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Prepare your house for winter

So you’re ready for winter…

 

     You’ve got your snow tires on and you’ve cleaned up and put all your patio furniture away, but what have you done to winterize and prepare your house? Your house is probably your biggest investment and therefore deserves a little of your attention. I’ve compiled 10 easy tips for you to help make sure your house is ready for Jack Frost and Old Man Winter.


     1. Clean out the gutters. Blocked gutter can cause ice to build up in you gutters and push them away from the house. Blocked gutters also cause something called ice-damming. This is a condition on your roof where snow melts on nice sunny days but has nowhere to drain and starts to back up under the shingles and can cause interior leaks and damage. Check the eaves troughs for leaks and holes and repair as needed. Holes can lead to large and dangerous icicles.


     2. Adjust and replace damaged downspouts. Downspouts can get damaged over the summer by children, pets and wayward lawnmowers. Make sure they are in good shape and are directed well away from your foundation. Water that is allowed to drain beside the foundation can cause water to freeze and apply pressure against your foundation and potentially cause cracks.


     3. Clean out your window wells. Leaves and newspapers that get blown around in the fall can accumulate in window wells and block the drain that is located just below the gravel. A blocked drain can cause water to leak through your windows into your basement.


     4. Turn off the outdoor water facet. You probably have a hose in your yard or garage. In very cold weather the water in the line supplying your hose can freeze and cause a pipe to burst inside the house. Make sure you shut the valve (usually located in your basement) that supplies any faucet that may be subjected to extreme cold. Don't forget to remove the hose and store it inside and leave the valve open.


     5. Check the attic. It’s a good idea especially in older homes to check to make sure your insulation has not be blown away in areas near the edge where the vents are. Bare spots of insulation will cause heat loss and hot-spots on the roof which will cause snow to melt and possibly backup under your shingles as well as cause icicles to form inside your attic.


     6. Do a visual inspection of your roof shingles from the ground. If you see any curled shingles, don’t wait to contact a roofing contractor to investigate immediately. Warn shingles can become loose and blow off in wind storms. Missing shingles can be very costly or impossible to replace in the middle of winter.


     7. Get your furnace inspected. It’s always a good idea to have your furnace serviced each year to ensure your family’s safety as well as to make sure that it is working as efficiently as possible. Make sure to change your furnace filter every 30 days during the heating months.


     8. Check windows and doors for air leaks. On a windy day, take an incense stick and hold it up to the edge of windows and door frames. Any air leaks should be corrected with caulking, or replacing doorsweeps.


     9. Fireplaces and woodstoves. If you have any woodburning stove or fireplace including pellets stoves, an annual inspection and professional cleaning are required by insurance companies. Even if you never use your fireplace it’s still a good idea to have the chimney inspected every year or two to make sure that it could potentially be used in case of an extended power outage in the middle of a winter storm.


     10. Check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure that the batteries are changed in spring and fall. Carbon monoxide detectors have an expiration date and must be replaced from time to time. Check your carbon monoxide detector for its best before date today.


     Mark Carruthers is a Registered Insurance Broker with Pioneer Insurance Brokers located in Kitchener, Ontario. mcarruthers@pioneerinsure.com

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