Archives for Home Maintenance

As winter begins to cover the ground with snow, we Canadians are aware, there’s much more coming our way than just a light dusting. Shoveling snow, spreading salt, and digging out your frozen car, are just some of the “joys” winter may bring to you this season. As the costs of heat and electricity continue to rise, Jack Frost will be nipping at your pocketbook, wanting to extend his winter chills to the interior of your home. If you’re hoping to keep the cold outside, and your heating costs down, the best thing for you to do is to get your home “Winter Ready”. Here are some simply ways to winterize your home:

  • Clean out your gutters
    • Ensure the rain and snow have somewhere to drain to by cleaning your gutters. This will minimize the chance of leaks, and remove excess weight/strain from the gutters. Making sure that the water can freely flow through your gutters now, will stop the formation of icicles and ice-build up later.
  • Reseal your windows
    • Whether you’re purchasing window insulation kits, or redoing the caulk seals, ensuring you minimize the drafts entering the house through your windows will make it easier for the heat to stay in your house.
    • Drafts can sneak in through any improper seal, so be sure to check your need for draft guards, new seals, and even weather-stripping doors as needed.
    • Blocking drafts that may come from improperly sealed doors, windows, and fireplaces can stop up to 70% of your heat and energy from escaping through improper seals – keeping the warm air in, and the cold air out!
  • Store Patio Furniture
    • Extend the life of your patio furniture/BBQ by protecting these items from the elements and storing them indoors this winter.
  • Clean the garage
    • Cleaning up your garage will give you an opportunity for indoor parking. No more scraping ice from the windshields and trying to unbury your car after a snow fall. Parking your vehicle indoors will both keep the vehicle protected, and give you less to do before work in the morning.
  • Fireplace Preparations
    • If you have a fireplace in your house that you plan on using quite frequently this winter, get your chimney/fireplace inspected to ensure that it is safe and clear to use.
    • If your home has a fireplace that you’re not planning on using, block the fireplace with window sealer/insulation kits to help minimize the escaping heat.
    • For more tips on winterizing your fireplace, check here to see what’s important when checking your fireplace before the season.
  • Hoses/Outdoor Water
    • To avoid a messy springtime of sorting through hoses for ones that haven’t cracked, drain the water from your outdoor hoses, and store them indoors for the winter.
    • Turn off any outdoor water taps to avoid freezing
  • Insulate Pipes
    • Pipe insulation kits can be used to keep the water pipes in your home from freezing.
    • Find out everything you need to know about winterizing pipes here.
  • Furnace Preparations
    • If your home’s main heat source is a furnace, get your furnace ready for winter by making sure that it is running effectively prior to the cold nights ahead.
    • Check your filters on a monthly basis to ensure your home is getting clean, and proper airflow
    • Should your furnace need to be repaired, or replaced – consider applying to make your home more energy efficient using Federal/Provincial Tax Credits to lower the expense of replacing/repairing your furnace. Click here for more information on Energy Savings Plans.
  • Automate your Thermostat
    • Set your thermostat to automatically adjust its’ temperature setting, which can be set to be cooler during the daytime and warmer at night.
    • Setting a temperature will ensure you have consistent/reliable heat, but no one is cranking the thermostat to 85 and having a tropical vacation temperature in your living room
  • Shovels, Salt, and Snow-blowers
    • Don’t wait until the day after a big storm hits to pull out your snow-blower, and shovels. Take a look at them ahead of time – are any of them in need of repairs? Do you have gas in the snow-blower? Salt ready for icy mornings? If not – time to get prepared before the ice hits. Far better to have salt on hand, rather than being reminded that you need it by falling in the morning!

A home is a place of warmth and comfort, so keep those chilly winter drafts out this year by winterizing your home. The only thing better than being warm on a cold winter’s night, is your heat is staying inside with you. Don’t get caught up in drafts, get your winterizing done soon, so those -30 evenings feel like summertime.

Pink and purple magnolia flowers on asphalt shingles roof


In Ottawa, there are two sights that remind homeowners it’s time for spring maintenance: bikes on the road and geese in the sky. With the recent double-digit temperatures, it seems spring has won its annual wrestling match with winter. And, as spring fever sets in, you may want to store your parka and get at those spring maintenance chores.

A great place to start is making sure the melting snow and runoff flows freely off your roof and away from your home instead of seeping in or collecting at the foundation. Improper drainage can cause problems like foundation flooding, soil erosion, water in the basement or leaks in the attic crawl space. Water damage is an expensive nightmare every homeowner wants to avoid. Here are some tips to take advantage of the weather and get a head start on spring.

The Roof System

A record-breaking snowfall dropped over 50 cm one February day, so Ottawa homeowners are well advised to perform a roof inspection in case the sheer weight of the snow caused damage. Depending on moisture content, snow weighs about 1.25 lbs/sq ft for each inch of depth, so 50 cm is a heavy load.

Avoid a dangerous climb and use binoculars to survey the roof. Identify damaged shingles, soffits, fascia and flashing. If the roof is metal, check for corrosion. Inside the house, check the attic and roof deck for any structural deformations. Examine walls and ceilings for water stains or cracks.

Nature can leave more garbage in spring than in fall, so gutter cleaning is high priority. Clear all debris from eaves troughs and downspouts. Check for water stains, especially under eaves and near gutter downspouts. Water stains can mean that your gutters are not containing the roof runoff and they should be repaired or replaced.

Make sure downspouts drain away from your home’s foundation. If necessary, add extensions to carry water at least 3 to 4 feet away.

If you have a masonry chimney, check the joints between bricks or stones for signs of water infiltration. Also, look for efflorescence which indicates groundwater is “wicking” into the masonry and it could need replacement.

The Foundation

Unblock the drainage paths around your home so the snow melt flows away from your foundation. Open access to sewer drains that are on the street in front of your property.

Check inside the basement, inspecting the walls for evidence of a leaking foundation.  If your home is on a slope, you may need to install a sump pump or an exterior drain pipe leading away from the foundation.

Smooth low areas in the yard or near the foundation with compacted soil. Spring rains can cause yard flooding, which can lead to foundation flooding and costly damages. Also, when water collects in these depressions in summer, it creates a perfect breeding ground for insects.

Although winter may still rear its blustery head, you’ll be happy you switched to spring fever mode and started the chores.


The post Time To Get Out The Spring Maintenance Checklist appeared first on Team Realty.

Source: Blog



Ottawa’s freeze-thaw weather patterns often create sparkling icicles that look magical. But, they actually identify a dangerous — and potentially costly — hazard, an ice dam. Imagine coming home from work to find water streaming down your interior walls and soaking into the hardwood of your foyer. What would you do?


What Is An Ice Dam


After frantically tracing the flow, you would find that a pool of water had formed behind a thick ridge of ice in the gutters – hence the term ice dam. Snow on the roof had been melted by heat loss, causing water to collect behind the dam. And, the water was seeping through the shingles and into the house exposing it to significant potential damages.


After calling three roofing companies and getting no answer, you climb up a ladder to the second level, stand on a stool at a precarious angle, hold the gutter for support with one hand and use the other to smash the ice with a hammer. Eventually, you clear the dam but not before almost sliding off the roof … twice.


How To Remove An Ice Dam


Luckily, in this hypothetical case, there was only minor water damage, but the do-it-yourself approach was very risky and you did bend the gutter. Homeowners experiencing the effects of an ice dam — or those worried about a leak — should hire a professional roofing company to remove any ice buildup and assess for further preventive measures.


Safe removal of snow and ice should be accomplished by qualified technicians, who are fully trained in fall-arrest prevention, use the appropriate safety gear and equipment and have full insurance coverage. Instead of using hammers, chisels and salt, they will steam away the ice and remove excess snow with rakes designed for the purpose.


How To Avoid Ice Dams


To prevent ice dams, you must keep heat from reaching the roof, so the snow won’t melt in the first place. That goal is accomplished by insulating and ventilating the attic space to maintain the roof surface at, or near, outdoor temperatures. Any breach into the attic from the heated living space needs to be insulated. For homes with finished attics, this may involve opening up the ceiling.


Periodically check your roof for snow coverage because the snow’s weight alone, which should not exceed 20 to 25 lbs/sq ft, can cause damage. Depending on moisture content, snow weighs about 1.25 lbs/sq ft for each inch of depth, so 20 inches is a considerable burden. And, if you see icicles, investigate further. Professional roofers can provide accurate measurements, remediation or maintenance on a scheduled or as-needed basis.

The post Why Homeowners Should Beware of Icicles appeared first on Team Realty.

Source: Blog

Window cleaning_Small


Should removing and cleaning the window screens be part of your winter maintenance routine? According to this post, there are several benefits to be gained. Simply put, dirty mesh blocks light, heat and the view. For example, you get 30 to 40 percent more light coming in without screens on the windows.  More sunshine means you need less artificial light and can save on energy costs.


In addition, removing the screens increases the solar energy getting through to the windows. Improved solar heat gain reduces the need for mechanical heating saving on heating bills. Also, during a storm, snow gets caught between the window and screen which can damage the frame.


Wait until after the first freeze, to avoid bugs, and take the opportunity to inspect and repair the screens, where necessary.  To avoid damage, vacuum the screens with a brush attachment. Then, use a soft brush or sponge to gently scrub them with a solution of dish soap and water. Don’t push too hard or the screen will be damaged. Rinse the windows with a hose, wipe them down on both sides and let them dry in the sun.


Remember to mark each screen with its corresponding window to make spring installation easier.  Finally, store them in a dry place where they won’t get damaged.  To read more click here.

Source: Blog

Prohibition Sign Cockroach


To prevent an onslaught of pests from occupying your house as the weather cools, simply  follow the National Pest Management Association guidance presented in this post from Bob Villa. Seal cracks in the exterior envelope, especially where utility pipes enter, with silicone caulking.  Fill larger gaps inside your home with steel wool. Pests avoid the roughness of the steel fibers and rodents cannot gnaw through it. Repair ripped window screens, door sweeps and loose mortar in the basement foundation, screen dryer vents and chimneys and replace weather stripping to seal these ideal entry points. If you suspect an infestation, hire a licensed pest control professional to assess the situation. To read more click here.

Source: Blog