As the lengthy winter months in Saskatchewan approach us, it is important to remember to protect your most valuable asset: your home. Christmas shopping, kids Christmas concerts, holiday parties and planning hot vacations will take away much more time than you would think and are definitely the more favorable things to do this winter season, so its in your best interest to get ahead on the housekeeping items. Preparation now will save you time later and help to avoid the last minute panic of winterizing your patio furniture, yard equipment and most importantly your home.

Neglecting to take winter home maintenance to heart can cost you lofty repair bills for issues such as: ice damming which can roof leaks and ruined shingles due to improper ventilation, seepage into the foundation of your home, which could also result in cracks in your foundation and may even cost you the structure of your home. Yet another potential misfortune; which would result in a massive bill is if you are faced with structural damage. In the event this deficiency creeps up, you may be required to complete bracing or a pony wall if it the deflection in your basement walls gets severe enough.

In many cases throughout Saskatchewan we must be cautioned to the inevitable risk movement within our soil being that it is a gumbo type clay along with tolerating extreme season changes which will instigate soil movement. So at the very least, find a way to prevent the water pooling near your home to prevent additional risk by ensuring a proper negative grade around your home.

Below is a list of chores to complete prior to winter as well as things to watch for once mother nature hits us with 40 below temperatures and the endless bouts of snowstorms.

  • Safety first! Repair steps and handrails to make them safer in the ice and snow.
  • Freezing temperatures can be especially damaging to your home’s water piping. Make sure your pipes are able to withstand a cold snap and remember to take extra precautions if you are planning on jet-setting off on your holiday.
  • Check for water leaks and fix problems immediately; wrap water piping in UL-Listed heat tape and insulate if it is exposed in unheated areas such as garages, crawl spaces or attics. Use only thermostatically-controlled heat tape if your water piping is plastic, and follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
  • Winterize your yard equipment and clean and cover patio sets and yard furniture, store in a dry place if possible to prolong the longevity of these items and prevent replacing them sooner than you anticipated. It is likely that between your yard equipment and new patio set you are looking at bills running in the thousands and it would be a shame to have ruined your belongings due to neglecting to store properly on an annual basis.
  • Replace furnace filters to keep your furnace running efficiently, you need to change the filters every three months. Keeping a dirty filter means your furnace has to work twice as hard to push out heat.
  • Check for cracked or worn stripping, and replace with new, more efficient stripping. If caulking is looking worn, remove it and re-caulk with an efficient, moisture-resistant product. This will help keep the cold from entering your home, which in turn helps to reduce your heating bill.
  • Take a close look around the exterior of your home and cover any and all gaps you find to avoid any critters or bugs from entering your home. Use caulk to seal small gaps near the foundation of your home, or around windows. A heavy-duty screen or hardware cloth works well to cover exterior vents, allowing air to escape but preventing critters from seeking warmth in your home.
  • Check grading around home to ensure it is on a negative slope away from the house
  • Clean out gutters and downspouts to make sure they are not clogged up
  • Blow out underground sprinkler system
  • Clean Your Chimney Built-up creosote inside the chimney can cause a house fire, so don’t fire-up that fireplace until the chimney has been cleaned of any debris, animals that have moved in, and creosote build-up. It’s good to have a professional chimney sweep come in to do this done once a year, and fall is the perfect time. You may also want to consider adding a chimney cap to prevent animal nests or homes from being constructed in your chimney in the future.
  • Shovel snow away from the foundation of your home, the key to preventing expensive foundation damage is to keep water away from your house. Since snow will eventually thaw and turn to water, you can prevent potential flooding and water damage by shoveling the snow away from your foundation. If keeping a “snow-free” moat around your house is a bit too much, consider shoveling snow away from areas more prone to water damage, such as basement windows and concrete steps.
  • Remove ice dams on low-pitched roof and gutters. If you decide to ignore ice dams on your roof or gutters come the spring you may find damage to roof shingles and water penetration into your foundation. Have the ventilation in your attic space evaluated by a professional to make sure you can take every measure to avoid ice damming
  • Remove snow and ice from external vents, blocking vents with ice can also cause damage to your roof, but the real danger is that it won’t allow your house to properly and effectively heat and cool. This will put pressure on your heating system and could lead to moisture problems (which can lead to mold or rot) in the home’s wooden structure.