Getting ready and prepared for winter!

The leaves have changed, the days are growing ever shorter, and there is a cold nip in the air! It is time to admit that even fall is coming to a close and that winter is quickly on its way. Preparing your home and vehicles for this cold season is always advisable.

  1. Clearing gutters – During freezing winter weather, ice dams can be very damaging to your home, as melting snow trickles down the roof and re-freezes along the eaves. This backup can cause water damage inside your home. Keeping gutters free of dirt and debris once the fall is done should help you avoid these ice dams. Be sure that your home is also well insulated by sealing air leaks, adding insulation to the attic, and making sure attic ventilation systems are installed and working properly.
  2. Change the furnace filter – This isn’t only an annual task, but rather, one that should occur every couple months during the Fall/winter season. Dirt and dust accumulating across the filters makes the furnace run harder; which means less efficient heating, higher utility bills and potential health hazards, such as allergies, due to air pollution.
  3. Clean vents and radiators – Vacuum any vents, baseboards and radiators in your home. During the summer, these areas build up dust. When you turn the heat on, all those particles will be circulated through the house, causing sneezing and irritation.
  4. Smoke & CO alarms – With your fireplace and furnace going strong, do a thorough check throughout your home to make sure all your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly. Test and refresh the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. Press and hold the “test” button on each unit to see if the alarm sounds. Keep your family protected from the hidden dangers of carbon monoxide by installing at least one battery-powered CO alarm on each level of your home and near sleeping areas. Finally, replace any units that are more than ten years old.
  5. Snow blower maintenance – Change the oil, install new spark plugs if necessary, inspect the belts for wear and drain the gas tank to replace it with fresh fuel. Make sure all your parts are moving smoothly, but also tighten up the nuts and bolts that may have been shaken loose. After you’ve given it the once over, start it up and let it run for a few minutes in a well-ventilated area just to be certain there are no surprises, when it eventually storms. Consider starting it every so often if it sits for an extended period of time.
  6. Car tires – Snow tires make winter driving safer by reducing braking distance and increasing stability. The special winter tread is designed to handle tough winters. Make sure to have your winter tires fitted in good time, before the snowy weather arrives.
  7. Emergency kit in car – The winter brings an increased risk of getting stuck in your car, so dress warmly before heading out. The Government of Canada offers some excellent suggestions of the items that should be included in a winter emergencycar kit. Here’s a checklist of items for you to print, then you can check off as you accumulate them.
  8. Outdoor storage – When storing any type of vehicle not in use for the winter, you need to remove the battery and store it in a warm and dry place. Over the winter season, if possible, try to recharge the battery periodically to ensure it will hold a charge in the summer. When it comes to fuel, it is advisable to buy a fuel stabiliser. Fuel stabilisers will help protect your engine and will ensure that your motor is not damaged the next time you turn it on.
  9. Unwanted critters – Nuisance animals often seek shelter in warmer spaces like your attic or basement. Animals like rodents, bats & raccoons can damage property & create unsanitary conditions. Look to seal up any areas where rodents or small animals could get in, including the outside storage areas. Consider investing in mothballs which will help deter those small animals from making a home within your summer vehicles. Make sure to look at your roof, your gutters and of course the building itself. You will want to make sure you are not dealing with any issue in the middle of winter.