Taking time to prepare your home for the Nova Scotia winter ahead will help ensure you avoid costly damages that can come from low temperatures, heavy snowfalls, and high winds. By having home insurance and performing these simple maintenance tips, you’ll be better able to ensure that Old Man Winter stays out and you and your family stay safe and toasty warm inside your home.
1. Yard Clean-Up
Trim back any dead branches that could break off under the weight of snow and ice. These can damage your home or injure someone if they fall. Clear your gutters of leaves and other debris to make sure melted snow can drain properly. Ensure that water can flow freely through the downspouts and that they are directed away from the foundation of your home to avoid damage.
2. Organize Your Garage
Just as you would conduct a spring cleaning, consider scheduling a traditional ‘fall cleaning’ of your garage. Sort through the remains of summer projects and clean and store away gardening tools. Things like the lawn-mower, rakes and summer toys can be put away, and any winter necessities like shovels, snow blowers, skis and snowshoes can be brought to the front. Set out salt and gravel containers, and you’ll thank yourself the first time the ice hits.
3. Cover Up Exposed Water Pipes
Nothing makes water pipes more vulnerable to damage quite like freezing temperatures do. Make sure your pipes are prepared to withstand the cold by fitting bare piping with insulation sleeves. Exposed pipes can be found in garages, crawl spaces, and attics. Be sure to take extra precautions (such as shutting off your water), if you are going to be leaving your home for an extended period of time.
4. Schedule Maintenance for Your Heating System
Whether you have a heat pump, furnace, boiler or a wood stove, don’t wait for the temperature to drop to discover your system needs repairs. Now is the time to schedule a furnace inspection to ensure everything is working properly throughout the cold winter months.
5. Check Insulation and Seal Windows
Take time to inspect and upgrade insulation and weather stripping. Attics tend to have the least insulation, making them more susceptible to damage from low temperatures. Check for signs of moisture or wetness and replace insulation where needed.
To further protect your home, consider sealing the windows to keep the warmth in and lower your energy bills, as even double and triple paned glass can let a draft in. Purchase a film sealing kit and caulk the cracks and apply the plastic film around the inside of each window.
6. Prepare the Fireplace
If your home has a fireplace, now is the time to get it ready for winter use. Inspect the outside of the chimney for cracks or gaps in the bricks. Use a flashlight and check the inside for signs of animal infestation or cracked bricks. Consider having your chimney checked and serviced by a licensed contractor to ensure a fire can be safely lit in the fireplace.
7. Check the Fire Alarm
Fires in the home occur most frequently in the winter time. Be sure to replace the alarms every 10 years and replace batteries regularly. Remember that you need working smoke alarms on every storey of your home and outside all sleeping areas.
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