Yet another Canadian summer has gone by, and it’s already time to get ready for the long, chilly winter to come. Don’t wait until the snow rolls in to prepare – take care of these essential home maintenance tasks before the last leaf hits the ground.
Check Safety Devices
It’s never a bad time to inspect your smoke and carbon monoxide detector, but it’s especially important to do so in the fall. You’ll be switching on the furnace and lighting the fireplace in the next few months, so make sure you’re protected in case of trouble. Replace batteries and test your devices to make sure they’re in good working order.
Have Your Furnace Inspected
Your furnace has been sitting dormant for the last few months, so now is the time to get it back up and running. You don’t want to wait until the cold weather hits to discover you have a problem. HVAC companies are flooded with calls at the start of each winter, and you may have to wait in line or pay a premium if you need service right away. Instead, call the pros now and have them test for leaks, check the efficiency of your furnace, and replace the air filter.
While you’re at it, it’s time to put away the air conditioner for another year. If you have a window unit, remove it and put it somewhere safe and dry until spring, and cover outdoor units to protect them from the incoming weather.
Drain outdoor faucets
You won’t be doing much gardening or car-washing this winter, so it’s best to drain out your outside taps. Shutting them off isn’t enough, as there may be leftover water in the pipes that could freeze and burst when it goes below zero. All outdoor faucets have an indoor shutoff valve, usually located on the wall of your basement where the pipe exits the house. Shut it off, then open the outside faucet to let it drain completely before turning it back into the off position.
Caulk Windows and Doors
Gaps and cracks in windows, doors, and other opening are one of the biggest sources of heat loss in the winter. To keep your heating bill from rising, do a check of the perimeter and caulk over any gaps you see between windows, doors, vents, exhaust fans, and any cables or pipes running outside the house (including the above-mentioned tap.)
If you feel a draft coming in, but you can’t spot a hole, there’s an easy way to check. Light a candle and hold it to the cold spot; if the candle flickers, you’ve got a gap. You can also identify small gaps with the help of a professional energy auditor.
Clean Eaves and Downspouts
It’s a messy job, but not as messy as dealing with the potential consequences of neglecting your eavestrough. When the channel gets clogged with leaves and debris, water can build up on your roof and seep into the house. The problem gets worse when winter rolls around, as the debris forms an ‘ice dam’ and causes snow to build up.
Once the trees are mostly done losing their leaves, climb up and remove as much of the debris as you can. Be sure to wear safety gloves, and always use safety equipment to prevent falls. If you’re not confident or you lack the necessary equipment, hire a professional to do the job for you.