Cold weather is almost upon us here in Ontario, so time is running out to get your house prepped for harsh temperatures and driving snow. A little prep now will help your home to make it through winter in one piece, lower your energy bills and repairs, and keep you and your family safe from trips, falls and leaks.

Lots of autumn leaves on a roof

Perhaps the most maligned home care on your honey-do list, cleaning out your gutters is essential to maintaining their structural integrity and extending their lifespan.  Clogged gutters can also cause basement flooding, shingle damage, and foundation cracks or rotting wood. It’s a no-brainer!

While you’re up there, have a look around for any rotted or missing shingles, cracks, open vents, or loose gutter attachments. Now is your last chance to fix these problems before water, ice, or animals looking for a respite from the cold make their way into your roof.

closeup of man shoveling snow from driveway

Make sure you’re stocked up on salt or sand. Put away your warm-weather tools, and apply a lightweight oil to any moving mechanisms, such as those in a lawnmower, to prevent erosion in the cold. Move your snowblower somewhere with easy access and make sure it’s working – the last thing you want is to be stuck with no snowblower in a snowstorm.

frozen winter window

Remove debris and dead leaves – these will become a sopping wet mass in the spring thaw. Bring any pots, especially terra cotta, inside as the cold can make them swell and crack. If you’re especially ambitious, aerate your lawn and fertilize with a winter-specific blend to get a jumpstart on lawn growth next spring.

If there is any tip to use on this list, it’s ensuring your outside faucets are turned off. This will prevent your pipes freezing and bursting, and getting a plumber outside in the freezing, dark middle of the night will definitely cost you. While you’re at it, protect your hoses from breaking and cracking, and store them inside.

Raking Leaves

Ensure your windows are properly sealed – you may need to replace caulking or weatherstripping to prevent heat loss and drafts. If you have wooden window frames, inspect them for cracks or decay and varnish or oil them as necessary – the shrinking/swelling they’ll experience as winter sets in will cause them to decay faster. Windows are the number one source of air leakage, so taking a few minutes to inspect them could help you save big on your energy bills.