Maintaining the interior
Pay special attention to maintenance tasks that will ensure energy efficiency to your home and help prevent fire and water damage.
Pipes and water heaters
Check to see whether the pipes under your sinks, as well as the floor around the toilet, washing machine, dishwasher, water cooler and water heater are perfectly dry. Also make sure that washing machine and dishwasher inlet hoses are in good condition and not leaking. Did you know that a water heater that reaches the end of its lifespan can cause major water damage? If yours is getting on in age, don't wait for a leak to replace it. Prevention can save you a lot of grief.
You should also consider installing a water leak detection system which is connected to a shut-off valve. Leak detectors installed close to your home's major plumbing appliances automatically shut off the water intake valve when a leak is detected. Consult a plumber.
Weatherproofing doors and windows
Rain, snow and ice accumulation is conducive to water seepage. Well-insulated windows and doors can help prevent such seepage. Check the seals around your doors and windows, and if required, replace the weatherstripping or fix the caulking. Doing this can also help lower your electricity bill.
Furnace and fireplace
Make sure your furnace is working well. Have it inspected by a professional if for example, you notice it's making strange noises or doesn't seem to be running efficiently.
If you have a wood-burning appliance such as a fireplace or a wood stove, the chimney should be swept at least once a year. This will help prevent chimney fires caused by creosote buildup, as well as carbon monoxide poisoning caused by any blockages.
Humidifiers are very useful in making our homes drier and more comfortable in winter. However, they must be cleaned properly to prevent bacteria and mould from growing.
Reverse the rotation of your ceiling fan blades so that they turn clockwise. This helps create an upward movement of air and better redistribute the warm air that collects on the ceiling. This simple tip can help lower your heating bill during the cold season.
Smoke and CO alarms
Smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms can save lives, so it's important to maintain them. Make sure they work properly, clean them and replace the batteries once a year. To avoid replacing your batteries every year, you can also install alarms with a 10-year lifespan.
Finally, go through your home from attic to basement and throw away everything you no longer need. Make sure to properly dispose of things such as chemicals or expired household products.
Maintaining the exterior
A manicured exterior not only adds aesthetic value to your home, it can also prevent costly damage and unnecessary headaches.
Thoroughly inspect the foundation, both inside and out, to spot potential problems and prevent damage due to water seepage. Have a professional inspect cracks that are more than 0.3 cm wide, along with any signs of efflorescence (white deposits), seepage or localized humidity. This can mean a foundation drain malfunction (e.g. blocked drain).
Visually inspect your roof for loose or missing shingles. To prevent seepage, also make sure that the seals around roof openings (chimney, skylights, vents) are in good condition If necessary, have your roof inspected by a roofing professional.
Check your gutters and downspouts as well. If they're clogged, they won't be able to divert rainwater from the house properly. This could cause water to overflow onto your property and seep into your basement. The grading around your house should also help drain runoff from the foundation. A simple 15 cm slope over a length of 1.8 m from the house is enough to move water away from the foundation.
It’s therefore important to clean the gutters and replace any damaged parts. You may also want to consider installing leaf guards. They allow water to get through while preventing leaves and debris from accumulating.
Protect your outdoor faucet from freezing. If your home has a frost-free faucet, all you need to do is make sure it's completely turned off and remove the garden hose. If you have a conventional outdoor faucet though, be sure to drain it so it doesn't burst.
Walkways, driveways and balconies
Repair cracked walkways, steps and driveways with concrete or specialized sealant to prevent damage over the winter. All summer maintenance equipment such as lawn mowers and leaf blowers should be stowed away to make room for winter equipment. You should also clean, repair and store your patio furniture and barbecue.
These tips are provided for information and prevention purposes only. They are general in nature, and Desjardins Insurance cannot be held liable for them. We recommend using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, tailored advice.
Desjardins Insurance refers to Desjardins General Insurance Inc. in Quebec and Certas Direct Insurance Company, underwriter of automobile and property insurance in Alberta and Ontario.