Old Man Winter has reared his ice-cold head in Canada, and you may have prepared your home prior to the winter season, but have you enforced winter home maintenance? Given the low temperatures and unpredictable weather, maintaining your home is vital. In this article, isure has compiled a list of major tips and possible hazards to look out  for to upkeep your home(s) in the winter months. 

1. Shovel and salt your driveways and sidewalks 

One of the easiest ways to maintain your home in the winter and to keep safe is clearing your driveway and sidewalk of any ice and snow. During lockdown and work-from-home restrictions, it is still important to shovel your driveway in case of an emergency, avoiding any slip-and-fall injuries when possible. Even for simple errands such as groceries, it is easier to move around when your driveway is clean and shoveled. Similarly, ensuring your driveway or any surrounding sidewalks are salted is an easy way to prevent any accidents (and possible lawsuits!) It is important to get fresh air while working from home, and one of the easiest ways to get outside is by going for walks. If the sidewalk surrounding your home isn’t shoveled or salted, it can not only be dangerous for you and your family, but also for neighbours and others walking by. There are many cost-effective and durable snow shovels that can be easily purchased, both online and for curbside pickup, such as these selections at Canadian Tire. Added bonus: they sell salt!

 2. Remove excess snow from the roof, if possible 

This tip for winter home maintenance specifically applies to homes (or commercial buildings) with a flat roof, but is also an important reminder for those with slanted roofs on their homes. Especially after a large snowstorm, leaving excess snow on the roof of your home can be dangerous. Why? It can lead to the roof collapsing from the added weight. isure tip: one of the easiest ways to remove excess snow from your roof is by using a snow rake. This method works particularly well for pitched roofs; for any flat roofs, only remove snow yourself if the house is one level. Otherwise, we recommend hiring a professional to get the job done.  

3. Maintain your furnace pipes 

Due to the often extreme-cold temperatures in Canada, it is common for furnace pipes to freeze up. This is a huge issue, as it can cause the pipes to malfunction or burst which results in extreme property damage. Specifically, pipes located in unheated interior spaces, such as attics, garages and basements, are most at risk. Depending on the locations of pipes in your home, there are a few easy ways to ensure this element of winter home maintenance. If any pipes (specifically water supply lines) are located in your garage, ensure your garage doors are closed whenever possible. This will keep heat inside the space, lowering the chances of any freezing on or inside the pipes. Similarly, opening kitchen and bathroom cabinets will also help circulate warm air onto pipes. And if you and your family plan on leaving your home for an extended period of time, such as going up to the cottage for the weekend, make sure to leave the heat on in your home. If you find pipes in your home that have already frozen over, here are three steps you can use to address the issue:  

  1. Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer or a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials). Additionally, you can wrap pipes with towels soaked in hot water. As tempting as it may be, do not use a blowtorch, a kerosene or propane heater, a charcoal stove or any device with an open flame; the high heat can damage the pipes or even start a fire. 
  2. Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. Check all other faucets in your home to see whether you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too. 
  3. Call a licensed plumber if you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible or if you cannot thaw the pipe. 

4. Beware of ice dams 

Another important winter home maintenance tip to keep in mind is ice dams. Ice dams are small humps of ice that form at the edge of a roof during extreme winter temperatures. They are most commonly caused by poor insulation surrounding the roof. When temperatures begin to increase, ensuring eaves troughs surrounding the roof are cleaned is one of the easiest ways to maintain cleanliness and to prevent ice dams from forming in the future. Below are three main measures to take in order to prevent ice dams from forming and to cure pre-existing dams: 

  1. Seal all points where warm air leaks from the living space into the spaces immediately below the roof sheathing.
  2. Insulate the living space well enough to prevent conduction and convection of heat through the ceiling.
  3. Vent the space between the insulation and roof sheathing, so any heat that does leak through is carried away.

5. Keep the heat on and turn water off

As mentioned before, if you have a cottage or plan on being away from your home for an extended period of time, be sure to keep the heat on and turn water off to prevent any freezing pipes.

We hope that these tips will help keep your home safe and maintained during the colder season! As always, if you have any issues or home insurance claims, contact your isure broker for assistance or more information.

 

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