A simple 7 item checklist to make sure your home is ready for winter in Alberta.
1. Check your outdoor hose bibs
If you do not have frost free hose bibs, make sure the water is shut off to the fixture and the tap is left open. If you do have frost free hose bibs, make sure the hose is disconnected so no water is trapped inside preventing proper drainage.
2. Blow out your irrigation system
In many new builds and custom homes, the owner will install an irrigation system for their landscaping. Before winter sets in, you must make sure that the system is turned off at the appropriate valve and the system is drained by “blowing out” the water with an air compressor. Blowing out your irrigation system will guarantee no water is left inside the lines to prevent burst pipes.
3. Verify that your humidifier is working
As a custom home builder in Edmonton Alberta, we end up working with a variety of interior finishes, with many of them being different wood products. In older houses, you can notice cracks in the trim, drywall being pulled apart, and most evidently, gaps in a wood flooring system. The reason? Fluctuating humidity levels. Before winter begins, check to see if your humidifier works. To do this, turn your humidifier up to 100%, open the cover plate, and see if water is coming out of the water line. If not, you can try these steps to try to remedy the issue before you call a technician. I recommend leaving the settings between 35% to 45% in the winter.
4. Clean out your mechanical and ventilation system
Most people will wait until something breaks with their mechanical system before it is serviced. Servicing your furnace, HRV, hot water tank, in-floor heating etc, before winter begins is strongly recommended (even every 3 years). The cost of servicing the equipment will be far less expensive than an emergency repair or replacement of the system in the winter. Make sure the trade you hire is also qualified. Here is one that we recommend in Edmonton.
5. Re-seal your tiled surfaces in your bathroom and kitchen
As moisture in your home is most common in your bathrooms and kitchen, make sure you re-seal the tile/grout every 2 to 3 years. Water can get into the cracks, and eventually wash away the mortar which holds the tiles in place. Humidity level fluctuations in the winter can compound the damage. This is why this should be done in the autumn months.
6. Re-seal and fill in exterior concrete
Exterior concrete in Edmonton and in Alberta is prone to heaving. Water can find holes in the concrete, freeze, and cause separation of the pads. To counter this, we strongly recommend sealing the concrete every year before winter begins. Doing this easy job will increase the longevity of your concrete while keeping it looking new for many years. Here is an article on how to seal exterior concrete yourself.
7. Clean out downpipes, gutters, and make sure your roof has no damage
Lastly, ensure all downpipes and gutters are free from debris. If you have exterior storm drains, the lines should be inspected every 3-5 years with a camera. The reason for this is ice damming. If you have water that is left in your gutters when winter begins, you will most likely be left with a solid block of ice on the edge of your roof. When snow starts to melt on the warmer winter days, water from the roof won’t drain properly, and can back up on itself into your soffit and under your roof sheathing. This can cause leaks in the home, and excessive ceiling damages. To counter this, your gutters and down spouts should be cleaned and inspected every year before winter begins in Edmonton Alberta.