How to avoid winter problems in your home

How to avoid winter problems in your home

Water damage is often the main cause of insurance claims in winter.

Water penetrating creates thermal bridges, which lead to costly heat losses, rotting of the building structure and the proliferation of insects such as carpenter ants.

Snow that accumulates near or on the home often turns into ice and then water. If there are cracks, holes or poorly maintained surfaces, it will always find its way inside. Freeze-thaw periods degrade these openings.

Here you will find a checklist to avoid damage that requires contacting your insurer.

1. Roof: Check the condition. If it is more than 20 years old, it may need to be replaced. A bad sign: curled, torn, lichen-covered shingles.

2. Sealing: UV rays and temperature fluctuations damage the sealing of doors and windows. Cracks or separations promote the penetration of water.

3. Gutters: Remove dead leaves, humus, branches and other debris; Clean them with a garden hose.

4. Pipelines: Check whether the backflow preventer is stuck in mud or sand. Are the drains, sump pump, and shutoff valves (main valves, under sinks) functioning properly? Close the main valve to vent the line and the outside valve before closing the latter. Drain the irrigation system lines and garden hoses to prevent the lines from freezing. Insulate your hot water pipes from the basement with plumbing.

5. Heating system: Has it been several years since your air ducts were last inspected or cleaned? It’s time to act! Clean/replace your filters (mark your calendar for the next cleaning/replacement date).

6. Trees and Shrubs: Prune trees to remove branches that extend near or over the house and electrical wires to prevent damage from wind or ice.

7. Fire protection measures: Check the batteries on your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and the expiration date on your fire extinguisher. Have the chimney swept; Check the mortar.

8. Air extractor (kitchen hood, bathroom): Are they blocked or secured (rodents need to be kept out)?

9. Spa, swimming pool: Drain the water, clean the surfaces, store the components, add antifreeze, install a winter cover, and remove snow from the spa cover.

10. Outside: Remove the gas bottle from your grill and store it outside the home. Gas lawn mowers and blowers: Add gas stabilizer. Store the batteries of your devices and electric bikes in the basement.

During the winter

  • Check the attic for ice buildup or ice dams and icicles on eaves or gutters: This is a sign of poor air circulation through the soffits. You need to budget for this project next summer.
  • Remove snow from the windows and the basement ventilation as well as the heat pump.
  • Check that the temperature where the pipes are located in the basement does not drop below zero. In this case, contact an electrician or heating professional to resolve the situation. On extremely cold days, run a trickle of water day and night.
  • If you’re going on vacation, turn the heating down to 14 degrees and make sure the entrance to the house is clear of snow and someone can pick up the mail. If you are traveling for more than a week, turn off the water and power to the water heater.