10 simple ways to prep your home for winter

Winter's not over yet! But to enjoy Canadian winter to its fullest, it’s best to be prepared. Make sure you’re set for the season with these 10 easy tips to get your apartment or house winter-ready.

Winterizing your home’s interior


1. Protect pipes from extreme cold

Water expands in the cold. So, when severe cold snaps hit, pipes can be at risk of bursting.

Seal any air leaks surrounding plumbing indoors to keep out cold drafts. Inside your home, monitor the temperature near pipes. If it drops below freezing, safely direct heat towards the area by using a fan to move warm air where it’s wanted. Always practice fire safety. If you’re not sure it’s safe, brush up on what to do with our fire prevention tips.

On very cold days, keep faucets running just enough to drip, to prevent water from freezing inside the pipes. It’s an easy way to prevent a costly problem. For even more tips on preventing water damage, check out our article here.


2. Have your furnace inspected

Make sure your furnace is in good working order before moving into the coldest part of winter. Wait times tend to get longer as we get deeper into winter. It’s also the worst time of the year to be stuck without a furnace.

Book a professional furnace inspection sooner rather than later and you’ll avoid the rush. What’s more, regular maintenance can help prevent major problems down the road, saving you money in the long-run.


3. Insulate doors and windows

Feel around door and window frames leading to the outside. Is there a breeze? If so, it’s time to install (or replace) the weather stripping. You may also want to seal windows with cheap yet effective weather strip film.


4. Clean heating and ventilation systems

Before turning your heat on, consider three things:

  • Clean electric baseboards to prevent bad odours when they come back on;
  • Quickly test each one to ensure that they’re all working properly;
  • Heat rises. If you live in a house, start by heating the basement and the garage.

If you have an air exchanger, clean it before using it or you’ll find yourself in a house full of the dust that’s accumulated in the pipes over the months.

5. Double-check detectors

When was the last time you tested the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors? Make time during winter prep to change out batteries and clean any dust that’s accumulated. It only takes a minute to feel safer in your home.


6. Measure household radon

Have you ever heard of radon? This radioactive gas, naturally present in some soil and rock, is actually the next leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.

Invisible, odourless and tasteless, radon can infiltrate buildings, often through foundations, and is impossible to detect without a radon detector. Use one to measure the radon concentration in your home. If you need to take corrective measures, hire a certified contractor to ensure the air in your home is as safe as possible.

7. Have the chimney swept

If you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace, and if your municipality allows its use, it should help keep you cozy throughout the winter. But be sure to have it inspected and cleaned before using it. For the sake of fire safety , this step must not be neglected. In fact, many Canadian cities have regulations concerning this.


Winterizing your home’s exterior


8. Empty exterior pipes

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To avoid having your water pipes freeze and burst, empty all exterior taps and shut off the valves until next spring.


9. Inspect gutters, roof, and exterior walls

It’s inspection time! Autumn may be gone, but it there could still be leaves hanging around. Empty gutters of leaves or any other debris, and make sure they’re still firmly attached.

Since you’re already outside, check your roof. If any shingles are broken, loose, or bent out of shape, now’s the time to replace them. You don’t want a water infiltration at minus 30 with a pile of snow on the roof.

Next, inspect all exterior walls for developing cracks that need repair. If you find any, seal them to keep water out; the freezing and thawing of water can cause major damage.


10. Clean and store outdoor furniture

If you haven’t already so, put away your patio tables, chairs and BBQ. Give them a wash with soapy water and dry them before storing them away. To avoid rust on BBQ grills, brush them with vegetable oil, then wrap them in newspaper.


Now get ready for some winter cocooning and enjoy the season with peace of mind. Looking for more tips? You’ll find even more helpful advice in our winter survival guide for homes.