Many of us have a little more time on our hands these days and since this is the time of year to do some checking around the house, it’s a perfect time to get out of the house and see what might need attention.
Roof shingles: Examine roof shingles to see if any were lost or damaged during the winter. If your roof covering is older, you may want to start budgeting for replacement. Shingles that are cracked, buckled or loose or missing granules will need to be replaced. Flashing around plumbing vents, skylights and chimneys need to be checked for possible repair as well.
Gutters and downspouts: There’s a good chance your gutters and downspouts need some care after the winter. Do a perimeter check from the ground to make sure nothing has come loose or detached from the house.
If you are able to climb a ladder safely, check for any clogs and make sure water is able to get to downspouts and that the downspouts extend away from your foundation. If you’re not comfortable climbing a ladder, check with contractors in your area as many offer this service.
Foundation Cracks: Cracks may have occurred in your foundation, walkways or patio during the winter that allow water into the home. Fill these as soon as you can to avoid paying for repairs after the spring rain. Check to ensure your patio and walkways are sloping away from the house so water does not pool near your foundation. Check for low areas around the foundation and fill with compacted soil to ensure water flows away from the home.
Window Caulking: Scrape off any old caulking around windows and replace. Also check any wood trim or sills for signs of decay and repair or replace as needed.
To keep your HRV working at peak performance, it should be cleaned twice a year in spring and fall.
Turn off the HRV and unplug it. Open and clean inside the machine. Remove and clean or replace, the filters.
Check to see if your HRV has a condensate drain — a pipe or plastic tube coming out of the bottom. If so, slowly pour about two litres of warm, clean water in each drain pan inside the HRV to make sure it is flowing freely.
Next, go to the exterior of the house where the intake and exhaust vents are located. These vents have screens which must be cleaned, especially the intake vent which is most commonly clogged with insects and debris. Remove and inspect the vents and vacuum out the ducts. Making sure these vents are clear will ensure the air in your home is healthy for your family and allow your air exchanger to work more efficiently. It is also a good idea in winter to check that the vents are clear of snow or ice buildup.
If your attic hatch isn't sealed, it's an escape hatch for heating, cooling and the hard-earned money spent on higher utility bills to pay for both.
Attic hatches are often under the radar when it comes to eliminating sources of energy loss in your home. It's not uncommon to find homeowners who have upgraded attic insulation yet neglected this gaping energy hole that allows heat to escape your living spaces in winter and invade in summer. When a typical attic hatch isn't properly sealed, the hatch alone can lose more energy than the entire ceiling.
With the new changes in the building codes, homes are being retrofitted and built much tighter, trapping moisture inside the house. Any air leakage can cause excessive moisture build-up in the attic causing a condition called "Attic Rain". Around the hatch is also a common area for mould to develop as the moisture from the interior air frosts and condenses around both the hatch and the housing around the lid.
An attic hatch leaks energy in two ways: Direct air leaks around the trim and by conduction through the thin plywood board or drywall material the hatch is made of.
To ensure that your attic hatch is well insulated and has an airtight seal, there should be insulation (rigid foam board insulation is ideal) on top of the attic hatch door, as well as, weatherstripping (generally closed-cell foam tape) on the wood trim lip that the door closes or rests against. The gap between the trim that the hatch door rests against and the ceiling (or insulation-stop material) should be well sealed for airtightness. Consider adding a latch similar to sliding window latches to keep the hatch tightly in place.
Some areas of the country have already had an early start to winter and for the rest of us, time is getting short.
Now that the leaves are off the trees it is a good idea to clean the eavestrough, downspouts, gutters and valleys to prevent ice dams and unnecessary weight in the eavestrough which cannot drain properly.
When you are outside cleaning your eavestroughs it is also a good time to take a quick look at any trees on your property. Look to see if any limbs are brushing up against your house, near your chimney or are in contact / close proximity with your power or telephone lines. Damage can occur as result of high winds or ice-laden boughs. Appropriate trimming by a licensed arborist now may save you considerable inconvenience this winter. Also look for trees that are leaning and may come down on a power line and contact the utility company for removal.
Steps and sidewalks can be hazardous to your wintertime health - if you use de-icers pick them up early so you have them on hand when you need them. Remember some of these products are not recommended for properties with wells or concrete surfaces. For locations where chemical de-icers are not appropriate, sand or non-clumping kitty litter will provide some traction but do not melt snow.