Thursday, Sep 27, 2012









Stay warm and dry
Essential winter maintenance for your home
By MARK SALERNO, CMHC


Your home needs regular maintenance to ensure your family stays warm, dry and comfortable throughout the winter season.

While there are maintenance tasks that should be done year-round, some are particularly important in winter, such as having your home’s heating system checked and serviced by a qualified contractor. Ensuring the cold doesn’t enter your home is another top priority.

Before you start, develop a checklist of what needs to be done. You’ll find the work is easier and not so overwhelming if you establish a routine for yourself. In addition, a regular schedule for home maintenance can put a stop to some of the more common – and sometimes costly – problems before they occur.

You can probably tackle many of the jobs around your home yourself. However, if you don’t feel comfortable or have the necessary equipment, you may want to hire a qualified contractor to do the work.

Although some of your winter home maintenance jobs only need to be carried out once a season, others will be ongoing. Your furnace air filters, for example, will need to be checked and cleaned or replaced each month, if necessary, during the heating season. If you have a heat recovery ventilation system (HRV), it will need to be checked every two months.

Your kitchen range hood filters should also be cleaned monthly, and if you have a humidifier, you will need to clean it two or three times over the winter.

To stay warm and comfortable all season, you’ll need to make your home as airtight as possible. Start by examining your windows and doors for ice accumulation or cold air leaks. If you find any, you can seal the leaks temporarily or install new weatherstripping. Make a note to repair the windows or replace them in the spring.

You’ll also want to monitor your home for excessive moisture levels that can cause condensation, which can cause significant damage to your windows and surrounding surfaces over time. It can also result in mould growth, which can pose a serious health concern for some individuals. Always take corrective action to prevent condensation and to wipe it up when it occurs.

Take a look at your air vents inside and outdoors (intake, exhaust and forced-air) to ensure they are not blocked by snow or debris.

Before the frost sets in, there are a few water-related maintenance tasks you’ll need to perform. For example, you will need to protect all outside faucets from freezing weather by turning off the stop-and-waste valves inside the house.

Next, check all indoor faucets for signs of dripping, and change washers as needed. If you find you have to replace washers frequently, the faucet may be in need of repair.

Finally, after consulting your hot-water tank owner’s manual, drain off a dishpan full of water from the clean-out valve located at the bottom of the tank. This will help control sediment and maintain the tank’s energy efficiency.

Regular home maintenance will help keep your family healthy, safe and comfortable this winter, and could even save you money. To learn more about keeping your home in good repair, the CMHC has a free About Your House fact sheet called Home Maintenance Schedule as well as a publication called Home Care – A Guide to Repair and Maintenance. To order your copy, visit cmhc.ca or call 1-800-668-2642.

Mark Salerno is district manager for the GTA at the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. You can reach him at 416-218-3479 or msalerno@cmhc.ca.

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