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8 Tips to Prep Your Home for Winter

Colourful houses covered with snow

Getting set for winter is an annual tradition in Canada. In addition to pulling out the ski jackets and insulated boots, you should prep your house for when the temperature drops. Develop a personal checklist of home and outdoor maintenance tasks that help ensure you won't have any crises during the colder months.

1. Heating and Cooling

Annual maintenance for your HVAC system makes sure it's running properly. Even if you don't have an expert come in, you might want to replace the filter on your heater. To conserve energy costs, check doors and windows for leaks. Insulation around doors and caulking around windows can prevent the cold air from coming in.

2. Exterior Wood

Wood is vulnerable to moisture damage, so take this opportunity to re-paint and re-seal if necessary. Replace any old or rotting wood to keep your home secure and to prevent any wildlife from setting up shop over the winter.

3. Clean Gutters and Chimneys

Fall is time for leaves, but when rain becomes ice those unkempt gutters can become heavy. Clean out those gutters so there's less risk of ice accumulation. Since you'll run the fireplace, clean out the chimney and areas around the heating source.

4. Take Care of the Pipes

Water runs freely in the summer but freezes in the winter. Freezing can lead to burst pipes. As a preventive measure, drain the outside faucets of your home. Frequently run the taps throughout the house. Insulate exposed pipes to keep them at a reasonable temperature.

5. Check the Detectors

Replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Run a test to make sure they are in good working condition.

6. Keep Things Safe Outside

Trees, exterior walkways, and cars all pose potential hazards over the winter. Trim branches that may be near home electrical systems or wires. That's to prevent them from breaking off and causing a power outage or fire. Regularly clear snow and ice from driveways and areas that people walk. If you are worried about your car suffering damage due to falling pine cones, try to park in a different location for the season.

7. Get Help from a Neighbour

Many people take extended vacations over the holidays. If you are leaving for a period of time, leave the heat on in your home at a modest temperature. This helps prevent pipes from freezing. Ask a neighbour to come by every day or two, to make sure everything is running smoothly.

8. Check Your Home Insurance Policy

Winter is a good time to review the details of your home insurance policy. Know your limits for things like hail and snow damage. Understand your liability coverage for slip-and-falls or personal injury. Home insurance will typically protect you in case someone is hurt while visiting your home. That's good to know during the busy holiday season when it's common to have people over. If you think you'll need additional coverage, talk to your insurer about updating your policy.

Enjoy the Best of the Season

Winter can be a cozy time when you enjoy visiting with friends and family -- or a time to take a getaway to warmer temperatures. In either case, it's important to be prepared, by doing a little work around the house and re-reading your home insurance policy.