When the cool days start becoming more frequent, it’s usually a sign that winter is fast approaching and it’s time to prepare your home for the cold season. We always think of getting out our warmer clothes to be ready to face the cold, but what about the house? Just like you, it needs to be ready for the freezing cold, snow and the winter wind.
Some items need to be checked to make sure your home will be safe and sound during this season. Whether we’re talking about your doors and windows, your heating, ventilation and air conditioning, your roof and gutters or your exterior, it’s important to ensure your home is in sound condition for these coming months.
DOORS & WINDOWS
According to Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency, more than 25% of a home’s total heat loss comes from windows. This figure is considerable and can cause a significant increase in your heating bill. It seems obvious that checking the efficacy of your windows is valuable, but how can you do it?
In fact, it’s simple! For your windows, simply place your hand around the edges of your windows on a cold, windy day. If you feel a draft, two conclusions are possible: the air is seeping through ineffective window seals or the contrast between cold and hot is causing turbulence. In both cases, adding a weatherstrip film can reduce air infiltration and, in turn, lower your heating bill.
For your doors, a somewhat different method is to close the door on a sheet of paper; if you can remove it without much difficulty, it means that your weatherstrip should be replaced. Finally, it’s time to think about replacing your doors and windows if you see any cracks or broken glass parts.
Do you have a windows and doors project?
HEATING & VENTILATION
Now that you’ve insulated your windows and doors to prevent heat loss, it’s time to check your heating and ventilation. The first thing to do is to clean your electric baseboards to prevent bad smells during the first starts. Also, for all those who have air exchangers, it’s important to clean the filter before it starts to avoid stirring the accumulated dust from the past number of months.
Your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should also be checked. Their batteries must be changed regularly and cleaning them of dust is just as important. Sometimes forgotten, these two detectors have a lifespan of roughly 10 years for smoke and 5 years for C02 respectively. They can save your lives, so a quick check is always worth it! In addition, if you use relatively old thermostats, it would be recommended to change them to programmable units that will allow you to reach a more precise temperature and keep control.
Finally, for all the lucky ones who have a chimney, sweeping before the winter is essential, with certain cities making it mandatory. This step must not be neglected. The new trend is sweeping logs, but unfortunately, they are usually not enough, they only have the ability to reduce a small amount of creosote. To clean your chimney effectively, consider hiring a chimney sweep member from your local Professional Heating Association.
ROOFING & GUTTERS
As we have yet to reach the real cold days, there is still time to prepare the outside of your house for the brunt of winter. First, all of your gutters need to be cleaned to allow water to drain properly and prevent breakage. To prevent leaves and debris from accumulating during the winter, you can opt for rain guards. Their stability is also important because venturing up to the roof to repair them during the winter will not be very pleasant.
Secondly, if you have a sloping roof, it’s very important to check the shingles which, if damaged, could cause water infiltration through the roof. During your inspection, if you realize that there would be several shingles to change, it’s necessary to seek the help of a roofer. It may be better to replace your roof or it’s likely that you have a ventilation problem that will shorten the lifespan of your shingles.
Once the previous tasks are completed, there are still some small things to do outside your home. One of the steps which is often overlooked is to close the valve of the outside water pipe to prevent the ice from bursting it. Also, don’t assume that simply closing the pipe will suffice, so take the time to empty the water pipe and then close the valve. Finally, in one broad assessment of the exterior, you can make sure that no branch is likely to fall on electric wires with the weight of the snow, that your stair railings are stable and thus safe and that your external lighting is working.
Your last step will be to install a car shelter if necessary. Or why not build a carport or garage if you want to start a renovation project! You could say bye to the tedious assembly and disassembly of your temporary shelter and enjoy a more permanent solution for many years! Now you can readily keep warm in the comfort of your home!
And don’t forget that your house deserves to be well treated. A well-maintained home always has excellent long-term value. Don’t hesitate to consult an expert!