Winter calls for a specific maintenance routine in order to create a healthy and safe environment at home.
Use the table below as a checklist





OUTSIDE

Clear the snow from basement accesses and emergency exits as well as from balconies and porches. 
Do not let snow or ice accumulate on temporary car shelters. 
Remove snow and frost that can stop heat pumps from working or obstruct the air intakes and exhaust vents of air exchangers, dryers, kitchen range hoods and bathroom fans. At the same time, make sure nothing is preventing  their exhaust vent flappers shutting out air or water.  
Keep a good supply of sand or gravel and environmentally safe de-icer. 
Get a suitable electric extension cord to plug in your car’s block heater. 
Keep a regular eye on the roof for icicles or ice dams, which can cause water infiltration. These normally indicate a lack of insulation or poor ventilation in the attic. 

 

INSIDE

Inspect the attic. The presence of frost, rusty nail heads or mildew under the roof beam indicates a problem. If need be, call in a specialist to determine the cause and take the necessary corrective actions. 
Check to see whether the attic trap door is airtight; if necessary, install compressible weather stripping or removable sealant. 
Monitor your ceilings and inside doors; unusual cracks or sticking could point to excessive accumulation of snow or ice on the roof.  
Vacuum smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, because dust or spider webs could prevent them from working; make sure they are in working order and that you have a replacement battery in the house at all times. 
Check fire extinguishers; if necessary, have them refilled or replaced. 
Establish a fire evacuation plan for occupants; take a look at the locking devices on doors and windows that could serve as emergency exits. 
Clean the bathroom exhaust fan grills. 
Inspect ceramic tile joints around the bath and shower as well as the seals around the edge of the bathtub. Apply grout sealant around the floor of the shower. 
Replace the washers or valve cartridges on faucets that are dripping. 
Test the stop valves on all plumbing installations and inspect the hose connections of the washing machine and dishwasher. 
Clean and adjust cupboard drawers and doors. 
Measure humidity levels using a hygrometer in cases of frequent condensation on glass surfaces. In the winter, the hygrometer should not register above 45%, or 30% in extreme cold. 
Make sure air can circulate behind furniture and at the back of cupboards that are against outside walls, especially in the basement. Warm, damp areas encourage the development of mildew. The appearance of black spots is a sure sign of this! If this happens, act quickly: determine the cause of the problem (water or cold air penetration, etc.), correct it, and clean the affected area. 
Humidifiers and dehumidifiers (coils and pans) must be cleaned two or three times in the course of the winter. 
If you do not have an air exchanger, open at least two windows for a few minutes each day: a well aerated house will be less humid and easier to heat. 
In very cold or windy weather, check the places where there is air penetration or uncomfortable areas to take corrective action when mild weather returns. 
Keep de-icing fluid in your car for house locks – and vice versa in the house. 
Remove the dust from behind and under the refrigerator and other household appliances. 
Clean (and replace if necessary) the filter in the kitchen range hood and the air exchanger or heat recovery ventilator.  
Change the central vacuum cleaner filter on a regular basis. Empty the bag or bin, and make sure its compartments remain airtight. 
Check the solidity of railings and handrails. 
If you have not done so already, locate the main water intake and inform your family members where it is. 
Pour water into the water trap of floor drains and of less often used equipment. 
Check to see that the sump pump and drains are working properly. Make sure the sump pit has a cover (as airtight as possible). 
Make sure there is a clear space of about one metre (36 inches) in front of the distribution panel and the main electrical interrupter. 
If you have an oil furnace, look at the burner flame. If the tip of the flame is not blue, call in a specialist. 
Inspect your oil tank on a regular basis. Damp zones or seepage at its base, or a persistent oil smell, may point to an imminent leak. 
In case of a minor oil leak, sprinkle plenty of bicarbonate of soda and sweep it up the next day. Call in a technician for repairs. 
Check the air filters of a forced-air heating system carefully each month. Clean or replace them. If necessary, lubricate the motor and adjust the fan drive belt. 
Reverse the direction in which the blades of ceiling fans rotate (they should be turning to the right – clockwise – to push warm air downward). Tighten the screws for quieter operation and greater solidity. 
Have a radon detection test done. 
In crawl spaces, keep the temperature at 10° to 15°C and make sure the air vents are well sealed.