Homeowner Helpers: 10 essential maintenance tasks for winter

Homeowner HelpersFollowing our seasonal home maintenance tasks for winter will help keep your home running smoothly inside and out. What’s more, all 10 of these tasks are easy to do for virtually any homeowner.

Just spread the tasks out over the next couple of weeks and both your busy schedule and your home will thank you.

1. Roof:
Before we get a permanent snow cover, use binoculars to check for missing or damaged shingles and gaps in the caulking on flashing around chimneys and vent pipes. If you spot problems, call a reliable roofer. Canadian winters are hard on roofs and waiting until spring for repairs means you are risking leaks that can lead to rot and mould inside your home. Learn more about protecting your roof as one of your maintenance tasks for winter.


2. Central air conditioner: To prevent damage to the outside unit from falling ice and snow, cover it with a chunk of plywood held down by a few bricks or stones. A full-unit cover is a good idea, but it’s not as strong as plywood if heavy ice falls on it, so a combination gives you the best protection.

3. Icy surfaces: Your maintenance tasks for winter include stocking up on salt, sand and ice melt before you need to use it on icy maintenance tasks for wintersurfaces. Salt and some ice melts can damage your lawn and plants and irritate pets’ paws, so look for pet- and lawn-safe products that contain no salt or chloride.

Tip: Check the condition of your snow shovels and scoops now, before the heavy snow arrives. A good-quality ice chopper, available at building materials and hardware stores, makes pathways and other areas faster to clean after freezing rain and it’s easy on your back.


4. Vents: Keep an eye on roof vents over the winter. If they’re blocked by ice or snow, warm air leaking into the attic gets trapped there, causing a thaw-freeze cycle on the snow-covered roof that contributes to destructive ice damming along the edges. Because roof vents are near the peak of the roof, call a professional to clear them of ice and snow.

Don’t forget to also clear furnace, dryer and other wall vents of ice and snow. An improperly vented furnace will not operate efficiently or will simply shut down to avoid poisoning your family with carbon monoxide. Learn how to safely clear wall vents.

5. Foundation: As part of your maintenance tasks for winter, check that snow isn’t building up around your foundation. Yes, it does provide some insulation value, but it also melts, potentially causing damage to your home. At the very least, clear snow from especially vulnerable areas like window wells.


6. Ceiling fan: If you didn’t do this back in October when most of us started running our furnaces, now is the time to make sure your ceiling fans are turning in the right direction.  Warm air rises, so a clockwise direction in the winter pulls the cooler air up to the ceiling and moves the warmer air back down to floor level for greater comfort. It can even help reduce your heating bills. Learn more about ceiling fans.

maintenance tasks for winter7. Indoor faucets: Faucet aerators, those little screens at the tips of faucets that help reduce water consumption and give you a soft flow, get plugged with grit, grime and mineral build-up. That’s especially so if you are on a well. Here’s how to clean your faucet aerators, which you should do at least once a year.

8. Sump pump: If your sump pump ejects water onto your property rather than into a collector pipe, make sure the water flows away from your home and check the discharge pipe regularly to ensure it doesn’t freeze. If you have an extension hose on the discharge pipe, remove it for the winter to prevent freezing inside it, which can cause your pump to burn out. You should also test your sump pump at least once a year and have a battery backup pump in case of a power outage.


9. Exhaust fans: Kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans help reduce excess moisture inside your home during the winter and are a heck of a lot better than opening a window on a chilly December evening. To check their effectiveness, put a tissue paper against them. If it stays in place, all is good; if it doesn’t, you may just need to give it a good cleaning. Learn more about cleaning a range hood filter and a bathroom fan, both of which are important maintenance tasks for winter.

10. Extension cords and power bars: Check them now and avoid the danger of fire. If you spot any damage, unplug and replace them immediately. Trying  to get by with a bit of electrician’s tape could cost you your family or your home.

When using Christmas lights and other decorations this holiday season, avoid overloading circuits. This international load calculator is a useful guide. And never run an extension cord under a rug — it can overheat and cause a fire. More tips on the safe use of extension cords.


Sources: National Post, MoneySense, others.

Originally published Dec. 9, 2019

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