After the winter that Vancouver Island experienced last year, are any of us really ready for what may visit us this season? Many of us don’t really notice the seasons are changing. We talk about how the air is crisp and how we are switching our wardrobes to thicker sweaters and coats, but we never really think about winterizing our homes. It just takes a few telephone calls and a quick inspection of your property for you to potentially save thousands of dollars in leaky roofs, frozen pipes, and a sluggish furnace. To help you get ready for the winter season, here are some of the things to do around the house before the icy coldness sets in:
Remove Garden Hoses From Faucets
This is something that is so simple, yet so many of us wait too long to remove the hoses from the faucets. Vancouver Island does tend to have milder winters than most Canadian provinces, so why should we care about winterization. If you think back to last year when those freezing temperatures lasted weeks, that would be enough to freeze your hose and crack your pipes. This would cause flooding that may lead to thousands of dollars of damage. Detach your hose from the house faucet, turn off the outside water taps, and drain the water from your hose. It will take no more than a few minutes!
Drain Your Sprinkler System
If you have a sprinkler system in your backyard, then this will also have to be drained before the winter cold creeps in. There should be instructions on how to drain your system with the unit itself, but many people rely on an irrigation professional to blow out the system with compressed air. This may cost you $100 or so depending on the system, but it is well worth it to ensure all the water is drained. The irrigation professional will also check all of your sprinkler heads to ensure they are not broken.
Clean Your Gutters
In the lush, wondrous climate that is Vancouver Island, we are so fortunate to have incredible trees that provide us shade in those hot summer months. However, with this “gift” comes the falling of all those leaves, sticks and debris! Over time these items collect in your gutters causing blockages. The clogging of gutters can cause ice dams, which can lead to expensive repairs. If you are good on a ladder, you can climb up and clean the gutters yourself. If not, have a professional come in and do all the work for you. It is not that expensive and will save in the long run.
Get Your Roof Inspected
Inspecting your roof is something you don’t need to have done each year. However, it is important to have a professional come out every few years to ensure that there are no leaks. One recommendation from many roofers is to get some binoculars and inspect your roof from across the street or from standing on a ladder. This takes no time at all and here are some of the warning signs to look for:
- Are the shingles buckled, missing, or cracked?
- Are there any rust spots on the flashing?
- Are any shingles loose, missing, or damaged?
For anyone of these signs, a roofing specialist should be called out to your home to do a proper inspection. It may cost $100 for the inspection, but it will be worth it to prevent major damage in the future.
Check Your Furnace
You don’t want the temperature to plummet and then find out that your furnace is not working! Annual maintenance is a must as you head into the winter season. If you speak to a professional they may offer an annual maintenance package that will cut the over cost of paying for separate visits. On top of the maintenance, you should also keep space furnace filters on hand and make sure to change them at the start of each season.
Give Your Fireplace a Once-Over
Many of the newer homes have gas fireplaces, so this applies to all the homeowners with wood burning fireplaces. You can easily grab a flashlight and take a look up the flue for the following things:
- Make sure the damper opens and closes properly
- When the damper is open look up to see it’s free of birds’ nests, sticks, and leaves, or anything else blocking the flue
- Make sure you see light as you look up the flue
- If there is heavy creosote buildup – call a professional chimney sweep to clean it for you
Don’t Forget About Your Sidewalks
If we think back to last winter, we all remember the treacherous icy driveways and sidewalks. Once the shudder has fully gone up and down your spine, dash to the grocery store and get some road salt to keep in case icy conditions rear their ugly head! Even though many community fire halls keep salt on hand, in extreme conditions they may run out. Keeping salt on hand protects you and your neighbours from slipping and falling this winter season!