If you’re a new homeowner, whether you have an RTM or Site-Built home, seasonal maintenance is an important part of keeping your home in good condition. For our customers across the prairie provinces, we wanted to create a comprehensive guide to seasonal home maintenance to keep your home like new.
As Canadians, we are not strangers to extreme weather conditions like blizzards, freezing rain, and high winds. Our homes are built for the elements, but even the best-built homes need maintenance to see them through. Seasonal maintenance is the best way to prevent unnecessary damage and maintain your home.
Exterior winter maintenance for your custom prairie home.
Winter in the prairies is laden with extreme temperatures, unpredictable conditions, and a blanket of white snow as far as the eye can see. Your home protects you and your family from the elements, but you can help your home continue to do that job long into the future. Winter maintenance is one of the most important things you can do as a homeowner. Damage from heavy snow and ice, dirty eavestroughs, and frozen pipes can be disastrous for your home. This simple checklist will ensure you and your home are protected.
Wash your windows.
Removing dirt and debris built up from the summer will help maintain the life of your windows and ensure all the sunlight you and your plants need can enter your home. Over time, pollutants, dust, mildew, bugs, and grime accumulate on our windows. Allowing these pollutants to stay on your windows can degrade the glass over time, leading to decreased energy efficiency and lifespan. Improve your view with a twice-annual cleaning in the spring and fall.For windows on the second floor, make use of a pressure washer to avoid accidents on ladders if you’re not entirely confident. For a streak-free clean, try microfiber cloths and a squeegee in combination with your favourite window washing liquid.
Check all caulking & weatherstripping on windows, doors, and vents.
Ensuring that all your caulking, both interior and exterior, is in good condition is a key part of maintaining your home. Caulking will deteriorate over time, leaving gaps that allow air, water, and pests to enter.The same applies to weatherstripping, which will deteriorate over time. Replacing the weatherstripping on your doors and windows is easy and will protect your home from damages caused by pests and water, as well as prevent drafts.
Test all your sensors, breakers, and switches.
Ensure all your electrical is in good condition by going through your home and checking your sockets and switches, check your breaker box for any damage, and ensure your breakers are working properly. Testing is one of the most important preventative measures you can take in your home. In addition to testing your electrical, you should take the time to ensure your smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and any other water and temperature sensors are in working order.
Change your furnace and HVAC filters.
Replace your furnace filter to ensure good air quality–especially over the long prairie winters where windows are closed. If you have an air purification system or whole-home humidifier as part of your home’s HVAC system, ensure that they are clean and ready for the winter months.During the winter, our windows and doors remain closed, so it can be especially important to ensure the quality of your air inside the home. Protect you and your family from air pollution such as radon, carbon monoxide, mould, allergens, and other VOCs (volatile organic compounds) by testing your air quality and ensuring you have a good ventilation system. If you live in a home that doesn’t have a venting system, it’s worth it to invest in a high-quality air purifier.
Inspect and clean your gutters.
This is a crucial part of homeownership that many neglect. Clean gutters prevent overflow and water damage to your home by taking water away from the house. They are a key piece of your home’s exterior. You can add gutter guards and screens to help prevent debris build-up, however, an annual cleaning will still be a necessity. Failure to remove the dirt, leaves, and other debris from your gutters lead to moisture intrusion if left unchecked.
Clean your vents and check for ventilation quality in your kitchen and bathroom.
Ensure your vent covers and hood vent screens are clean and free of excessive dust, grease, and debris. This is especially important in the kitchen and bathroom where moisture and oil allow dust to accumulate. Once you’ve cleaned your vents, use a kleenex to text the vents––your vents should pull the kleenex to the vent. If your vents aren’t pulling their weight, it is important to call in an HVAC specialist, as air pollutants and moisture shouldn’t linger in the home.
Check your foundation.
While a new build shouldn’t have foundation issues, we also work on a lot of renovations in Saskatoon where the ground is subject to extreme temperatures and shifting. Many repairs aren’t as drastic as we sometimes assume, and fixing them before they allow flooding, bulging walls, or severe damage is the best way to ensure your repair costs are low and increase the value of your home. Before the snow falls, check your property for tell-tale signs of structural and foundational issues.
Check your home for pests & potential pest entries.
Even the smallest hole or gap in your siding can be an invitation for unwanted pests. Ensure all vents and pipes have screens, there are no holes or gaps in your windows and doors, and that your foundation is in good condition. Check under your front and back porch for signs of pests, including wasps nests, mice, and gophers.You can pressure wash the outside of your home to deter maple/boxelder bugs from getting under your siding. If you have an infestation, you can use perimeter pesticides on the cracks in your siding–where the bugs are apt to hibernate over the winter. Another great solution is to use a shop vac with a couple of centimetres of water in the bottom, as maple bugs are prone to drowning. Ensure your window screens are in good condition, as this is the main way that pests like maple bugs or wasps enter your home.
Store your outdoor patio furniture & bring in outdoor plants.
Ensure your patio furniture is washed and ready to store. We recommend a small shed or deck storage box for cushions and neatly stacking your furniture in the shed or on the deck and covering it with a protective tarp. This will protect your furniture from sun, cold, or water damage over the winter months–ensuring a long life. Bring in your outdoor plants so that they can live through the winter. There are some important considerations for outdoor plants in Saskatchewan, however.
Bring your plants in before it gets too cold.
Extreme temperature shifts are really hard on your green friends. Bring your plants in slowly, from the outside to the porch, and then indoors (if possible) or bring your plants in while the temperature is still neutral (but your AC has been turned off.
Treat your outdoor plants for pests before bringing them inside.
Outdoor plants can bring in unwanted pests to your plants inside. By isolating your outdoor plants from your indoor ones, you can eliminate pests spreading. In addition, you can treat your outdoor plants with insecticidal soap when you bring them in, or right before you bring them inside. This can eliminate pests like thrips, mites, and aphids.
Winterize your outdoor water features & faucets.
Drain any outdoor water features, faucets, and hoses or irrigation systems before the temperatures become too low to do so. This includes ponds, bird fountains, garden hoses, rainwater buckets, and sprinkler systems. To prep your irrigation systems for winter:
- Shut off the water to the exterior
- Shut off any irrigation system timers if you have automatic sprinkler systems
- Drain all sprinkler systems, hoses, and water features ensuring all water is removed.
- Insulate any above-ground pipes, safely store any water features and hoses, and ensure your pipes inside aren’t subject to freezing. If so, you may need to insulate those pipes for the winter ahead to avoid damage from freezing.
This winter, protect your custom prairie-built home.
Investing in your home is life-changing–protect your home through any weather that Saskatchewan, Alberta, or Manitoba have to offer. Whether you have an RTM or a site-built home in Saskatoon, seasonal maintenance is a key part of homeownership. We hope you’ll use this checklist to keep your home in good condition for many years to come.