Preparing Your Home for Winter

The end of October is a good time of year to start thinking about preparing your home for winter. As
temperatures drop, your home will require maintenance to keep it through the winter.
Here are some tips to help you prepare your home for winter:

Exterior, Doors and Windows

  • Change or repair weatherstripping around doors to prevent cold air from entering the home and caulk windows.
  • Inspect sill plates for dry rot or pest infestation. Secure crawlspace entrances.
  • Inspect the exterior for any cracks and exposed entry points around pipes; apply to caulk.

  • Basement windows: consider protecting its window wells by covering them with plastic shields.
  • Rake away all debris and edible vegetation from the foundation.
  • Make sure that all potential entry points are sealed up to keep small animals from crawling under the house.

Landscaping & Outdoor Surfaces

  • Check your grading – make sure it is adequate to direct rainwater away from the foundation.
  • Check your overhead Hydro-Line: trim trees if branches hang too close to the house or electrical wires.
  • Remove vines from soffit areas – they will stop proper airflow to the attic.
  • Consult a gardener when your trees should be pruned to prevent winter injury.
  • Seal driveways, brick patios and wood decks.
  • Cover your outdoor air conditioner condensing unit and, if your AC has a water shut-off valve, turn it off.

Roof, Gutters & Downspouts

  • Inspect your attic: make sure your baffles are opened and acting as air channels, adding extra insulation to the attic will prevent warm air from creeping onto your roof and causing ice dams.

  • Check to flash to ensure water cannot enter the home.
  • Look at your roof with aid of binoculars: call a roofer to replace worn or missing roof shingles or tiles.
  • Clean out the gutters and use a hose to spray water down the downspouts to clear away debris.

  • Extend your downspouts (if they are too close to the house) up to six feet away from the house.

Heating System

  • Furnace Inspection (gas or oil): call an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace.
  • Remove all flammable material from the area surrounding your furnace.
  • Keep outside furnace fresh air intakes free from snow…
  • If your home is heated by a hot-water boiler, bleed the valves on radiators by opening them slightly and when water appears, close them. Call your service company for an inspection.

Wood Burning Fireplace

  • Call a chimney sweep for chimney cleaning to remove soot and creosote – it is required by Ontario regulations to do it annually. Call the WETT inspector if you have any questions or concerns.
  • Make sure you have a cap or screen on the top of the chimney to keep out rodents and birds.
  • Inspect the fireplace damper for proper opening and closing.
  • Buy appropriate firewood (hardwood only like oak, maple, etc.). Store it in a dry place away from the exterior of your home.

Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

  • The city of Ottawa requires a smoke detector on every level of the house (including the basement).
  • Replace the smock detector or an extinguisher if it is older than 10 years.
  • Buy extra smoke detector batteries and change them when daylight savings ends.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector near your wood-burning appliance, furnace and/or water heater.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they work.

Prevent Plumbing Freezes

  • Find your water main and keep it accessible in the event you need to shut it off in an emergency.
  • Drain all garden hoses and close “secondary” shut-off valves inside.
  • If you go on vacation, leave the heat on, and set it to at least 12 degrees C.
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