Severe weather elements can put a strain on the outside of your home. Getting it ready for winter can help avoid costly repairs and could indirectly keep your insurance premiums low.
“There are a few simple steps that homeowners can take to prepare their homes for winter,” advises Tracy Laughlin, Vice President, Personal Lines, Ontario and Atlantic at Intact Insurance. “Making sure you’ve done everything you can to protect your home can save you money and potential damage.”
Here are some of Laughlin’s favourite home maintenance tips to help you make the best of winter without having to worry about your home.
1. Clear gutters, roof, and drains.
Having to fix your roof in the winter will lead to higher costs than it would in the summer. Inspect your roof for shingles that are warped, damaged or even missing to avoid an unwanted leak. Make sure your gutters and downspouts are securely fastened and that drainage is being led at least five feet away from the house to prevent flooding. It’s also important to drain and shut off exterior faucets and sprinkler systems to prevent freezing and make sure snow melts will drain away from your house. Proper insulation can also prevent ice damming in the winter.
2. Seal them up.
Water damage is the leading cause of home insurance claims in Canada. Before winter, check your windows and doorframes for air leaks, possible water leaks, and signs of damaged, weakened, or rotted wood. Seal all cracks. And don’t forget your storm windows and loose screens, repairing or replacing as necessary.
3. Check your cooling and ventilation air systems.
Examine any fireplaces and chimney systems to ensure no debris has collected. Any cracks or voids could potentially cause a fire. Change the filters on your furnace and make sure your humidifier works. Clean air is essential to good health, since problems with air quality can also lead to mold.
4. Trim trees.
Damage to homes from overgrown trees is one of the most commonly overlooked problems in Canadian winters. In fall, trim overgrown trees and shrubs to prevent ice-covered branches from thrashing against your home’s exterior. Remind your neighbours to do the same — falling branches from a neighbour’s yard could damage your home and put you both in a sticky situation.