As Winnipeg prepares for the first hint of spring, it’s a good time to take care of some basic maintenance issues in your home. Anyone who has spent even a single winter in Winnipeg will attest to the weather extremes our city is known for. Harsh cold and low humidity can take a toll on any home and it’s worth taking some simple steps to protect your valuable asset.
EAVESTROUGH & DOWNSPOUTS
Preparing your home for the big spring melt can help make sure that water is channeled away from the foundation and reduce the risk of seepage, flooding, and pooling. Make sure your eavestroughs and downspouts are free of ice and debris, and that you have proper runoffs installed to at least 6 feet from your home.
CENTRAL AIR & FURNACE
Once the temperatures get into the low teens, it’s important to make sure your central air is in good working order. Have you ever tried to call an HVAC service company the first week of +30 temperatures? Rather than waiting until it’s a real problem, a little preventative maintenance can ensure that your system is working when you need it, and alert you early to any problems you might have.
Remove the cover from your AC unit if you have one, and start it up for a few minutes to see if it’s working. You don’t want to run it for long if the outside temperature is under 18C, but you should be able to tell quickly that you have cold air coming.
Now is also a good time to change your furnace filter, and schedule duct cleaning if it hasn’t been done in a while.
Spring is also the time you want to get out your sump pump runoff hose and connect it to the exterior of your house, making sure to run it away from the house to an appropriate drainage location.
INSPECT YOUR BASEMENT FOR SIGNS OF SEEPAGE OR MOLD
Take a moment to walk the perimeter of your basement on the inside looking for indication of any seepage or mold. Damp carpets, bubbling paint, or staining can be signs of water seepage. If you find seepage, inspect the exterior of the home in that area and make sure you have proper grading away from the foundation wall, that your downspout runoffs are properly moving water away from the home, and consider calling a foundation specialist to inspect your foundation for serious cracks which can be a sign of structural problems.
CHECK YOUR ATTIC FOR ICE DAMMING
Before the big spring melt comes, it’s important to check for signs of ice damming in your home. One of the immediate giveaways is if you have significant icicles hanging from the eaves. However, even if you don’t see a lot of icicles, you may still have ice damming. It’s worth popping your head up into your attic with a flashlight while temperatures are still cold to look for ice buildup on your rafters, often near the eaves, or for signs of water staining or pooling.
Ice damming is fairly common in older homes. If left unattended it can lead to greater roof problems. There are several issues that can contribute to the problem, however the most common issues are a lack of sufficient insulation, in improper vapour barrier, and inadequate roofing ventilation. Consult a roofing professional for advice on remedying this problem before it leads to a very expensive fix.
TEST SMOKE AND CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS AND CHANGE BATTERIES
Spring is a good time to test all of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace the batteries (even if you think they’re still working fine). These life-saving devices are so important to your family’s safety so it’s well worth taking a moment a couple times per year to ensure that they are working properly.
KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR HRV / HUMIDISTAT
If your home has a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) it’ll be important to keep an eye on your home’s humidity settings as the season changes. Winter is much drier than summer, so it’s common to keep your humidity set to between 40-44%. However, by the middle of summer it’s nearly impossible to keep your home that dry and if you leave your humidity setting that low your HRV will run continuously. By the peak of summer it’s likely you’ll want to have your HRV set to around 60%. As outside temperatures warm up through spring, keep an eye on your HRV and bump up the humidity settings accordingly.
If you take care of these simple maintenance steps each spring you can extend the life of your home, and avoid a lot of common preventable problems.
Happy spring! Enjoy the nice weather!