Winter can be a particularly tough season for
a home. And since wind, snow and ice don’t distinguish between old or new
houses, avoid the trap of thinking that your new home is somehow exempt from
needing regular maintenance, especially from a harsh Ontario winter.
All new homes in Ontario come with a builders’
warranty that lasts up to seven years from the date of possession. That warranty is guaranteed by Tarion. To
help protect your warranty rights, it is important to conduct regular home
maintenance year-round. If a maintenance routine is not followed, regular wear
and tear on your home can cause damage that may not be covered by your
One big consideration in winter is fluctuating
temperatures that can sometimes lead to a build-up of roof ice – called ice
damming – as well as potentially dangerous icicles. This can occur when the
roof surface is warm enough to melt the snow, but the surrounding air
temperature is cold enough to re-freeze the melted water – the result is ice
formations on roofs (watch our video on ice damming).
Areas to observe are roof valleys, dormers,
skylights and roof over-hangs. Regular
freeze and thaw cycles, especially in these areas, can eventually lead to water
seeping inside the home. Where it can be done safely, clearing roof ice and
snow can help reduce the likelihood of future water leaks.
Other important outdoor maintenance tasks
include: ensuring that all air intakes, exhausts and meters are clear of snow;
cleaning gutters and washing out all debris; and turning off and draining
exterior hoses and pipes.
Inside your home, managing moisture is
particularly important during the winter months (watch our video on controlling moisture).
Today’s new energy-efficient homes are
built to better seal out the elements. However, this can lead to excess
moisture in your home if water does penetrate, and if ignored, could cause
considerable damage to your new home and even promote unhealthy indoor air
In fact, too much or too little moisture
can result in damage that may not be covered by the statutory warranty.
A key indicator of a healthy indoor
environment is the humidity level in your home, and you can check this by using
a hygrometer. The healthy range during the winter is 30 to 45 per cent
If you have low humidity in your home, your
interior finishes may be affected and wood products may shrink. So, if your
home’s humidity levels are lower than 30 percent, installing a portable
humidifier should help bring up the humidity levels.
Excess moisture, on the other hand, can be caused
by simple, day-to-day tasks such as showering, cooking and doing laundry.
Proper ventilation, therefore, is key to keeping your home in good condition.
Make sure that bathroom fans, kitchen range
hoods and ventilators, such as heat recovery ventilators – items that are specifically
installed in your new home – are in good working order to help you control
Other indoor maintenance during the winter
months should include: cleaning or replacing your furnace filter on a regular
basis; cleaning the heat recovery ventilator and washing or replacing the
filter; and checking all caulking and weather stripping around windows and
Owning a new home comes with a
responsibility to manage and maintain that home. By conducting regular and
proper maintenance, you will help to ensure that your statutory warranty rights
are protected, and your home stays in good condition.
For a comprehensive checklist of seasonal
maintenance tips, visit Maintaining Your New Home.