Prepping Your House for the First Snow

With winter on its way, now is the time to do a good check-up on your home. Although the Old Farmer's Almanac is suggesting this winter may not be quite as cold as last year, there's no such thing as a warm, snow and sleet-free Canadian winter. What steps should you take to prepare your home and yard for winter? Keep reading to find out.

What should our pre-winter check-up include?

It isn't only airline pilots who use checklists to make sure they take off and land safely. Checklists can ensure success in many tasks, including winterizing your home. Here are the primary areas to put on your checklist before the first snowfall arrives:

  • Doors: If you don't have weather stripping, install it. Check existing weather stripping as well. If you find evidence of wear or gaps, replace it. Check door frames for any wear or cracking. Use caulking to close gaps. If you don't already have storm doors, consider installing them.
  • Windows: Inspect your windows closely. You can tell if you have any leaks by holding a piece of thin paper around the perimeter of the windows (like a strip of toilet tissue). If you can see movement, there's a gap and air is leaking. Repair any gaps in caulking or air stripping. If you have thermal windows, you can tell if their seal has been broken if you see condensation. You can usually replace seals without replacing the entire window.
  • Garage door: Make sure the mechanism is well-lubricated and door panels are sealed. Check for rust or slippage of any metal parts like hinges and rollers.
  • Pipes: Make sure your pipes are well insulated if they are anywhere near an exterior wall, an unheated part of your home, or under crawl spaces. Turn off your outdoor taps well before the expected first frost or snow. Disconnect any yard hoses from their hose bibs.
  • Roof and Eaves: Avoid ice damming by checking your eaves for any blockages. Make sure downspouts are clear and pointing down and away from your house foundation. Look for any missing shingles or other types of roof damage.

What things should we check for to prepare our yard and garden for winter?

Small problems can turn into huge ones after ice gets into cracks, freezes, and thaws. Look for any cracks in exterior paving or steps. Repair these quickly because ice can destroy walkways, driveways, porches, and decks.

Clear your garden and yard of debris. Drain pools, ponds, and birdbaths. Cover bare ground with mulch. Make sure you've trimmed your trees and keep any branches away from roofs and windows.

While you're checking, make sure your heating system is in good operating condition and your car is ready for the first snow.

As you complete your checklist for the first snowfall, don't forget to prepare for power outages or road blockages. Keep an emergency kit at home including a good flashlight, candles, water, and emergency food. A winter auto safety kit should include similar items along with emergency blankets and flares.

Your preparation will pay off throughout the winter and is likely to save you trouble by the time spring thaw arrives. Lastly, the changing seasons are a good reminder to give your entire home a bit of a tune-up, including shopping online for the cheapest home insurance.

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