Winter Checklist For Your Home - December 13th 2010


Winter Checklist For Your Home


To avoid unexpected and unwanted repair bills, it is a good idea to take care of a few maintenace items before we get too far into the Winter Season.

  • Furnace filters - Check and clean or replace furnace air filters monthly during the heating season. Ventilation system, such as heat recovery ventilator, filters should be checked every two months.

  • Hot water tanks - Drain sediment from hot water tank.

  • Clean humidifier two or three times during the winter season.

  • Vacuum bathroom fan grille.

  • Vacuum smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, as dust can prevent them from functioning.

  • Vacuum radiator grilles on back of refrigerators and freezers.

  • Check gauge on fire extinguishers; recharge or replace if necessary. Check manual for maintenance requirements.

  • Check the basement floor drain to ensure the trap contains water. Refill with water if necessary.

  • Monitor your home for excessive moisture levels - look for condensation on your windows, which can cause significant damage over time and pose health problems, and take corrective action.

  • Check faucets for signs of dripping and change washers as needed. Faucets requiring frequent replacement of washers may be in need of repair.

  • If you have a plumbing fixture that is not used frequently, such as a laundry tub or spare bathroom sink, tub or shower stall, run some water briefly to keep water in the trap.

  • Clean drains in dishwasher, sinks, bathtubs and shower stalls.

  • Test plumbing shut-off valves to ensure they are working and to prevent them from seizing.

  • Examine windows and doors for ice accumulation or cold air leaks. If found, make a note to repair or replace in the spring.

  • Examine attic for frost accumulation. Check roof for ice dams or icicles. If there is excessive frost or staining of the underside of the roof, or ice dams on the roof surface, consult the CMHC website www.cmhc.ca. for more information on moisture control.

  • Clean and cover or store the barbecue and outdoor furniture.

  • Check under the deck for rot and make necessary repairs.

  • Clean gutters and check that strainers and downspouts are unobstructed. Make sure downspouts divert water away from foundation walls.

  • Check for loose joints and leaks, and apply gutter sealant anywhere a leak may occur when it's clean and dry.

  • If you don't want to undertake repairs or cleaning yourself, consider the services of a professional gutter company.

  • Winterize external plumbing systems - This is the most important job of fall if you live in an area that freezes in the winter. Neglecting this job can result in flooding, water damage, and thousands of dollars worth of damage to plumbing fixtures.
    - Drain underground sprinkler systems.
    - Winterize pools or spas. Check manufacturer's manuals.
    - Have outdoor pools drained and serviced.
    - Drain exterior water pipes and any pipes that run through unheated areas (such as a garage or crawlspace.) If draining these pipes isn't possible, wrap them with foam insulation or heat tape.
    - Drain and store garden hoses.

  • Dryer Vents - At least once a year, make a point to check that the dryer vent hasn't become clogged with lint. Often, the screws holding the ducts together will trap lint that builds up over time. A build up of lint is one of the more common causes of house fires. This is a good time to clean up any lint that is under and around your dryer.

  • Check weather stripping on doors and windows. Inspect around your doors and windows: Replace if torn, worn out or missing? This task is to seal small gaps, keeping moisture and cold air out. On doors, make sure the bottom seal is working properly - there are many sweeps and thresholds designed to seal this gap. Newer, energy-efficient windows generally don't require added weather stripping, but if your windows are older, weather stripping can help.

  • Caulk exterior - It's best to do this in early Fall since the caulk becomes difficult to apply when the temperature gets too cool. Check corners, windows, doors or around vents. Read manufacturer's directions to make sure the caulk you buy will work for where you plan to use it.

  • Lawn and Garden -
    - Apply lime and winter fertilizer to your lawn.
    - When you mow your grass for the last time, try to keep matting of the grass to a minimum.
    - Rake any remaining leaves.
    - Remove annuals and any dead plants.
    - Cover perennials with a layer of mulch.
    - Wrap or protect shrubs from snow and winter winds.
    - Trim back all tree limbs and vegetation away from roof and foundation.