While it may seem like there's plenty of time to prepare your Edmonton home for winter, all too soon those cold dark days of winter will be upon us as we'll be focusing on making it through to another warm Edmonton summer. Making sure that you prepare your home for winter ahead of time ensures that you’re not scrambling in the middle of a blizzard to fix a burst pipe or having to get someone out to fix a faltering furnace. Here are a few things you should be doing to prepare for the coming cold months.
Now’s the time to get all that outdoor items sorted before old man winter shows up and puts a blanket of cold white snow all over your backyard. Clean and store any outdoor furniture you may have and bring in all the cushions and pillows that may be sitting outside. Now is also a good time to clean out the gutters and downspouts before the snow flies and it becomes dangerous to use a ladder on the ice and snow. Clogged gutters can cause snow and ice build-up and can cause ice dams to form damaging your shingles and roof. You should do a pretty thorough inspection of your roof and repair or replace any missing shingles or flashing so that water and snow won’t leak into the attic. If you’re not comfortable with heights or don’t have the skills to do repairs yourself, hire a contractor to do an inspection for you. Direct any downspouts away from the house and away from the foundation to prevent ice from forming close to the house foundation. Prepare your shrubs, trees and lawn for winter with a good winter fertilizer and trim any tree branches that look like they may break and fall in the event of a heavy snow, especially if you think they may damage the house. Wrap up those delicate rose bushes with burlap or old sheets as well as any other bushes and plants that may be susceptible to cold and snow. Underground sprinkler systems should be purged and turn off the water to outdoor pipes and taps. Drain the garden hose and store in the garage or shed until the spring thaw.
Seal Windows and Doors
Go around the house and check all the windows for gaps and sealing issues. Take the time to properly caulk around all the window frames and seal up any holes or leaks that may cause drafts in the house. A surprising amount of air can pass through even the smallest crack and you’d rather not be paying any extra heating bills due to poor caulking. Where necessary, install some weather-stripping to help seal doors along the frame and sill to prevent cold air coming in and warm going out. If you have storm windows, install them before it gets too cold and dangerous to work on a ladder or step stool (this also gives you time to check for any repairs and sealing on the outside that need attention).
Clean the Fireplace
Have a wood burning fireplace or stove? Before you light that first fire, make sure that you have the chimney and flu inspected to make sure everything is clean and in working order and birds or other critters haven’t decided to make your chimney or vent a summer home. Check that doors and screens are in place and that you have an ample supply of dried, seasoned wood available as well as a metal ash bucket outside for disposal of old ashes and soot. It’s a good idea at this time to review fireplace safety with the kids and remove any flammable objects that may be a bit too close to the fire.
Tune up the Furnace
You likely haven’t had the furnace on for a few months so before you actually really need it, you should make sure it’s in good working order. Crank up the thermostat and ensure that the fan kicks in and the furnace lights. If your house relies on oil or propane as a heating source, ensure that the tanks are full and in working order before use. For homes with electric baseboard heating, pull away any furniture, blankets, pillows or other flammables away from the heaters to prevent the risk of fire. Have a professional come to the house and give everything the once over, have any ducts cleaned if necessary and replace dirty filters to prevent any issues and ensure that your heating system is working economically and efficiently.
Pad Pipes and Plumbing
Pipes and plumbing in the basement, crawlspace or garage that have the potential to freeze should be properly wrapped and insulated to prevent bursting. Your local home building center and supply store should sell insulated pipe wrapping and it’s typically not a huge expense… cheaper than calling in a plumber to fix a burst pipe in January anyway. Properly insulating your pipes and plumbing against the cold significantly reduces the risk of rupture and leaking. While you’re at it, wrap your hot water tank to help improve efficiency and freezing (if you haven’t done so already).
- Change batteries in smoke alarms and make sure fire extinguishers are close by and up to date.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors or check to see if the existing ones are working properly.
- Check any space heaters for proper functionality and install an automatic shut-off switch if possible. Make sure they are at least 3 feet away from combustible materials including furniture, paper and are not using extension cords but are plugged directly into electrical outlets.
- Have an emergency kit available to weather those winter storms should the power go out. Have a few working flashlights available, candles, blankets and a battery powered or wind up radio to monitor local radio stations.
Do you any tips or advice about preparing your home for winter that we didn’t touch on? We’d love to hear about it! Post in the comments section below and share your ideas.