fallimage3rodentFall is a beautiful time of year and perfect for enjoying the cooler nights, the trees changing, and all of the local festivals that will soon be taking place. Instead of just sitting back and enjoying however, you should be looking at these changes as a reminder of what is to come. Now is the time to start planning to ensure your home is ready for the winter ahead.

Think beyond the regular checklist

Every fall there are things you do around the house to prepare for winter. Maybe you have patio furniture to bring in or a garage that needs to be reorganized so bikes get tucked away and the snow blower can move forward. Maybe you’re even somewhat more proactive when it comes to home maintenance and you know to clean out gutters to remove fall leaves that can cause blockages, or you know to check that drain spouts are pointed away from your home. Maybe you even know to check for the presence of standing water near your foundation or around driveways or sidewalks that can lead to ice and cracking in colder temperatures.

Every so often though, at least every few years, you need to look beyond what you normally do and complete a more thorough inspection.

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Windows and doors

You know windows and doors are your best defense against winter’s cold winds. Yes, the Farmer’s Almanac says Ottawa is in for a milder than normal winter this year, but that doesn’t mean warm and it doesn’t mean you can’t help yourself a bit with those heating bills by dealing with leaks now.

Starting with a professional blower test is a good way to check for weak spots in your home, to determine if windows or doors need a bit of caulking, or perhaps even replacement, and to ensure that you are set for whatever Mother Nature has in store.

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Roof

The Almanac also predicts above-normal precipitation for the region and you know for us that’s going to mean precipitation in the form of snowfall, perhaps delivered through storms and accompanying heavy winds. Checking for loose or lifting shingles or other problem spots on your roof now can mean the difference between feeling safe and cozy on stormy winter nights and finding out how much emergency repair service can cost.

Chimney

While you’re on the roof, don’t forget the chimney. Check for loose or lifting flashing; cracks, especially around the base and at the cap, and crumbling brick that may need attention.
If you heat with wood or simply enjoy an occasional fire for its warmth and crackle, you’re also going to want to pay special attention to the inside of your chimney. While some people are eager to do as much work around the home themselves as they can, this is one area that really needs the attention of a professional. A job not done right can be both damaging and dangerous.

Cold weather guests

One other exterior task that you don’t want to regret doing is a walkabout to check for any gaps, holes, shifted dryer vents…anything that can mean something has or is trying to find a way into your home before the cold sets in. It’s a lot easier to keep critters from getting in than it is to get them out once they’ve set up a nest. Unfortunately, some animals need the merest of gaps to get in so you may need to be creative inside as well, but a good look around the exterior to identify any weaknesses in your fortress, a little screening added to any areas that offer opportunity, can go a long way.

Do it yourself or don’t

Some people are very handy around the home, and some less so. When it comes to protecting you family from the cold, maintaining the integrity of your four walls – and roof, dealing with specialized skill areas like chimneys, it may be worth getting a few quotes and some professional help to make sure the job is done right the first time, and so you don’t have to pay the higher costs of emergency repair if it isn’t.

Story by Heather Kirk