Let’s face it, winters in Quebec can be harsh with cold wind bursts, freezing temperatures, mixed with a little bit of rain one day, black ice the day after, with a snowstorm in between. Thankfully buildings have evolved throughout the decades with new technologies in building materials but also stricter construction regulations. The modern home is therefore better prepared for the Canadian winter, even allowing a decrease in energetic needs. However, some flaws could create problems and most of the time involve unexpected costs.
Doors & Windows: One of the most important and first aspect to take into consideration to insure a good insulation is the type of doors and windows installed and the ratio window/wall of the house. A new technology of doors and windows can now be found on the market as Energy Star certified products. According to Hydro-Quebec these certified windows can bring considering energy efficiencies allowing the average Quebec family to save up to 10% in heating cost per year.
Screens: Window and door screens can most of the time be forgotten and neglected when in reality they are extremely fragile and need our attention as well. Indeed these screens need to be handled with care, and will poorly react to weather events involving ice, snow, winds, cold weather, and even worst if all of the above are incurred in the same day – as we know is recurring business in Quebec!
Roof drains: Houses with flat roofs have drains on the roof allowing water irrigation. It is important to make sure these drains are not blocked, and that the heating cables are all plugged and working. Do not hesitate to contact your builder if you need assistance.
Caulking: Caulking is used to seal any openings in the envelope of the building, so doors and windows, the dryer machine exhaust, the oven fan exhaust and around the feeders. If the caulking is used and shows some cracks then it becomes easy for the cold air to get in. Also, any openings might become an easy access for rodents. Rats, squirrels, mice, and even ladybugs will easily be capable of entering the house through those tiny openings and find a comfortable spot to hide from the cold and make their nest in your house.
Gutters: With the quantity of rain we got this fall, it is important to check on your gutters and make sure nothing got stuck there. It is common for branches and leaves to accumulate in the gutters, which jeopardize the water to flow easily. Also, whatever is stuck in the gutters will freeze during winter and could potentially break the gutters.
Plumbing: All outdoor hoses must be emptied and removed. You also have to make sure that all outdoor taps and any other water exits are off. Don’t forget to look up for the indoor connection as well, and make sure that this is off too.
Ventilation: Nowadays houses are definitely more airtight than ever, making it harder for natural airflow to happen. A good ventilation system is therefore essential, especially during winter. Warm air must move around the house or otherwise stagnant air will create condensation in the windows. Also, any curtains or objects blocking a ventilation trap will stop that airflow. If you have a forced-air central heating system, it would be a great idea to make sure the ducts are not blocked or the pipes are not leaking. If the ducts are blocked, a quick clean might facilitate the airflow.
Winters can be tough in Canada and making sure our house is ready for any type of weather can remove a lot of stress off our shoulders, making it easier for you to enjoy the beauty of this magical season. Happy winter!