Winter is Coming - How to Prepare Your Home for Cold Weather.

As the season slowly shifts from fall to winter, taking the time to prepare your home for cooler months is highly recommended. Proactive home maintenance can thwart unwanted disruption from unexpected bills and weather-related problems. Below are six areas of your home that should be considered when preparing your home for winter.

For those ready to enjoy a true wood burning fireplace, having the chimney inspected before lighting it for the first time is always a good idea. Inspections can be done once a year and often signal the need for cleaning. Blockages accumulate in the form of soot and creosote. While soot can impact the performance of the fireplace, creosote is highly flammable and may lead to a chimney fire. Find a reputable chimney sweep to inspect and clean your fireplace.

Furnaces left unserviced are often those that quit working in the dead of winter. It is recommended to service a furnace annually. Preventing both health risks (like carbon monoxide leakages) and other malfunctions, furnace servicing would be irresponsible to ignore. A servicing might include ensuring the thermostats are working, looking for leaks, checking electrical connections, lubricating parts, and changing filters. Opting to service your furnace annually is an inexpensive endeavour when compared to the cost of the emergency services and living in the discomfort of the cold.

Hoses & pipes
Any garden hoses or pipes that surround the exterior of your home including those in the yard, should be drained of any water. Water sitting in hoses or pipes will freeze and expand causing disruptive and frustrating cracks including the potential for serious water damage. Consider storing garden hoses inside after draining them.

Sprinkler systems
Similarly to hoses and pipes, sprinkler systems (including irrigation pipes and sprinkler heads) can shatter and burst when temperatures start to drop below freezing. Landscaping and irrigation companies offer ‘blow-out’ services to clean your sprinkler system of any unwanted water. During a blowout, they will clear the irrigation lines, remove the backflow preventer and valves, protect the sprinkler pump and unplug the timer.

Rather than checking gutters and downspouts once in preparation for fall/winter, it is helpful to check on them regularly. Gutters and downspouts are responsible for diverting thousands of gallons of water away from the exterior and foundation of your home. During fall/winter leaves and debris fall off surrounding trees clogging gutters and wreaking havoc on your drainage system. Uncleared gutters can lead to serious exterior damage to your home including water ingress. Rust and corrosion are also possible when gutters are left unchecked.

Windows and Doors
To save energy, heat, and money, walk around your home to inspect the caulking on windows and doors. Check areas where masonry meets siding around doors and windows. Caulking should be present and free of cracks. When cracking is detected consider adding fresh caulking. Aside from keeping you warm, well-sealed windows and doors also eliminate the likelihood of mold. Seasonal home maintenance is similar to car maintenance. When ignored, the cost and disruption of putting off simple maintenance will balloon into unnecessary costly bills and frustrating life disruptions. Consider adding this checklist to your calendar and making this part of your annual winter prep routine.

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