- Insulate your windows: Insulate your windows to reduce heating bills and keep the house warmer. Areas to focus on include around the windows and the space between the baseboards and the floor. For the windows, you can use weather stripping around the frame, or window film kits, which can be applied over the window glass. These kits will help block out the cold and encourage light to reflect back into the house, keeping it warmer. You can use caulking to fill the gap between the baseboard and the floor.
- Trim nearby tree branches: Branches can start flying during a winter storm and cause structural damage to the roof of a house, or even break into its walls. Any branches within six feet of your house should be trimmed back.
- Clean eavestroughs: Leaving eavestroughs blocked with leaves and twigs can lead to water damage if they overflow, and allow water to seep into the walls or foundation of your house over time.
- Clean/inspect the fireplace and chimney: Fireplaces can be fire hazards if debris, dirt, or bird’s nests are blocking them. Have your chimney and fireplace inspected and cleaned. Also, have them checked for damages like cracks. A cracked or crumbling fireplace can be a major fire hazard and needs to be repaired. A cracked chimney can cause heat, moisture, and gas to escape and damage the inside of your chimney. Cracks can also cause dirt and gas to build up within the chimney and create poor-quality air in your home.
- Find holes and block them: Rodents seeking warmth can enter your property through small crevices. Avoid this problem by blocking any holes in walls, eavestroughs, and the attic. Fill small holes in the walls with steel wool and put caulking along the edges. For large holes in the wall, use metal sheeting, cement, hardware cloth, or metal mesh. Leaf guards will keep mice out of eavestroughs.
- Check your attic’s insulation: Check your attic’s insulation to make sure it is not too thin and does not have gaps in it. If this is the case, have it fixed to avoid heat escaping from your home.
- Winterize pipes: Pipes outside your house are most susceptible to bursting in the winter. To prepare for winter they should be drained, turned off, and then insulated using foam pipe sleeves. For interior pipes, keeping the house warm helps prevent them from bursting.
- Replace air filters: Heating your home will be more efficient if the air filters are new and not clogged with dust, so replace them regularly.
- Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: Keeping your home warm means keeping doors, windows, and other openings as sealed as possible. More heating also means a dryer home. Combined, these factors contribute to a higher chance of hazardous gas-build up and fire, which is why it’s important to make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
- Keep your roof and surrounding foliage free from snow: Over time, snow build-up can get heavy, to the point of putting unnecessary strain on your roof. Similarly, snow build-up on branches hanging over your home can lead to those branches snapping, potentially causing damage to your roof, windows, and other parts of your home. To avoid this happening, make it a habit to regularly clean off snow.
- Run your ceiling fans in a clockwise direction: By simply changing the direction of your ceiling fans during the winter to make them spin clockwise (at a low speed), you can save as much as 15% on your heating costs. This setup helps to redistribute warm air that naturally rises to your ceiling back down to living areas.
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Winter home maintenance checklist for tenants away for the holidays
If you have tenants heading out of town over the holidays, consider sharing with them the following checklist to keep your home protected and in working order.
Turn off the main water valve: Before leaving, ask tenants to turn off the main water valve and then turn on the faucets for a few minutes to let them drain. They should also leave a faucet open on the lowest floor of the house to drain in case it needs to while people are away.
Set the thermostat between 16 and 21° C.
Remove items that could attract animals: This includes garbage, recycling, and compost. You should also make sure dishes are cleaned (including dishes in the dishwasher) and to clean out food from the fridge that could go bad.
Lock windows and doors.
Avoid leaving signs that you’re away from the house: Empty homes are prime targets for thieves. Simple things like timed indoor lighting, having a neighbor grab mail, and arranging to have your driveway regularly shovelled can help ward off criminals.
Want more help filling out your winter home maintenance checklist? Check out our blog post on landlord maintenance obligations in Ontario.
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The blog posts on this website are for the purpose of general introductory information. They can’t serve as an opinion or professional advice. Speak to a professional before making decisions related to your circumstances.