Is your home win­ter ready?

A 5-point check­list that could pre­vent some costly re­pairs

The Southern Gazette - - Saltwire Homes - Patti Ross REAL Ad­vice

Cooler evenings re­mind us that fall is just around the cor­ner — and win­ter is quickly ap­proach­ing. Fall is the per­fect time to tackle ex­te­rior main­te­nance projects be­fore the tem­per­a­ture drops and the first snow flies. The fol­low­ing tips can help en­sure your home is well pre­pared to han­dle the cold, snow, rain and ice that win­ter brings.

Tackle ex­te­rior re­pairs

Take a walk around your prop­erty and do a thor­ough vis­ual in­spec­tion of the roof, sid­ing and foun­da­tion. Re­pair any dam­aged or miss­ing roof shin­gles. If there is sig­nif­i­cant dam­age, con­sider re­plac­ing all the roof shin­gles. Your roof is your pri­mary de­fence from the el­e­ments and worth the at­ten­tion. Seal up any holes or cracks in the foun­da­tion to pre­vent any water pen­e­tra­tion. En­sure that the ground around your home slopes away from the foun­da­tion wall as well, so that water does not find its way into your base­ment.

Caulk­ing is an in­ex­pen­sive home main­te­nance re­pair that can be tack­led by home­own­ers to pre­vent both heat loss and water pen­e­tra­tion. Be sure that the caulk­ing around your win­dows and doors is in good re­pair. It can dry and crack over the years when ex­posed to the el­e­ments. Caulk where pipes or wires en­ter the house. Check all the win­dows and doors to en­sure they close tightly, re­pair and re­place weath­er­strip­ping if re­quired. Don’t for­get about the garage door ei­ther. Weather strip­ping pro­vides a good seal be­tween the garage door and the ground to pre­vent drafts and keep out un­wanted crit­ters.

Clean gut­ters and down­spouts

Clear your gut­ters and down­spouts of all leaves and de­bris. Con­sider in­stalling gut­ter guards to make the job even eas­ier for next year. Seal joints and re­pair brack­ets, as nec­es­sary. Flush water through down­spouts to en­sure proper drainage. En­sure that down­spouts di­rect water away from your foun­da­tion, be­ing care­ful not to di­rect it at your neigh­bour. Keep­ing gut­ters free from clogs will en­sure that water does not pool and cause dam­age to the gut­ters, roof or sid­ing. Clogged gut­ters are one of the main causes of ice damming. If you are not com­fort­able get­ting on a lad­der to in­spect and do re­pairs, hire a qual­i­fied pro­fes­sional for the job.

Shut off water to ex­te­rior faucets

To pre­vent ex­te­rior water pipes from freez­ing when the tem­per­a­tures dip be­low freez­ing, turn off valves to all ex­te­rior faucets. Run the water to com­pletely drain the pipes. Water left in ex­te­rior faucets and pipes can freeze and ex­pand, caus­ing the pipes to crack and pos­si­bly cause flood­ing. Drain and re­move gar­den hoses and store in­side, if pos­si­ble.

Ser­vice fur­nace or heat­ing sys­tems

En­sure that your fur­nace or boiler is ser­viced an­nu­ally, or as rec­om­mended by the man­u­fac­turer and that it’s done by a qual­i­fied pro­fes­sional. Heat­ing sys­tems will use fuel more ef­fi­ciently, last longer and have fewer prob­lems if prop­erly ser­viced. Bleed air from hot water ra­di­a­tors.

Check chimneys for ob­struc­tions such as nests be­fore turn­ing on your fur­nace. Check and clean or re­place fur­nace air fil­ters each month dur­ing the heat­ing sea­son. Ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem fil­ters, such as heat re­cov­ery ven­ti­la­tors, should be checked ev­ery two months. If you burn wood, have the chim­ney in­spected, cleaned and re­paired, if nec­es­sary, be­fore light­ing that first fire of the sea­son.

Check car­bon monox­ide

and smoke de­tec­tors

It is a good habit to test car­bon monox­ide and smoke de­tec­tors ev­ery six months. An easy way to re­mem­ber to do this is to make it part of your spring or fall main­te­nance sched­ule or dur­ing day­light sav­ing time when you’re turn­ing your clocks back or for­ward. Re­place old bat­ter­ies with brand new ones that have never been used. Also, it is a good prac­tice to have back-up bat­ter­ies on hand at all times. Check the ex­piry dates on car­bon monox­ide de­tec­tors, smoke de­tec­tors and fire ex­tin­guish­ers and re­place them if nec­es­sary. The typ­i­cal life span of smoke de­tec­tors and fire ex­tin­guish­ers is eight to 10 years and just five years for car­bon monox­ide de­tec­tors (some in­di­vid­ual alarm test­ing can sug­gest even ear­lier re­place­ment). Many car­bon monox­ide and smoke de­tec­tors have an end of life mode to alert. It is im­por­tant to note that your car­bon monox­ide de­tec­tor will not de­tect car­bon monox­ide when it is in end of life mode, so the best prac­tice is to change it be­fore the ex­piry date.

Fall is also a great time to test your home for radon gas. As the weather cools and we keep our win­dows and doors closed, radon can be­come trapped in­side our homes. Radon can have harm­ful health ef­fects if lev­els in our homes get too high. Do-it-your­self radon kits can be pur­chased at hard­ware stores and on­line from the Lung As­so­ci­a­tion. Or you can hire a pro­fes­sional to con­duct this test, just en­sure it’s the long term test. If lev­els are higher than the na­tional ac­cept­able level, it can be suc­cess­fully re­me­di­ated by a qual­i­fied pro­fes­sional.

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