8 Simple Steps to Prep for Winterization

Winterization is essential to keeping your home and family both comfortable and safe. Additional benefits include energy conservation and helping you save money. Timely inspections and preventative maintenance minimize disruptions and costly emergency repairs. With the right planning winterization is an affordable investment that you can budget for in advance.

Following a ruptured pipeline in early October of this year, FortisBC’s main supply of natural gas will be reduced over the next coming months. The system and flow of gas are expected to be at 55%- 80% of normal capacity. With limited supply, conservation is ever more crucial.

Significantly, the last two winters caught residents and areas of Metro Vancouver by surprise, with periods of relatively heavy snow causing major inconvenience. Therefore, sidewalk safety and proper planning are other important aspects to our tips below. The goal is to protect all residents and homeowners from the severe weather conditions in an efficient manner. We hope these basic procedures will help keep utility costs low while also improving the comfortability of your home.

Pre-Purchase Salt & Deicers

Since the winter of 2016, various stores and even the City of Vancouver experienced major salt shortages during some of the iciest periods. Deicers and salt prevent the buildup of ice, helping avoid dangerous injuries and accidents. It is advisable to purchase your salt by early November, keeping in mind that having extra is a much better alternative to not having enough. This is even more pressing if you require a large amount of salt consistently throughout winter, as is the case for most Stratas or larger detached homes. 

Early Snow-Removal Contracts

Due to the significant gap in demand and supply here in the Lower Mainland, many contractors are at full capacity. However, with the recent winters having been more severe, snow-removal contractors were pressed with the even more service requests, especially at the last minute. This left many homeowners unprepared for snowy days, with cars and residents having to brave the icy conditions without proper salting or removal.

If you are looking for snow-removal experts when you already have a driveway full of snow, it’s too late. With the unpredictability of the weather, it is sensible to organize a contract or arrangement that has you covered for the entire season. While Stratas may require the services of larger companies, individual homeowners can even visit Craigslist or Kijiji to find others offering similar services at a cost-effective price. When it comes to planning for snow-removal, there is no such thing as too early.

Test Heating Systems

After long periods of inactivity, surprising issues and kinks can develop in household heating systems. Many systems require an annual tune-up or at the very least a cleaning. Before the thick of winter sets in, it’s a good idea to turn up the heat in order to make sure the radiators, pumps or any other systems are working at their optimum level. Switching on the heat for a few hours during the Fall allows enough time to both discover and then repair potential problems. Even newer electronic systems need regular maintenance. An inefficient system won’t heat your house effectively, but it will still burn through your utility budget!

Clean out Gutters

Understandably not anyone’s favourite task, yet clearing gutters is crucial to avoiding future disruptions and heavy repair costs. Ensuring the smooth flow of water prevents the formation of dangerous icicles or obstructive ice dams. Make sure to clear all sediment, leaves and any other debris to stop the gutters from freezing over.

As a bonus, check and clear up the roof for similar materials at the same time. Just make sure to be careful while using a ladder or working above ground level. If your gutters are a few floors up and you do not feel comfortable clearing them, there are plenty of professionals to assist you.                 

Winterize Faucets and Sprinkler Systems

Similarly, you want to ensure that none of the outdoor water systems get freeze over. Drain and cover all these systems to properly protect them. To prevent freezing and cracking, drain all water from garden hoses and any other irrigation systems while you’re at it.

Seal Cracks and Crevices- Odd Repairs

Small gaps in windows, walls or the foundation of your home significantly impact your energy bill. By letting cold air in and warm air escape these gaps can undo all the hard work of your heating system.  Likely trouble areas will be where two different building materials meet, any corners, and where pipes or wires exit. The most effective way to seal all cracks is by using caulking or weather-stripping. 

Mind the Draft

Cold air continuously enters your home and hot hair escapes from underneath doors. Doors with an externally facing side cause energy costs to rise significantly, as homeowners offset the cold by turning up the heat. A simple remedy is to roll up a towel or thick sheet to fill the gap. However, draft guards are an inexpensive alternative that help save heat and money.                  

Inspect everything, and then inspect some more

When it comes to inspections, you can’t look too much. We should create a constant monitoring program that focuses on prevention, not just care. The basic idea is to seek out areas that will allow water and cool air in, and heat to escape. This includes roofing, walls & cladding, balconies, windows, garage & parking structures, and really any other area of your house that has exposure to the external weather. Good luck encompassing the above tips, stay safe and stay warm!