Winter’s coming, and with it, plunging temperatures. As you prepare to pump the heat, and drive any distance, it’s important to protect your home from potential damage and yourself from winter hazards. These simple tasks will help you stay warm, safe and energy-conscious this winter.
Is your heating system ready to weather the winter? Have a professional check your heating system and ensure it’s in good working order before you turn it on. Make sure you’ve changed the filters.
Wood Burning Fireplaces
Before getting chestnuts ready for the roasting, get your fireplace set for the fire. Check inside for build-up, bird’s or squirrel’s nests or cracks. Check outside for broken bricks and crumbling mortar. Make sure that the damper opens and closes tightly. Clear out the ashes, and stock up on wood and kindling.
Note: You should also have your chimney professionally cleaned every other year (more often if you burn a lot of fires).
Seal Drafty Windows
First, caulk the cracks. Sold in temporary or permanent form, caulking is inexpensive and easy to apply. If you can tell that your windows are letting in cold, consider thermal blinds, or cover your windows in a thin plastic film (available at any hardware store). You also can do both!
Clear Out the Gutters
Clogged gutters block the drainage of rain and melting snow, resulting in household leaks, damage to the foundation and dangerous icicles. Remove the “guck” that’s accumulated: twigs, leaves and dirt. Check that the downpipes are clear of obstruction and then ensure the entire system is un-clogged and leak-free by running water through it.
Prepare for Winter Storms
Keep a fully-stocked emergency kit. Include batteries, a flashlight, candles, matches and a lighter; warm clothes and blankets; a battery-powered radio; non-perishable food items and water (two litres per adult per day); a first-aid kit and specialty products like medicine, baby formula and pet food (if necessary). Store at least three days’ worth of supplies for everyone in your household.
Pad Your Pipes
Buy some tubular pipe insulation sleeves from your local hardware store and cover exposed pipes in unheated areas, such as a basement, attic, crawl space or cabinet. Remember all parts, including bends and joints. Seal the seams with duct tape.
Slippery roads and decreased visibility can make driving in Canadian winters a challenge. Get prepared by following a few simple tips:
- Get winter tires!
- Check tires and tire pressure at least once a month and remember that tire air pressure decreases in colder weather.
- Top-up windshield fluid and replace wiper blades that streak. Keep enough windshield washer fluid in the reservoir (plus an extra jug in your car) and make sure it is rated in the -40C temperature range. Keep the gas tank topped up.
- Get an emergency car kit and make sure that safety and emergency winter equipment is always stored in your car.