Winter in the Lower Mainland
Winter in lower mainland British Columbia is temperate, especially along the coast. Unlike interior B.C., which sees freezing temperatures and plenty of snowfall, residents of Burnaby, Vancouver, Coquitlam and the like, are more likely to need rain boots and umbrellas than snow suits and mittens. This doesn’t completely negate the need for proactive home maintenance in the winter however, as weather can be unpredictable. When snow does hit the lower mainland, it sometimes comes with force winds and ice, which can be dangerous and highly inconvenient if you’re not prepared for it.
Preparing your home for winter in B.C. requires a little elbow grease, ingenuity, and a trip or two to the hardware store. Throughout this article we’ll explore the best ways to keep your floors, outdoor furniture, and roof intact, as well as go over some home safety tips to get you through the ice and snow unscathed.
Preparing Your Home for Winter
Due to the usually uneventful winters in this region, lower mainlanders can get a bit slack around the winter season. Unfortunately, while temperatures are quite tame, if a snowstorm does rear its ugly head and you’re not prepared it could mean damage to your property, house, and belongings. Here are a few of the ways you can get your home ready for any impending weather that may hit.
Protect Flooring at Entryways
Floors take a beating in the winter, especially near entryways where wet boots come in from the cold and damp. It’s not the water and ice that worries most homeowners, however, it’s the damage caused by road salt coming in off sidewalks and driveways. Signs of water and salt damage include discoloration or fading, scratches, dryness, and wearing finishes.
To save yourself from refinishing wood or relaying carpet in the hallways, consider placing a large mat in the entryway, with a boot tray nearby. Have guests and residents of your house wipe their feet on the mat, remove boots or shoes and place them neatly on the tray before entering your home.
If your floors are made up of wood or tile, you can also be proactive by resealing your floors to keep excess moisture, salt, and debris out. For carpets, you can use a protectant spray, such as Scotchgard or similar for an extra layer of defense. The state of your flooring can impact the value of your home. Erica from Vancouver Mortgage recommends taking excellent care of the flooring at your entryways during winter, in case you ever decide to sell your home.
Trim the Trees
Pruning trees might seem like more of a spring or summer job, but while the sunny months call for gardening as a form of aesthetics, winter months require it as a method of home preservation. Overhanging branches are a danger during high winds if they break off and damage siding or beat down on your roof. When these low hanging limbs ice up, they become brittle, adding to the risk of breakage and roof disfiguration.
Trimming trees is perilous work and requires proper tools, safety equipment, and a spotter. Be sure to wear thick gloves, safety goggles and sturdy boots when operating a chain saw. If you need to use a ladder, have a spotter below to monitor these activities. In cases where high branches need to be trimmed, it’s best to call a professional.
One of the risks your home faces during winter months is a leaky roof, which is caused by overflooding during melting snow, ice, and an influx of rain. The gutters which run along the sides of your roof and down your house are designed to carry water away from shingles to the ground. Unfortunately, falling debris, such as leaves, pinecones, acorns, twigs, and even birds’ nests and feathers block up the gutters making it impossible for water to flow down. This leaves the liquid pooling on your roof, which causes rot, warped shingles, and leaks.
Again, proper safety precautions should be taken when climbing a ladder to clean your gutters. Because of the large quantities of rain and multitude of wildlife in this region, there is an abundance of gutter cleaning businesses in lower mainland British Columbia to choose from. These services should be contacted for gutter maintenance a month or two before winter commences to get rid of any collecting foliage from the autumn season.
Cover Patio Furniture
It’s not just the structure of your home which takes a beating in winter weather, your outdoor furniture is also at risk of water and wind damage, cracking due to ice and falling snow, and fading. If you don’t have a storage space, such as a shed, garage, or basement, to keep outdoor furniture during the winter season, you can purchase furniture covers from most home hardware stores. Waterproof vinyl tarp-type covers are best, as they block most of the damp and wind.
Be sure to tie down any loose furniture which could be lifted during heavy wind. Lightweight furniture tends to take flight in high winds, and could harm house siding, windows, and other furniture in its travels.
Purchase Salt or Sand
Salt or sand are a must during the winter, especially when things get icy. This is sometimes the only traction you’ll feel amongst slick sheets of frozen snow and rainwater. Salt and sand are available through a variety of home hardware stores, you can also purchase it at Walmart during the winter season.
Liberally sprinkle salt on stairs, walkways, and your driveway to make them safe for travel. It’s a good idea to keep salt or sand in the trunk of your vehicle as well, in case you get stuck in an icy patch and there’s not enough traction to get moving. A tried and true tip for those stuck on ice is cat litter. If you find yourself stranded without salt or sand, cat litter from any grocery store, pharmacy, or department store will get you moving again. Simply sprinkle it behind and in front of each tire and rock back and forth until the tires grip the road.
Know Where your Shovel is
For lower mainlanders in British Columbia, there are so few snowstorms that we often store, hide, or sell our shovels. There’s nothing worse than waking up on a cold winter morning before the sun is shining only to find that you’re snowed in, late for work, and can’t find your shovel. As the fall turns to winter and days get shorter and colder, it’s a good idea to keep your shovel where it can be seen. Next to the entryway, at the bottom of the basement stairs, near the door to the shed, or right outside your own front door are all good places to store a shovel for walkways, driveways, and more.
Check Smoke Detectors
Winters in Vancouver and Burnaby might be warmer than other regions of British Columbia, but it’s still a cozy time for homeowners to start up the fireplace. Fireplaces are used more during the winter than any other time of the year, making it more important than ever to have working smoke detectors throughout your home.
You should regularly check your smoke detectors no matter the season, replacing batteries as they are needed. However, winter is an especially crucial time for smoke detectors to be at their best, so be sure to fill each detector with fresh batteries and check it’s responsiveness by pressing the test button.
Most of the winter season in Vancouver, Coquitlam, Burnaby, and surrounding areas will be spent in mild weather, with mixes of sun, cloud, and rain. When the rare snowstorm does hit, don’t find yourself unprepared and facing major repair bills due to home damage. Be proactive by outfitting your house with interior protection in the form of well-working smoke detectors, entryway mats and boot trays, as well as a handy snow shovel nearby. Before the snow hits clear gutters and trim trees to keep debris from causing shingle damage and roof leaks. Finally, cover outdoor furniture and sprinkle any walkways with salt or sand for better traction on the ice.
There’s so much to see and do in lower mainland British Columbia during the winter. Make it a fun one by implementing preventative maintenance early, so you can enjoy the winter days no matter the weather.
This post courtesy of Erica McNeill, a licensed mortgage broker with Vancouver Mortgage
Blue Owl Inspections provides professional home inspection services for Vancouver and Lower Mainland.
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