With a gulp of cold air siphoning into your lungs, the signaling of the season change is immediately apparent. Blurry rain transforms into seemingly dense-less snowflakes, effortlessly embossing the crisp backdrop of the blue winter sky. But your child-hood delight is overshadowed by the foreboding nature of winter responsibility. You feel unprepared.
It doesn’t have to be this way! Yes, shortening daylight hours and frigid temperatures tend to make us feel lethargic and less motivated than we might be in Spring, but preparing your home for winter can be masterfully managed to make for a flawless transition to that cozy fireside sofa and woolen throw.
Our TroiWest homes have been designed to make winter preparation an easy procedure. Here is a list of things that we recommend taking into consideration when preparing your home for winter:
- Exterior Finish. Beginning with the exterior of the home, it is important to consider where ice and snow might permeate and cause issues. The exterior finish on a home for example, is something to be mindful of. While TroiWest homes have been inspected for gaps in sealant, if you have an older home, it is a good idea to check for gaps where water and ice might otherwise accumulate.
- Optimal Drainage. In the same grain, optimal drainage for the rain and ice that thwart your home’s exterior is important. As previously presented in one of our Tuesday tips in preparing for summer (https://www.instagram.com/p/CPlgQjSgYwE/), the same suggestion to check downspouts also applies; downspouts should be facing downward and pointing outward away from the foundation. Water needs to be wicked away from the foundation of the house in all cases.
- Clean Your Gutters. Similarly, before the cold weather hits, it is a good idea to clean out the leaves and debris to allow the precipitation to drain freely from your home. Clogged gutters allow ice to build up which forces snow to fall directly on the home’s siding, thus creating water damage.
- Concrete. Check your concrete is sealed and that cracks are caulked & filled. Owners take responsibility for this task themselves, and while it seems that concrete is invincible against winter conditions, using sealant to protect the concrete is essential. In our Caring for your home guide given to our homeowners, Troiwest explains the following: “Because concrete is a water-based product, shrinkage and cracking will occur. For example a typical concrete slab 10 feet across can shrink approximately ⅝ inches as it cures. Some of this shrinkage shows up as cracks. Cracking of concrete flatwork also results from temperature changes that cause expansion and contraction.” It is understood that in winter moisture that may have accumulated in cracks in summer months, forms frost and can lift and distort the concrete while increasing cracking. It is therefore important to maintain “drainage away from all concrete slabs” which will “minimize cracking”. These cracks should be sealed with a waterproof concrete caulk to prevent more moisture from penetrating into the soil beneath.
- Spalling (Surface Chip) prevention. Similarly, the causes of spalling, known as the surface chips on your driveway, include “hosing of concrete for cleaning, animal urine, radiator overflow, fertilizer, uncleared snow and ice, ice-melting agents, and road salts from vehicles.” It’s also important to note that commercial de-icer, used on major highways, is highly chemically based; these chemicals adhere to your vehicle’s tires and are thus transferred onto your concrete driveway. A good sealant will protect your driveway against chemical decay caused by these de-icers.
- Snow Removal. In the same way, when preparing for your own snow removal, it is important to do an inventory of snow shovels and de-ice products before the snow comes and the products are sold out at the store. Consider purchasing a de-icer that is “kid- or pet-friendly” or even just using sand as these products do not contain chemicals that erode the sealant and concrete on your driveway.
- Professional Duct Cleaning & Air leakage Testing. Looking at the interior, something to consider is professional duct cleaning. It is a good idea if you have an older home as this ensures optimal passage of heat throughout your living space. Another process to consider, and one that is used by TroiWest homes, is the “Blower-door” air leakage test. The test checks areas of the home that leak air and heat allowing problem areas to be identified and solutions put in place. If you have a TroiWest home, this test is included in the energy audit that produces the competitive EnergyGuide rating that Troiwest targets. (https://anhwp.com/2021/11/25/troiwest-builders/).
- Replace the filter in the furnace. Before firing up the furnace for winter, it is a good idea to think about replacing the furnace’s filter before the cold temperatures hit.
- Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. According to Justin Pierce in the article “Use this checklist to prepare your home for winter” one should be particularly cautious in winter because this is when most house fires occur. In the winter the furnace is in operation and with the home closed tightly and in the presence of carbon monoxide leaks, fire potential is much more likely. He explains that an “HVAC inspection will also ensure your furnace and water heater are properly vented, which is the most likely source of carbon monoxide.”
- Purchase a Humidifier. In addition to preparing a home for winter, there are a couple of ways to ensure optimal heat throughout the cold months. For example, purchasing a humidifier for your home is an excellent idea. If you have a TroiWest home, this feature is already included. Humidifiers allow the air to have more moisture which can help your home feel warmer because air with moisture holds heat better. This also prevents your furnace from unnecessarily over-working. The Troiwest “Caring for Your Home” Guide cautions, however, to lower the humidifier setting if condensation begins to develop on windows as this will have an adverse effect.
- Curtains. A second way to retain heat, is to use window coverings to your advantage: on cold days, open the curtains or blinds to allow the sun into your home and then close the coverings when the sun sets.
Canadian homes are built to endure the elements and to provide practical and comfortable living. It is our hope that you will be able to best enjoy your dream home and that it will minimize the intensity of the cold winter months.