Help your home survive winter

Wind, snow, ice. There’s no doubt winter is hard on a home. And, it doesn’t matter whether your home is old or new: the elements don’t discriminate.

So, don’t think that your new home is somehow exempt from needing regular maintenance, especially from a harsh Ontario winter. Be wise and take steps to protect your investment.

Maintaining your home during winter

All new homes in Ontario come with a builders’ warranty that lasts up to seven years from the date of possession. That warranty is guaranteed by Tarion. However, if regular maintenance is not done, normal wear and tear on your home can cause damage that may not be covered by your warranty and could put your warranty rights in jeopardy. It’s important that you conduct year-round home maintenance to help protect your warranty.

What kind of maintenance needs to be done in winter?

1. Roof maintenance in winter

One big issue in winter is fluctuating temperatures that can cause ice to build up on your roof. This can happen when the roof surface is warm enough to melt the snow, but the surrounding air temperature is cold enough to re-freeze the melted water.

A regular cycle of freezing and thawing, especially in the areas of roof over-hangs, dormers and skylights, can eventually lead to water seeping inside the home. If you notice heavy ice build-up it may be a good idea to get a professional to clear your roof of snow and ice to help reduce the likelihood of water leaks.

2. Keep air intakes and vents clear

You should also make sure all air intakes, exhaust vents and meters on the outside of the house are clear of snow. Hopefully, before the freezing weather hit you had your gutters cleaned and cleared of all debris that could cause obstructions. Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to turn off and drain all exterior hoses and pipes.

Inside your home, it’s very important to manage moisture levels during the winter months.

3. Monitor and manage moisture levels inside your home

Inside your home, it’s very important to manage moisture levels during the winter months.

Today’s new energy-efficient homes are built to better seal out the elements. However, if water does penetrate, it can lead to excessive levels of moisture in your home. Don’t simply wish the problem away. High levels of moisture can cause considerable damage to your new home and even result in unhealthy indoor air quality.

Remember too that high levels of moisture in the home can also come from simple, day-to-day tasks such as showering, cooking and doing laundry. Make sure that bathroom fans, kitchen range hoods and heat recovery ventilators – items that are specifically installed in your new home – are all working properly.

Too little moisture can also cause damage that may not be covered by the statutory warranty. For example, wood products may shrink and your interior finishes may be affected.

The healthy humidity range for your home in winter is 30 to 45 per cent. You can check your home’s humidity by using a hygrometer, an inexpensive device found in hardware or home-building stores.

If your home’s humidity levels are lower than 30 per cent, install a portable humidifier to help bring up the humidity levels.  High humidity levels can often be managed by de-humidifiers.

4. General maintenance around your home

Other indoor maintenance should include: cleaning or replacing your furnace filter; cleaning the heat recovery ventilator and washing or replacing the filter; and checking all caulking and weather stripping around windows and doors.

Purchasing a new home is a big investment. When you conduct regular and proper maintenance, you will help ensure that your home stays in good condition and your statutory warranty rights are protected.

For a comprehensive checklist of seasonal maintenance tips, visit tarion.com.


The goal of this blog is to provide you with general information about the warranty process by sharing real experiences from new homeowners. The blog should not be relied upon as legal advice. For privacy reasons, we will not address or resolve current cases in a public forum, so any comments or questions that are posted on this site that describe individual cases cannot be discussed. If you have a question about your warranty or Tarion generally, we would be pleased to discuss your issue, in the context of your particular circumstances and in confidence. We exercise reasonable care to avoid offensive, illegal or defamatory content from being posted, as well as comments that are intended solely for self-promotion or considered to be spam.