Living November 2, 2012

Preventive home maintenance


­It is storm season, and between British Columbia earthquakes, Hawaiian Island tsunamis and East Coast “Frankenstorms”, it is time to take a few minutes to think about storm preparedness and making sure you and your home are as ready as possible for whatever nature throws your way this fall and winter.

Over the next few weeks we will share some valuable tips on preventive home maintenance, disaster preparedness and post-winter storm cleanup.

Preventive home maintenance:

Control where the water goes. Water in the wrong place can do a whole lot of damage. Start by ensuring your gutters and downspouts are doing their job. Don’t attempt this task yourself if you have a multi-story house with a deep roof; hire a professional instead. Your gutter maintenance will depend on your property. If you have tall trees nearby that can drop needles or leaves, you will want to check your gutters quarterly.

First, make sure your gutters are secured, flush to the roof. Repair or replace sagging and broken portions of the gutters. Then clean out your gutters and downspouts, checking that outlet strainers are in good shape and firmly in place. Finally, ensure that your downspouts direct water away from the house, not straight into the foundation. You may want to consider gutter/downspout extensions to redirect water away from your foundation. 

If you have a sump pump under your home, test it. Run a hose to be sure draining water travels directly to the pump (dig small trenches if needed), and that the pump removes the water efficiently and expels it well away from the house.


Check your roof, doors and windows.  Now that the rain has started again, check your roof for any leaks. Check the underside, looking for moisture on joints or insulation. You can mark any damp spots and have a professional come out and repair any leaks. Don’t wait for wet spots to appear on the ceiling; the damage will be much more expensive if the insulation and dry wall is soaked. Waiting can also lead to larger problems such as mold, a health hazard.

Also check your windows and doors to ensure they are properly sealed. If you feel any drafts, isolate the location using the match trick. You may want to use silicon to repair any gaps between the frame and wall, or if the window itself is drafty you can use weather stripping.  With doors, you may want to use weather stripping, or if you have a large gap at the bottom of your door, a draft dodger may be a simple solution.


Maintaining your heating and cooling systems. Fall is a smart time to have your home’s heating and air-conditioning systems checked and tuned up if necessary. Don’t wait for extreme temperatures to arrive, when service companies are slammed with emergency calls. Between maintenance calls, keep your system performing optimally by cleaning and/or replacing air filters.

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, a professional inspection and cleaning will help prevent potentially lethal chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Even if you don’t use your fireplace often, always keep a supply of dry firewood or sawdust composite logs so you have a backup source of heat in case of an emergency. 


Next week we will have more information about preparing your family and your home for winter storms, from power outages to natural disasters.