Winter’s wrath is upon us.
Bone chilling cold, slippery sidewalks and the inevitable freeze-and-thaw cycles.
There’s no doubt Canadian winters are tough, but our recent tangle with the polar vortex means homeowners have a few extra things to think about to keep themselves and others safe when the frigid weather hits.
It’s important to note some regular maintenance can help prevent things such as freezing pipes which are both messy and inconvenient. If you’re heading to the sunny south, resist the temptation to completely turn off the heat. Check with your insurance company or broker to find out how often your home must be checked while you’re away.
As a homeowner you are also responsible for keeping your property and areas such as stairs, walkways and driveways clear for people that use them. If you don’t provide a reasonable standard of care, you may have legal liability in the event of an accident, slip, trip or fall.
Following these tips will go a long way toward helping you have a worry-free winter:
- Always test and maintain your smoke detectors.
- Whether you have a furnace, wood stove or other heating source, you should ensure it’s in good working order and cleaned regularly. During the heating season, be sure to clean or replace furnace air filters each month.
- If you are going on a vacation, leave the heat on and have a trusted friend or family member check on your home regularly.
- Run water though all your plumbing fixtures on a regular basis, and test plumbing shut-off valves. If you have any unheated spaces in your home, keep a slow trickle of water flowing from faucets during a deep freeze.
- If you live in a house with an attic, check for frost accumulation and, if you are able, your eavestroughs and roof for potential ice dams and icicles. Tip: Keeping your gutters clean in the fall will help prevent that.
- Make sure your sidewalk and the front steps to your house are shovelled and clear of ice within municipal bylaw timeframes. If you use an ice melter, it’s also a nice idea to use a pet-friendly version to help out our furry friends.
- Always keep snow away from gas meters, gas appliance vents, exhaust vents and basement windows.
- You can often prevent pipes from freezing by fitting exposed pipes with insulation sleeves or wrapping.
- If possible, trim branches that are close to your home or electrical wires to minimize damage caused from storms or high winds. It best if this becomes part of your spring and fall maintenance.
- Minimize the risk of damage due to flooding. Note where melting snow might drain away from the house and clear a path for water to easily drain. Keep an eye on catch basins or sewer grates on the street and ensure they are clear of any obstructions.
Once the snow starts to melt, that water is likely to find its way into your home if there are issues with the grading around the home or the home’s foundation. Many insurance companies exclude damage caused by water seeping through foundations, doors and windows. Check with your broker to be sure of your policy. Water damage can be devastating to your home and personal property. Do not keep your most valuable items in the basement in case flooding does occur.
And, above all, stay warm!