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Winter Protecting Your Home

The one thing we know about winter in Canada — it can be unpredictable. We may have some warmer weather, and relax a bit about getting through the winter months. But almost without warning, we can go into a deep freeze or experience a blizzard where the snow and ice piles up around our homes and places of business. 

It means the only way to manage the weather is to be prepared. Don’t let Canadian winter
cause damage to your home, or your car, and be ready to protect yourself as well as your pets from harsh conditions. 

Roofs – Excess ice formation on your roof can be a big problem. Ice builds up on the roof when escaping heat from the attic melts snow on the rooftop. This water collects on the edges of the roof and gutter system, then freezes. The cycle of melting and freezing creates a blockage of ice, called an ice dam, preventing water from flowing off the roof. (You can see this problem in the form of icicles.) Water then backs up and gets pushed under the shingles, soaking the underlayment and potentially causing water damage in the rooms below. 

If you’ve noticed these issues in the past, talk with a roofer to see what can be done, or arrange for a professional to remove the ice. A pro will know how to safely climb the roof and have the right tools and equipment to melt the ice quickly without further damage.

Water Pipes – A pipe that freezes, cracks, and bursts can release hundreds of gallons of water and create a very expensive home repair. Wrapping your pipes with inexpensive foam insulation is easy. Ask for the right materials at your local DIY store. Insulate or wrap exposed pipes such as those in the attic, garage and basement.  

Outside the house, the sprinklers and faucets should be drained and insulated against the cold at the end of fall or early winter. 

Furnace Systems – Regularly maintaining the heating system is the best way to keep your furnace working properly when you need it most. Maintenance should be done once a year by a licensed professional. Maintenance technicians are also trained to spot issues with the electrical system and potential hazards like carbon monoxide.

Check with your service company about how often to replace furnace filters. These keep out dust, pollen, pet hair, or debris that can restrict the air flow.

Clothes’ Dryers – Every year, fires ignite in clothes dryers resulting in damages, even deaths. The majority of those fires could have been prevented if the dryer vent system had simply been cleaned. 

Clean out the lint trap after every load. 2-3 times a year, you should detach the long vent tube that leads from the dryer to the exterior of the home and thoroughly clean it. 

Other preparations

  • Have salt and shovels ready at your side or back door.
  • Use protective “pet” footwear if you’re walking a dog on salted sidewalks.
  • Keep a blanket, shovel, flashlight and extra anti-freeze in your car, as part of your winter emergency kit.