Now that kids have settled back into school and the days are shorter, it's time to think about getting your home ready for winter.
Whether it’s a new or older home “it’s important to keep up regular maintenance not only as a way to protect your investment, but also to ensure energy efficiency and avoid major maintenance problems that can prove costly later on,” says Murray Danyluk, marketing and communications manager for Stepper Custom Homes.
“There are many things you can do, both inside and outside of the home, to get ready for winter, and you can involve the whole family in various tasks to make it less of a chore,” he says.
Outside of the home, encourage the young ones to pick up and store away their outdoor recreational toys. Depending on their age, they can also help mom put away, or throw covers over, the garden furniture, while dad clears the gutters of debris and checks both the gutters and downspouts to ensure there are no obstructions.
“The kids can help here, too, making sure the downspouts are down for the winter so that during our usual freeze and melt cycles, the water will drain away from the foundation,” Danyluk says. “And, while dad’s up on the ladder checking the gutters, it’s a perfect time for the family to pull out the Christmas lights and hang them.”
Youngsters can assist with draining the hoses so they can be used again in the spring, while mom and dad are busy shutting off the outside tap and draining the hose bib and the rain barrels. “It’s really important to drain the water and turn off the shut-off valve inside because undrained water can freeze, causing the pipe to burst and flood the basement.”
Some other simple outdoor tasks include checking to see if exhaust ducts are clear, pruning trees and shrubs, washing windows and checking outdoor plugs to make sure they are working. “A lot of homes have GFI exterior plugs and we get calls from people saying they’re not working,” Danyluk says, noting the solution is simple: “push the test button and then the reset button, you should hear a click, which will indicate it’s working, or you can simply plug in a hairdryer to make sure it’s working.”
Heading inside, chores can easily be split to lessen the burden. The kids can pick up toys in their room and dust the furniture, while parents tackle other jobs such as checking the weather stripping on the exterior doors, ensuring smoke and carbon dioxide alarms are working, removing the window air conditioning unit and vacuuming the grills and inside air ducts. If you have a fireplace, check to ensure the chimney is clear of obstructions, and it’s a good time to set your programmable thermostat.
“It’s important to prepare your house for the different conditions we have in the winter,” he says. “The temperature and humidity, the expansion and contraction of materials, all have an impact on your home. Doing a few small things inside the home can save you money on your energy bills, such as changing the furnace filter and cleaning the humidifier and heat recovery ventilator filters.
“You need to watch your humidity level in the home because if it’s too high and the temperature drops to -20 C outside, you can get ice buildup on the bottom of your windows. When the temperature rises, that ice will melt and the water can damage the window casing and drip onto the hardwood floor, which, when it dries, can cause cracking,” Danyluk says.
To prevent this, keep the humidity level low, he says, and open the drapes during the day so warm, moist air isn’t trapped against the window.
He also suggests leaving the furnace fan on rather than in the automatic setting. “This allows proper air flow and it will balance the temperature throughout the home.”For more information, contact Stepper Custom Homes at 403-250-1033 or visit stepperhomes.com and at facebook.com/stepperhomes.
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