Trick-or-treaters have come and gone, the leaves have fallen from the trees, and the cool crisp breath of winter is upon us. As the conditions change and temperatures drop, it is now time to prepare our homes for the oncoming winter. A new home comes with a number of components that homeowners must take responsibility for in order to ensure efficient and effective performance. Here are some tips and advice to help you in preparing your home for the change in seasons.
EAVESTROUGHS AND DRAINPIPES In order to ensure proper runoff of rain and snow melt, make sure your eaves troughs are free of leaves and debris. Additionally, make sure to raise your downspout extensions to ensure there is no ice buildup in the pipe.
SUMP PUMP DISCHARGE
It is imperative to remove your sump pump discharge hose at this time of the year. As the temperatures drop, the hose will become filled with ice which will not allow the sump pump to discharge the water. This can result in damage to the pump, and a buildup of ground water around the foundation of the home. Make sure to remove your extension hose and replace in the spring when the temperatures raise sufficiently.
FURNACE AND HRV FILTERS
Now is a good time to confirm the condition of the furnace filter and HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator) filters to ensure their performance will be optimal. Your HRV has two permanent filters; please check your furnace filter, and clean or replace if necessary. HRV EXHAUST AND INTAKE Your HRV is designed to exhaust stale, moist air from the inside of the home and bring in fresh, clean air from the outdoors. As an added benefit, it reduces the humidity in the home during the winter months. In order for the HRV to work properly, you must ensure the exhaust and intake pipes are clear and free of debris. The intake and exhaust can be located at the side or rear of the home.
BASEMENT WINDOWS & WINDOW WELLS
It is necessary to keep your basement windows free and clear of debris and ensure proper drainage away from these openings. If your home is equipped with a window well, please ensure the window well is free of leaves and debris. The window well is equipped with a drain pipe that runs down the wall and is connected to the weeping tile and sump pit. For the window well to function properly, it must not be clogged or constricted in any manner.
CLIMATE CONTROL - HEATING / COOLING In order to maintain safe and efficient operation of the furnace and HRV, ensure snow and vegetation do not cover or impede the flow of air through either the air intakes or exhaust vents. Shovel snow away from all intakes and vents after each snowfall. This includes intakes and vents for your furnace, HRV, fireplace, hood fan, etc.
It is essential that roof vents are kept clear of snow to allow proper ventilation from the attic. Snow build up on top of the roof vents will prevent the ventilation of warm humid air from the attic, and contribute towards the formation of ice dams and frost build up in the attic. Keep vents clear of excessive snow.
EAVESTROUGHS & DOWNSPOUTS
Clear excess snow and ice from downspouts as soon as possible to allow the eavestrough to drain and to prevent damage. Severe ice or snow build-up can damage eavestroughs and downspouts, and such damage is not covered by most warranties.
Manitoba experiences heavy snow and drastic changes in temperature during the winter & spring. These conditions contribute to the formation of ice dams on roofs. Ice damming occurs when snow or ice on the upper portion of a roof melts, flows down the roof and then freezes on the lower edge of the roof. Normally the water runs harmlessly off the edge of the roof. Any restriction that traps ice or snow near the eve of a roof, however, can impede the flow of water and promote ice damming. If the resulting ice dam is sufficiently large, it can allow water to back up under the shingles and result in water penetration of the roof. Ice damming is a common occurrence in our climate and cannot be completely prevented. Limited damming is not a cause for concern. Water penetration due to ice damming is not covered under warranty. Prevent ice dams from forming by ensuring the attic vents are kept free of snow and do not allow excessive snow to build up in the valleys and eaves. Hire a professional roofing contractor to remove snow from your roof. Install heat trace cables, if necessary. Periodically check for loose or lifted shingles after severe windstorms. Also check for snow blown into attic after winter snowstorms and have it removed.
GRADING & DRAINAGE
The grading around the house is designed to drain water away from the foundation walls. The drainage pattern of each individual lot is part of a site-grading plan established for the entire development. Minor changes may be made during construction to facilitate particular lot conditions. During the spring thaw, remove snow and ice in order to assist the flow of water. Swales and catch basins are designed to drain water away under normal rainfall conditions. Heavy, prolonged rainfalls or spring thaw conditions may cause some water ponding for short periods of time. This is normal. Do not change the grading on your lot as this could affect not only your lot drainage but that of neighbouring lots as well.
Salt or other ice melting products can easily damage concrete surfaces including driveways, steps, and garage floors. Even if not applied directly, slush and melting ice from cars and foot traffic will deposit enough salt to cause damage. The frequent freeze/thaw cycles during spring & fall allow the effects of the salt to work more rapidly. Slush and snow from your vehicle should not be allowed to melt on the concrete. Chipping and scraping ice from the floor, even for safety reasons, can also damage the concrete surface. A very small chip in the concrete allows water to penetrate. When combined with the freeze/thaw cycle, pitting and spalling can occur. This type of erosion is a homeowner responsibility and is not covered under most warranties. Be wary of the melting products and snow clearing tools used on your concrete .
BASEMENT WINDOWS & WINDOW WELLS
It is necessary to keep your basement windows free and clear of ice and snow to ensure proper drainage away from these openings. If your home is equipped with a window well, please ensure the window well is cleared of ice and snow regularly. The window well is equipped with a drain pipe that runs down the wall and is connected to the weeping tile and sump pit. For the window well to function properly, it must not be clogged or constricted in any manner.