What are the home maintenance responsibilities that people just don’t tell you about? Jerry and the Jiffy team asked Toronto homeowners what mistakes they made in their first year of homeownership, and what they learned along the way. This list of tips will help you avoid expensive, annoying mistakes as a new homeowner in the winter season.
1. You are required by law to shovel your sidewalk: Most neighbourhoods in Toronto are not provided with sidewalk snow clearing services by the city. In these areas, homeowners must clear the ice and snow from sidewalks adjacent to their properties within 12 hours of a snowfall. If you fail to shovel on time, you can be fined $125. The city is fussy about where you put your snow once shovelled - dumping it on the road is another illegal offence, which can land you a $360 fine. Put all shovelled snow right back on your property. Who knew? Here’s a map from the city that outlines where sidewalk snow clearing is not available.
2. Weather stripping is GREAT: The rubber that seals the gaps around doors and windows keeps the cold out and the heat in, effectively decreasing your heating bill by 10 to 15%. Grab weather stripping materials at any hardware store, and DIY-it.
3. Rock salt kills mortar, damages fresh concrete, and harms vegetation: Mortar is the material that binds the stone, interlock tile, brick and concrete masonry in your yard. Applying rock salt will cause mortar to disintegrate and masonry materials to discolour, often leading to a very expensive redo. It will also damage concrete less than 1 year old. If applied to areas near vegetation, rock salt runoff will seep into the soil and poison your plants. Though more expensive, using a non-corrosive de-icer alternative like CMA (calcium magnesium acetate) is safer for plants, pets, and does very little damage to your walkways. Or, avoid de-icer altogether and opt for sand or gravel to add traction.
4. Ice damming is a very real problem: An ice dam is a thick ridge of ice at the edge of a roof and along the eaves, forming when snow melts, runs down the roof, and refreezes at the edge. Dams can tear off gutters, loosen shingles, and prevent melting snow from draining off the roof, causing water back ups that can leak into your home's ceiling, walls, and insulation. If you already have an ice dam on your roof, hire a roofing company to steam it off. How to prevent an ice dam? Keep your roof and attic cold so the snow doesn’t melt. Here's how: Prevent Ice Dams (familyhandyman.com) and Preventing Ice Dams (thisoldhouse.com).
5. Turn off your exterior tap before winter hits (a tip for next year): If you don’t winterize your outside faucets, freeze damage can destroy the tap or lead to a burst pipe, which can set you back thousands of dollars, depending on the extent of the damage. Remember to detach your garden hose from the tap, close the inside shut-off valves, and drain the faucet before temperatures dip below 0° Celsius.