Homes

Before winter hits, prepare and repair

 | November 8, 2010

Getting your house ready for winter is as easy as creating a plan and doing a quick energy inventory of your house from top to bottom.

Check your chimney. “Make sure that the chimney is completely clean,” said Allan Dobie, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s senior research consultant. “Ideally, it needs to be done before the first fire gets lit in the stove. There might be a lot of creosote from the last season. The first fire could potentially light a chimney fire and you don’t want that to happen.”

If you haven’t cleaned your chimney in a long time, it’s best to leave it to a professional chimney sweeper.

While you’re up there, don’t forget to clear the gutter and the downspout of any accumulated leaves. This ensures melting snow drains properly when spring comes.

In the main house, the biggest culprits for air leaks are windows and doors. The good news is that these leak sources are also the easiest to fix.

There are several ways to check for leaks. One way is to feel the draft around windows and doors. Another easy way is to use a lit incense stick or candle on a windy day to detect drafts. Cold air seeping through cracks will disturb the smoke or flame. Condensation on the windows is another sign of a leak.

“Caulking around your windows is a good idea,” said local homebuilder Andre Grether. “You can install shrink wrap plastic on the inside of your windows too if you want to go the extra mile. It’s not hard to do and it’s very inexpensive. I think it can save you some money.”

Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace old batteries and make sure to replace smoke detectors older than 10 years.

“It’s the heating season and if you’ve got a wood fireplace, all of those heating elements and appliances are in full functioning mode, that’s really the time when a fire can happen,” said Dobie.

Inspect your plumbing. Installing insulation kits to outdoor faucets can help prevent frozen pipes in the winter.

“If they have any hose bibs on the outside of the house that has shut off valves, they should shut those off and make sure to drain those hose bibs,” said John Hecimovic, a local plumber and gasfitter.
He also recommends disconnecting and draining the outdoor hoses to protect pipes from freezing and bursting.

“(Burst pipes) happen quite a bit in Sun Peaks. A lot of people leave their hoses on or they don’t turn off their hose bibs,” said Hecimovic. He recommends turning off the main water valve if you’re going to be away for an extended period of time.

Insulate any exposed pipe and use heat tape for extra protection. Also, don’t forget to have any leaky outdoor faucets repaired before the freezing weather comes.

Last but not least, drain and clean your hot water tank, examine your furnace, and fix any ducts that aren’t fitting properly.

“Boilers with radiant heat should be serviced if they haven’t been serviced in the last two years,” Hecimovic said.

“If the home has a heat recovery ventilator, then the filters and the core need to be cleaned and the filters changed,” suggested Dobie.
Furnace filters must also be changed regularly. “Pleated filters are probably the best ones to use. The very inexpensive fibreglass filters are also quite good.” Dobie recommends preventive measures like regular vacuuming and leaving shoes at the door to minimize indoor dust.

It won’t be long before Sun Peaks is once again blanketed in white. Invest in winter preparation and you’ll have a cozy house to come home to.

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