Prepare Your Home for Winter

Winter can be rough on a home. While Metro Vancouver does experience milder weather in comparison to other regions in Canada, we do get rain, wind, and snow storms that can wreak havoc on a home’s exterior. Use these simple tips to prepare your home for winter.

Inside the House

Check the Furnace

If you have a furnace, a fireplace, or a wood-burning stove, you will have one or more chimneys. Doing home maintenance on your heating system is one of the most important chores in preparing your home for winter. To ensure that the furnace is working properly, get it serviced at least once a year by a professional HVAC technician. They will replace filters, clean pipes and ducts, ensure motors and moving parts run efficiently, and inspect the chimney(s).

Caulk around Windows and Doors

Don’t let warm air out or the cold weather in: caulk or weather strip around windows and doors to prevent drafts. Also look for gaps around vents, cracks in the foundation or basement walls, and places where cables and pipes enter into the house from the outside. Keeping the heat inside your home makes it more energy-efficient.

Wrap Exposed Pipes

When temperatures dip below 0°, even in the Metro Vancouver area there is always the possibility that pipes can freeze. Wrap any exposed pipes in your to prevent them from bursting if it gets too cold.

Assemble an Emergency Kit

You might know exactly where the adhesive bandages are if you cut a finger or a child scrapes an arm. But are you prepared for an emergency as a result of a power outage or a natural disaster? A winter emergency kit should contain enough supplies for 72 hours and include:

  • Bottled water
  • Food such as energy bars, canned goods that don’t require heating (tuna, corned beef, canned meat), and dried foods
  • Extra set of keys (car and house)
  • Slush fund of small bills and some change
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Warm blankets
  • Candles, matches, lighter, or battery-powered lanterns
  • Basic hand tools
  • Special need items like prescription medications and baby formula in the event that pharmacies and grocery stores aren’t open or have run out
  • Basic toiletries
  • First aid kit

Outside the House

Inspect the Roof

A quick and easy way to inspect the roof is to get out the binoculars. From the ground, while walking around the house check the roofing system for:

  • Debris in roof valleys or still stuck to roofing shingles after a windy day
  • Missing or damaged shingles
  • Patches that never seem to dry up
  • Roof vents that have become closed, blocked or damaged in some way
  • Flashing around chimneys, dormer windows, or skylights that is worn, cracked, or rusting

If you do see something that needs your attention, plan to fix it as soon as you can. Whether you DIY or hire a professional make moisture-related issues a priority. For example missing shingles, regardless of how few, can still let in moisture, causing leaks and other water-related problems.

Clean the Gutters

Clean the gutters if they haven’t been done earlier in the fall. Remove all of the debris from inside the gutters and downspouts. Wash the outside of the gutters to get rid of streaks, grime, and dirt for extra curb appeal in time for the holidays.

If you have already cleaned the gutters, inspect the gutters and downspouts. Ensure all hardware is in good shape and not loose or missing. Check to see if there is anything that needs repairing before winter storms appear. Make sure the gutter outlet and the bottom of the downspouts are free of blockages.

Winterize Your Backyard

Protect plants and shrubs from the first frost by covering them up or bringing them inside. If they are brought inside the house rather than a garage or garden shed debug them first.

Put away any seasonal items such as patio furniture and the grill. Clean them thoroughly before storing them.

Secure recycling and garage bins (and lids) that can be blown around and turned into weapons aimed at windows and siding.

Arborists suggest pruning trees in late winter when plants, trees, and shrubs are dormant, avoiding the spread of diseases that are active during the spring and summer months. Pruning trees particularly ones that grow close to the house reduces the amount of debris that lands on the roof and in the gutters. It also helps prevent damage that can result from broken limbs falling onto the roof or branches being scraped against siding in a storm.