In a bid for more space, many Canadians made the move to leave urban areas behind for more rural parts of the country or invest in a second property that they can escape to. Whether it’s a cottage near the water, a cabin in the country or even an RV, it’s important to prepare these homes to withstand the harsh winter weather. In other cases, snowbird retirees that are leaving their primary residence for warmer weather may need to prepare their home to be vacant before jetting off into the sunset. You can add value to clients by sharing advice on how to proactively protect their investment and avoid major expenses in the future.
Frozen pipes, pest infestations, leaks and mould are just a few of the most common issues that can cost homeowners thousands of dollars in damages if they do not properly winterize their property. These problems can be easily avoided by taking the right steps to prepare their homes for the winter shut-down.
The process of winterizing a home is a big undertaking, here are some tips on where to start:
Inspect the property – Begin with a careful examination of the property, both inside and out. Look for any damage or cracks in the foundation and around the windows and doors. Make a list of anything that might need repairs and how urgently they need to be addressed. Take special care to check the roof and the chimney, since issues can easily be missed as it’s “out of sight, out of mind.” It’s especially important to inspect the roof for any loose shingles because any leaks into the structure of the home can cause far-reaching damage.
Protect the pipes – The pipes in your home may be exposed to harsh weather and very cold temperatures, especially in an older home. Before the sub-zero temperatures hit, it’s important to drain the pipes and shut off the water supply if closing up the cottage or make sure they are properly insulated if using the property throughout the winter. One way to do this is to wrap them in a sleeve of insulation with heat tape and make sure any crawl spaces with the pipes are well-vented.
Clear the gutters – Make sure gutters are not clogged with leaves and other debris and position drainage away from the home so that water can flow freely from off the rooftop. This will help prevent damage to the home’s foundation and ensure that ice does not build up on the roof, which can cause severe damage and deterioration. Trim nearby tree branches that could break and obstruct the gutters and consider installing gutter guards to prevent any buildup.
Leave all doors inside the home wide open – Damage or mould growth resulting from condensation is another major concern over the winter. Because of limited air circulation during the winter shut-down period, moist indoor air may condense on cooler surfaces both when the heat is initially turned off and also repeatedly through the winter as the home is passively heated from solar energy coming in through the windows. Condensation can also occur in cabinets, closets and other spaces with limited air flow. A solution is to leave all doors inside the home wide open and to cover windows with drapery, blinds or other coverings.
Turn off what you don’t need – If the property won’t be used at all during the winter, it may be a good idea to turn off the heat and make sure any fireplaces or stoves are properly cleaned to reduce any fire hazards. It’s also possible to shut off the gas line to minimize the risk of gas being released or ignited unknowingly when the property is vacant. As an extra precaution, unplug any electronics and turn the power off any appliances to protect them from power surges.
Your client’s home is one of their greatest investments and it’s in their best interest to be proactive to avoid unexpected costs and repairs. If more than basic preparation is required to get a seasonal home winter-ready, CMI can help your clients leverage the equity in their property to access the funds needed to properly winterize their home.
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