Expert Advice on How to Winterize Your Home

Fall is upon us, which means it is time to start winterizing your home to shield it from the season’s freezing temperatures. Your home is highly valuable, so protecting it against the cold is a priority. Make your home more energy efficient so you stay warm and toasty without breaking the bank to pay utility bills. Additionally, it will help prevent damage from ice and snow. To safeguard your home against the cold, here are some tips from our experts.

Winterizing Checklist for Your Home

  1. FLAT ROOF

Cold weather and snow can be hard on your flat roof, especially since it endures the spring and fall freeze-thaw cycle. Once winter hits, protecting your roof gets more difficult.

Winterizing flat roof

  • Examine the Roof

Getting your flat roof inspected in the fall allows enough time to make necessary repairs. Once the snow and ice set in, this becomes increasingly difficult. The inspection will also allow you to prepare your roof to face the harsh cold. Contact an experienced roofing contractor to schedule a complete and thorough inspection.

  • Check Edging, Seals and Drainage

All roofing systems rely on their edging, seals and drainage to provide protection. If any of these aren’t performing optimally, you could have leaks, which can lead to further damage inside. Check for and patch any weak areas or small visible holes. Properly functioning drainage will ensure that any accumulated water can run off quickly as water on the roof in winter can be dangerous and result in accidents, such as falls. Checking the edging will tell you if your flat roof is functioning properly.

  • Remove Debris

A buildup of debris can lead to clogged drainage that results in standing water. If you have large trees surrounding your home, there could be fallen leaves on your roof. Cleaning these up is one of the most important things to do to ensure your drainage stays in top condition.

  • Repair the Membrane (If Needed)

Though this shouldn’t be a problem if your roofing hasn’t been touched, foot traffic, the weather and fallen objects like branches and leaves can harm the membrane. Having your roof inspected will tell you if the area has sustained damage. Any small patches can be taken care of immediately while larger concerns can be addressed as required.

  1. WINDOWS AND DOORS

When facing the cold, make sure your windows and doors are airtight to keep out the cold. Failing to do so means your furnace will be blowing money out through tiny cracks.

Heavy snowfall in residential area

  • Inspect the Glass

Ensure that all your windowpanes are in good shape. If you notice any broken or cracked glass, replace it immediately to keep wind from entering.

  • Include Insulation

If you can get to the area behind the door or window trim, add spray-on foam or batt insulation to prevent cold air from entering. If you choose to apply spray foam, make sure you get the kind that is specifically designed to be used on doors and windows. However, if you opt for batt insulation, be careful not to overstuff the area as it performs best when lightly inserted.

  • Apply Weather Stripping

Add weather stripping around your windows and doors for added protection from cold weather and drafts. There are many types available so make sure you use a product that meets your requirements. These are generally cheap and can be purchased at any hardware store.

  • Caulk Windows and Doors

Caulking is a relatively inexpensive solution, and just a few tubes go a long way towards protecting you. But caulking is a specialized skill so it may take time for you to perfect the technique. Using the right type of caulking helps achieve the best look. The most suitable material for windows and doors is a polyurethane caulk since it doesn’t shrink, can be painted, doesn’t attract dirt or dust and adheres better than other materials.

  1. HEATING SYSTEM

Heating plays a vital role in homes in winter, so thoroughly check your heating appliances and furnace in the fall and effect repairs before the temperature starts dropping. You can give the complete system a test run to make sure it doesn’t fail when needed most.

  • Test Run

Switch on your thermostat and set it to 80 degrees on heat mode to test it. You will hear the furnace turn on. Within a few minutes you can feel warm air blowing. If your furnace is in good condition, you can set the thermostat back to its original setting. However, if you feel it isn’t working properly, you can try to diagnose it yourself or hire a professional.

  • Replace the Filter

Putting in a new, clean filter is easy, will help air flow freely and provide improved indoor air quality. Furnaces have their own requirement for air filters, so it is best to follow the recommendations of the manufacturer. It is generally a good idea to replace filters monthly for best results.

  • Check for Leaks

Carbon monoxide is an odourless, tasteless, invisible killer but can be spotted with a battery-operated detector. If there are problems, contact a professional immediately. Generally, CO leakage happens because of leaks in the exhaust system or other fuel burning appliances. Don’t wait until it becomes unsafe.

  • Examine the Vents

Some boilers, furnaces and gas water heaters vent through the chimney. Many newer high efficiency models vent instead through plastic pipes that run through a sidewall. It is your job to make sure there are no obstructions in the vents and that they are fully open. Any vent which may not have been used all summer could become a home to small animals and birds. This can block pipes, restricting the furnace’s ability to burn properly and vent exhaust gases efficiently.

ADDITIONAL TIPS

 

It is a good idea to prepare an emergency kit with a lighter or matches and candles in case of a power outage. Also, keep phone numbers of utility companies handy. Store non-perishable food supplies, pet food, extra bottles of water, a first aid kit and blankets in a location that is easy to access. Have a backup battery to protect sensitive electronic equipment and computers. As these often go overlooked, preparing for emergencies can go a long way towards ensuring the well-being of you and your loved ones.

With winter getting closer, it is your job to make sure your home is protected through the cold weather. Having a good strategy can cut heating costs and avoid ice dams. With these tips you can prevent damage and feel more confident about keeping your home safe. By winterizing your home in the fall, you have plenty of time to schedule any professional services you require.

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