A few days ago, Winnipeg was graced with the first snowfall; it was a soft introduction to the glacial conditions that await us. Many of us see this as a warning sign: we start breaking out our parkas, switching our tires, winding down our schedules, and mentally preparing for 6-ish months of frigid temperatures and hiding from the outdoors.
Our homes are safe havens, and to remain snug throughout winter – houses require proper care and regular maintenance. The snowfall should also be a warning sign to prepare your home for the season. If you reside in Winnipeg or really anywhere in Canada, try putting our winter home maintenance checklist into practice and feel the difference.
Before Winter Hits, Check-Off These Outdoor Maintenance Tasks:
- Remove rubbish and unclog your gutters to reduce the risk of leaks and ice dams.
- Rake and clear your property of leaves to keep your grass healthy. Invest in a roof rake.
- Inspect windows and doorways for gaps or cracks. Seal or weatherstrip them to keep the cold air and bugs out of your home.
- Turn off exterior faucets and pack away hoses to prevent water line and pressure damage.
- You’ll want to review and follow these maintenance tips for outdoor lights.
- Prune trees, shrubs, and nearby plants. Also, consider fertilizing your lawn.
- Hire a professional to winterize your pool (clean, drain the pump/filter, store equipment, blow out water lines, and cover).
- Inspect your roof and schedule necessary repairs.
Indoor Maintenance Tasks to Keep Your Home Warm:
- Clean your air ducts and boiler system, plus test your heating system before the cold weather arrives.
- Consider installing a humidifier to prevent dry skin, reduce allergies, keep your houseplants healthy, and protect your flooring/furniture.
- Have your fireplace cleaned or your gas fireplace checked.
- Inspect the bathroom and kitchen for pipe leaks; a minor leak can leave a major impact.
- Winter-proof your entryway; have a thick mat with grit to clean boots, shelving or storage to hang dry shoes, a coat rack or a cleared-out closet for winter jackets, and a spot for mittens/hats/scarves.
- Do a walk-through of your house and check the installation and ventilation. Don’t forget to inspect pipes, crawlspaces, and your basement.
- Improve your indoor lighting if you typically rely on natural light.
- Break out rugs or consider installing in-floor heating.
- Reverse ceiling fans. When fans rotate clockwise, they push the heated air back down.
- Test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
Prevent Pipes from Freezing This Winter:
- Insulate pipes, especially those near windows and doors and in unheated portions of the house.
- Remove the hose from the outside faucet.
- When you're gone, keep the temperature at a minimum of 12.7 degrees Celsius.
- Keep an eye on swimming pool supply lines, exterior faucets, water sprinkler lines, pipes in exterior walls, and pipes in unfinished basements.
If a pipe freezes, follow these steps:
- Turn on the frozen pipe's tap and leave it open while you treat it.
- Allow warm air to circulate safely to the afflicted region — always use any heat source (electric heating pad, blow dryer, space heater) with caution to avoid potential danger and damage.
- If you've discovered one frozen pipe, check all the taps in the home; if only a drop comes out, there's a good chance there's another frozen pipe nearby.
- Contact a certified plumber if you cannot reach the frozen pipe or if your efforts to defrost it are ineffective.
Preparing for Winter Storms:
Any Winnipeg resident knows that a winter storm can hit any day. The weather may call for clear skies, mild temperatures, and low windchill, but the next thing you know – the power’s off and your sidewalk is underneath 3ft of snow.
Make sure you’re prepared for winter storms by following these tips:
- Expect a power outage. Get a portable generator, stock up on perishables, have candles and matches handy, and make sure your first-aid kit and medication are well stocked. Instead of tossing old blankets, store them in your garage or basement for times like these. Even put together a storm kit that’s accessible.
- Tidy your property. Avoid as much structural damage as possible by trimming trees, storing summer accessories like a grill, and installing storm doors.
- Make your home waterproof. Install a sump pump in your basement, seal your walls, and ensure that your gutters, downspouts, and drains direct water away from your home's foundation. If you already have a sump pump, ensure sure it is operational.
- Invest in backup wireless chargers. When the power is out, and your phone is dying, you’ll be happy to have a backup charger. Not having a phone is well, boring, but more importantly, you want to stay in contact with your loved ones.
First Winter for a First-Time Home Buyer
Owning a home comes with several new responsibilities; there isn’t a landlord or property manager providing reminders, and you’ll be fronting the cost of all services/repairs. Investing in winter maintenance tasks will reduce your chance of structural damage, expensive plumbers, higher energy bills, and being cold all winter long.