hot cocoa in front of a wood burning fireplace, make sure a professional conducts a chimney sweep; checks the flashing; looks for areas of rust; checks for damage to the flue; and inspects your chimney and fireplace for cracks or loose bricks. Damage, like cracks, can lead to ice and snow seeping into your home.
- Hot water tanks. Ask a professional to check your hot water tank for signs of rust, cracks, corrosion, leaks and sediment buildup. And keep an eye on the age of your tank as it may need to be replaced. Older tanks can result in poor water quality and the unit may have to use more energy to heat up.
Examine your sump pump. If your home has a sump pump, get a professional to check the pit, check valve, discharge location and the alarm (if you have one) to see if any repairs are required. Remember – a sump pump helps prevent excess ground or rainwater from entering your home so it needs to be in tip-top shape.
Inspect your roof. Winters can be rough, so it’s important to have a professional inspect your roof and make repairs (like missing or curled tiles) before problems like water damage and rot develop. Snow, ice and heavy rain can turn a small issue into big issue in a short span of time.
Let’s talk about pipes.
- Pipes and outdoor faucets. Now’s the time have a plumber check your pipes (both inside and out) for cracks or any damage and broken faucets (interior and exterior). Pipes, especially those located outside your home, are prone to freezing during winter. Make sure you shut off the water valve to outside faucets, drain hoses and disconnect these from outdoor faucets to decrease your changes of freezing. Burst pipes can equate to damage and expensive repairs.
- Indoor plumbing. If you’re undergoing bathroom or kitchen renovations, now’s the time to complete any jobs that require your plumbing to be out of commission, or you risk the chance of frozen pipes (and no water!).
- Sprinkler systems. Turn off the water supply to your sprinkler system. Blowing compressed air through the sprinkler lines will help eliminate any remaining water and prevent them from freezing and bursting.
Get your mind in the gutter. Eavestroughs and downspouts should be properly fastened as the weight from snow and ice can pull them off your house. Take the time to clear gutters of debris and ensure downspouts extend away from your home to prevent flooding and water damage when the snow finally melts!
Tend to trees. Trim tree branches that are too close to your home and ensure trees and shrubs are well away from your home and windows. Heavy snowfalls and icy conditions can cause branches to break and cause damage to your home.
Repair winter tools. Remember those broken shovels you stored away as soon as the snow melted last year? It’s time to replace worn or broken winter supplies. Store them away from the elements to lengthen their lifespan. And while you’re out, stock up on ice melt and salt as these tend to sell out quickly when storms hit!
Making repairs to your home now will help keep you and your family safe and warm all winter long!
Want to share any winter home repair tips? Let us know in the comments below.