Winter is on its way, and there are several things you should do to properly prepare your home for the coming cold weather even if your home is brand-new. Take a look at our handy checklist to make sure you don't have any nasty surprises during the colder months.
Change out Your Furnace Filter
The furnace filter should be changed out as needed. It is recommended to replace them every 6 months, however, if you live in an active construction zone, you may need to change it out more often.
This is essential to ensure your furnace runs without interruption all winter long. To check the filter, pull it out and hold it up to a light. If you cannot see any light, or it's getting difficult to see light, it’s time to change it. Remove the old filter and replace it with a new one, ensuring the arrow on the label is pointing towards the furnace.
The size of the filter will differ, depending on the style of the furnace. Make sure to put a new filter of the same size in the furnace.
Clean the HRV Filters
This is something that should be done at the same time as changing the furnace filter. At least twice a year, but possibly more often if you live in an active construction zone.
Remove the filters from the housing in the basement, wash them in the sink and place them back into the unit. Don't use any kind of cleaners or chemicals to clean it as that will put chemical particles in the air. Be sure to use clean water only.
Flush the Hot Water Tank
Flushing the hot water tank will help to prevent sediment buildup and make sure there's no loss of hot water during the winter. Attach a garden hose to the brass nozzle at the bottom of the tank and put the other end into the sump pump, using a star screwdriver to remove the square top on the sump pump barrel.
Turn off the breaker marked ‘HWT’, close the red or yellow handled valve on the pipe above the tank, then, using a flat screwdriver, open the nozzle to allow the water to drain completely.
Next, open the red/yellow handled valve above the HWT about halfway to allow water to flush the tank out. Count to thirty, then close the valve again. Close the nozzle on the tank that the hose is attached to, open the red/yellow handled valve all the way and turn on the breaker.
Check the Sump Pump
There are two things to look for when testing your sump pump - to make sure the pump works as well as making sure the float in the bottom works. This is accomplished by doing the previous step of flushing your hot water tank. Putting the water into the sump barrel will lift the float to make sure it works. as well as testing the pump.
Remove the garden hose from the outside hose bib: This is a very important step as the hose bib that is installed is called a frost-free hose bib. This bib allows any water in the pipe to drain out once it is closed to prevent the water from freezing in the pipe, which could cause the line to rupture. If the hose is still attached, this could cause the line to freeze and burst, causing a leak in the basement.
Switch the Humidifier from Summer to Winter
On the humidifier, the white box on the furnace, there is a switch that points to either Winter or Summer. Make sure it is set to winter to allow humidity to be put into the home to prevent it from becoming too dry.
Open Window Coverings During the Day
During the winter, it's common to see moisture or condensation on the windows. This is caused by the cold air outside meeting the warm, moist air inside the home on the glass, forming moisture.
Opening your blinds or curtains for a few hours a day will allow air movement against the glass to dry the moisture from them.
Make Sure All Vents Are Open and Uncovered
Air movement is crucial to heating the entire home evenly. Make sure all floor vents and return air vents in the walls are uncovered. Please note, it is common for the rooms on the upper floor of the home to feel slightly colder than the main floor.
Under the Alberta New Home Warranty Program, there's an allowable difference of 5 to 7 degrees between the upper floor and the main floor. Keeping doors to bedrooms open during the day will help to move the air around and help to heat them as well.
Knock Any Ice Build-Up off of Outside Exhaust Pipes
It is also common to see ice build-up on the white exhaust pipes on the outside of the home. These are from the furnace and gas hot water tanks, which do release a fair amount of moisture.
During the extreme cold weather, it can cause substantial ice build-up that can choke off the furnace and hot water tank, causing them to shut down as they will not work if they can't vent properly.
Check these every few weeks and knock down any ice, being careful not to be too rough on the pipes as they can break easily in the extreme cold.
Shovelling Your Driveway and Sidewalk
Shovelling these areas outside your home are important not just for the safety of walking. Allowing the ice to sit on the concrete for an extended period of time could be damaging to the driveway as well as the sidewalk.
Try to shovel the driveway within 24 hours of a snowfall. Don't use any ice salt or de-icing chemicals on the driveway as they can be very harmful to the concrete. If salts or chemicals are used and the driveway deteriorates, this won't be covered under the warranty.
Following these steps will help to make sure that all of the parts of your home operate properly and prevent the likely hood of anything shutting down.
If you have any questions or concerns about any of these items, please contact us to learn more.