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Winter Proofing Your Home

Fall and early winter is definitely the time to get into “basic maintenance” mode around the house. You could also call this “prepare to save some money” mode because a well-sealed, dry home is one that isn’t leaking heat (and dollars) out the cracks and windows.

You can start by waterproofing the outside of your house ahead of the freeze-thaw cycle. Take a walk around the exterior of your house and just have a look at it. Check your eaves troughs to make sure they aren’t clogged with leaves — it wouldn’t be a bad idea to put a gutter guard on them, too.

Check your grading

Make sure the soil around your foundation is sloped away from the house to drain any water away. Fill in any rough spots where the backfill has sunk. You don’t want water getting close to your oundation and possibly compromising it. Check that your downspouts are at least four to six feet away from the foundation, to direct any water away.

Next, take a gander at the roof. Check for missing shingles and loose flashing. Also ensure your windowsills are angled away from the house and that the caulking in between them isn’t cracked, allowing water to penetrate the wall.

Insulate and seal

Now’s a good time to poke your head up into the attic and make sure you’ve got enough insulation above the warm areas of your house. All the heat rises, obviously, and up there is a major area of heat loss. If you need to add some more insulation, then do so.

It’s also a great time to buy a few tubes of latex sealant. Go around to your windows, doors and baseboards and just caulk those gaps that are allowing air to flow in from the outside of the house. There’s a ton of heat loss there.

If you do a thermal scan, you’ll catch a lot of air escaping from the rim joist area, which is where your floorboards sit atop your foundation. There’s typically just a handful of insulation stuffed into that area. You can tape those spots up or seal them. It’s a good way to save some cash.

Good ventilation means good air quality 

In the winter, we tend to keep all our doors and windows closed — and that keeps a lot of the moisture in. That moisture, augment ed by everything from breathing to cooking to showering, raises the indoor humidity level and increases the chance of mould and stale air.

While you’re in the attic (checking your insulation), make sure insulation is not clogging your home’s vents. You want to make sure you’ve got good airflow, but also not too much of it.

Fall’s a good time to change and clean the filters around the house, from the furnace filter to the filters on things like your stove and even your bathroom vents.

Keep the critters out

The cold months are also the time that mice start coming in. Part of your exterior inspection should include searching for areas where they might enter. Go into the basement and seal up any small openings with foam. Set up a few traps and maybe get a cat. (Well, you could!)

If you’re in a late-model home, all the socket vents generally have screens on them to keep the big things out. If you’re in a much older home, you might have problems with things like raccoons. The best thing to do in that situation would be to get a pest control company to come in and work their magic. Essentially, they’ll put one-way gates on any holes in your attic, so raccoons can leave but can’t come back in. It’s better to call someone that has experience doing that than hanging off a ladder and trying to deal with some angry animal yourself.

If you make time for this basic home maintenance, you’ll be warm and dry this winter. And you’ll have a few extra bucks in your pocket for the fun stuff, like heated tiles for your bathroom. Everybody wins!