Winter Maintenance for Your Home

While the first day of winter is officially Friday, December 21, you just never know when the first big snowfall or ice storm will hit Hamilton.

With that in mind, here are some easy-to-follow tips from DeSozio Homes to ensure your house is ready for it – inside and out.

Outside: Remove low hanging or damaged tree branches

Do you have any trees around your property which:

  • Are very close to your home?
  • Overhang over walkways, pathways, and driveways?

If so, you should cut any sagging or brittle tree branches before winter arrives.

Heavy snow and thick ice can settle on them, and while it looks pretty, it poses a hazard.

Weak branches trying to support excess weight are prone to breaking. When that happens, you run the risk of:

  • Limbs crashing through windows
  • Branches falling and landing on your car
  • Oversized twigs sagging, breaking, and hitting unsuspecting neighbours in the area

In addition, if any heavy branches fall, they become dangerous trip hazards, especially when one tries to step over them through thick snow and ice.

Inside: Get a furnace inspection

When Old Man Winter is doing his worst, you need your furnace to be at its best.

After all, the last thing you want is for your home heating system to fail on the coldest day of the year.

  • In case you’re wondering, the coldest day occurred in Hamilton on January 7, 2014, at -24°C/-38°C with a wind chill.

A furnace inspection audits:

  • Dirty filters
  • Carbon monoxide leaks, (CO is known to be a “silent killer” because of its colourless, odourless and tasteless nature)
  • Pilot light inspection
  • Electrical connections
  • Heat exchanger damage

In winter, keeping your family warm and safe go hand-in-hand. That’s why furnace inspection and maintenance is so important.

Outside: Stop ice dams before they form

Here’s how ice dams occur:

  • There is less insulation underneath the edge of your home’s roof compared to the top
  • Ice accumulates around the eaves at the edges while snow melts at the top of the roof
  • Melted snow backs up behind the ice dam with nowhere to go

As the melted snow pools, it could leak through and seriously damage your roof.

The best way to combat an ice dam is to ensure they don’t form in the first place.

Here’s how:

  • Remove dirt, grime and debris from your gutters and eavestroughs
  • Get a roof rake that lets you easily get rid of snow from the ground
  • After a heavy snowfall, remove any snow and ice from the gutters ASAP

Inside: Get your chimney professionally swept

Do you have a wood-burning fireplace in your home?

Even if you haven’t used it all so far, it’s wise to book a chimney sweeping service; especially if you’ll be using it often over the winter.

When wood logs burn, it leaves a by-product called creosote. The more creosote build-up there is, the greater the risk of a catastrophic chimney fire.

Other benefits to chimney sweeping include:

  • Better fireplace efficiency
  • Eliminates the risk of CO poisoning
  • Improved safety for your family
  • Reduces the potential for an expensive fireplace or chimney repair
  • Soot won’t accumulate and end up on your floor, furniture, or clothing

Outside: Drain exterior water lines and turn off faucets

Although your hose may be turned off, there could be some leftover water from the summer.

Should that water freeze, it could crack the house, burst through pipes, or rupture through any exterior faucets.

Before Jack Frost arrives, you’ll want to prep all your outdoor water connections:

  • Take a walk around your home, find any exterior faucets, remove the hose and drain any remaining water.
  • Find the main shut-off valve for your outdoor water supply and close it.
  • Go back outside and turn on the exterior faucets. The last bit of leftover water should drain out.

Inside: Seal any drafty windows or doors

The biggest source of heat loss during winter is through drafty windows and doors. When this happens, your home will feel colder than it should and you’ll pay more for monthly heating bills.

That’s not a good combination.

Instead, go through each room in your home, from the basement to the attic and look for any drafty areas so you can seal them up.

Doors

When your doors are closed, little to no heat should escape. If you locate any drafts, here’s what you can do:

  • Update any old weather-stripping
  • Realign the hinges and ensure they are tightly secured
  • Cover any doors you won’t use in winter with thermal plastic

Windows

  • Remove any old caulk and apply new, clean caulking
  • Seal the window sash with weather-stripping
  • Cover windows with thick curtains, drapes, or other feature upgrades

Outside: Stock up on salt and tune up your snow blower

If you recall, there was a sidewalk salt shortage in winter 2013/2014. In fact, according to MeltSnow.com, it impacted the entire continent of North America:

  • “In 2013/2014, North America saw a very cold and hard winter not experienced in decades which drained all supplies.”

Although you can’t really predict how this winter will be, why take the chance of not having it when you need it most?

Stock up your bulk salt early. And while you’re at it, give your snow blower a tune up and fill it with fuel so it’s ready to go.

Inside: Test all your alarms

If you have a carbon monoxide detector, a fire alarm or smoke detector: test it and replace it if necessary.

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