We chatted with Mike Holmes, professional contractor and TV host of Holmes on Homes, about prepping your home for the winter.
How early should Canadians start protecting their homes for the winter season?
As soon as the leaves start falling, you should start thinking about preparing your home for the winter, so I like to get focused right after recovering from Thanksgiving.
What are the first steps that homeowners should take to prepare their homes for the winter months?
Make sure that all outside taps are drained and that your water source is shut off. If you don’t take these steps, you run the risk of your pipes freezing and bursting, which is something you really don’t want to happen. You should also make sure that your gutters and downspouts are clean and free of debris to ensure easy flow of water and ice melt-off.
What are some benefits to starting winter prep on your home prior to the first snowfall of the season?
Making sure that you’re prepared for the unexpected and having important mechanics, like your furnace, heat pump, boiler, and water heater, serviced and in working order before the first temperature drop just makes sense.
It can get cold at night long before the snow comes along, and if you want to seal windows and doors or use adhesives or roof-patching materials, it’s best to do so before it gets too cold, since the cold can affect their performance.
We know firsthand that our homes rely heavily on electricity — if there’s no power, then you have no heat — so having an alternative heat source or power backup is something to consider. If you have a gas or wood-burning fireplace, get it tested and serviced by a professional. You may also want to consider investing in a portable or standby generator. You don’t want to have to deal with an issue when it really matters, therefore, be proactive.
What area is often overlooked when it comes to equipping your home for the winter? What advice would you give to best combat this?
I think the area that’s most overlooked is your property. Homeowners sometimes tend to leave this job until it’s too late. It’s so much harder to shovel and keep your property safe if you have to manoeuvre around an untidy yard or objects that haven’t been properly stored away. Make sure that your property is clear of leaves, that the trees have been assessed for weak branches, and that outdoor furniture is covered and secured or safely stored in order to protect it from unexpected storms and high winds.
Also, make sure your entranceways and walkways are clear of debris and any tripping hazards, like uneven ground, patio stones, or stairs. Remember, when the snow starts to fall, a decluttered property will allow for easy shovelling of walkways, entrances, and sidewalks. Also, remember to shovel snow away from your foundation and have a good supply of de-icer or sand ready for the snowy season ahead.
Is there a way to protect your home in the winter in a green way? If so, what are some options for homeowners to achieve this?
Get an energy audit to assess your home. This evaluates how energy-efficient your home is by measuring the level of air-tightness, conducting a blower door test, measuring the insulation in the walls and ceilings of your home, considering the number of windows and doors in your home, and providing a review of your HVAC and ventilation systems. After the energy audit evaluation is complete, the energy audit advisor can then help you to determine what grants and rebates would best suit your needs and advise you on what’s available in your area to benefit the overall efficiency of your home. You may find that you’ll need to make improvements to your insulation, replace aging and inefficient appliances with ENERGY STAR certified appliances, or replace old, leaky windows and doors to avoid drafts.