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Winter-Ready Home Maintenance

With winter right around the corner, thoughts of the holidays, spending time with friends and family, and taking a well-deserved break from work are most likely at the top of everyone’s minds right now.

However, we know that there are also a few crucially important tasks homeowners need to tackle before the worst of winter hits if they want to protect their homes from the harsh weather and avoid unnecessary, often expensive repairs.

So before you get too caught up in the holiday spirit, make sure you’ve ticked off every box of our winter-ready home checklist that applies to your home below before it’s too late.

Clean Your Fireplace

If you’re lucky enough to have a nice warm wood-burning fireplace to cozy up to, chances are you plan on making lots of good use of it this winter. However, fireplaces and their flues and chimneys get pretty dirty after consistent use, and can actually become quite harmful if they aren’t regularly cleaned.

If you have any soot build-up in your fireplace blocking smoke from being able to exit your home through your chimney, it’s going to end up back-drafting into your home. Not only will this make an enormous mess, but it’s also extremely harmful to breathe in too.

To avoid any smokey backdrafts entering your home, we suggest you call up a local chimney cleaning service and book a cleaning appointment for your chimney. And, while you’re at it, make sure you invest in a good winter’s-worth of firewood too — the closer it gets to the thick of winter, the more in-demand firewood is going to be.

Service Your Furnace

Although we already mentioned this important home maintenance step in our guide to Fall Maintenance: How To Get Your Home Autumn Ready, it’s worth repeating.

Your furnace is responsible for circulating warm air around your home, and you certainly don’t want to be breathing in any dusty or unclean air for the foreseeable future. Plus, if there are any issues with the performance of your furnace, it’s better to identify them before the weather really starts to drop.

Although tampering with your furnace might seem intimidating, this is actually another straightforward maintenance task to take care of. Simply shut off your furnace system and then open up its cover. From there, clean up any dust with a vacuum and wipe down any sooty areas.

Don’t forget to swap out your furnace’s filter for a new one before switching it back on and sealing the cover back up. If your furnace looks a little more complex than that or you simply don’t feel comfortable doing this step yourself, then you can always hire the services of a professional to come and take care of it.

If you opt for this route, make sure you remember to pre-book your furnace service.

Are you a little bit behind on your list of household chores? Make up for lost time by tackling the tasks that should’ve been done in the fall in our guide, ​​Fall Maintenance: How To Get Your Home Autumn Ready here.

Test Your Carbon Monoxide Alarms

This precautionary task goes hand-in-hand with our previous point as household fireplaces are one of the most common producers of carbon monoxide in a home. If you didn’t know already, carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that can be deadly to humans if inhaled in certain amounts — and the scary thing is, you can’t see, smell, or taste it at all.

Carbon monoxide is one of the most common by-products of combustion, which occurs very often inside a home during the winter months and is why all domestic heating appliances must be vented outside. That includes fireplaces — either wood-burning, gas, or pellet-fired — boilers, heating systems, water heaters, and stoves.

While carbon monoxide can be a scary subject to talk about, modern carbon monoxide alarms do wonders in warning homeowners of the threat of poisoning well before it’s too late. That being said, carbon monoxide alarms do have expiration dates and need to be maintained and replaced every so often.

Ahead of this winter, when you’ll be regularly heating your home, food, and water with combustive sources that produce carbon monoxide, we urge you to please check up on the status and performance of your carbon monoxide alarm. And if necessary, replace the alarm and/or its batteries, of course.

Carbon monoxide alarms are just one of the many things tested in a professional home inspection. Find out what else the professionals look for in our related post on Home Inspections in Ottawa: What You Need To Know.

Pest-Proof Your Roof

It’s not just us humans that like spending more time indoors during the winter — pests like squirrels, raccoons, birds will also try to make your home their cold-weather escape this winter unless you stop them. Except unlike us, they don’t typically use the front door to head inside.

One of the most common entry points for pests trying to get into your home is your roof, which tends to deteriorate over time due to natural wear and tear. Because of this, critters to target holes, gaps, and weak points in your roof that they can break through to get in and out of your home.

Not only can wild pests cause a lot of damage getting into your home and while inside, but it’s also not great for your health having them there either. Various domestic health issues are often linked to pest problems, even if they’re all tucked away in your attic.

Make sure any weak points in your roof, siding, eavestroughs, or vents are patched up and secured to stop pests from getting inside.

Are you ready to downsize or move to a home requiring less maintenance? Read through our guides on how we help buyers here, then have a look through our featured listings page to see if anything more manageable is currently up for sale:

Monitor Surrounding Trees

Don’t forget to check up on the health and length of your home’s surrounding tree branches. Right before winter is likely the last chance you’ll have to get a good clear look at your trees before everything gets covered in snow.

Once your trees and surrounding greenery are all snow-covered, it’s much harder to spot unhealthy areas or any potential breaking points. And when long branches near your home are weighed down by ice and snow, they’re much more likely to break off and cause damage.

If there are any branches that look a little too close to your home — specifically near windows, doors, or your roof — remember that they’re only going to creep closer when they’re covered in snow and ice. And if a large branch or tree falls on your home, neighbour’s home, or car, this is a liability to the homeowner.

If you do want to address any potentially problematic trees or branches, you’ll need to consult a professional and most likely your municipality before you do any amateur arborist work. There are often regulations in place that protect trees, especially in urban areas, so make sure you aren’t breaking any laws first.

If you live in a rural area, chances are your list of preparatory tasks will be a little different as most rural homes tend to work slightly differently. To learn more about what the biggest differences between rural homes and other property types are, read our guide on Everything You Need To Know About Rural Living In Ottawa.