In Canada, winter can arrive unexpectedly and with full force. It is important to make sure that you are fully prepared. This means winter proofing your home against any weather related accidents that can leave you and your family out in the cold – literally. Before the leaves even start to fall from the trees, you should begin an annual inspection of your home – inside and out. This will help reduce the chance of having to make a claim through your home insurance policy. Following is a checklist of what to look for:
Furnace: As this will be your primary source of heat during the cold, harsh winter months, you need to ensure that your furnace is in top working order. Have a professional inspect it for any malfunctions, damage, or dangerous blockages. Remove any flammable materials from around the furnace area and keep a supply of filters on hand. You should change the filters every month.
Fireplace: If you have a fireplace, arrange for a chimney sweeper to clean it before the first use. Ensure that animals or birds cannot enter through the top and clean out the fireplace opening. Buy lots of wood and store it in a dry place.
Exterior Doors/Windows: Meticulously inspect the doors and windows for cracks, spaces, and drafts. Remove screens and install storm windows if needed. Replace caulking around the windows and seal with plastic to keep out cold drafts.
Roof/Gutter/Eaves: Inspect the roof and replace any shingles that appear to be loose, lifting, or curling. Remove any leaves or debris from the gutters and downspouts. Trim any tree branches that may be hanging over the eaves and roof. As winter progresses, snow can tend to accumulate on the roof. Pack an extra layer of insulation in the attic to prevent cold from entering the home.
Plumbing: Prevent your pipes from freezing by insulating any that are exposed. Drain your air conditioning pipes as well as hoses. Pipes that burst due to freezing is one of the leading causes of home insurance claims in the winter. These precautions will prevent potential water damages inside your home.
Foundation: Seal up any cracks or holes in the foundation and secure crawlspaces to prevent moisture and animals from entering. Remove any debris or rotting vegetation that may have accumulated around the foundation during the fall months. Ensure that there are no rodent or insect infestations. If you notice an accumulation, call a pest control expert immediately.
Outdoor Surfaces: Slippery and icy sidewalks and stairs can pose serious hazards and potential liability issues. If someone happens to slip and get injured on your property, they can make a claim against your home insurance policy. If you notice any cracks or holes, have them filled in to prevent falls. Keep an ample supply of salt, sand, or kitty litter on hand to melt any snow or ice that may accumulate. Keep all walkways shoveled and clear.
These tips and suggestions will help to keep you, your home, and others safe over the winter season. Following these important steps will prevent potential disasters or claims on your home insurance policy, and leave you with peace of mind. Winter should be a season to enjoy the beautiful sights and snuggle up in front of a warm fire, not one to be mopping up water from burst pipes or worrying about a broken furnace. Avoiding the hassle and expense of winter related problems is well worth the small amount spent on winterizing your home.