How to prepare your house for winter: maintenance guide

Preparing your home for winter

Imagine yourself for a moment in February or March. You've just caught your breath after the big expenses of the holiday season. You start to dream of a trip, or better, a beautiful renovation project.... And suddenly out of the blue appears an expensive problem that needs to be fixed on the house or the surprise enormous gas or electricity bill that completely ruins your mood.  Most of the time, these problems or large bills could have been avoided by better preparing your house in the fall.

 

Here are the 7 actions to do to prepare your home for the winter:

 

1- The heating system of your house

Basically what you want here is an efficient system that minimizes energy costs, whether it's gas, oil or electricity.  You must protect the components of your system. You do not want to replace defective parts due to lack of maintenance.

 

Gas installation

Every two years, have your gas installation serviced by a specialized company.

 

Oil installation

Every year, make sure that the tank isn't leaking and that the chimney and connecting pipes are in good condition.  Decontamination due to a leak is very costly.

 

Hot water system

If your system uses hot water, it should be leak-free. Lubricate the circulation pump. Bleed the air from the radiators. When air is left in the system, the furnace tends to overcompensate, heating the water more than necessary, thus increasing your hydro bill. 

 

Electric baseboards

Remove dust from the elements. You will avoid unpleasant odours and increase the heating efficiency of your home.

 

Central heating

It is also called forced-air heating.  Replace or clean the furnace filter in your home, depending on whether it is permanent or not. Also replace the humidifier filter built into the furnace, if you use one.

 

2- The doors and windows

 

The objective here is to keep the cold and water outside. We don't want to heat the outdoors, as our grandmothers used to say! According to Natural Resources Canada, poor insulation leads to an increase in heating costs of 20 to 40%. In addition, you accelerate the deterioration of your home's doors and windows.

 

Weatherstripping (doors and windows)

When you have had to change one in the middle of winter, you will never forget to do it again in the fall!

 

Caulking (doors and windows)

You can add a removable sealant to the inside of windows, especially on your old wooden windows that do not have weatherstripping. For your old single-glazed windows, you can use heat-shrink plastic wrap to create an insulating air space.

 

Lock the windows and remove the screens (windows)

In winter, windows must be locked when they are closed. This prevents them from warping and from ice seeping in. Remove your screens in the winter to let more light and warmth into the house.

 

3- The ventilation outlets 

Clean the hood filter and bathroom fan grill. Check the exterior escape hatches. Make sure you are protected against rodents that could enter your home and make sure your appliances are fully effective. If it takes 2 drying cycles to dry a wash load, it is a very significant additional electricity expense. If the exterior vent flaps at the slightest gust of wind, add a bolt in the center to create a counterweight.

 

4- The gutters 

Once the leaves have fallen, clear the gutters of any plant debris and take the opportunity to check their condition and see if they are securely attached to the house.   If you don't, you may end up with a gutter to replace because it will have detached from the facia under the weight of everything that has accumulated there. In addition, we risk damaging our roof and foundation if we do not manage to keep the water away from the house.

 

5- The roof 

For sloped roofs, check the condition of the shingles: make sure none are broken or wavy. If there are a few to replace, it is possible to do it yourself. Simply gently lift the top shingle to remove the damaged shingle and then nail in the new one.

If you have a flat roof with gravel, make sure that the gravel is well distributed. Check that the roof drain is not blocked.  What you want is to protect yourself from water damage in your home. Half an hour of your time can save you thousands of dollars in repairs.

 

6- The chimney

The chimney must be cleaned, usually every year, depending on the moisture content of the wood and the amount burned.  Choose a chimney sweep certified by the Professional Heating Association (PHA).  And don't believe in the miraculous virtues of "chimney sweeping logs", even if their action helps to partially dissolve creosote. "Chemical chimney sweeping does not replace mechanical chimney sweeping," even manufacturers of these logs say.  This prevents the risk of fire and maximizes combustion.

 

7- Tap - outdoor irrigation

To prevent water pipes from freezing or bursting, empty the outside taps and irrigation system if you have one.  Close the inside pipe valve, then open the outside pipe valve until it is well drained.  A great way to avoid a major water disaster in the basement.

 

Now that you've avoided a lot of costly repairs on your home, you can start dreaming about your bathroom renovation again.

Have a good winter