Whether we like it or not, winter is right around the corner as the days begin to get shorter and the weather begins to cool down substantially. The best time to start maintaining your home to brace itself for the cold weather is during the months of autumn, when temperatures are still bearable when completing work on the exterior of the time. The best time to start is now before we experience temperatures falling below zero or before the first snowfall.
Ontario Winters are known to be brutal, but it is also the ultimate season to bundle up, stay cozy, and have many nights in watching Netflix marathons by the fireplace. You would hate to sacrifice a warm home with the onset of a home maintenance problem– and winter is absolutely the worst time to have one. You want to ensure your home is in tip top shape to endure the brunt of winter, so here are some tips for winter home maintenance so that you can avoid the pain and expense of costly home repairs.
Here in Ontario, winter is the season for snow storms, freezing rain, hail, and blizzards. Make sure you’re ready for the next storm of the season before it makes you stranded.
First things first, ensure you have a working power generator and keep batteries on hand for flashlights and lanterns if you need them. Heavy storms and ice can often take down power lines and the last thing you want is to be left in the dark. With this in mind, keep a solar-powered or battery operated radio on hand to keep you up to date on the latest news in the case of a power outage or if cell phone reception goes out. Ensure your snow shovels, gloves, and window scrapers are in good working order and keep them near the door where your snowy weather supplies can be found and accessed easily when needed.
Lastly, a buildup of ice and snow on tree branches can make them more prone to breakage, which can lead to other types of damage on the car, home, or driveway. Be proactive and brush off tree limbs after each major snow fall where you can. You can use a broom to extend your reach.
Homemade food is often the signature of a night-in and cozy winter but many times, the oven and its vents can easily translate into one of the dirtiest features in the kitchen because of its daily exposure to grime and grease. Over time, grease build up can make your appliance less energy efficient when in use and turned on.
To address this, all you need to do is clean your hood filters! Simply fill a bucket or sink with boiling water, and add a quarter cup of baking soda and some liquid hand soap. Mix this solution well and submerge the filters for a couple of minutes. Rinse thoroughly. If your oven is decked out with fancy self-cleaning functions, make sure you put it to use and clean the oven
once a month! If not, you can go for the DIY route and apply a paste by mixing baking soda and water, scrubbing away the build up as you go.
We know it’s cold out and the last thing you want to do is to walk around outside. But believe us when we say that it will be time well spent.
Issues on the exterior of the home, such as frozen pipes, window and door drafts, and the condition of your gutters are easily detectable during the cold months of winter. Most big inspection problems are best left to professionals, so consider spending some extra cash to bring someone in to do the work for you if it’s been a while.
Strong winter winds and cold temperatures can help inspectors check for drafts and places of insulation failure. Winter will also give them a better idea of how well your home’s structure and foundation can withstand the added weight of snow and ice. During the winter months, fireplaces and heating systems will also be more active, which will make problem identification easier.
Crawl spaces and attics are also a great time to inspect during the cold months of winter, as these spaces tend to get extremely hot in the summer months and cannot be safely inspected during this time.
For issues in the home you can address yourself, simply change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. This should already be done on a regular basis, but the task becomes even more important during the winter months when windows are usually closed and heaters are running almost 24/7.
When temperatures drop below freezing and your home heaters are working around the clock, you’ll definitely know if your weatherstripping isn’t performing the way it should be. Over the long months of winter, all that unwanted cold breezes can rack up your energy bills in a significant way.
If you notice that cold air is getting into your home through a doorway, simply pick up a door sweep at your local home improvement store. This is usually made with plastic and will attach itself to the bottom of your door, closing any gaps and keeping the cold air out.
The winter time can wreck major havoc on floors made of wood. Salt can stain and scratch it, while your indoor heating system can dry it out, which can lead to issues related to floorboard shrinkage and cracking.
When removing stains, avoid using harsh cleaning agents like vinegar. Instead, you can simply place rugs and mats in the areas of your home that receive the highest amount of traffic. You may also want to use a humidifier to not only prevent heat-related damage, but to lock moisture in the air as well. Salt stain removal can also be easily dealt with by routinely clean your floors by sweeping, dusting, and mopping.
We know that home maintenance is not always the most exciting thing to take part in. It’s time consuming and takes lots of effort, but we can assure you that the time you invest into taking care of your home will be worth it. By ticking off this winter maintenance checklist, you’ll protect your home and save on maintenance costs along the way.
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