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Winter is Coming...

Blog by Meinzer James & Ferguson Realty Group | November 7th, 2017

Or, as you may have noticed, it blew in with gusto last week and seems to be here for the foreseeable future. 

As Calgarians we have a certain love-hate relationship with Winter: we hate it, but we love to complain about it. But no matter how we may feel about it, there is no denying that we will be living with it for the next 5-8 months, so it’s in our best interests to be prepared. 

With that being said, here are 7 things you need to do to get your home ready for Winter:

1. Shut off & blow out                      

This is one that everyone KNOWS about, but not everyone does. Warm Chinooks to plummeting temperatures cause excessive wear and tear on our water systems.  That’s why it’s so important to shut off all exterior water spouts and sprinklers and make sure they are properly drained (or blown out by a professional, in the case of underground systems). 

2. Change your furnace filters                           

This is actually something that should be done a few times a year, but it’s most important before Winter hits as this is when your furnace is about to work for it’s money! It’s best to have your vents, ducts, and furnace cleaned out prior to the cold weather so that it’s in perfect working order for when it’s needed most.

3. Lower the temperature on your water tank

Manufactures typically put the setting for any water heater to 140F, which is much higher than needed in a residential home. Lower your setting to 120F and you could save up to 10% on your heating bill….. which leaves you more money for Christmas presents!

4. Flush your water tank

I first heard this from my husband’s Grandmother when she gave us a talking to for not doing this on a yearly basis! Believe me, getting reprimanded from a Grandma when you’re in your 20’s is not something you’re likely to forget, so allow me to save you the experience….. empty out your water tank once a year, preferably in the fall to get ready for Winter. There are plenty of videos on YouTube to show you the proper way to drain your water tank of sediment and get it ready for another year. Pro Tip: turn off the the gas to the tank before you start to drain, or you’ll ruin your water heater.

5. Caulk & weatherstrip

Anywhere that you have two different materials on the exterior of your home meeting with each other, you have a potential spot for massive heat loss. You’ll want to weather strip exterior doors (or better yet, install a storm door and save yourself nearly 70% of energy efficiency loss!) and caulk along any window or siding joint. If you’re unsure if your home is suffering from heat loss we recommend you light an incense stick and hold it up to each window and door. If the smoke moves, you have a draft.

6. Insert a chimney balloon

Now I will admit, this is the first time I had ever heard of this one, but I will use the excuse that I haven’t had a wood burning fireplace in over 15 years. If you don’t plan on using your fireplace through the winter then you’re going to love this neat way of saving nearly 30% heat loss from your home. The Chimney Balloon (or more prominently know as the Chimney Pillow) is an inflatable fireplace damper that works much more efficiently than the metal damper that comes with your fireplace. It is found at most hardware stores (Rona, Lowes, Home Depot, etc) and is easy to instal. Just make sure the kids don’t see you putting it in, or you’ll have to explain how Santa is getting in come Christmas time!

7. Clean the gutters & deal with dead tree limbs

The fun little Chinooks winds mentioned earlier, come in from the West and bring warm weather (and massive headaches). We love our Chinooks as they can, at times, bring the temperatures up by 10 -15C, but they are also strong winds that will shake your trees and bring down any dead limbs that haven’t been dealt with. This can damage your shingles, the siding of your homes, and sometimes the neighbour’s car if you’re unlucky. It’s best to cut off all dead tree limbs before Winter hits, because you’re not going to want to have do it once the cold sets in. Brrrrrr. It’s also important to clean out those gutters because when the temperatures spike by 15C you’re going to have water overflowing in every direction if your gutters are filled with debris. And since those warm temperatures never stay for very long, those little waterfalls are going to turn in to very large, very precarious icicles. 

As a lover of Winter myself, I wish you a wonderful season of beautiful white snow and heatings bills that won’t eat into the Christmas budget!

All the Best,

Mikala James 

The Meinzer & James Real Estate Group