The transition between winter and spring is the time to get a jump on moisture damage and heat loss, make quick work of organizing storage areas and work in some garden prep before spring.
Don’t let winter slip away without using the cold, wet weather to help you detect where your home is leaking water and heat, giving you a chance to seal it up tight and develop a wish list for energy-saving improvements. Your first order of business inside your home is to make sure no water is getting in.
Carefully check every spot where condensation or water could enter your living areas and storage spaces.
Take along a pad of paper and a pencil and take detailed notes as you scrutinize ceilings, under the roof, under the eaves and along window and door frames and ventilation seals. Be particularly careful to check under toilets, sinks, tubs and showers. Use a flashlight to check the crawl space or basement walls and floors and the underside of the first-story floor. You’re looking for visible moisture and for stains caused by moisture. When you find something, the remedy will depend on the source of the leak. You may just need to re-caulk around a tub or window, or you may need to call a plumber to replace a leaking fixture.
Here are some other tasks to tackle inside your home this month:
Change the shower curtain. While you’re checking for leaks in the bathroom, see if the shower curtain needs replacing. Damp shower curtains can grow unhealthy mold and mildew and contribute to mold problems in the tub and shower, so swap yours out periodically and make sure to open and air out the shower enclosure when you’re done bathing.
Batten down the hatches. Find and seal energy leaks. Grab a pad and pencil to note any spots that you can’t address right away. Arm yourself with a tube of caulk to fill small cracks and a spray can of insulating foam sealer for larger gaps. Tour your home feeling for cold air entering through cracks in chimneys and window and door frames, and cracks around appliance vents, electrical and plumbing fixtures and furnace ducts. Remedies might include adding weatherstripping to a door frame or applying fresh caulk to window frames.
Clean out storage areas. Get a head start on spring cleaning by attacking a cluttered storage space. Whether you go after the garage, attic, laundry room or garden shed, your home benefits when you get rid of rusting tools, leaking fluids and household chemicals. Start by taking everything out of the space and piling it up outside or in the garage. Clean the empty space, then go through the items, trying to let go of everything you haven’t used in the last year. Make four piles: stuff to keep, trash, donations and recycling, and hazardous waste. Open paint cans to dry the paint completely before disposing. Recycle batteries so the lead they contain doesn’t contaminate ground water. Rules for disposal vary by locale. Call your waste-disposal company or the county landfill to learn where and how to dispose of hazardous waste.
Get a fire extinguisher. Better yet, get several. Buy fire extinguishers for each type of fire you might encounter at home and place them where you’ll need them. For example, use the A-B-C class for living areas and in workshops and garages. For the kitchen, get a specialized extinguisher capable of putting out class B (grease) and C (electrical) fires. For living and sleeping areas and fireplaces, get a multipurpose A-B-C that also works on fires consuming wood, cloth, trash and paper. Inspect extinguishers regularly to ensure the gauges read 100%. If your not sure about your current fire extinguisher you can stop by any fire hall/station and the fire men can have a look at it for you.
February is a transitional month in much of Ontario. Winter storms may continue to cause damage to home exteriors and landscaping.
Check for storm damage. While you’re outside, walk around the house looking for missing or damaged siding and shingles. Remove fallen branches and storm debris from around the house. Keep snow clear of gas meters, gas appliance vents, exhaust vents and basement windows.
CMHC has a fairly extensive checklist for regular home maintenance for all the seasons.