Winter is here!

Winter is here in case you hadn’t noticed !  While this may not be something you’re excited about, we need to get on with the reality.  Many homeowners fail to realize the importance of properly winterizing their home before it is too late..

Here in Calgary we have the Chinook Winds so compared to other areas in Canada we may experience a mild winter or a very harsh and cold winter. Maybe there was more berries on the trees this summer and you use it as an indicator, instead of the awesome new Global Weather App (Lots of berries for the birds= harsh winter coming). So you need to winterize your home, like NOW.

So let’s follow the steps below, and greatly increase the chances that you will not have any problems this coming winter.

Outside First

It’s vital to properly winterize the exterior of your home.  There are a variety of tasks that you should complete to make sure you don’t have any problems during the winter months.  Below are some of the most common exterior tasks to complete before the winter.

Look At Your Roof

It’s very important before winter really hits, that you inspect your roof (Pick a nice day before the heavy snow).  A proper roof inspection can provide “peace of mind” and also can help eliminate the chance of a costly repair.

The first decision that you need to make when it comes to a roof inspection is whether you will inspect it yourself, or hire a professional roofing company.  Many of us don’t like even the idea of climbing a ladder to get on the roof while others don’t mind at all. ( I freak out even with the Christmas Lights !)

If you decide to inspect your roof yourself look out for these things: Make sure that all the shingles / tiles are intact and securely attached.  During the cold winter months we often experience high winds, which can ultimately lead to tiles being blown off. Also be on the lookout for holes or cracks in any of the flashing around your roof vents.  Holes or cracks can lead to water leaks inside your home, so it’s important to make sure the flashing is solid and intact on your roof. Roof issues can be costly so ensure that your roof is in good condition 

Clean The Gutters

Blocked gutters are one of the most common culprits of water damage in a home.  To properly winterize your home, it’s important to make sure your gutters are clear of leaves and debris that we have just had in the fall.  Depending on how many trees you have around your home, it’s possible that you may need to clean your gutters more than once a year.

One of the best methods to clean your gutters is to use a small plastic shovel to scoop the leaves and debris out.  Once you’ve cleaned the majority of leaves and debris from your gutters, use a garden hose to flush out the remaining leaves and debris.  Be sure that the water your using to flush any remaining leaves and debris is draining out properly.

If you decide that you don’t want to clean your own gutters, there are several companies in your area that can perform gutter cleaning, for a small amount. The cost can depend on the amount of gutters your home has, and the height of your roof.

Check Central AC Unit

If your home is equipped with a central air conditioning unit, it’s important you properly winterize it.  Central AC is great to have, but can be fairly expensive to repair in the event it’s not properly winterized. Clear all debris away from the unit, including any sticks, leaves, and bushes. Covers on AC units are to eliminate the chance that debris, leaves, or even worse, ice falling inside the unit and causing damage. Finally, switch off the electric box, try not to cover the whole unit because this can trap moisture inside which can lead to problems.

Retire The Lawn Tools

You won’t need your mower or weed wacker tools during the winter, so we suggest that you winterize and store them.  If these are electric powered lawn tools, you need to ensure your tools are kept in a dry place. Even the garage can be a cold place for anything electrical, maybe put them in a corner of the furnace room, if you have space.

Lawn & Patio Furniture

All Lawn and Patio products are designed to be pretty durable.  This doesn’t mean that everything should remain outside all winter to brave the elements!..

Landscaping

A harsh winter can cause a number of issues for your landscaping.  Another task to perform when you winterize the exterior of your home is to properly take care of your garden areas.

One of the first decisions you should make is whether you will have your lawn treated prior to the winter.  There are many products available at your local hardware store for winterizing your lawn that can make a big difference on how your lawn looks after a long winter.

Also it is important to winterize your shrubs and bushes.  It’s suggested to prune your shrubs and bushes in the late fall or early in the winter season.   Since great landscaping is very important when buying a home, it’s worth taking care of your landscaping when it is time to prep it for winter.

Winterize the Interior (cont)

Ok so our last blog dealt with winterizing the outside of your home, so let’s look at the inside.

Drafts

Checking for drafts can save you $$$$ on your homes utility bills, they may be much higher than they should be simply because of drafts? The most obvious places to check for drafts inside your home are the windows and doors. In addition to your windows and doors, be sure to check your plumbing vents, furnace ducts, and of course attic access inspection openings. A good remedy to fix drafts is by using weather stripping. Most big DIY stores stock various types for various jobs.

Check Alarms & Detectors

Your home will remain closed up during the cold winter months, so it is important that your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are clean and working properly. A smoke alarm that has a build up of dust may not function like it should.  Cleaning the covers can be simply done by using a wet rag or paper towel. Maybe phone your alarm company if you have it monitored and ask them to run a test. Most alarms and detectors today do come with a “test” feature that allows you to make sure they are working properly. We also suggest that you replace the batteries on your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors prior to the winter season, unless they are hard wired and don’t require batteries.

Heating System

A major component of a home is the heating system.  The importance of a properly working heating system during the winter months cannot be under estimated.  Have your Filters changed out and your heating system cleaned and inspected, before heading into winter. This will in turn make your home far more efficient. I was advised (after buying expensive filters) to buy the cheaper filters but replace them more often.

Thermostat

If your thermostat isn’t working properly it can lead to the pipes freezing because there was no heat in the home. One very important step as you winterize your home is to make sure your thermostat is working correct.  A simple thing but before testing your thermostat, make sure you replace the battery. My own in-floor heat didn’t come on after the summer and it was only a flat the battery! Of course there are many thermostats available now that are not battery operated, which is preferred.  Many of the non-battery powered thermostats can actually be monitored while away from your home on your Ipad or smart phone.

Reverse Ceiling Fans

Many homeowners don’t realize their ceiling fans are able to be set in different directions. Most ceiling fans have a setting for the warmer months and the colder months. It may seem silly to use a ceiling fan during the winter months but doing so can actually save you money on your utility bills.  While you winterize the interior of your home, make sure your ceiling fans are set in the clockwise direction.  This will create an upward airflow which will decrease the amount of time it takes for the heat to rise and reduces the amount of time your heating system is on. We suggest that you set your fan on low-speed, otherwise, you can create additional drafts in your home.

Stay Warm!

You will enjoy the winter months knowing that you winterized your home, it is as important as the tires on your car! We hope that the above tips on how to winterize your home and increase the chances that your home doesn’t experience any issues or problems during the winter months.

Text or Call 403-850-0669