Winter’s here, and while at the lower latitudes that means a little more rain and perhaps a day or two of snow, up here in Alberta it means months of extreme conditions that your house has to stand up to. As a custom home builder in the Lakeland region, we know how to build new homes strong enough for the conditions our customers will face in winter- but that doesn’t mean that you won’t have to play your part.
How do you prepare your home for winter?
1. Get Your Furnace Serviced
Your furnace is going to go from being virtually inactive to working at full capacity 24 hours a day for months, and that will take a toll. Unless you want the hot water to cut out thirty seconds into your morning shower or to risk waking up freezing after your heat cuts out in the middle of the night, you’ll need to have your furnace serviced by a professional. Book an appointment early and keep an eye and ear open for anything that changes. If you’ve got an old furnace, maybe this year is the time to get it upgraded to something more efficient.
2. Take Your Thermostat Into The 21st Century
A simple digital or, worse, knob-controlled thermostat doesn’t give you fine control over the heat in your home, and it doesn’t allow you to check whether you’ve left the furnace on if you’ve gone away for the weekend. A modern thermostat like the Nest allows so much more than the beige rectangle on the utility room wall that came with your house, and it’s not all eBells and smart-whistles: it’s money-saving technology that will also make your furnace or boiler last longer.If you’re looking at building you can always talk to us- since we’re a custom home builder we’ll have great ideas on modern technology for your home!
3. Clean Those Eaves And Troughs
Just like your furnace, your gutters are going to be doing double-duty over the winter months as rain and melting snow run through them pretty much 24/7- all while they’re filled with ice. Unclogging your gutters and checking that downspouts allow water to drain away from your home and will prevent damage to your gutters and roof during winter, though you won’t get quite so many of those great looking six-foot long icicles hanging from your house. If you still see any then it could be an indication that you need to get back up on a ladder and clear your gutters again.
4. Make Sure That Your Roof is Right
While you’re cleaning out the gutters, inspect your roof for damage that could have been caused by summer storms. Weakness in your roof that you won’t notice in summer could cause the roof to break when there is a heavy snowfall on there.
5. Trim Your Bushes
If you have evergreen trees on your property like Spruce or Pine, now’s the time to give them a trim, or even call an arborist if you have large trees. Snow building up on them can cause branches to come down in your yard (or on your car or house), so reducing the surface area makes a lot of sense.
6. Turn Off the Taps
Your outside faucets are vital in the summer when they’re all that stands between your lawn becoming a desert, but in the winter they become a liability. Any water in the pipes will freeze and expand, potentially breaking them and causing a leak. Turn off the faucets as close to the source as you can, and you can avoid this.
7. Pad Your Pipes
Not every part of your home is heated or insulated, and in extremely cold weather the temperature in your attic or basement can drop below zero. Covering the pipes in these areas with special padding (not beach towels and duct tape) will prevent freezing and lighten the load on your furnace. You could even get pipe heating cable to do the trick as well.
While we’re on the subject, now’s the time to wrap your furnace up all nice and snug in water heater jacket, which can conserve over 97% of the heat that your water heater will radiate, meaning that it won’t have to work as hard to keep your water warm.
8. Sweep Your Chimney
A roaring fire is so comforting on a winter’s day that you might forget that they need to be maintained- and without regular maintenance can even be dangerous. Kerosene can build up in chimneys above wood-burning fires, and if enough accumulates and gets hot enough it can start a fire. Don’t assume that a gas fireplace can’t have problems: if a bird has built a nest in there during the summer it can clog up the chimney and cause Carbon di-and-monoxide to back up into your home.
9. Insulate Your Roof
Good quality insulation is always a good idea, but in winter it becomes a vital necessity. When heat leaks out of your roof and onto the layer of snow that will be coating it all winter that snow will melt, the water will freeze and create an ‘ice dam’ further down your rooftop, preventing more water from leaking and building a bigger dam until the accumulated ice and snow on your roof caves your roof in. Reducing the amount of heat lost through solid insulation will prevent this problem, so make sure that your insulation is rock solid.
Now, if you’re not up to cleaning gutters, you can always talk to us: your custom home builder in Alberta!