Everyone recognizes the value of spring clean-up in and around your home. After a long winter, it’s good to take stock of how well your home stood up to wintry blasts of cold, ice and snow and to fix or adjust anything that was affected by the weather.
But it’s just as important to prepare your home for winter before inclement weather arrives. In fact, it’s important to make maintenance a year-round habit – even if you own a brand new home.
All new homes in Ontario come with a warranty provided by the builder and guaranteed by Tarion Warranty Corporation. This warranty lasts up to seven years from the date of first possession and covers a lot of things inside and out, from defects in workmanship to major structural defects.
But did you know that lack of maintenance can affect your warranty? If issues arise in your home in those first seven years that can be traced back to a lack of proper maintenance, they won’t be covered. That’s why you should maintain your home year-round.
The time to prepare for winter is in the fall, and there are all kinds of things you can do to keep your new home healthy and to ensure that your warranty rights are protected.
The first place to start is outside your home. Take a wander around outside and check out all of your windows and doors for any cracks or separations around the frames. If you see any damage, get out the caulking gun and apply caulking to those areas. This will prevent water penetration or heat loss.
Second story windows can be a challenge. Not comfortable on a ladder? Try taking digital photos of the windows and then zooming in for greater detail to see if they need attention.
Weather stripping on exterior doors is another must-check item. Look for damage or wear, and replace if necessary. Warm air will seep from your home – and your heating bills will rise – if the weather stripping isn’t in good shape.
Eavestroughs and downspouts should be inspected too. Leaves and debris can collect and create messy, smelly blockages that could build up over winter. So, clear all of this away so that water can drain freely. If you see cracks or seam separations in your eavestroughs, fix with caulking.
Next up is your exterior water supply. The last thing you want is a flash freeze to damage your water lines and cause a pipe to burst. So now that watering the law and garden is done for the season, shut off your home’s exterior water supply and drain all exterior water lines and hoses. You should leave the taps open a bit – this will prevent any remaining water in the lines from freezing and damaging the water supply line.
If you have an irrigation system to water your lawn or garden, or if you have water features like a pool, pond or fountain, you should make sure all water is drained from those as well. If you don’t, you will be sure to find damage in the spring.
And finally, have a professional roofing company inspect the roof to ensure that shingles, flashing and chimney caps are all in place and properly sealed.
Once you’re done outside your home, there are a few things you should look after inside.
Clean and test all of your exhaust fans, including dryer vents, stove vents and furnace vents. Look at your furnace filter to see if it needs to be cleaned or replaced, and consider having your furnace serviced to prepare it for winter.
Inspect your gas or wood-burning fireplace and chimney dampers and have them serviced or cleaned, if necessary. Then test all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are in good working order.
And finally, if your home has a sump pump, you don’t want to risk a flood in the winter. Check the sump-pump float and discharge line and then test the whole operation.
If you take some time this fall to prepare for winter weather, your home will withstand the elements and your warranty will be protected.