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Preparing Your Home for Winter Weather

November 7, 2012

If you are going away for more than 30 days remember to contact your broker.

It is important for homeowners to understand that home insurance protects you from unpredictable events that may occur; it does not cover general wear and tear that occurs over time. Preparing a home for winter weather can result in substantial savings both by preventing costly repairs and by reducing utility costs.

Here are a few simple tips to get your home winter ready:

1) Exterior- Doors & Windows

- Change or repair weather stripping around doors to prevent cold air from entering your home.

- Remove your summer screens and install storm windows.

- Inspect the exterior of your home for any cracks and exposed entry points around pipes; apply caulking where necessary.

- Consider protecting basement window wells by covering them with plastic shields.

- Rake away all debris and edible vegetation from the foundation of your home.

2) Landscaping & Outdoor Surfaces

- Check the grading of your home, the ground should slope away from the foundation of your house for several feet at a grade of at least 1 inch per foot.

- Seal driveways, brick patios and wood decks.

- Cover your outdoor air conditioner condensing unit and, if your AC has a water shut

-off valve, turn it off.

3) Roof, Gutters & Downspouts

- Inspect your attic to ensure you have adequate insulation to prevent warm air from escaping and forming condensation or ice dams in your home.

- replace worn or missing roof shingles or tiles.

- Clean out the gutters and downspouts; consider installing leaf guards if needed.

- Ensure your downspouts run six feet away from your home.

4) Heating System (Furnace and Fireplace)

A build-up of dust or debris can turn your furnace or fireplace into a potential fire hazard. Below are some tips to keep them functioning properly:


- Have your furnace inspected annually by a qualified HVAC technician.

- Keep outside furnace fresh air intakes free from snow.

- Have your ducts cleaned every three years.

- Clean or replace your furnace’s air filter.

- Clean your vents, and ensure that vents are not obstructed by furniture or debris.

- Remove any flammable objects from around your furnace.

Wood Burning Fireplace

- Call a chimney sweep for chimney cleaning to remove soot and creosote.

– it is required by Ontario regulations to do this annually

- Ensure you have a cap or screen at the top of your chimney to keep out rodents and birds.

- Inspect the fireplace damper for proper opening and closing.

- Use appropriate firewood (hardwood only like oak, maple, etc.). Store it in a dry place away from the exterior of your home.

- Remove any flammable objects from around your fireplace.

5) Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

- The City of London requires a smoke detector in every level of the house.

- Replace any smoke detectors or fire extinguishers older than 10 years.

- Buy extra smoke detector batteries and change them once a year.

- Install a carbon monoxide detector near your wood burning appliance, furnace and / or water heater.

- Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they work (test once a month).

6) Pipes and Plumbing

- Drain all garden hoses and close “secondary” shut off valves inside.

- Look for exposed pipes in your home

– likely locations include crawlspaces, basements or garages. Wrap exposed pipes with foam rubber sleeves or fibreglass insulation to keep them from freezing.

- Find your water main and keep it accessible in the event you need to shut it off in an emergency.

- If you’re going away for the holidays, keep the temperature in your home at least 12 degrees C.

McFarlan Rowlands has 14 Locations Across Ontario.

Office hours are Monday to Friday 8:30 AM until 5:00 PM unless otherwise noted.

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