A First-Time Homeowner’s Guide to Preparing Your Home for the Winter

11 Home Repairs to Make Before Old Man Winter Strikes

Purchasing your first home is a big accomplishment. If you’re used to renting, you’ll notice that there’s an adjustment when it comes to owning your home; regularly maintaining your furnace and water heater, paying property taxes and general home maintenance or repairs are just some of the things you’re responsible for. However, with winter fast approaching, there may be tasks to help ensure your home is ready for the colder months.

Before You Get Started

  • Have the right tools. If you don’t already have tools, consider visiting your nearest local Habitat for Humanity ReStore or home hardware store to purchase them. Make sure you have the basics, including screwdrivers, a hammer, measuring tape, wrenches and plyers. Home Depot has put together a great guide for the types of tools first-time homeowners should consider.
    • If you already have a well-stocked tool chest, be sure to inspect the tools to see if it’s time to replace worn or broken parts. And while you’re out, stock up on a quality shovel and ice melt or driveway salt, as these tend to sell out quickly when storms hit!
  • Purchase or check on your fire extinguisher. Did you know that according to the Canadian Red Cross, equipment like portable space heaters are the leading cause of home fires in the winter? Or that there are various types of fire extinguishers for different classes of fires? Check out our article that explains where to store and how to use a fire extinguisher.

Before Winter

  • 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.
  • Pipes and outdoor faucets. 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 the hoses and disconnect them from outdoor faucets to decrease your chances of freezing. Burst pipes can cause damage and expensive repairs inside and outside your home.

When the Snow Falls

  • Clear walking areas. We all know how intense a Canadian winter can be, and as a homeowner, a new responsibility will be to clear away any snow or ice build-up. As a property owner, you are responsible for keeping public sidewalks and walking areas around your property clear. When you’re shovelling your driveway, don’t push the snow onto the road, as this can cause a safety hazard and interrupt snow cleaning operations. It’s also against the law in many cities. Check with your town or city’s bylaws for snow and ice removal requirements.
  • Watch for ice build-up. During the winter, large masses of ice can collect on the lower edge of your roof or gutter, often called an ice dam, and may cause damage to your home. If you suspect you have an ice dam, a roof rake (or push broom with stiff bristles) can be used to help remove snow off flat and low-sloped roofs safely from the ground. This might help reduce the severity of the ice dam. Consider contacting a roofing professional to assess your options. And for more information about icicles, ice dams and your roof, check out this article here.

In the Home

  • Check the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. Carbon monoxide is a potentially deadly gas that is colourless, odourless and tasteless. During the winter, there are appliances that you may use that burn fuel (e.g. furnaces, gas stoves) and produce carbon monoxide. Check the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure that they are in good working order. For additional tips, be sure to check out our Essential Guide to Carbon Monoxide Safety article.
  • Develop an emergency preparedness plan. Anything can happen in a moment’s notice; winter storms, excessive rain, power outages, flooding, etc. Therefore, it’s important to spend some time with your family developing an emergency preparedness plan, assemble a kit of essentials and ensure everyone knows what to do in an emergency. For more details about what to pack in your emergency kit, check out our article here.
  • Invest in a furnace humidifier. You may want to invest in a furnace humidifier – which essentially acts as a humidifier for your whole home and can make your living space feel warmer. There are also potential energy savings since you may not be using as much of your heat as you normally would.

To learn more about preparing the inside of your home for the winter, check out this article here.

Did we miss any other tips? Share with us your favourite tips to help your home beat the cold this winter in the comments down below.

This information has been provided for your convenience only and should not be construed as providing legal or insurance advice.