The winter weather is back once again, whether we like it or not! With that said, looking after our properties is more important than ever, especially when we’re spending more time at home regardless of the temperature.
Let’s help you make the most of the season to come – in a good way – with our top winter maintenance tips!
For those who rely on forced air to heat their homes, keeping clean and heated air flowing from the furnace is essential during those iconic Canadian winters, but these powerful systems require regular care to function properly. Swapping out filters with clean ones (preferably HEPA filters or filters with high MERV ratings if your system can accommodate these), clearing vents and pipes of debris or obstructions that could impact airflow, and getting your furnace professionally cleaned are just a few important steps to take. You should also ensure your home’s ventilation is free of blockages such as built-up dust or other debris, and that every room is getting sufficient heat. We’d also recommend checking your thermostat to be certain that it’s accurate and performing as expected.
A fireplace and chimney that aren’t properly cleared of soot before a new season of usage can cause all sorts of problems such as carbon monoxide buildup or even the increased risk of fire. Take care of these systems and they’ll take care of you – using a purpose-built cleaning log or calling in a professional chimney sweep are smart precautions to take.
Speaking of carbon monoxide, is there a detector to alert you of a CO2 leak or the presence of smoke on every floor of your home? If not, or if the batteries are dead, now is the time to correct this. Be sure to check the expiration date of your detectors as well and replace as necessary. Whether popping in fresh batteries or buying an all-new detector itself, these investments can truly be lifesaving, especially in the winter when we spend more time inside and the windows and doors are closed.
Shutting off all outside water connections, such as to the garden hose, better protects your home’s pipes from freezing. If you’re unsure whether your pipes are properly insulated in all unheated areas, you ought to address this with care before the cold, icy weather sets in and causes problems. Also, on the subject of water, it’s a good idea to test the sump pump if you have one in the basement in case of a leak over the course of the winter.
Good, grippy boots, quality snow shovels, a new belt for the snowblower – the list of things you may need to tackle the winter wonderland that appears on your driveway will vary depending on the type of setup you have. Larger spaces, such as parking areas behind a multi-unit building, will take more time to clear without a snowblower capable of doing heavy work, for instance. Also, don’t skimp on the salt, sand, or ice melt for your driveway and all pathways you intend to use in the winter – a slip and fall on ice is extremely dangerous! Plan ahead so you’re not the person searching all the hardware stores for a shovel in the middle of a big blizzard.
Homeowners often dread flicking on the furnace or air conditioner as these systems consume a lot of energy, but whether your property is properly sealed and insulated plays a significant role here. Before settling in for the winter, check all doors, windows, skylights and sidelights for drafts. If there are cold spots, then your insulation isn’t working correctly and needs to be addressed. This can help reduce the usage of your heating system during the winter, lowering your energy bills.
Is your roof missing a shingle or two, or have you spotted branches scattered on it? Inspecting and addressing any issues with your roof needs to be done before it gets covered in snow, preventing leaks and even structural damage. If you have an attic space, identifying holes or moisture buildup can be done from the inside, but be sure to check your roof’s appearance to identify problems such as curling shingles, sagging, or otherwise.
It depends on your home and personal preferences, but a common recommendation from HVAC companies is to maintain a range of 30 to 40% percent humidity during the winter months. This will help maintain a comfortable and healthy environment, minimize static electricity, and help prevent mold growth from condensation build up. Therefore, setting up a humidifier solution that covers all rooms is important, ideally with a whole home humidifier that’s connected to your water supply and attached to your ductwork.
When owning a home, it’s always important to keep up with regular maintenance in order to stay safe and comfortable and avoid larger, more expensive problems. Winter brings even more unique challenges to homeowners than normal, but by facing them head-on with proactive maintenance of your investment, you’ll have the peace of mind to enjoy a safe and healthy season!