Even though your home braved the cold this winter, you should still be protecting it against the elements as the weather warms up. The ice storm in December has opened our eyes to the need to prepare our homes, and ourselves, for extreme weather events. Draining and shutting off water pipes to prevent freezing and bursting during a power outage in winter is a good example, as well as keeping a supply of emergency essentials on hand. However, there are many Spring home maintenance tasks that can protect your home during the thaw this season.
All new homes in Ontario come with a warranty that lasts seven years from the date of the first possession, guaranteed by Tarion Warranty Corporation. The warranty was created to ensure homeowners receive a new home that is constructed in a workmanlike manner, is free from defects in material, is fit for habitation and is constructed in accordance with the Ontario Building Code
. This warranty does not include regular wear and tear on your home. It is essential to conduct home maintenance year-round to protect your home from damage, and to help ensure that you keep your warranty rights.Outdoor Maintenance
Between the snow and ice storms, as well as large fluctuations in temperatures, your home has been exposed to harsh conditions these past few months. Fluctuating temperatures can cause ice damming and icicles. This occurs when the roof surface is warm enough to melt the snow, but the air temperature is cold enough to re-freeze the melted water – leading to ice forming on roofs. Homeowners should keep a close watch in valleys and dormer roof areas for ice damming, as this can lead to water leaks inside the home. Professional removal of ice and snow during the winter and proper maintenance of eaves troughs can help reduce the likelihood of water leaks.
Severe weather aside, regular wear and tear on your home can also cause damage if a regular maintenance routine is not followed. Some important outdoor tasks include:
- Checking to ensure air intakes, exhausts and meters are clear.
- Clearing eavestroughs of debris regularly and extending downspouts so that water is directed away from the building as water flow can erode the ground near the foundation and force its way into the basement.
- Inspecting the foundation around your home for cracks that require repair.
Today’s energy-efficient homes are built tightly to seal out the cold weather, however, this can lead to excess moisture if water does enter the home. Weather-related water entering and remaining in your home can cause considerable damage and lead to unhealthy indoor air quality. Too much or too little moisture can result in damage that would not be covered by the statutory warranty.
This is why outdoor maintenance is crucial – to help prevent outdoor water leaking inside your home. However, don’t forget indoor maintenance to ensure your home stays healthy. The humidity level in your home is a key indicator of a healthy indoor environment. You can check the humidity level in your home using a hygrometer. The healthy range during the winter is 30 to 45 per cent humidity. If your home’s humidity levels are lower than 30 per cent, install a portable humidifier. Low humidity may affect your interior finishes and cause wood products to shrink.
Excess moisture, on the other hand, can be improved with proper ventilation. Bathroom fans, kitchen range hoods and packaged ventilators such as heat recovery ventilators are specifically installed in your home to help you control moisture and contaminants. As well, regular use of your home ventilation system will remove excess airborne moisture caused by bathing, showering, doing laundry and cooking.
Ventilation is only one of the many components that keep your home in good condition. Indoor maintenance during the winter months should also include: cleaning or replacing your furnace filter, cleaning the heat recovery ventilator and washing or replacing the filter, checking all caulking and weather stripping around windows and doors, checking smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replacing batteries if required.
Owning a new home comes with a responsibility to manage and maintain that home, and that responsibility falls on the owner. By conducting regular and proper maintenance on your home, you will help to ensure that your statutory warranty rights are protected, and your home stays in good condition. For a comprehensive checklist of seasonal maintenance tips, visit tarion.com or like Tarion on Facebook for ongoing home maintenance updates.