My Mortgage Blog

The snow is here ... again ... so, it's time to think about winter home maintenance!

A couple of years ago we had some serious ice damming issues in Calgary. To prevent these types of issues this year, make sure you go through this home maintenance checklist to get your home winter ready.

Your home is the single largest investment you will make, are you protecting yours?

Winter Home Maintenance Checklist

Store Furniture and Tools

Snow, wind and cold can damage and unnecessary wear and tear on outdoor furniture and tools. Make sure you cover or store furniture, mowers, gardening tools etc. This is also a good time to oil and clean metal tools before you store them in the shed.

Winter can also be very hard on ceramic planters. If you hope to keep the plants in these planters alive, bring them indoors and either allow them to go dormant, or continue to water them while they are indoors.

If not, ensure you empty the containers and store them in a garage or shed where they will stay out of the snow. They will last a lot longer!

While you're outside tidying up, ensure you cover that air conditioning unit. This will keep leaves and snow from getting in.

Finally, use the shut-off valves for all outdoor taps and drain the tap and hose. Ensure you remove the hose and store separately. A connected hose can also make your outdoor faucet more susceptible to frozen pipes.

Protect your Perennials

Perennial can benefit from some added protection in colder regions, like Alberta.

The type of protection needed depends on the type of plant. Wrap burlap over junipers and small evergreens as well as around young tree trunks. Add 12 to 18 inches of soil in a mound around the base of rosebushes.

If you really want to get fancy, you can invest in special tents that go around plants and shrubs. They protect the plants from the elements while letting sunlight and water in.

For more tips on how to get your Calgary garden ready for winter, check out this blog from the Calgary Horticultural Society.

Get to the Gutters

The first snow fall happened before all the leaves were off the trees, so did the second. If that wasn't warning enough, take the slight reprieve they are forecasting for this weekend to get those gutters cleaned out.

First, melting snow and ice needs somewhere to go and if your gutters are full, you could end up with ice damming if we continue to have these freeze thaw cycles.

Don't Forget the Furnace

We are fortunate that we don't have to run our heating systems too much for several months of the year. This means that there can be dust, dirt and debris - in my case dog hair - sitting in your vents. Now is the best time to get those vents and your furnace cleaned, before that dust dirt and dog hair gets recirculated into your home.

Also get your furnace checked before you need to rely on the heat. A regular checkup for your furnace will prolong its life, prevent carbon monoxide leaks and ensure everything is in working order. This tune-up will also ensure you’re getting maximum efficiency from your unit and not wasting your money.

And create a reliable schedule for changing your furnace filter. Changing the filter allows you to keep the furnace from clogging, keeps it running more efficiently and stops it from circulating allergens and other harmful particles. How often the filter needs to be replaced will vary depending on what type of filter you get, so a little research may be needed.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

As we heat our homes in cooler weather, the sources of carbon monoxide (CO) begin to increase. As higher concentrations of carbon monoxide in the air can be deadly, if you don't already have one, invest in a CO detector. This will monitor the levels and alert you with a noise and light when they get too high.

If you already have one, make sure you test it and check the batteries if it is not hard-wired.

And while you’re at it, check to make sure your smoke detectors are still functioning as well.

Check your Insulation

Before the weather starts to get too chilly, take a look around your home to make sure windows, doors and attic insulation are still in prime condition.

First, check the seals around your windows. If you find the seals are no longer in ideal condition, use weather stripping or caulk to seal around the frame. But first, remove the old caulk or weather stripping. You can remove the trim and put in an expanding foam.

You can seal your doors by putting self-stick foam around the doorframes or simply stick a door sweep at the bottom of the frame between the door and the floor.

Don't forget your outlets. You can find easy-to-install foam outlet covers (known as gaskets) at hardware stores. These will prevent the cold air, which can get in around your electrical box, from coming into the home.

If you’re still not getting the results you want, it might be time to consider installing new insulation. Whether or not this is a DIY project depends on the types of insulation and your comfort level, but make sure you do your research.

Keep it Humid

We do everything we can to keep the heat in during the cold months. By closing everything up, you’ll have taken your house into a state of hibernation. It’s important to remember that everything will dry out due to a lack of humidity in the air.

This can cause a number of problems, including ones that affect your health. Warm air tends to dry out the sinuses. As gross as it sounds, that mucus in your nasal passages actually helps trap viruses and other nasty stuff before it can get into your system.

Wood floors and furniture, baseboards, caulking etc. all shrink in with dryness, and can crack.

Consider using a humidifier to keep your sinuses happy and cut down on future home maintenance projects.


It takes some work to prepare your home for a long winter’s nap. Share any of your own tips for winterization in the comments!