Prepare Your Home for Old Man Winter by The Barrie Home Inspector

Prepare Your Home for Old Man Winter by The Barrie Home InspectorPrepare-Your-House-for-Old-Man-Winter

Everyone puts off those last minute maintenance chores until the weather turns cold.  We are bringing you a list of items that will make the transition into winter mode that much easier.

Heating

Having your furnace inspected and is operating at peak efficiency is a wise investment.  Typical cost for a technician to inspect and clean your furnace is around $80 to $100.00.  This is a small price to pay to avoid a costly repair on the coldest day of the year when your furnace won’t start.  Change your furnace filter every 30 days or so,  if you have animals who shed hair a more frequent replacement might be required.

Check or have your chimney checked for any cracks, missing brick or mortar or loose rain cap.  The freezing thawing action of water penetrating small cracks can do a lot of damage over the winter season.  If you have a wood burning fireplace you should consider having it cleaned prior to use and have the flue tiles inspected for any cracks or deficiencies.

If you have ceiling fans now is a good time to clean the dust and lint off the blades and reverse direction of motor.  Forcing the warm air down will make your living area feel much more cosy.

Windows & Doors

Clean your windows and doors inside and out.   This is a great time to check your seals and exterior caulking.  Ensuring your seams on brick and concrete window sills are not open can save you a lot of money on needless repairs later on.   Water can enter your exposed seams cracking mortar and eventually damaging the brick below.  This “spalling” as it is known, happens when clay style brick absorbs moisture, which then freezes and blows off part of the brick surface.

Check all your door closures to ensure they all operate smoothly.  Screen doors should have glass panels lowered or installed on older models.  Basement windows screens in window wells are susceptible to damage from rodents and other small animals.  Screens should be removed and stored for the winter.  Replace any damaged door seals or sweeps to prevent drafts from entering home during the cold months.  Operate your garage doors and lightly grease track for smoother and quieter operation.

Roofs & Gutters

Inspect your roofs shingles for any damaged or missing tabs.  Pay close attention to any flashings on walls or chimneys to ensure that they are completely sealed.  Caulk any suspect areas to be doubly sure of preventing any roof leaks.   Clean out any debris in gutters and ensure your downspouts and extensions are in good condition.  If you have an older home using heating cables for eaves or downspouts, now is a good time to ensure that they are in good working order.   Put away your rain barrels and ensure your splash pads and extensions are directing water away from your home.

Plumbing

Drain all your exterior water lines to prevent freezing.  I personally always leave the exterior tap open and have never had a freeze up problem.  If you have hose reels installed, now is a good time to store them after draining out the water.  On older homes with crawlspaces now is a good time to close ventilation vents and cover with insulation in preparation for winter.  Any in ground sprinkler lines should have already been blown out by your sprinkler maintenance company, if not call them immediately.

Wrapping your hot water tank and hot water lines with a insulation can save you money all year long.  Check your sump pump by either lifting float or pouring water into unit to ensure it is in operating condition.

Check Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Fire departments recommend replacing the batteries in smoke alarms twice a year, and if your smoke alarm is between 5 and 10 years old, replace it with a new one. There should be at least one smoke alarm on every level of your house and one within 5 m of each bedroom.  In Ontario this is the law and homeowners can be fined for non-compliance.  Smoke detector information

 

Drafts & Air Leaks

Energy experts estimate about 30% of the heat in your home is lost to leaks and drafts.  Adding foam seals to exterior wall outlets can stop and lot of heat loss.  Check any penetrations on the exterior wall of your house and seal any gaps with caulking, this stops both cold air and moisture from entering your home.  Check you interior for leaks and missing insulation at penetrations.  Most contractors will not replace your vapour barrier or insulation when they install electrical or heating vents.  Replacing insulation and re-sealing vapour barrier can save a lot of heat loss over the course of a winter.

Equipment

Change your oil in lawnmowers and any other lawn maintenance equipment and add some fuel stabilizer prior to storing for the season.  Get your snowblower out and ready to go.  Check oil and top up the tank with fresh fuel prior to starting.  Grease all fittings and check for loose fittings or bolts.  Put away the rakes and grass trimmer and get out the shovels and ice choppers.   Ensure you have adequate supply of salt or sand for sidewalks.