Winter is harsh in Alberta with extreme cold, temperature swings, wind, snow, ice, and thaw and freeze cycles. Your home endures a lot! Here are some winter home maintenance tips for Alberta homeowners:
- Keep on top of snow removal
- Keep gutters and drainage clear
- Knock snow off trees if it’s heavy
- Place mats by doors
- Check your furnace
- Clean your fireplace
- Check fire and carbon monoxide alarms
- Prevent frozen pipes
- Stop cold air from entering your home
- Keep an eye out for pests
Hopefully these tips will help keep your home warm and dry this winter.
Keep on Top of Snow Removal
It’s important to stay on top of snow removal for a few reasons:
- Prevent slips and falls
- Manage meltwater come spring
- Reduce the chance of ice dams
You should remove snow from sidewalks and avoid piling it by your foundation. You may also need to remove snow from your roof if it is heavy or there is an ice dam developing. After shovelling (or snow-blowing) you may want to lay down some grit to give grip to the surface or use an environmentally- and pet-friendly de-icer to get rid of ice.
Keep Gutters and Drainage Clear
Keeping your gutters and drainage systems clear helps them function the way they’re supposed to. A blocked eaves won’t drain properly. The water and ice can cause damage to your home.
Make sure you’re draining water well away from your home and not onto a sidewalk as that can be a fall hazard.
Knock Snow off Trees
If there’s a heavy snowfall you may want to knock the snow off your tree branches to prevent them from breaking. This is especially true if we get a wet Alberta spring snowfall or significant accumulation.
Place Mats by Doors
Place anti-slip mats by entrances to your home to collect moisture, protect your flooring, and prevent slips and falls.
Check Your Furnace
Your furnace should ideally be checked before winter to take care of any issues before it gets too cold. But you’ll still want to check your furnace regularly over the cold season to catch problems early, especially if your furnace is older. The last thing you want is a broken furnace during a cold snap! Keep an eye out for:
- High carbon monoxide levels
- Unexplained high utility bills
- Strange noises
- Poor temperature control
- Pilot flame changes (it should be a steady, bright blue flame)
All of the above indicate there’s an issue with your furnace.
A furnace can last 15 to 20 years – or even longer with the proper maintenance. A gas furnace should be serviced at least once every three years and air filters changed at least twice a year. Don’t forget to keep vents clear of debris and snow!
Clean Your Fireplace
You should clean your fireplace at least once per year – and yes, that includes gas fireplaces, too. Cleaning the fireplace removes all kinds of hazards such as debris and soot and generally comes with an inspection. This can find problems early and help prevent fires.
Check Fire and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
It’s important to regularly check your fire alarm and carbon monoxide alarm – and if you don’t have the latter, you should invest in one.
Test the alarm and if the sound is weak or there is an indicator saying to switch out the batteries, do so. These alarms save lives!
Prevent Frozen Pipes
Frozen pipes often lead to burst pipes which can cause significant damage to your home. Luckily, frozen pipes are preventable. It’s important to keep your home heated, seal any cracks or holes, and ensure your pipes are properly insulated.
If the temperature does drop or your heat goes out, you can prevent frozen pipes by turning faucets to drip or trickle. If you’re very concerned, you can also turn your water off and drain your pipes until the issue is fixed.
Stop Cold Air from Entering Your Home
Cold air can contribute to frozen pipes, raise your heating bill, and indicate there’s a hole in your home that can allow water and animals to get through. Check your home for cracks and holes including the foundation, siding, roof, and window and door caulking. You may need to do some basic repairs or call in a professional.
Keep an Eye Out for Pests
Pests may try to survive Alberta’s harsh winter by finding refuge in your home. Check your attic, garage, and basement for pests. Damage caused by insects, rodents, animals and other pests is not covered by insurance, so it’s important to stay on top of pest management.