Ottawa is known for its harsh and unpredictable winter weather. As temperatures drop and snowstorms become more frequent, it’s important to ensure that your home is prepared for cold and wet conditions. Here are some tips on how to prepare your home for Ottawa’s winter weather.
Section One: Heating Systems
One of the most important things to address before winter arrives is your home’s heating system. Ensuring that your heating system is functioning properly can save you money on energy bills while keeping you warm during the coldest months of the year.
Check Your Furnace or Boiler
Your furnace or boiler is responsible for heating your entire home, so it must be in good working order. A few weeks before winter begins, it’s a good idea to have your furnace or boiler serviced by a professional HVAC technician. This will help ensure that it’s running efficiently and effectively. During the service appointment, the technician will inspect and clean the unit, replace any worn parts, and check for leaks. If your furnace or boiler is over 15 years old, you may want to consider replacing it with a newer, more energy-efficient model.
Inspect Your Fireplace and Chimney
If you have a fireplace in your home, it’s important to have it inspected and cleaned by a professional chimney sweeper at least once a year. This will minimize the risk of a chimney fire and ensure that your fireplace is functioning safely and efficiently. In addition, make sure that the flue is closed when the fireplace isn’t in use to prevent warm air from escaping your home.
Drafts around windows and doors can significantly increase your energy bills and reduce indoor comfort. To prevent drafts, inspect your home’s windows and doors for any gaps or cracks. You can seal these gaps with weather stripping or caulk. You can also use draft stoppers at the bottom of doors to prevent cold air from entering your home.
Section Two: Protecting Your Plumbing
Winter weather can wreak havoc on your home’s plumbing system. Frozen pipes are a common problem during cold snaps, which can lead to costly water damage. Here are a few ways to protect your plumbing during winter.
If you have exposed pipes in your home or unheated areas like your basement or attic, it’s important to insulate them to prevent freezing. Pipe insulation is available at most hardware stores and is easy to install yourself. Simply wrap the pipes with foam insulation and secure them with tape.
Run Water Regularly
Running water through your pipes regularly can help prevent freezing. When temperatures drop, turn on your faucets to allow a small trickle of water to flow through your pipes. This will keep water moving and reduce the risk of freezing.
Keep Your Home Warm
Keeping your home warm can help prevent frozen pipes. If you’re leaving your home for an extended period during winter, make sure to set your thermostat to at least 55°F to keep your pipes from freezing. You may also want to consider leaving cabinet doors under sinks open to allow warm air to circulate your pipes.
Section Three: Winterizing Your Home Exterior
Your home’s exterior can take a beating during winter. Snow, ice, and wind can cause damage to your roof, gutters, and siding if you’re not prepared. Here are some tips on how to winterize your home’s exterior.
Before winter arrives, clean out your gutters to prevent ice dams from forming. Ice dams occur when snow on your roof melts and then refreezes in your gutters, causing water to back up and potentially damaging your roof. Remove any leaves, sticks, or debris from your gutters and downspouts to ensure proper drainage.
Protect Your Roof
Your roof is your home’s first line of defence against the elements. Ensure that your roof is in good shape before winter arrives by having it inspected by a professional roofer. They’ll check for any damage or leaks and make repairs if necessary. Additionally, remove any overhanging branches or debris from your roof to prevent damage from heavy snow and ice buildup.
Prep Your Landscaping
Winter weather can be tough on your landscaping. Before the first snowfall, trim any trees or shrubs that are close to your home to prevent them from falling onto your roof or siding. You should also store outdoor furniture and garden tools in your garage or shed to protect them from the elements.
Prepare Your Home for Ottawa’s Winter Weather FAQ
Q1: Why do I need to prepare my home for winter?
A: Preparing your home for winter can help keep you and your family safe and comfortable during cold snaps. Winter weather can cause damage to your home’s interior and exterior, as well as put a strain on your heating system and plumbing. Taking steps to winterize your home can save you money on energy bills and prevent costly repairs.
Q2: How often should I have my furnace or boiler serviced?
A: It’s recommended to have your furnace or boiler serviced by a professional HVAC technician at least once a year. This will ensure that it’s running efficiently and effectively, which can save you money on energy bills and reduce the risk of breakdowns during the winter months.
Q3: Do I need to insulate my pipes?
A: If you have exposed pipes in unheated areas like your basement or attic, it’s important to insulate them to prevent freezing. Pipe insulation is available at most hardware stores and is easy to install yourself. Insulating your pipes can help prevent the costly water damage that can result from frozen pipes.
Q4: Can I prevent ice dams from forming in my gutters?
A: Yes, you can prevent ice dams from forming in your gutters by cleaning them out before winter arrives. Remove any debris like leaves or sticks and ensure proper drainage. Additionally, you can consider installing gutter guards to prevent debris from accumulating in your gutters.
Q5: Should I leave my faucets dripping to prevent frozen pipes?
A: Running water through your pipes regularly can help prevent freezing. When temperatures drop, turn on your faucets to allow a small trickle of water to flow through your pipes. This will keep water moving and reduce the risk of freezing.
Q6: Can I do anything to prevent drafts in my home?
A: Yes, you can prevent drafts by inspecting your home’s windows and doors for any gaps or cracks. You can seal these gaps with weatherstripping or caulk. You can also use draft stoppers at the bottom of doors to prevent cold air from entering your home.
Q7: Should I leave cabinet doors under sinks open during winter?
A: Leaving cabinet doors under sinks open can allow warm air to circulate your pipes, which can help prevent freezing. If you’re leaving your home for an extended period during winter, it’s a good idea to leave cabinet doors open to keep your pipes from freezing.
Q8: Is it necessary to have my fireplace inspected and cleaned before winter?
A: Yes, it’s important to have your fireplace inspected and cleaned by a professional chimney sweep at least once a year. This will minimize the risk of a chimney fire and ensure that your fireplace is functioning safely and efficiently.
Q9: What should I do if I notice a draft coming from my electrical outlets?
A: A draft coming from your electrical outlets may indicate that there is a gap between your walls and electrical boxes. To prevent drafts, remove the outlet cover and insert foam insulation into the gap. Then replace the outlet cover.
Q10: Is it necessary to hire professionals to prepare my home for winter?
A: While some tasks like furnace or boiler servicing or chimney cleaning require the expertise of professionals, many winterizing tasks can be done by homeowners themselves. However, if you’re unsure how to complete a task, it’s always better to seek professional assistance to avoid any damage to your home or injuries.
Preparing your home for Ottawa’s winter weather may seem like a daunting task, but it’s essential to ensure your comfort and safety during cold snaps. By following these tips
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