Climate ready measures: Home maintenance

Home and property maintenance

Your home and yard requires ongoing care and maintenance to safeguard the financial value of your property. This section gives you some tips to help your home withstand the increasing frequency of climate hazards.

Maintenance checklists

Annual maintenance check

You should inspect the exterior of your home annually, and also after a wind, hail or snowstorm. Look for:

  • Broken or dead tree branches that may pose a safety hazard. Contract a certified arborist to prune.
  • Broken, cracked or torn roofing materials that could cause water penetration or blow off in the next windstorm.
  • Missing shingles or exposed roof deck that could allow water to leak into your home.
  • Signs of moisture and water pooling in your basement/crawl space, on your roof, and in your yard that could leak into your home.
  • Water pooling near foundation walls, including in window wells and stairwells.
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  • Icicles hanging from your gutters in the winter. This is an indication that you have poor insulation in your attic or that your gutters are blocked with debris. 
  • Signs of ice damming or heavy snow load on your roof, such as water leaks originating from the roof or attic area, difficult to open doors, new cracks in your drywall or plaster, or sagging on the ridgeline of your roof . Icicles hanging from the bottom edge your roof are an indication that you may be vulnerable to ice damming. 
  • Ensure vents are not blocked by debris. Dryer vents and interior flexible ducts should be checked for lint build up.

For more detailed information on dealing with extensive roof icing and ice dam problems see the Removing Ice on Roofs publication from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Spring

  • In preparation for the spring snow melt and rain, and to protect you home against basement flooding::
    • Seal cracks in foundation walls and basement floors to help reduce basement flooding in your home. In many cases, cracks can be effectively sealed from the inside, for example with hydraulic cement.
    • Identify and seal other points of entry for moisture, such as framing around windows and doors, gaps around pipes and wiring and cracks in brickwork.
    • Ensure storm grates and drains near your home are clear of debris and blockage. In a flood or heavy rain event, if the storm grate near the house is blocked, it could cause additional and unnecessary flooding to your property.
    • Direct stormwater away from your house, ideally towards your garden.
    • Have your exterior sewer lines checked. If it is more than 40 years old, you should have it inspected by a licensed plumber to verify that it is in good condition.
    • If you have a sump pump, ensure it is properly draining by pouring water into the sump pit and seeing whether the pump starts automatically.
    • Make sure battery backup systems are operating properly.
    • Make sure your backwater valve is maintained.
  • To make sure your home is as water efficient as possible, see The City of Calgary’s Homeowner Water Guide - Spring Checklist.
  • Clean and repair your roof, gutters and downspouts by removing needles, leaves and debris to reduce wildfire risk, and ice damming from heavy snow or freezing rain. 
  • Trim back any trees or vegetation overhanging your roof.
  • If you do not have a garage or covered space for your vehicle, or recreation equipment (boat, camper, ATV, etc.), consider installing a semi-permanent hail protection structure, or a temporary hail protection cover (e.g., hail protection blanket).
  • If your home is near a dense, continuous forest or unmanaged grasslands, apply FireSmart principles to your landscaping and property.

 

Summer

  • If your home is near a dense continuous forest or unmanaged grasslands, apply FireSmart principles to your landscaping and property.
  • Purchase a portable air purifier with a HEPA filter: A portable air purifier removes toxins, pollen, dust and wildfire smoke from the air to ensure healthy indoor air quality.
  • Conserve water and protect your home against drought conditions:
    • Water early in the morning before the heat of the day.
    • Use a soaker hose, drip irrigation or water by hand, rather than sprinkling.
    • Do not mow your lawn too short. Keep it 5 to 7 cm (2 to 3 inches) high to shade the soil.
    • Add mulch around trees and shrubs to retain moisture.
    • Add a base of at least twenty centimeters (8 inches) of good quality soil for a healthy garden or lawn that retains more water and therefore requires less watering. 
    • Capture water in a rain barrel or cistern and use it for your garden.
    • Sweep your sidewalk and driveway rather than washing with water.
    • To protect against extreme heat, install interior cellular insulating blinds on your windows; a cost-effective way to reduce heat gain and loss in your home.
  • Securely anchor outdoor accessories and equipment to protect against high winds and summer storms.
  • If you do not have a garage or covered space for your vehicle, or recreation equipment (boat, camper, ATV, etc.), consider installing a semi-permanent hail protection structure, or a temporary hail protection cover (e.g., hail protection blanket).
  • Ensure storm grates and drains near your home are clear of debris and blockage. In a flood or heavy rain event, if the storm grate near the house is blocked, it could cause additional and unnecessary flooding to your property.

Fall

In the fall, you should be preparing for the winter:

  • If you have a wood burning fireplace, ensure your chimney is clean, and has a spark arrestor to prevent embers from floating out of the chimney and igniting the roof or any other nearby flammable material.
  • Install a smart thermostat. A smart thermostat that provides information to your smartphone is an excellent way to check on your home when you are away and also receive information on potential hazards. For example, many smart thermostats provide information on indoor humidity that can alert you to high risk of water leaks or flooding within the home. They may even offer alerts for low or high temperature that can provide warning of pipes freezing or fire hazards when you are not home.
  • Incandescent light fixtures in the ceiling below your attic can often generate enough heat to melt snow on a roof. These fixtures should be replaced with more efficient low heat emitting fixtures, such as LED.
  • Clean and properly disconnect your rain barrel to prevent it from leaking and freezing.
  • Turn off your outdoor water supply and controller, and ensure lines and low spots are empty of water.
  • To make sure your home is as water efficient as possible, see The City of Calgary’s Homeowner Water Guide - Fall Checklist

Winter

To prepare your home and property for winter storms and cold weather:

  • If you notice ice damming on your roof, it can be treated with a chemical de-icer; holes are made in the ice to expose the roof and de-icer is placed in each hole.
  • If you have persistent issues with ice build-up and damming on your roof, de-icing cables can be installed on your roof and gutters. De-icing cables gives off heat to melt snow and ice on your roof.
  • A very large snowfall may put your roof at risk of structural failure or collapse. A simple way to prevent this is by using a snow rake to remove excess snow from the roof by dragging it off the edge to the ground.
  • Winter storms can produce extremely heavy snow and slippery conditions. Snow shoveling is a known trigger for heart attacks. Be cautious not to over exert yourself; a high-quality shovel can assist in moving snow in a safer way.
  • In the case of a power outage, if water is no longer coming into your home, turn off the main water valve coming into your home. Open all taps to clear the remaining water in the pipes to avoid pipe freezing.
  • Explore inside your attic for any penetrations that could leak warm air into the attic. Also check to see that there are no big gaps in the insulation – to reduce winter storm and extreme heat impacts.
  • Visit What to do during a severe winter storm or extreme cold to learn how to prepare for and stay safe during winter storms in general.

For more detailed information on dealing with extensive roof icing and ice dam problems see the Removing Ice on Roofs publication from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Disclaimer:  The content of the Climate Ready Home Guide is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as technical advice with respect to any particular building(s) or construction project(s). The Climate Ready Home Guide does not recommend or endorse specific products or companies. All products and measures should be installed by a professional contractor, according to manufacturer specifications and following all City Bylaws and codes.

Emergency preparedness

Ensure you and your home are prepared for emergencies:

To learn more about how to prepare for climate hazards and protect yourself, your family and your home during a hazardous event in Calgary, visit Calgary.ca/GetReady