It’s easy to love winter when you’re tucked inside in a pile of blankets, sipping a warm cup of hot chocolate. When you’re a responsible homeowner, winter can be a lot harder. There are lots of ways that wet, icy, snowy weather can impact your life, from shoveling snow daily to having to deal with leaks and roof damage from a pile-up of heavy, frozen ice.
Fortunately, there are ways that you can set yourself up well for winter. Whether it’s buying salt and anti-freeze in advance before it sells out, or simply taking precautions like checking smoke detectors, a bit of advance planning can make a huge difference.
Today, we’ll show you how to prepare your home for winter, with help from some of the home renovation experts at Duby’s. You don’t have to do an entire living room or kitchen renovation to get ready for winter – all you need are these quick tips, most of which can be tackled in an afternoon.
1. Get your fireplace and chimney cleaned
If you have a fireplace, it should be inspected and cleaned every year. Any physical blockage can easily spark a fire, and creosote that builds up is also a big fire hazard.
Most chimney professionals will begin with a visual inspection, then use tools like brushes and vacuums to easily remove creosote, tar, and other build-up. If there’s a higher degree of creosote build-up, they’ll need to come back with specialized tools to remove it so it doesn’t cause a chimney fire.
2. Check the furnace
If your home is heated by a furnace, make sure to check it over well before cold weather sets in. First, turn off the circuit breaker to the furnace, then check both sides of the furnace’s filter. If it’s dirty, you can clean it off with soap or a mild detergent and water, then dry it completely before re-insertion.
Once the furnace filter has been cleaned, dried, and reattached, walk through your house and inspect each vent. Make sure there isn’t any furniture or heavy window coverings in the way that could block the flow of air into the room. If there is, rearrange the room, or use a vent extender.
3. Check carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
Heating is a frequent cause of residential fires. Before you turn your heater on this winter, take a few minutes to double-check your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. These are critical safety mechanisms every home should have.
4. Cover and insulate outdoor pipes
Before the nights get below zero, cover and insulate all outdoor water sources. This includes everything from exterior hoses to exposed pipes that run outside your home. Detach all rubber hoses and bring them indoors, and cover anything that can’t be moved with insulation.
To protect your plumbing, you should also ensure that your home never gets below 55°F, to prevent pipes from freezing. Homeowners who go away for the holidays often forget this. Leaving heat off entirely will save you money on your utilities, but it could potentially cost you a lot more in emergency plumbing maintenance.
5. Clip overhanging branches
Before the first snow of the year, clip any branches that hang over power lines, over your roof, or look like they’re already hanging too low to the ground. These are the first branches that will cause damage if they get covered in ice and break off the tree.
6. Clear your gutters
Make sure you clear your gutters of fallen leaves before snow sets in. Otherwise, snow and ice will freeze over top of the leaves, making it impossible for water to flow through. If your gutters get clogged, they could pull away from the structure or allow water to flow on to your roof, causing a major leak or even a full collapse.
7. Bleed radiators, if you have them
If your home is heated by radiators, they must be ‘bled’ every year before you need to use them. You can do this easily by turning off all the radiators, then going one by one and turning the bleed valve, which is typically a nut or small spinning handle located at the top of one side. Slowly turn the valve to release the air trapped inside the radiator. Once the hissing air has stopped, turn the valve back to tighten it. That way, you’ll be good for another year!
8. Check doors and windows for air leaks
Don’t let heat escape from your home! To keep your house warmer and save on your utility bills, make sure that all the doors and windows in your home are well sealed. To do this, wait for a windy day, then go slowly around your house, running your hand along the closed seam of window and door frames. If you notice cold air on your hand, use caulking or another sealant to fill in the crack.
9. Move all outdoor furniture, tools, and toys indoors
Don’t wait until snow is falling to move outdoor furniture, toys, and tools inside. All of your lawn and garden gear should be stored inside during the winter months, to avoid damage from snow, ice, and cold temperatures.
10. Double-check shovels and other snow supplies
You don’t want to get hit by a snowstorm before you realize that your only shovel is broken, or you’re completely out of road salt. Before cold weather sets in, pick up these staples from your local hardware or home store, so you’re not caught without them.
Find More Tips on Our Blog
Looking for tips on home renovations, home maintenance, and so much more? Come visit us in person in our Amherstburg store, or stop by our blog to see all of our tips and tricks for a more comfortable and safe winter.