Making sure your home is ready for the winter will cost you some time and sometimes a little money but it's always worth the effort.

When cold weather arrives, much of Canada becomes a picturesque winter wonderland. While the snow and ice can be beautiful, it can also be a real headache for homeowners. Keeping your home or condo snug and secure until spring means preparing before the cold weather starts.

Tackle Outside Maintenance First

The first step is ensuring the exterior of your home can stand up to winter weather conditions. Here are some things you can do to prepare:

  • Insulate exposed pipes. Insulating exterior pipes is a must when temperatures dip well below freezing. Foam insulation sleeves are an inexpensive fix to get the job done. Don’t forget to check outdoor faucets for leaks, and drain and detach garden hoses and outdoor sprinklers as well. If you live in a condo, your condo association may handle draining sprinkler systems.
     
  • Give your roof a once-over. Missing shingles could make your home vulnerable to leaks from melting snow or ice. Check all sections of your roof carefully for weak spots. Clear out any leaves or other debris from gutters to help prevent ice dams from forming. If you own a condo, regular maintenance and inspection duties should be managed by your condo board, but if you’re in doubt, double-check your contract to be sure.
     
  • When cold air and moisture creep into your attic during the winter, the result can be higher heating costs and/or water damage.

  • Insulate windows and doors. Weather stripping, caulking and insulating foam are inexpensive ways to seal cracks around windows and doors, either by yourself or by your condo’s maintenance crew. Insulating film can add an extra layer of protection to windows for homeowners. If you have a larger budget, consider installing storm windows and doors to keep heat in and moisture out.
     
  • Trim trees. The trees in your yard may be beautiful, but they can damage your home if branches break off in a storm. Trim back overgrown or dead branches and consider having dead trees removed altogether.
     
  • Service your heating system. Getting your heating system serviced in the fall can help keep it running smoothly and efficiently through the winter. If you also have a fireplace or wood-burning stove, have your chimney professionally inspected and cleaned if necessary.

Head Indoors

Once you’re done outside, turn your attention to winterizing the inside of your home:

  • Insulate your attic. When cold air and moisture creep into your attic during the winter, the result can be higher heating costs and/or water damage. Make sure none of your attic joists are exposed and if they are, consider covering them with foam or fiberfill insulation. Check before doing this if you live in a condo, as attics may be treated as common space. In that case, the condo association would be responsible for maintenance and insulation.
     
  • Do the same for the basement. If you have a basement, be sure to insulate exposed pipes and seal gaps around exposed duct work to prevent drafts or leaks. An easy way to check for those is holding a lit candle around doors and windows. If the flame flickers, you likely have a draft.
     
  • Consider installing a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat lets you set the temperature in your home or condo, according to a pre-set schedule or via a mobile app. You can set your app to automatically adjust and maintain an optimum temperature at all times, whether you’re home or away.
     
  • Replace furnace filters. This is a simple tip, but replacing furnace filters regularly can help keep your heating system working efficiently.

Winterizing your home may cost you a little time (and possibly money), and although it can be cost effective to do these things yourself, if you are ever uncomfortable or feel unsafe, be sure to contact a professional that can help. The effort can be well worth it to protect your investment!

To discuss your home insurance needs, contact an advisor today:

 

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.