Prevention tips - Spring

OUTSIDE YOUR HOME

Foundation

Check your foundation for cracks and fissures. Patch any fissures in the foundation walls or brick facing. This will prevent rainwater from seeping in.

Trees

Have your trees pruned so that branches will not damage your windows or roof during strong winds.

Exterior basement entrance

Check and clear the drain in the basement entrance.

A blocked or poorly cleared drain can increase the risk of water seeping in through the edges of the basement entry door.

Downspouts

Reconnect the downspouts you removed in the fall to the gutters or extensions to keep water away from the foundation.

Exterior siding

Check the exterior siding for damage from snow or ice. Make any needed repairs as soon as possible to prevent rainwater from damaging the structure.

Roof

Make sure none of the shingles have been damaged by snow or ice. Make any needed repairs as soon as possible.

Gutters

Clear dead leaves and other debris from gutters at least once a year.

INSIDE YOUR HOME

Basement drain

Pour a little bit of water down the floor drain in the basement and make sure that the water flows freely.

Air exchanger

Clean your air exchanger filters.

Air exchangers operate mainly in winter, and it is very important to clean the filters every two or three months.

 

Prevention tips - Summer

Outside your home

Land

Adjust the slope around the foundation so water flows away from the location.

Driveway

Make sure that the sidewalk, patio, and driveway do not cause water to flow towards the house.

Downspouts

Disconnect any downspout that is directly connected to a drain and redirect the water so it flows out at least six feet away from the foundation.

Chimney

Have your chimney or stove pipe swept.

Sweeping a chimney removes debris and reduces the risk of fire and toxic emissions. Poorly maintained chimneys frequently cause fires and carbon monoxide buildup.

INSIDE YOUR HOME

Heating

Whether you heat your home with hot water, fuel oil, or electricity, you should always have a qualified technician flush your radiators, and check and replace them if necessary.

Radiators generally have to be flushed once a year. A qualified technician can check all of the drain valves and replace any defective ones to avoid leaks.

Trick: To distribute heat more efficiently room by room, install thermostatic valves.

Check your fuel oil tank.

  • Damp, oozing areas at the base of the tank indicate potential problems.
  • A persistent smell of oil coming from the tank is a warning sign of a leak.
  • Check the base of the tank for rust.
  • Do not leave the tank empty in winter to avoid problems with humidity and rust.
  • Check the fuel supply line. If you find any rust, call a technician to have it replaced with a double-walled connection that is more resistant to rust.
  • Many maintenance companies recommend replacing a fuel oil tank after 10 years if it is outdoors and after 20–25 years if it is indoors.

 

Did you know?

A single litre of spilt fuel oil can contaminate a million litres of potable water.

Air exchanger

Clean your air exchanger filters.

Air exchangers operate mainly in winter, and it is very important to clean the filters every two or three months. 

 

Prevention tips - Fall

Outside your home

Downspouts

Downspouts should be disconnected from drainpipes and extensions that draw water away from the foundation so they won't freeze and back up. Do not forget to reconnect them in the spring!

Roof

Prevent ice dams from forming at the edge of the roof.

Heat escaping from inside the building melts snow on the roof. The water then runs to the edge of the roof, where it freezes. When ice builds up, it prevents water from draining off the roof. Then, through capillary action, the water is drawn up under the shingles, causing major damage. Here is how to prevent this:

  • Install a leaf guard/ice guard to prevent debris from blocking the gutters and downspouts. Gutters must be clear so the water can flow freely.
  • Check the insulation in the space under the roof and add more in places where there isn't enough or where it is too compressed.
  • Check the air circulation in the space under the roof. The air intakes in the soffits have to be clear for the roof ventilators to draw air through the soffits. A well-ventilated roof will prevent snow from melting.

 

Check the shingles regularly and replace them as soon as they show signs of wear (raised or tattered corners) or if there are poorly drained areas on a flat roof.

Trees

Plant trees a minimum of five meters from the house.

Trees planted too close to a house can damage the foundation and block French drains.

Gutters

Clear dead leaves and other debris from gutters at least once a year.

Foundation

Check your foundation for cracks and fissures. Patch any fissures in the foundation walls or brick facing.

Water lines

If your outdoor faucet is not frost-free (4-seasons), you have to shut the water off from inside and drain the outdoor faucet to get all of the water out.

The water in the part of the faucet extending outside the house can freeze and cause the pipes to burst.

Do your water pipes pass through your cellar, crawl space, or an exterior wall? If the water in a pipe freezes, it could create enough pressure to burst.

Place an insulating sheath over any water pipes that are exposed to cold.

Exterior basement entrance

Check and clear the drain in the basement entrance.

A blocked or poorly cleared drain can increase the risk of water seeping in through the edges of the basement entry door.

INSIDE YOUR HOME

Air exchanger

Clean your air exchanger filters.

Air exchangers mainly operate in winter, and it is very important to clean the filters every two or three months. The heat or energy recovery core made of polypropylene (plastic) or aluminium should be cleaned once a year, preferably in the fall, before the heating season.

Windows and window wells

It is better to remove screens during the winter and store them in a dry, temperature-controlled environment.

A screen in front of a window will block heat, resulting in condensation and mold.

Replace any damaged caulking along the edges of basement doors and windows

 

Prevention tips  - Winter

OUTSIDE YOUR HOME

Roof

For low-slope roofs and flat roofs, excess snow has to be removed regularly.

Excess snow creates a major weight overload and could cause a sag or collapse and damage the structure.

Windows and window wells

Remove snow from in front of basement windows and inside window wells.

Snow piled up in front of windows or inside window wells could melt and leak in during the spring thaw. Do not block basement windows because they are considered emergency exits.

INSIDE YOUR HOME

Water heater

Drain the water heater at least once a year.

Draining and flushing the heater is part of regular maintenance to remove or prevent scaling in the tank. It saves energy and extends the life of the water heater by keeping it operating smoothly. In addition, depending on water quality and hardness, a heater should be replaced after twelve (12) years. This will reduce the chances of a leak.

Heating

Keep firewood indoors.

Keep only the amount you need for a day or two indoors. A large quantity of firewood stored indoors can attract insects or create excess humidity. It also means a lot of flammable material in the house.

If the heater has a forced air system, clean or replace the filters regularly during the heating season.

Heating tip

Whether you heat with hot water, fuel oil, or electricity, it’s a good idea to install thermostatic valves. They distribute heat more efficiently room by room.

Also, do not place anything on top or in front of radiators. It could prevent heat from circulating properly.

Air exchanger

Clean your air exchanger filters.

Air exchangers operate mainly in winter, and it is very important to clean the filters every two or three months. 

 

PREVENTION TIPS - ALL SEASONS

Water lines

If you are away for more than three days, cut the water to the washing machine.

If the washing machine hoses start leaking while you are away, it could cause significant water damage.

Regularly check all sinks and hoses under sinks to ensure they are dry.

Replace all plastic or rubber hoses with flexible metal hoses on your plumbing and appliances. Remember that galvanized metal hoses will last 40 to 50 years.

Check valves

Have a plumber install a check valve on the drain inlet to prevent backups during heavy rain.

Soil pipes

To avoid clogging soil pipes, do not pour oil or grease into drains.

Electrical panels

Make sure you know the location of all electrical panels. Be sure to leave at least one (1) meter of clearance in front and on either side of every panel at all times.

Water main

Make sure you know the location of the main water valve. If a pipe bursts or a washing machine hose starts leaking, you will have to cut the water to the house. Check the water inlet pipe and the shutoff valve regularly. If there is the slightest indication of a problem, contact a qualified plumber to make the required repairs. To limit damage in the event of an incident, inform all occupants of the house, even children, of the location of the shutoff valve.

Natural gas or propane inlets

Make sure you know the location of any natural gas or propane inlet. You have to be able to access the shutoff valve easily in the event of a leak.

Cleanouts and access hatches

Make sure you know the location of all plumbing cleanouts and access hatches to the check valves. During heavy rainfall, check valves prevent water in overflowing municipal sewage systems from backing up into basements through toilets and floor drains. If you cannot confirm that a check valve is in place, contact a plumber.

Extended absences

When you are away for an extended period, ask a friend, family member, or neighbour to check in and make sure the heating, plumbing, and everything else is in order.

FIRE PREVENTION TIPS

  • Do not use outlet multipliers in the kitchen. Plugging several appliance into the same circuit can overheat the wiring and cause a fire.
  • Do not deep fry on a conventional stove. Use a deep fryer approved by the Canadian Standards Association.
  • Keep a BC fire extinguisher in the kitchen. This type of extinguisher puts fires out and prevents the flashback typical of kitchen fires.
  • Store flammable liquids like paint and solvents far from heat sources.
  • Store all fuel and propane OUTSIDE.
  • Regularly check smoke, carbon monoxide, and propane detectors to make sure they are functioning properly. For battery-powered alarms, replace batteries at least once a year. Use long-life batteries like lithium batteries. When changing a unit's batteries, check its manufacturing date. Replace smoke alarms according to the manufacturer's recommendations, generally every ten years. Carbon monoxide and propane alarms generally carry a 5 year warranty on average. It is recommended that they be replaced that often.

 

Think ahead and inventory your property

In the event of water damage, fire, or another incident, there is a good chance your property will be destroyed. The stress could make it difficult to remember everything you own.

To avoid hassles and long conversations with your insurer when you have to make a claim, take the time now to inventory all your possessions. Once you have a complete list, contact your insurer or broker. If your insurer has an accurate, up-to-date description of your property, it could speed up the settlement when you make a claim.

Why you should inventory your property

  • To determine your real home insurance needs (vs. overvaluation or undervaluation).
  • To speed up and facilitate the process if you have to make a claim.
  • To evaluate the cost of replacing your property.

What is an inventory?

Making an inventory of your property is easy. Simply:

  • List everything you own.
  • Estimate the value of every item.

How to inventory your property

There are two ways to go about it:

  1. You can film or take photos of everything you own.
  2. You can list your property using a form available through the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) and Chambre de l'assurance de dommages (CHAD).

NOTE: Whichever method you use, make sure you include receipts with the inventory.

 

How long does it take to make an inventory?

It depends on how much you own, but an inventory generally takes two to three hours.

What do I do when I'm done?

Once you have completed your inventory, contact your insurance professional to get the proper coverage for your possessions.


IMPORTANT:

Since there is a good chance you will need that list to make a claim following an incident, we strongly recommend keeping a paper or electronic copy of your inventory and receipts outside your residence, for example in a safety deposit box or in the Cloud.

 

Prevention tips have been written in collaboration with Daniel Fiset, building inspector.