Winter home maintenance tips
Thursday Aug 31st, 2017
Winter can be a particularly tough season for a home – even if it's brand new. Since wind, snow and ice can't distinguish between old or new houses, don't make the mistake of thinking that your new home doesn't need regular maintenance, especially during a harsh Ontario winter.
Fortunately, all new homes in Ontario come with the mandated builders' warranty that lasts up to seven years from the date of possession and is guaranteed by Tarion. To help protect your warranty rights, it's important to conduct regular home maintenance year-round. If you don't, regular wear and tear on your home can cause damage that may not be covered by your warranty.
One issue to consider in winter is fluctuating temperatures that can sometimes lead to a build-up of roof ice and potentially dangerous icicles. This can occur when the roof surface is warm enough to melt the snow but the surrounding air temperature is cold enough to refreeze the melted water.
Areas to monitor are roof valleys, dormers, skylights and roof over-hangs. Regular freeze and thaw cycles, especially in these areas, can eventually lead to water seeping inside the home. Where it can be done safely, clearing roof ice and snow can help reduce the likelihood of future water leaks.
Other important outdoor maintenance tasks include ensuring that all air intakes, exhausts and meters are clear of snow; cleaning gutters and washing out all debris; and turning off and draining exterior hoses and pipes.
Inside your home, managing the humidity level – a key indicator of a healthy indoor environment – is particularly important during the colder months.
You can monitor this by using a hygrometer, an inexpensive device that can be found in hardware stores. The healthy range during the winter is 30 to 45 per cent humidity.
Today's new energy-efficient homes are built to better seal out the elements, but that also means that they are better at sealing in indoor air and moisture. If not vented properly, this moist warm air could cause considerable damage to your new home and possibly promote unhealthy indoor air quality and mould.
Excess moisture can even be caused by simple day-to-day tasks such as showering, cooking and doing laundry. Make sure that bathroom fans, kitchen range hoods and ventilators, such as heat recovery ventilators — items that are specifically installed in your new home — are in good working order to help you control moisture.
Too little moisture can also result in damage that may not be covered by the statutory warranty.
If you have low humidity in your home, your interior finishes may be affected and wood products may shrink. Installing a portable humidifier should help.
Other indoor maintenance during the winter months should include cleaning or replacing your furnace filter on a regular basis, cleaning the heat recovery ventilator and washing or replacing the filter, and checking all caulking and weather stripping around windows and doors.
Find more winter maintenance tips online at www.tarion.com