How to prepare your house for winter and winter storms
The Canadian winter is a frigid and long one. Luckily most of us have dealt with it for years and know what to expect. But, being comfortable with winter sometimes mean we get lazy and don’t properly prepare our home for the winter months. We can handle the winters, but can our homes? Here are some helpful tips to brush up on for when old man winter strikes.
- For heat’s sake have your furnace professionally serviced. A routine maintenance check each fall will help ensure your furnace is running properly and efficiently. Also, if you have an older thermostat, consider replacing it with a programmable one to save money on heating costs.
- Inspect all windows and doors for leaks. To prevent heat loss, make sure your windows and doors are properly sealed. Check the weather-stripping around windows and door frames, and replace where necessary. Also check for drafts and caulk both inside and out where necessary, to keep the heat in and the cold out.
- Sweep the chimney. Before you use your fireplace, make sure the chimney and vents are clean and in good condition by having your chimney looked at by a professional. This will help prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide from building up and finding its way into your home.
- Clean out your gutters. It’s important your eaves are free of any debris such as leaves, dirt and sticks. Clogged gutters prevent the draining of rain and melting snow which could result in household leaks. Also, make sure your downspouts extend away from your house by at least five feet to ensure that water runs away from your house and not towards it.
- Inspect the roof. While cleaning your eaves, inspect your roof for any missing, loose or damaged shingles. If your roof needs attention call a roofer to help you with the repairs or maintenance. Also ask them to look at the caulking around the chimney and air vents.
- Turn off any faucets outside. Water left undrained can freeze, which can cause the pipes to burst. Disconnect your garden hose and drain the remaining water.
- Trim your bushes and trees. Make sure any overgrown bushes or trees are trimmed back away from your house and electrical wires. This will help decrease your risk of property damage and power problems.
- Pad exposed pipes in unheated areas. This is an easy and inexpensive method to help prevent water damage resulting from a frozen pipe. Even the smallest of pipes can cause a lot of damage. Pipes in the basement, attic or crawl space are some examples of pipes you may want to cover.
SERVPRO® of Ajax has got you covered when storms strike!
Canada, especially Ontario, is known for its extreme weather. Scorching hot and rainy in the summer and unbearably cold and snowy in the winter. When you live through these conditions, you know they aren’t particularly friendly on your home’s structure. Being prepared is the first step, but if restoration is necessary SERVPRO of Ajax is the company to call for any of your home restoration needs.
SERVPRO of Ajax employs trained water and storm damage specialists, water restoration technicians and applied structural drying technicians. That means we can restore your home or business and get life back to normal. Our list of storm related services includes (but not limited to):
- Mold Remediation
- Sewage Cleanup
- Carpet Cleaning
- Odor Removal
- Contents Restoration
- Move Outs / Pack Ups
- Electronic Cleanup
- Document / Photograph Drying
So the next time the lightning strikes or the snow rolls in, have our number ready in case the worst case scenario happens! Call 289-460-5124.
What to do during a power outage
What were you doing during the Northeast blackout of 2003 in Ontario? Just recently we celebrated the 15-year anniversary of the power outage that affected a whole province. Most of us didn’t have power for 2 days, some regions took nearly a week or two for power to be restored. Most of us were left struggling to live through a power outage during our hottest month of the year. If something like this were to ever happen again (even if it’s just for a few hours) make sure you are prepared. Here are a few helpful tips.
- Keep freezers and refrigerators closed
- Only use generators outdoors and away from windows
- Do not use a gas stove to heat your home
- Disconnect appliances and electronics to avoid damage from electrical surges
- Have alternate plans for refrigerating medicines or using power-dependent medical devices
- If safe, go to an alternate location for heat or cooling – your local news organizations will provide you with areas with the appropriate amenities if need be.
- Check on your neighbours
Before the power outage
- Take an inventory of the items you need that rely on electricity
- Plan for batteries and other alternatives to meet your needs when the power goes out
- Ontario recently just programmed alerts to go out on any electronic device to warn people of extreme weather and so on. Make sure you have received a test of these updates.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors with battery backup in central locations on every level of your home.
- Review the supplies that are available in case of a power outage. Have flashlights with extra batteries for every household member. Make sure you have enough non-perishable food and water
- Use a thermometer in the fridge so you are aware of the temperature when power is restored. If the temperature 40 degrees or higher (4 degrees Celsius), throw food out.
- Keep mobile phones and other electric equipment charged and gas tank full.
During power outage
- Keep freezers and refrigerators closed. The refrigerator will keep food cold for approximately 4 hours. A full freezer will maintain its temperature for about 48 hrs. Use coolers with ice if you need to and monitor the temperature of your fridge/freezer using a thermometer.
- Generators, camp stoves and charcoal grills should always be kept outside and away from windows to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Don’t use a gas stove/oven to heat your home.
- Check on your neighbours.
- If safe, go to an alternate location for heat and cooling – your local news organizations will provide you with areas that have the appropriate amenities if need be.
- Turn off or disconnect appliances, equipment, or electronics. Power surges or spikes may occur and damage your items.
After the outage
- Throw out any food that has been exposed to 40 degrees (4 degrees Celsius) or higher for two hours or more, or food that has unusual odor, colour or texture.
- If power is out longer than a day, throw out any medications that require refrigeration unless the label says otherwise.
Homeowners insurance and storm damage: what is covered?
You should always be aware of your homeowner’s insurance and what it covers exactly. A lot of homeowners find themselves dealing with a storm in which their home was affected, and only realizing after the fact that their insurance does not cover it. It’s always a good idea to add extra coverage if your insurance doesn’t cover certain things, especially if you live in an area prone to extreme weather conditions. Just to give you an idea, here is what a leading insurance covers in terms of storm coverage for general home owners insurance.
Water and Ice Damage
- Whether it is a summer thunderstorm, or a roof covered in ice, water can damage a home. While ice and hail damage are typically covered by homeowner’s insurance – up to certain limits which are stated in your policy – coverage for water damage varies depending on the cause. Do some research on what your limits are and how much coverage you get in all scenarios possible.
Lightning strikes and power surges
- If lightning strikes your home or other structure under your policy, the resulting damage (usually fire or smoke damage) is typically covered by home owner’s insurance. Certain policies also provide coverage for power surges and outages (which are a result of a lightning storm), such as damaged electronics or appliances. Some even cover spoiled food during a power surge. Limits apply as with any coverage so make sure you keep track of what is and what isn’t covered.
Wind, Hail and Fallen Trees
- If a massive storm floats through your area, you may find your siding damaged by hail or shingles damaged or ripped off your home. Homeowners insurance typically covers wind damage. It also usually covers damage from hail, wind-driven rain or snow that finds its way into your home from damaged roof or wall by wind. Most policies also offer coverage for fallen trees that damage your home.
- Damage caused by earthquakes is typically not covered by homeowner’s insurance. It is usually covered through a separate policy is you wanted to add it to your current coverage. Though we are not prone to earthquakes in Ontario, it doesn’t hurt to investigate adding it into your policy.
- Homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage whether due to rain or an overflowing river. After seeing how much flooding we have dealt with this summer in Toronto, flood insurance may be something you would want to add into your coverage.
Getting to know what is covered under your homeowner’s insurance and what you potentially need to add on, will potentially save you thousands of dollars in restoration fees if you happen to be affected by storm damage that is not covered. The more research you do, the better prepared you are for nature’s not so pleasant side.
How to Prepare Your Home for High Wind Threats
In recent months, wind storms in Ontario have become increasingly common. Most home owners when preparing their homes for any storms, don’t think about wind as a threat, though it causes billions of dollars in property damage every year. With that being said, it’s a good idea to know some tips and tricks on how to prepare your household for a wind storm.
- Pick up around your yard
- Most people don’t take into consideration that anything lying around in your backyard can become a flying weapon, which can do significant damage to your home in high winds, let alone is dangerous in it of itself. If you see a wind advisory for your area, it is best to pick up any loose outdoor belongings like lawn furniture, garden tools, grills, sports equipment, bicycles, fallen tree branches etc.
- Check out the trees on your property
- The last thing you want is a branch crashing through your kitchen window or roof during a wind storm. That’s why it’s extremely important to inspect the trees on your property for loose or damaged branches. It’s also important to get rid of any dangerous or dead trees taken care of as soon as possible especially during a wind storm.
- Inspect your roof for weaknesses
- High winds can completely tear up your roof and lead to bigger problems like water damage to your homes structural properties and belongings. It is imperative that you routinely inspect your roof for things like loose or damaged shingles, debris, bare spots etc.
- Check weather stripping on doors and windows
- Weather stripping is designed to keep the elements from coming indoors, so make sure yours is in good condition on both your doors and windows. Weather stripping that is in good condition will help keep windy drafts from coming into your home and will also ensure cold/warm air doesn’t escape.
- Reinforce windows, doors and garage door
- Home safety features such as storm shutters will not only keep your home and belongings safer, but will also help you earn homeowners insurance discounts.
- Make sure your emergency supply kit is up to date
- You never know how damaging or drastic a wind storm can be, so it is always a good idea to prepare a supply kit just in case.
The following items are a great start to your kit:
o 3 days worth of water and non-perishables for each member of your family
o a manual can opener
o A hand-crank or battery-powered radio so you can stay up to date on advisories
o Cash, flashlights, and extra batteries
o Food, water, and toys for your pets
o Infant formula and diapers, if necessary
o Entertainment such as books, magazines, and battery-power electronics
o Medications, a first-aid kit, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and trash bags
o Solar chargers for cell phones and other electronics
o Copies of important documents, like insurance policies, emergency contact info, and IDs
o A warm blanket or sleeping bag for everyone in the family
o At least one change of clothing
o A fire extinguisher
- Double check your home inventory
- Maintaining a thorough, up-to-date home inventory can be a real lifesaver if high winds cause major damage to your home and its contents. Document and keep receipts for high-value items like furniture, electronics, appliances, and clothing, as well as any upgrades or renovations you've made to your house. Be sure to update your home inventory list with any new purchases, upgrades, or changes you make to your place. If you ever need to file a claim after high winds (or any other covered incident) damage your home or belongings, a well-maintained inventory can significantly speed along the claims process and help you get your house feeling like home again.
- Turn down the temp on your fridge and freezer
- If your area is expecting high winds, there’s a chance your power may go out. Turning down the temperature of your fridge and freezer can save you time and help prevent food from spoiling as quickly.
- Look at your homeowners’ insurance
- Before storm season hits, look at your homeowner’s coverages and limits to ensure they're enough to fully protect you in the event of catastrophe.
How to prepare your home for a storm
Any storms, whether it be a typical thunder storm and a hurricane, are typically a surprise and don’t leave much time for you to prepare for it. That’s why it’s best to make sure you are always ready for a storm to hit, to prevent the maximum damage the storm can cause to your home. SERVPRO of Ajax is always here to help if there are damages, but it’s best you take the preventative measures to reduce change of damage to your home during a storm. Here 4 great tips hindered to storm prone areas on how to prepare yourself and your home for a storm.
- General home maintenance
- Check your roof regularly to make sure it’s in good condition
- Keep gutters, downpipes and drains clear
- Remove tree branches that are close to your house
- Fix any corrosion, loose fittings and rotting or termite-affected timber
- Secure loose items around your property
- General home safety preparations
- Ensure your home, contents and car insurance is adequate and current
- Identify the safest room in which to shelter during a storm
- Learn how to safely turn off your power, water and gas
- Keep water containers, a camping stove and fuel safely on-hand
- If you live in a flood-prone area
- Store poisons and garden chemicals well above ground level
- Identify indoor items you’ll need to raise or empty if flood threatens
- Relocate power points well above previous flood levels
- If you live in a storm or cyclone-prone area
- Get a professional builder to assess the structural integrity of your house
- Fit shutters or metal screens to your windows for added protection