Canadian Woodworking

Top 10 make your home winter-ready

Now is the time to make your home ready for the cold season. Attend to one of these tips each week and by early December you’ll have the upper hand over ornery Mr. Winter.

Photo by Bialasiewicz |

1. Keep Home Fires Burning Safely

Clean the fireplace, wood burning heater, and any chimney flues – or have them attended to by a professional. Stock up on wood and kindling now so it has time to dry. Check the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and ensure the pressure gauge needle on your fire extinguisher is in the green zone – the proper operating range.

2. Out, Damned Cold

Check windows and doors for drafts and, if needed, caulk the cracks. Replace single-pane windows with double-paned units. Cover basement windows and any others that aren’t great at keeping the cold wind out with plastic film. Replace any ancient thermostats with new programmable ones. Buy a warm woolen sweater.

3. Give Your Furnace Some TLC

Don’t be stingy; have your heating system checked by a professional. While the value of having your ducts cleaned is highly debatable, do check for leaks in the ducting and tape them up. Vacuum baseboard heaters or floor registers. Clean or replace furnace filters monthly during prime heating season. If your water heater is approaching or over the 10-year mark, have it inspected. Same goes for the sump pump.

4. Get on Up

Do your roof a favour and clean out clogged gutters and downspouts. Make sure the entire system is leak-free by running water through it. If your roof has a recurring problem with ice dams, check for and fix any air leaks, ensure your attic is properly vented, and check that the attic is well insulated – not just the attic floor but between the roof rafters as well.

5. Close the Floodgates

Turn off the outdoor water supply from inside the house, and then turn off outdoor taps. Drain the garden hose. Insulate any pipes that might be subject to freezing temperatures, especially in unheated crawl spaces and basements.

6. No Break Dancing Here

Reduce the likelihood of an errant slip on your driveway, sidewalk, or entrance by stocking up on your favourite ice melt product. Consider applying a coat of slip-resistant paint or other material on stair treads.

7. Swab Those Decks

Don’t wait till spring. Bring that shabby deck or patio back to life with a dash of cleaning, a bit of stripping, and a dab of refinishing. Use a top-of-the-line exterior finish for maximum durability and life span. Wash outdoor furniture and store it away, or cover it. Same for the BBQ.

8. A Little off the Top

To reduce the risk of structural damage or power loss, cut back overhanging tree branches adjacent to your home and power line.

9. Deck the Eaves

Hang your holiday lighting while it’s still sensible to be climbing a ladder.

10. Don’t tempt Mr. and Mrs. Fate

Make sure you have an emergency kit – water, food, heat source, lighting, medication, and the like – that can last you at least three days, longer if the Fates have visited you before. And don’t forget your furry friends. Have your snow blower serviced now, not during the first storm of the season.

Carl Duguay - [email protected]

Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.


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  2. Item #2 referring to replacing single pane windows with double pane is bad advice. Any window replacement should be with triple pane. Having Argon added to the air spaces is better insulation, and a lowE coating on the glass is better still.

    1. The window industry has evolved quite a bit over the past decade Randall, and the major differences in performance between double and triple glazing are less apparent. Glass type, gas filling, cavity width, overall unit thickness, where the windows are to be installed in the house and cost are all relevant considerations. LoE coatings combined with a good frame design can achieve triple-glazed-like performance in a double-glazed window. I would suggest that homeowners do some basic research and get several quotes from reputable window retailers or installers before making any purchase decision.

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