Get your house ready for winter now!

Winter is fast approaching, so now’s the time to do the annual yard clean-up before the snow starts to fall! Store the lawn chairs, prepare garden beds for winter, plant your spring bulbs, protect the trees … but did you also think about inspecting the house to detect ways to prevent water damage?

In Canada, we see the impacts of climate change mainly as an increase in severity and intensity of extreme weather events that result in more flooding and water damage. Thirty years ago, insured losses for extreme weather averaged $400 million a year. Now they average $1 billion a year.*

Jean Frédérick, a senior property and casualty insurance advisor with Desjardins Group, outlines what precautions you can take around your house to help make it less vulnerable to our increasingly unpredictable weather.

Outside: Inspect from top to bottom

“Anything you can do to help move water away from the house, such as extending or cleaning the eavestroughs, and ensuring your property is sloped so water drains away from the house, considerably reduces the risk of water getting inside,” says Frédérick.


During the winter, snow, rain, freezing rain, and freeze-thaw cycles make roofs more vulnerable to cracks and water infiltration.

Before winter begins, check the surface and all other parts of the roof, including the metal flashings, chimney and skylights, and repair any spots where water could get in.


This is the time to clean all leaves and garbage out of your eavestroughs to prevent any overflowing. When you’ve finished cleaning, run water through the eavestrough to ensure it flows out smoothly and there are no blockages.

Windows and doors

Check that your window and door frames are watertight so water can’t get through.

In terms of basement windows, there should be at least 8 inches between the window and the ground. If there isn’t that much space, installing a window well is recommended.


Did you know that a 6 inch slope over a distance of 10 feet is enough to drain water away from your house’s foundation? This is a sufficient slope to reduce the risk of water getting into the basement.


It’s a good idea to inspect your house’s foundation now to look for any cracks or signs of potential leaks, including efflorescence (white powdery substance) on interior foundation walls.

Inside: Rooms at greatest risk of water damage

“Fall is the idea time to inspect your property and repair any problems that could potentially lead to water damage,” adds Frédérick.


Inspect ceramic tile joints around water sources like the bathtub, shower and sink to ensure there aren’t any leaks. Don’t forget to test the plumbing shut-off valves too!


Cleaning backwater valves that protect basement toilets is an excellent way to considerably reduce the risk of a sewer backup.

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