Your biggest investment requires seasonal maintenance to ensure it continues to run smoothy. Winter can be hard on your home, but properly preparing for the snow, sleet and ice can help prolong the life of your landscaping and home’s mechanical systems. Download our Winter Maintenance Checklist and never miss a step again.
Inspect Your Home for Leaks and Cracks
Even with a new-build home, one of the most important steps to winterizing your home is to inspect both your interior and exterior for any leaks or cracks; this will ensure that heat remains in the house and the cost of your heat bills don’t rise dramatically. Be sure to check window sills, window latches and locks and the concrete foundation in your basement, then seal using the appropriate method (usually caulking for gaps less than a quarter inch wide).
Check and Change Your Furnace Filter
Your furnace is what heats your home, so there’s nothing more important than ensuring that it’s ready to run through the cold winter months. Check and replace your furnace filter to ensure that it’s performing optimally and that air flow isn’t restricted; during the winter, check that snow hasn’t accumulated in the air intake and exhaust vents of your furnace after a heavy snowfall. Depending on what filter you have, it should be changed every 2 to 3 months (the longer you go without replacing it, the more dust will build up in your home). You can also elect to have your furnace professionally inspected and cleaned annually; standard tune-up fees generally start from $100 to $150 per unit.
Don’t forget: To clean your ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilation). To learn how, watch our How To Clean Your ERV video.
Drain and Protect Your Pipes
To prevent your water pipes from freezing and bursting, it’s important to drain and protect them before nightly temperatures drop below zero. Drain all pipes leading to outdoor water faucets, garden hoses, air conditioners (if your unit has a shut-off valve, be sure to close it) and irrigation system. Irrigation systems will also need to be blown with air so that water doesn’t accumulate and crack the pipe (use an air compressor to force water out of the pipe). For pipes that pass through unheated locations — such as your garage, attic or unfinished basement — use foam insulation or pipe wrap to protect them.
Don’t forget: Ensure that water is carried away from the foundation of your home by pointing your gutter spots away from the direction of your house. Water seeping into the concrete is one of the most damaging effects of not properly winterizing your home.
Clean Your Eavestroughs
It’s recommended that you clean your eavestroughs twice a year — once in the spring, and again in early winter once all the leaves have fallen. Maintaining your eavestroughs will help prevent ice blockages that could cause snow and water to drain towards the foundation of your home. You can also consider professional removal of build up of ice and icicles on your roof and eavestroughs, which can help reduce the likelihood of water leaks.
Monitor and Adjust Your Home’s Humidity Levels
New homes are built better sealed and insulated, which has the effect of increasing the humidity in your home. If not controlled, this could lead to mould. Maintaining a humidity level of 30-45% during winter months will prevent this. Read more about moisture levels in your home.
Do a General Clean Up
A thorough home cleaning shouldn’t only be done in the spring. Get rid of any excess, such as the accumulation of old newspapers and any leftover hazardous chemicals. Store flammable materials and poisons in approved, clearly-labeled containers and keep a clear space around heaters, furnaces and other heat-producing appliances.
Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Test the batteries on your smoke detectors every six months (at minimum) to ensure they’re in proper working order.
Check Any Exterior Electrical
Check exterior electrical GFCI outlets and reset them to ensure they’re working before installing or turning on your holiday lights.
Maintain Home Appliances
Many homeowners don’t consider winterizing landscaping or exterior-use appliances, but doing so will help preserve their longevity. Winterize summer landscape tools like lawn mowers and weed-eaters by emptying gas or by adding fuel stabilizers and storing them in a dry place. For winter machines, such as a snowblower, prep them for use by adding fuel stabilizers.
Wrap Trees and Shrubs
Certain tress and shrubs need to be wrapped with burlap during winter months to help prevent damage from desiccating winds, snow and rodents that will gnaw on the tree bark as a source of food. Be sure to check with a professional to see which of your trees and shrubs need to be wrapped.
Still have questions? View our other Home Maintenance Tips.