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House with a snow covered roof

In this issue

Winter home protection tips
Fire safety tips for the holidays
Shift into winter driving mode
Avoid water damage this winter

Winter home protection tips

Ready for another Canadian winter? Prepare yourself for snow season by winter-proofing your home to prevent weather damage.

We've compiled winter home safety tips from the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the Institute for Business and Home Safety, and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) to help guide you.

Snowfall strategy
Snow can pose a threat to the roof over your head — literally. Heavy snowfall and drifting may cause damage to the roof, walls or foundation of your home.

Not only that, water damage caused by melting snow and ice can destroy your home's interior and your belongings. By taking a few preventative measures, you can help avoid this winter fallout:

  • Keep snow away from your home. Shovel out basement stairwells, window wells and around exterior walls to lessen the chance of snowmelt seeping inside.
  • Monitor outdoor systems for ice and snow buildup. Consult with a contractor or your energy company about how to safely handle any ice problems you may find around vents, and chimneys.
  • Beware of snow accumulation on the roof. Excess snow buildup may cause structural problems — even collapse. Flat roofs or those with changes in elevation are especially vulnerable to heavier snow loads. Consult a roofing contractor for help in removing roof snow.
  • Prevent ice dams. Insulate and ventilate your attic properly to maintain a temperature close to outside. A too-warm attic can melt the snow on your roof, which may refreeze at the roof's edge where it's cooler. Over time it may build up into ice dams that block drainage and force water under the roof material, into your home.

Protect your pipes
Water pipes in attics, crawl spaces and outside walls are vulnerable to extreme cold. Pipes burst when frozen water causes a pressure buildup between the ice blockage and the closed faucet. To keep your pipes intact this winter:

  • Fit exposed pipes with insulation sleeves or wrapping to prevent freezing.
  • If your home is unheated for an extended period, drain pipes and turn off the main water shut-off valve and the water heater.
  • Insulate your hot water heater if it is installed in an unheated space.
  • Wrap electric heating tape around any pipes that have previously frozen.
  • Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes with caulking.
  • Open cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate around hidden pipes.
  • Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets connected to pipes that run through an unheated or unprotected space.

Systems maintenance checklist
Routine winter maintenance helps protect your biggest asset when temperatures plummet. You want all your home's systems to function safely and efficiently in the winter so that you stay comfortable, save money, and preserve your investment.

Heating, A/C and ventilation:

  • Clean or replace furnace air filters each month during the heating season.
  • If your home has a ventilation system, such as a heat recovery ventilator, check the filter every two months.
  • Vacuum all bathroom fan grilles.
  • Monitor your home for excessive moisture — for example, condensation on your windows. Too much indoor moisture indicates poor ventilation that can cause rot damage over time and pose a serious health risk due to mold growth. If necessary, talk to a contractor about installing equipment to control humidity and air quality.
  • Switch ceiling fans to “clockwise” so warm air pooled near the ceiling circulates back into the living space, and may cut your heating costs as much as 10%.
  • Drain any air conditioner hoses or pipes, and make sure you don't have excess water pooling in equipment.

Roof, windows and insulation:

  • Ensure eaves troughs are clear of debris.
  • Examine attic for frost accumulation and check the roof for ice dams or icicles.
  • Check door and window locks and hardware, and lighting around outside of house.
  • Examine windows and doors for ice accumulation or cold air leaks; plug drafts temporarily with a rolled bath towel or small area rug and note necessary repairs for spring.
  • Install storm doors and windows to seal drafts and reduce air flow.
  • Put up plastic window insulation — it's inexpensive, practically invisible, and adds a buffer against drafts that can boost your home's ability to hold heat.

The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only. Intact Insurance makes no representation, warranty or guarantee that use of this information will prevent damage or reduce your premium. Your insurance contract prevails at all times, please consult it for a complete description of coverage and exclusions. Products provided by Intact Insurance Company. Services provided by your broker. ®Intact Insurance Design and Intact Insurance small straight lines Design are registered trademarks of Intact Financial Corporation used under license. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. ©2014 Intact Insurance Company Inc. All rights reserved.