I know that summer just ended but let’s be honest that means snow is right around the corner. Remember we live in the Great White North. There are a few things you can do around your home to get ready and help to prevent costly repairs. Not preparing for the winter can leave you with a large mess, stressful insurance claims or expensive repair bills. We want to help you ensure you are ready. Here is our checklist to help you get ready for the freezing temperatures.
Have your Furnace Inspected and Cleaned
Contact your HVAC company and have a trained technician come to your home to clean and inspect the unit. This is very important. They will check for cracks that can cause leaks which could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. They can also lubricate any parts that need it to ensure parts don’t seize up or break down.
This is also a great time to change your air filters. It’s important to change your filters regularly but especially at the beginning of the heating season. Changing your air filters will keep the air cleaner but also ensure better airflow so your furnace does not have to work extra hard to push warm air through your home which helps keep repair bills and heating bills low.
Check around the outside unit of you’re a/c to ensure it is clear of debris. This will help to ensure that nothing gets blown into the unit and damages it during the winter. Turn off the circuit for the a/c before you do any work on it. Make sure the a/c is dry before you place a cover over it so that you don’t have moisture trapped inside that can cause the corrosion of vital parts. You can either fully cover your unit or you can just cover the top to ensure that ice, snow and debris do not fall into the top of the unit.
It’s time to discuss thermostats. If you don’t have a programmable one you should look into one. First it will save you on your heating bill. Also it will help you maintain a comfortable temperature all winter. This is a good time, as you prep for winter, to switch from the cool setting to the heat setting, and to bump the thermostat up a few degrees, so that you can ensure that you are not walking into a cold house when that first cold day or first snow fall come and you are out and can’t turn on the heat. If you turn the thermostat up a few degrees above the current room temperature you should hear the furnace kick on after about a minute or two. If you do not hear it, check if your thermostat needs new batteries. Also check that the breaker for the furnace is turned on. If you have done this and are still having issue you should call your trusted HVAC technician to come and check things out.
Cleaning your ducts annually is not always necessary for most homes, however you still do need to do this every few years. The exact rules on this vary depending on where you live but in general it seems that they should be cleaned every 2 to 3 years. If you can’t remember the last time it was done then you might want to get a duct cleaning service to come in. If the ducts are dirty they can obstruct air flow for the furnace and A/C. Another issue with dirty ducts is that you can have lower air quality. You will have more airborne dust and allergens
Windows and Doors
Drafts can make your home chilly all winter. They also can make your heating system work overtime trying to keep the house warm. This is the time to go around and check for drafts or any places that the weather stripping is worn out or missing. Check around all doors and windows. Replacing damaged weather stripping will help you get a better seal around each opening. When you are checking make sure you looking for any cracks or broken glass as well. You will want to get these fixed before the icy blast of winter hits.
If you have wooden window frames in your home you need to check them for any rotting or decay. If the window is showing some signs of this make sure you repair or replace the frame to help keep the home warm while also maintaining the structural integrity of the window
Just like a furnace keeps your home warm, so does a fireplace. Gas and natural fireplaces all need to be prepared for use each year.
Gas Fireplace: Contact your HVAC technician and have them come compelte a proper inspection of your unit before you turn it on. This inspection will ensure the unit is running properly. They will also look for any wear in the gas line which is important to catch before you turn on your unit so you can prevent a potential gas leak.
Natural Wood Fireplace: You need to have your entire unit checked thoroughly. This includes the firebox, the flue and the chimney. Having the inspection will ensure that any cracks or voids any where in the unit can be addressed before the fireplace is started up. It’s also critical that your chimney is cleaned annually. Creosote or soot can build up in the chimney and can be flammable. Without proper cleaning and inspections your fireplace can be a fire hazard. Ensure you get this taken care of before using your unit.
Cleaning your unit will also help allow for a clear path for your unit to exhaust through.
Ensure that all the troughs are cleaned on all sides of your home. Also ensure that the down spouts are not blocked. This is a quick way to help prevent ice from building up which can damage your roof. It will also help to give the ice and snow a place to go during the thaw in spring which can help prevent leaking roofs.
In the Yard
There are a few things to take care of outside the home that could potentially protect against damage.
- Having someone trim any branches that hang near electrical lines can protect your home. The weight of the ice and snow can weigh down branches causing them to damage the wires. Never go near electrical wires. Allow a trained professional to take care of this.
- Make sure you put away your hoses and sprinklers. This will prevent them from cracking in the cold and causing you to have to purchase new ones comes spring.
- Repair any splintering, damaged or decaying wood on your deck. Fixing this can help prevent further damage during the winter. Also sweep any leaves, twigs and pine needles off your deck. Doing this will help prevent mold and mildew building up on your deck
- Check all your outdoor lights. Remember it’s going to get dark a lot sooner and stay dark longer. You want to ensure a clear and safe path outside. Make sure you have sufficient, working lighting to make walking outside in the snow and ice easier.
- Also ensure that railings outside on decks, steps etc, are secure. If these are loose they will not provide the correct support to help someone if they are trying to prevent falling in the slippery conditions
1 More Important Thing to Consider
This a great time to check your smoke detector and CO2 detector. These devices have saved many people’s lives. Make sure you keep your family and home safe by ensuring to change these batteries if they need replacing.