HOMEFINDER: Take simple steps to prevent cold-weather chaos

Key steps can save you a lot of cold weather headaches this winter

The risk of damage to your home increases as the temperature drops.

When the temperature drops, the risks for damage in and around your the home go up.

From frozen pipes to fire, homeowners should be on the lookout for possible problem areas – before disaster strikes.

Home heating is one of the major areas of concern when the temperature dips, says Capt. Rob Kivell, from Oak Bay Fire Department’s fire prevention division.

“I think certainly people are already using their furnaces but it’s really important to service these annually,” Kivell says.

The same goes for fireplaces.

“We do get chimney fires every year around this time,” Kivell says.

Among the chief reminders for those who burn pressed logs in their fireplace, is to never top them with wood. The pressed logs burn hotter than wood and if they’re not venting properly, they can explode.

Oak Bay’s Mike Arneja, owner of Griffin Restoration Services, advises homeowners to check to ensure the chimney is clear, check flue damper operation and make sure the chimney will draw up the smoke.

With all heat sources, from furnaces to fireplaces to space heaters, be sure to allow ample clearance from any combustibles.

Homeowners should also replace the air filter as required and clear obstacles to heating vents, Arneja says.

In winter, carbon monoxide is also a greater concern, whether from gas appliances, furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves or attached garages, Kivell says. “This time of year, there’s a lot more potential for it.

“You develop flu-like symptoms and it takes over your body slowly. It can be most dangerous when you’re sleeping,” he says. “Because it’s odourless and tasteless, you really don’t know your body is being affected by it.”

For those reasons, a carbon monoxide detector is invaluable, and the fire department can offer tips on what to choose and where to install it.

For those who already have a CO detector installed, test to make sure it’s working properly, Arneja says.

Here on the usually mild West Coast, frozen pipes can take homeowners by surprise during a cold snap.

Prevent problems by insulating exposed piping and turning off exterior taps, draining water, and installing an insulated cover for your exterior hose bibs, Arneja advises.

In case of heavy rains, be sure exterior drains are clear of leaves and other debris that might prevent drainage.

Winterize sprinkler systems by turning off the water supply and blowing compressed air through pipes, he says.

Should winter storms also bring power outages, Kivell urges caution with candles.

“They’re great to have if you need to use them but you just need to be really careful.”

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

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