Canadian winters are tough and that makes winter home maintenance essential for protecting the spaces we love. The average homeowner can do a lot of basic maintenance themselves, but if you’re uncertain or uneasy about some tasks, try asking neighbours or friends about contractors they’ve used successfully. Be sure to research the service’s Better Business Bureau rating and ask for a couple of references.
Ice and snow can accumulate quickly, potentially damaging shingles and creating ice dams along the edge that can creep up under the shingles and melt into the attic. A telescopic roof rake, available at stores like Canadian Tire, lets you safely remove snow after a heavy storm. Remember not to climb on the roof, especially in the winter: that’s a job for professional roofers.
If you don’t have clear plastic covers on your window wells, snow can build up quickly and cause basement damage when it melts. Check and clear window wells after a snowstorm as part of your winter home maintenance routine.
While the building code requires furnace, dryer and other wall vents to be a safe distance above the ground, winds can create snowdrifts that might block vents. If that happens to a furnace vent, for example, the furnace won’t operate efficiently or will shut down to avoid the danger of carbon monoxide in your home. Learn how to safely clear wall vents.
Furnace efficiency and indoor air quality depend on clean filters. Check your homeowner’s manual to see how often the filters need to be checked and cleaned or replaced. If you don’t have the manual, try an online search for your furnace model and serial number, which should take you to a manual. If you have a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) to bring warmed, fresh air into your home during the winter, you’ll need to check its filter as well — again, your homeowner’s manual or an online search will help you.
You hope you’ll never need it, but ensuring your fire extinguishers are accessible and fully charged and that you and your family know how to use them gives you peace of mind. Learn about types of extinguishers and how to operate them here.
Like a fire extinguisher, you hope you’ll never have to use an emergency kit. But the weather is unpredictable, and we’ve seen extended power outages during past winters. Having an up-to-date emergency kit can help you and your family through a crisis at any time of the year. The Canadian Red Cross has information on emergency kits.
Bathroom exhaust fans should be cleaned a couple of times a year, including in the winter, because dust and grime can build up quickly. Not sure how to do it? Check this handy YouTube video.
Originally published January 26, 2022