Winter is coming, which means shorter days, frigid temperatures, snow, ice, high winds, and a host of other factors that might just encourage you to go into hibernation.
For that hibernation to be successful, though, you need to make sure you have a safe, cozy, winter-ready home–base where you can retreat from the chilly weather. “How can I prepare my home for winter?” you might ask. In this article, we will cover a few crucial steps and useful tips to get you started.
Have Your Furnace Checked
The last thing you want is your furnace to break down in the middle of a sub-zero snowstorm. Having your furnace inspected and serviced by an HVAC expert now will help you avoid a catastrophic outage during the colder months, when not having a furnace can mean frozen water pipes and other significant problems. While the HVAC technician is there, have them check the thermostat too, to make sure it’s in good working condition.
Check Your Water Heater
Almost as important as the furnace during the winter is your water heater. Imagine not being able to take a nice hot shower in the morning on a bitterly cold day. Water heaters should be serviced annually to ensure reliable performance and to extend their life.
Turn Off Outdoor Faucets and Winterize Your Sprinkler System
A busted furnace isn’t the only issue that can lead to a burst pipe in your home. Shutting off water to your outdoor faucets and having someone come to blow out your irrigation system can get water out of those pipes and prevent them from freezing and bursting.
Seal Air Leaks
Are there any spots where cold air tends to find its way inside during the winter? Drafty windows, leaky spots in the attic or crawl space and old doorframes can all cause problems with heat transfer. Not only will these air leaks make your house feel cold and drafty during the winter, but they will also force your heating system to work that much harder to keep the house at a comfortable temperature. In turn, you’ll spend more on monthly heating costs.
Depending on where you find the leaks, the solution could be anything from caulking or weather-stripping to re-insulating parts of your house, to replacing your windows with energy-efficient alternatives. Any of these improvements will also help keep hot air out in the summer, enabling your air conditioning system to run more efficiently.
Clean Your Gutters
The end of autumn always means it’s time for the unpleasant but necessary task of cleaning the gutters. Clogged gutters are bad news for the winter, because they impede the drainage of melting snow or ice, sometimes leading to leaks in the roof or eaves or water damage elsewhere. Clean gutters allow the home’s rain drainage system to function as it should, which can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Inspect Your Roof
While you’re up there flushing out the gutters, take a few minutes to survey your roof from every possible angle. If there are loose or missing tiles/shingles, getting those fixed or replaced now should take priority. Wintertime, with cold weather freezing every last drop of water and snow piling heavy on rooftops, can take a toll on your roof. Getting those repairs now could help you avoid a costlier leak in the spring.
Check the Batteries in Your Detectors
Your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are important all year-round, but they arguably play the most crucial role in the winter. You’re spending more time indoors, your furnace is running all the time, and you’re cooking at your stove more often—all factors that can heighten the risk of fire, carbon monoxide poisoning, or both. Checking the batteries in your detectors—or even having a technician test them to make sure they are still working correctly—could save lives this winter.
Attend to the Chimney
Does your home have a fireplace with a chimney? If so, a big part of preparing your home for winter should be attending to the chimney. If you plan on using it during the winter months, you should have the chimney and vents swept and cleaned by a professional. Doing so can prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide problems, among other issues.
Are there parts of your house where pipes are exposed—especially pipes in colder areas such as the garage, attic, basement, or crawl space? If so, padding those pipes with insulation can reduce the risk of them freezing and bursting.
Know How to Turn Off the Water
Make sure everyone in your home knows where and how to turn off the water for the entire house. If a pipe does burst, then acting quickly to shut off the water is going to be paramount. Even a minute or two can make a massive difference when it comes to leaking pipes and water damage.
Pull Out Your Snow Removal Equipment
Bring the snow shovels out of storage. Stock up on salt for the driveway, and make sure the snowblower is working correctly. When that first snow hits, you want to be ready to face it.
At Guild Insurance Group, one of the most common questions we hear at this time of year is “How can I prepare my home for winter?” Our clients are all eager to avoid headaches, property damage, and potentially costly home insurance claims. The 11 tips presented here can help ensure that you are ready to greet the winter—even if you’re the type that counts down the days to warmer weather. Learn more the Insurance Bureau of Canada answered some FAQ’s to help consumers better understand their coverage.