Calgarians are getting ready for winter—they’re preparing their cars and their garages are swamped with snow tires. But what about their houses? Barry Malesh from A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections is here to give you some tips about what you should be doing to prepare your home for the coming winter.
1. Service your furnace. Now’s the time of year that you’ll start needing your furnace the most. Make sure you get it serviced and have your ducts cleaned out because you don’t want to have any problems with it when the temperature is 40 below. Cleaning your unit and changing the filters will also help you avoid carbon monoxide leaks, keep the air in your home clean, and keep your bill lower.
2. Check your smoke detectors every time you change your clocks. This includes carbon monoxide detectors, as well. Change out the batteries regularly, and replace your units once about every five years, since they don’t last forever.
3. Reduce the inside temperature when you’re gone to save heat. Many people think that if they lower the temperature at night, they’re just wasting money reheating the house the next day. Tests on this scenario have been done, and it’s actually been proven that the larger the temperature differential between the inside of the house and the outside of the house, the more heat is lost. So, if you do lower the temperature in the house when you’re gone more than four hours, you can save on heating costs.
4. Make sure the attic is the same temperature as the outside of your home. Here’s a great tip for keeping the heat in your home from leaking out of your attic: seal off your attic hatch with vapor barrier, and be sure to weather strip it, as well. Make sure that the vents for your bathroom and kitchen range lead to the outside, too; that air is warm and moist, so the condensation could freeze and cause damage if it isn’t vented outside.
Heat escaping from the attic will also cause melting on your roof and create ice dams. Barry has seen homes where, because of ice damming, water seeps under the shingles and the melt runs down the interior walls, shorting the electrical system.
5. Always shut off your outside taps. Disconnect your garden hoses, turn off the water shutoff valve, and then go back outside and open the tap so that the air can escape. It’s the compressed air in water lines that causes them to break, not the ice.
6. Have your downspouts extended at all times. If ice on the roof melts and runs down your house without proper drainage, the water will pool at the foundation. Here, it can freeze, crack your foundation, and let more water in.
7. When going away for winter vacation, shut off the main water to the home. This way, if anything starts to leak, you won’t have any water issues. The valve for this is in the basement.
Additionally, have someone walk through your house while you’re gone. Your insurance might have a clause that mentions this as well: Every three days to once a week, someone should walk through the house to make sure the heat’s on and that there aren’t other issues with the home. Failure to do this might allow for problems to go unnoticed, and your insurance may not cover it.
If you would like more tips about how to protect your home in the winter, reach out to me. I’ll send you a free report that includes a checklist you can follow every fall and spring.