Hoerner’s Tips for Protecting your Home This Winter

  • December 19, 2014

As winter wraps its chilly fingers around our homes, many homeowners are becoming concerned about protecting their homes. After all, who wouldn’t remember winter 2013 – the worst winter in 100 years. Many homeowners were victims of massive-scale power outages, which led to home fires as people used candles. The freeze and power outages during winter storms also resulted in many burst pipes. Water damage and heating issues ended up costing Toronto residents a small fortune.

Hoerner Heating & Plumbing decided to provide you with some great pointers to keep your home protected this winter.

Preventing Water Damage

Aging plumbing and extreme weather can increase the risk of water damage. Protect your valuable possessions, roofs, walls and floors with these helpful tips.

  1. Hire a plumber to install a backwater valve, which will help prevent sewer backups.

  2. Install a sump pump and check it regularly to ensure that is functioning as it should. If you install an electric sump pump, also install a battery operated backup to ensure it is working during power outages.

  3. Prevent leakage from water using appliances by installing braided or wire mesh hoses.

  4. Call Hoerner for a plumbing inspection to ensure that your pipes are in good condition and that there is no risk of blockages.

  5. Check your downspouts during fall to ensure that they are clean and unblocked. Your downspouts should be at least 3 feet from the side of your home. You could get permission from the municipality to disconnect downspouts from the sewer system.

  6. Consider installing window wells on basements that are at or near ground-level.

  7. Check your weeping tiles to ensure that they are not blocked or damage. (note Hoerner does not service weeping tiles)

Steps to Follow In the Event of Water Damage

Despite your best efforts, water damage may still occur. If this happens, to keep the family safe follow these steps.

  1. Ensure that nobody touches electrical appliances, devices or wires.

  2. Don’t use water if the sewer has backed up into your basement, as it will flood more.

  3. Prepare an inventory of lost and damaged goods, and separate it from the undamaged property.

  4. Take photos of the damage and prepare an inventory to submit to your insurance company. They will probably cover the development costs, and cleanup costs, including wet/dry vacuum rentals, cleaning materials and more, provided you keep the receipts.

Preventing Electrical Fires & Damage

House fires are always traumatic, but there are many things you can do to prevent a fire. Here’s how.

Before an Outage

  • Install a non-electric standby heater of stove with proper venting. Each heating unit should use its own chimney flue.

  • Clean the flue to your wood-burning fireplace every fall to prevent creosote from building up and causing a chimney fire.

  • Ensure that oil- or gas-using standby units are connected to shut-off valves.

  • Before using an emergency generator, ensure that you obtain information about your home’s power requirements and best practices for proper operation.

During an Outage

  •  If an outage is limited to your home, check the fuse box or circuit breaker panel. If there is no problem on the panel, you should check on the service wires that run to your home. Stay at least 10 meters back from obviously damaged wires and call the electrical supply authority.

  • Prevent damage to your electronic equipment, tools and appliances by turning them off. Also turn the thermostat to your heating system down to the bare minimum. This will help prevent surges when the power is restored. A lower load will also help restore the power more easily.   

    Tip:  Invest in a surge-protecting power bar for sensitive appliances such as DVD players, computers and TVs.

  • Turn off all lights, except for one inside and one outside so that you know when the power has been restored.

  • Keep your fridge and freezer closed unless it is absolutely necessary to open it up.

  • Never use outdoors equipment such as home generators, camping heating equipment, or gas or charcoal barbecues indoors as they emit carbon monoxide. You may not see or smell it, but it can pose fatal health risks.

  • Keep candles in proper candle holders and out of reach of children and be sure to extinguish them before you go to bed.

  • Follow updates from authorities via a wind-up or battery-powered radio.

After an Outage

  • Ensure the power is disconnected before you enter a flooded basement.

  • Never use flooded appliances until they have been checked and approved by a qualified electrician.

  • If your furnace flue has been removed, replace it and turn off the energy source to the standby unit.

  • Unplug all appliances, computers, TVs, microwaves and heaters before switching on the main electric switch.

  • Wait before systematically reconnecting everything. The system will need some time to stabilize.  The heating-system thermostats should be turned up first, followed by the freezer and fridge after a while.

Please be cautious when dealing with home water damage or electrical issues. It should ideally be left to a professional tradesperson.

Hoerner wishes you a safe and happy winter. Stay warm!

These are only tips from Hoerner. For best results hire a professional. We recommend calling an experienced heating and plumbing technician professional to assist you with all your heating needs. Call Hoerner Heating & Plumbing 416-463-2573.