Winters in Alberta can be unpredictable, so it’s important that your home and cottage is ready for any weather. Extreme cold, heavy snow, and high winds can lead to physical property damage. Low temperatures can freeze water filled pipes, including process and sprinkler systems. Heavy snow or ice accumulation on roofs, outdoor equipment, or power lines have the potential to collapse under pressure. Blocked roof drainage systems and gutters can back up water, which can subsequently seep inside. On a frigid day, a heating system failure will become a huge inconvenience and temporary heaters can also become fire hazards.
In addition to regular winter conditions, winter storms can also damage your property. Storms can sometimes cause power outages, flooding, and blocked roads and highways. Geographic areas that normally do not experience extreme weather conditions now face weather-related hazards more often. As winter approaches, it is important to evaluate the soundness of your home and take any necessary measures to ensure it is winterized and protected.
Winterizing Your Home
In order to winterize your home or cottage, there are a number of steps you should take. These steps will help you to protect your investment from damage and reduce the likelihood of needing to file an insurance claim.
- Inspect the roof for obvious structural issues or maintenance, including damaged shingles.
- Ensure all roof drains, pipes and gutters are free of debris and check for proper water drainage. If water can flow freely through your gutters, it will help to prevent the formation of icicles and ice dams.
- Evaluate the roof’s snow load capacity. Be prepared to remove snow from the roof at least once 40 cm or 16 of snow in has accumulated. Consider hiring a snow removal service.
- Be prepared to remove snow from the doorway, driveway, gates, outdoor valves, fire hydrant, road in, etc. Hire a reputable snow removal service if needed.
- Inspect the windows and doors for cracks, leaks, gaps and drafts. Ensure that the house is “weather tight” by closing all the windows, doors, vents, etc. and seal any openings in exterior walls, ceilings, roofs, etc. Make sure the caulking and weather stripping around the windows and doors are in good condition.
- Inspect all lines subject to freezing for proper insulation (such as water, fuel, steam, tanks, etc.). Insulate water pipes, especially in areas where the basement is not heated. Check the said systems for cracking, warping, leakage, and ensure that all plumbing fixtures are still working.
- Shut off and drain out any outdoor plumbing by turning off the inside control valve and disconnect anything attached to the faucet before draining it.
- Inspect all heating systems to ensure they are working properly. Install a programmable thermostat for energy efficiency. Change the filters in the central air and heating system and have the furnace serviced.
- Protect your home by removing tree limbs or large trees that could fall due to a heavy snow or ice load.
- Remove any fire hazards, such as oil rags and stacked newspapers and ensure you have working smoke detectors and a fire extinguisher.
- Consider investing in homeowners insurance for your Edmonton property to protect yourself should any unexpected damage occur over the cold winter months.
Additional Steps for Winterizing a Home or Seasonal Cottage:
- If the home/cottage is insulated and heated, lower the thermostat to maintain an indoor temperature above freezing of at least 4°C.
- If you have a wood stove, clean it out completely and close the damper vent. Inspect the chimney for rust, tar build-up and loose strapping where it attaches outside.
- Shut off the plumbing at the main valve and drain all the plumbing, water laden equipment and piping. Drain all sources of standing water, including the toilets and all inside and outdoor faucets. Water in drain traps can be eliminated or diluted by pouring plumbing approved antifreeze into them, in accordance with the directions.
- Prepare the kitchen by removing all food from the fridge and freezer, and propping the doors open to prevent mold and mildew. If you store any dry foods (e.g., seeds and grains), keep them in tin or aluminum containers with tight lids, to guard against insects and rodents. Remove all items that could freeze, such as bottled liquids, like mineral water, soda, and beer, as their containers may burst when their contents freeze.
- Shut off all breakers at the electrical panel. If you leave the electricity on, disconnect all appliances, including fridge, stove, washer, dryer, and TVs.
Prepare with Homeowners Insurance in Edmonton
It is important to prepare your home for the harsh winter to prevent damages and costs that may otherwise result. It’s also important to consider whether your insurance coverage is adequate for the winter. If you are underinsured, you could find yourself having to pay for costly repairs out of pocket.
Invest in the right type of homeowners insurance in Edmonton for your specific circumstances. At MBS Insurance Brokers Ltd, we have access to a wide range of companies that offer special packages and pricing options for different types of homes, including seasonal homes and cottages.
Contact us today online or at 780-436-7880.