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Sat, Oct 18th - 4:54AM

Winterize Your Home - Protect Your Real Estate Investment

Here are some common sense tips and advice of things to do prior to the winter season arriving. It is better to be snuggled up in front of your fireplace once old man winter arrives, rather than rushing around repairing items that some fall maintenance would have prevented. So with that thought in mind please peruse the following list:

1) Furnace Inspection

· Make sure your furnace is in good working order. Make sure that the thermostat and pilot light are working properly and that the pipe bringing fuel to your furnace isn’t leaking or loose

· Stock up on furnace filters and change them monthly.

· Consider switching out your thermostat for a programmable thermostat.

· If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly and when water appears, close them.

· Remove all flammable material from the area surrounding your furnace.

2) Get the Fireplace Ready

· Cap or screen the top of the chimney to keep out rodents and birds. Check top of chimney for cracks in cap or mortar. Also check visible bricks and mortar for cracks. Have any cracks repaired prior to winter.

· If the chimney hasn’t been cleaned for a while, call a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote or buy equipment and do it yourself.

· If your home is heated by a fireplace or wood stove, buy firewood or chop wood. Store it in a dry place away from the exterior of your home.

· Inspect the fireplace damper for proper opening and closing.

3) Check the Exterior, Doors and Windows

· Inspect exterior for crevice cracks and exposed entry points around pipes; seal them with exterior quality silicone caulking.

· Use weather stripping around older style doors to prevent cold air from entering the home and caulk exterior window joints to ensure no drafts are present.

· If your home has a basement, consider protecting its window wells by covering them with plastic shields. Ensure your window well drains are installed properly, covered with screen and then a layer of stone. They are tied into your weeping system and any debris could block your foundation weepers causing problems with your basement.

· Remove any un-needed screens and store until spring.

4) Inspect Roof, Gutters & Downspouts

· If anybody has been working in your attic or you have not had a home inspection then I would suggest you have a look in your attic and ensure your insulation is evenly covering your ceiling. You should be able to scan entire attic with just a spot light from the entrance hatch.

· Clean out leaves and debris the gutters and use a hose to spray water down the downspouts to clear them, As long as you’re cleaning out leaves, make sure none are clogging your chimney. Install a screen over the chimney top after cleaning. 

· Check flashing to ensure water cannot enter the home. Check for cracked caulking.

· Replace worn roof shingles or tiles. If trying to get one more year out of older roof, ensure all suspect areas are sealed with roofing tar. The cost of fixing wet insulation and damaged drywall makes this a worthwhile chore.

· Clean out leaves and debris the gutters and use a hose to spray water down the downspouts to clear them, As long as you’re cleaning out leaves, make sure none are clogging your chimney. Install a screen over the chimney top after cleaning.

· Consider installing leaf guards on the gutters or extensions on the downspouts to direct water away from the home. If your downspouts drain into a French drain or similar drainage system I would recommend installing a Tee onto downspout just before drain so that in the event the drain freezes the water from roof can spill out the Tee, thereby saving splitting downspouts and backed up eavestroughs.

5) Service Your Summer Equipment

· Drain gas from lawnmowers. Another solution is to simply run your machine out of gas, this eliminates any problems with Spring starting.

· Service or tune-up snow blowers. Make sure oil is changed and fresh gas is put in. Run up your snow blower before it gets cold. It’s easier to work on when the temperature is warmer.

· Dig out your snow shovels and ice chippers. If you have a winter door mat, clean and prepare for use.

· Gather up your summer lawn equipment and store together in dry area.

· Sharpen ice choppers and buy bags of ice-melt / sand. If your driving a truck and need weight, water softener salt is heavy and you always have it for your machine and if you get stuck it makes a good surface for gripping.

· Many air conditioner technicians now advise against putting cover over your central air conditioner due to the trapped condensation. I agree with this but that is an individuals choice.

6) Check Your Buildings Foundations

· Rake away all debris and edible vegetation from the foundation. If there are any low areas that have developed near your foundation, now is a good time to fill these in. Rule of Thumb for grading is one inch slope away from your house for every 6 feet.

· Seal up entry points to keep small animals from crawling under the house. Also ensure your vents are closed and all your foundation insulation is still in place if you have a crawl space.

· Inspect sill plates for dry rot or pest infestation.

7) Inspect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

· Ontario Fire Code requires a smoke detector on every level of the home and adjacent to sleeping areas. Buy extra smoke detector batteries and change them when daylight savings ends if your smoke detector is battery powered.

· Don’t Install a carbon monoxide detector near your gas fired furnace and / or water heater as there will always be traces of carbon monoxide present and this will create nuisance alarms. Near your sleeping areas is more suitable.

· Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors monthly to ensure they work.

· Buy a fire extinguisher for your kitchen area.

8) Plumbing Maintenance

· Locate your water main in the event you need to shut it off in an emergency. They are usually located very close to your water softener if you have one.

· Drain all garden hoses and neatly store for the winter.

· Insulate exposed plumbing pipes in any un-heated areas. If not used then draining is the best course of action.

· Check your furnaces humidifier, clean filter and ensure water is turned on.

· If you go on vacation, leave the heat on, set to at least 55 degrees and make arrangements for a relative or trusted individual to regularly check your house while your away.

9) Landscaping Items

· Trim trees if branches hang too close to the house. If they are close to hydro wires phone your local utility and notify them. Remove dead branches. Ice, snow and wind could cause weak tree trunks or branches to break, damaging your home or car, or injuring someone walking on your property

· Plant spring flower bulbs and lift bulbs that cannot winter over such as dahlias in areas where the ground freezes.

· Seal asphalt driveways, brick patios and wood decks.

· Move sensitive potted plants indoors or to a sheltered area. Wrap your shrubs with burlap to prevent ice damage.

10) Be Prepared

· Buy indoor candles and matches / lighter for use during a power shortage. Lanterns are good if you are in a rural area that experiences many power outages.

· Find the phone numbers for your utility companies and tape them near your phone or inside the phone book.

· Buy a battery back-up to protect your computer and sensitive electronic equipment.

· Store extra bottled water and non-perishable food supplies (including pet food, if you have a pet), blankets and a first-aid kit in a dry and easy-to-access location.

· Prepare an evacuation plan in the event of an emergency.


If you have a tip that works for you, feel free to add as comment.


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