DON’T LET ICE DAMMNG DAMAGE YOUR HOME

(NC) As winter winds down and the warmer weather starts melting the snow on your roof, be aware of the potential threat of ice damming, which can cause damage to both the exterior and interior of your home.

What causes ice damming?

An ice dam is created when rooftop snow melts during the day and then freezes again at night around the edges or eavestroughs. As this barrier of ice gets bigger, it prevents further melting snow from draining off your roof. 

When water has no way of getting off your roof, it pools there and backs up under the shingles and into your home, where it can cause damage to the wood structure, insulation, ceilings, wall finishes, furnishings and personal belongings.

On the outside, ice dams are not only a safety concern – they can also cause damage to eaves and lead to the buildup of a white, powdery residue (known as efflorescence) on concrete and brickwork.

What you can do

The best thing you can do is to prevent ice dams before they happen. Soon after a snowfall, use a roof rake to remove snow from the first metre of your roof. If you currently have ice buildup on your roof and want it removed, consider hiring an experienced professional to do it for you.   

What not to do

Do not climb onto the roof to try and clear snow or ice – you can damage your home and seriously hurt yourself. Throwing salt or de-icing chemicals on roof ice is also a bad idea, as this may cause shingles to deteriorate. 

Does your new home warranty cover it?

If you own a newly built home, your warranty may cover problems associated with ice damming if they are the result of a building defect. If you’re unsure, contact Tarion at tarion.com.

Attention Editors: This content is reserved for distribution in Ontario only.

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Heading South This Winter? Keep Your Home Safe!

(NC) The winter months often see the flight of Canadian snow bird vacationers down south. While leaving your snow-covered home for a beach and tan may be appealing, your empty home may seem like an open invitation for prying eyes and unwanted guests. Fortunately, the tips below can help you keep your home safe while you’re off chasing the sun.  

Don’t disclose that your home is empty. Be sure not to disclose the dates of your trip on social media or leave voicemail messages that reveal that you’ll be away. Providers like Belairdirect can help you assess if you have the right coverage ahead of your trip, letting you shift your focus to sun protection.  

Create the impression your home is holiday headquarters. While you don’t have to stage a bustling holiday party, you can do simple things to protect yourself. Install a timer to turn lights on and off at different times and ask a neighbour or relative to shovel your driveway, move your vehicle, and collect your mail.  

Set up some “traps” to foil intruders. Put away the thumb tacks — there are some simple “traps” you can put in place to keep your home secure. Install a safety bar on patios or place a stick in between a sliding door to prevent it from opening. Set the ultimate trap by activating your home alarm system.  

Be proactive. Be sure to put away any outdoor items that could be used to break into your home, turn off water, drain all systems and appliances, and unplug electrical and electronic devices. Above all else, make sure you’re properly insured.

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Seasonal maintenance tips in and around your home…

(NC) Although some of us may be hanging on to warmer temperatures, it’s inevitable that cooler weather is on its way. With the change in seasons comes a change in home maintenance that’s needed to prepare for the cooler climate. So, get ahead on your chores while the sun is still shining and follow these four simple tips to stay on track.

  1. Clean out your gutter and downspout. Once leaves begin to fall, they will fill your gutter and downspouts blocking water that is draining off your roof. While this step may need to be repeated more than others, cleaning out your gutter regularly until all leaves have fallen will benefit your home long term. If you come across little friends nesting, safely remove them to avoid them calling your attic their new home.
  2. Check your windows and doors. With cool, breezy air upon us, it’s important to check windows, doors and cracks that need to be fixed. Feel around for any drafts that may be coming through and try caulking around these areas to repair any broken seal. Not only will this keep you warm, it will reduce energy use and save money on your heating bill.
  3. Inspect your furnace. Hire a professional to inspect your furnace before the cold weather arrives. Since the heat has been turned off for months, it’s important to complete a general maintenance to ensure your furnace is ready for another winter. Remember to clean out your filters regularly and replace as needed; this will benefit the air quality in your home and keep your furnace running efficiently.
  4. Make the switch to winter tires. It’s important to make the switch from all-seasons to winter tires so that your vehicle is prepared for winter driving conditions. Even before the first snowfall, the drop in temperature requires a different type of tire to grip the road. Winter tires should be replaced every two to three seasons. If you have old tires that are no longer in use, drop off up to four for free at a registered Ontario Tire Stewardship collector. Recycling used tires helps keep the circular economy rolling by turning your old treads into sustainable products manufactured in Ontario.

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Keep your home cool all summer long

NC) No matter how much we enjoy spending time outdoors during our short summers, we always want our homes to be comfortable spaces for living. But even with an air conditioner, this can be tricky during the hottest days of the year.

Use these tips from Health Canada to create a more pleasant indoor environment for your family and guests:

Simplify your cooking. When the weather is gorgeous out, who wants to be in the kitchen making big, time-consuming meals? Keep temperatures down by preparing meals that don’t need to be cooked in the oven.

Do It Yourself shade. If you live in a house, plant trees on the side where the sun hits the house during the hottest part of the day. Tree-shaded spots can be as much as 5ºC cooler than the surrounding area.

Work with your windows. Paying attention to what’s going on outside can make a big difference if you adjust your windows and coverings accordingly. Block the sun by closing awnings, curtains or blinds during the day. Harness the evening breeze by opening your windows at night, if it is safe, to let cooler air into your home.

Fine tune your air conditioning. If you have an air conditioner, make sure it works properly before the hot weather starts. Otherwise, find an air-conditioned spot close by where you can cool off for a few hours during very hot days. This will help you cope with the heat better.

Stay informed about local weather forecasts and alerts so you know when to take extra care.

Summer Home Maintenance Tips

(NC) Now that you’ve pulled out your lawn furniture, uncovered the barbecue and put on your flip flops, you’re eager to enjoy some fun in the sun. But if you’ve recently moved into a new home, don’t forget it still needs love and attention beyond just cutting the lawn once in a while.

Even with today’s energy-efficient, high-tech homes, seasonal maintenance is important because it helps protect your new home warranty. By failing to regularly maintain your home, you risk causing damage that may not be covered by your warranty.

When you’re planning your summer fun list, make sure you find some time for this home maintenance checklist:

June:

  • Inspect air conditioning
  • Check roof
  • Check sheds and garages
  • Check sealing around windows and doors
  • Check septic system and clean if necessary
  • Fertilize lawn
  • Check water heater
  • Check and reset ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI)
  • Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors

July:

  • Air out damp basements on a dry, sunny day
  • Clean air conditioner
  • Check exhaust fans
  • Check water heater for leaks
  • Check and reset GFCIs
  • Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors

August:

  • Clean air conditioner filter
  • Air out damp basements on dry, sunny days
  • Inspect driveways and walks
  • Inspect doors and locks
  • Check and reset GFCIs
  • Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors

Find more seasonal maintenance tips online at tarion.com.

Top Home Maintenance Tips for Spring

 

(NC) As warm weather approaches, spring is the perfect season to assess whether your home is in tip-top shape after a long winter. Below are four home maintenance tips every homeowner should consider to help keep insurance claims at bay while increasing the value of your home.

Get those gutters clean. With warmer weather and a greater likelihood of flash rain storms, now is the time to make sure your eavestroughs are clean. Removing any debris like leaves and dirt will prevent gutter backup and reduce leaks when it rains.

Keep the roof over your head. Roof damage — including loose shingles, leaks and cracks — is common during the winter due to the heavy weight added by snow and ice and icicle formation. As winter melts away, inspect your roof and attic to determine if any repairs are required.

Check the drainage of your property. Receding snow and ice may unveil eroded landscapes or pond-sized puddles on your property. Take advantage of the changing season to ensure your property is fitted with appropriate drainage fixes. This may be as simple as extending your downspout to drain into the lowest area of your yard.

Make sure you’re covered. Now is a good time to look at your home insurance plan and make sure your coverage is adequate. Summer weather events, social gatherings and time away can make your home more susceptible to damage or break-ins. You can easily manage your policy online with companies such as Esurance, freeing more time to enjoy all that summer has to offer.

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5 Smart Tricks to Make Cleaning Faster and Easier!

(NC) Get a jump on your spring-cleaning with some tips that’ll leave every corner in your home spotless in no time.

Make it part of your routine. If you wait to clean and tidy up once a week, a month or even a season, you’re setting yourself up for a long, heavy chore that you’ll only dread and procrastinate. Instead, try incorporating easy tasks like wiping the kitchen counters, straightening out the living room and freshening up your bed with linen spray into your daily schedule and you’ll have a much easier and quicker time of it when you deep clean.

Choose appliances that tackle the dirty work. You may already have a self-cleaning oven or laundry machine, but that self-cleaning magic is more valuable than ever when you can have it in the bathroom. The new VorMax Plus self-cleaning toilet from American Standard is a huge time-saver that cleans and freshens your toilet every time you flush. Available at Home Depot, it features an innovative design that uses a Lysol fresh infuser that reduces dirt buildup and an antimicrobial surface that inhibits the growth of stain- and odour-causing bacteria.

Set tidying up on autopilot. It’s a lot easier to clean when you have a system that keeps your house clean. Keep your mud room area in top shape by encouraging everyone to sort their coats, shoes and mitts as soon as they set foot in the door with designated hangers and pretty storage boxes. Eliminate unattractive packaging and clutter in the bathroom and kitchen with mason jars and decorative canisters for your toiletries and dried goods.

Have items work double duty. Get creative and think outside the box to find things that can do some of the cleaning for you. For example, your dishwasher can do much more than just clean your plates, pots and pans. Load it up with plastic toys, light fixtures and toothbrush holders and have it run while you work on everything else. Using dryer sheets to prevent musty odours in clothing storage boxes, linen closets and shoes means you won’t have to do extra cleaning or laundry just to get rid of unwanted smells.

Add some inspiration. Sometimes tasks feel like they take forever simply because they’re dull and repetitive. Time flies by when you’re entertained, so listen to a podcast or stream re-runs of your favourite show in the background for cleaning that seems speedier. You can also use the time more efficiently by multitasking and squeezing in a workout while you clean. Make every step count with a fitness tracker and throw in a few exercises like pushups or squats every time you switch rooms and easily meet your daily physical activity goals.

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Top 10 Ways to Revive Your Dated House…

(NC) Our homes are where memories are made, our retreat from the world. However, daily living, growing families, and time can leave your home looking less than its best. Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to breathe new life into a well-loved space. These top DIY projects will ensure your home looks and performs its best.

Clean. A neat and tidy home instantly brightens the space, creating a great foundation for other improvements.

Paint. This is the easiest way to quickly transform the look of a dated room. Don’t forget to paint the trim to really make it pop.

Consider replacing worn flooring. Update with hardwoods or choose more affordable options such as laminate or vinyl plank flooring. Eco-friendly options like bamboo or cork flooring have grown in popularity, while today’s assortment of tiles can also create a stunning look.

Address the comfort factor. Taking measures to make your home more energy efficient can dramatically improve everyday comfort and save you money. The easiest way to start is by simply topping up your attic insulation. Many contractors recommend a fire-safe, mould- and water-resistant stone wool insulation like Rockwool Comfortbatt. Made from stone, it’s durable and easy to install. This important update can potentially save you hundreds in annual heating costs, and it only takes about a day or so to complete.

Make simple swaps. New light fixtures or hardware on cabinetry can provide your room with an instant refresh. Give cabinets a new coat of paint if they look tired or dated.

Let there be light. Replace heavy drapes with sheer window coverings or blinds to flood the home with as much natural light as possible.

Open up the space. Remove excess furniture and all signs of clutter. Organize closets and pantries. Open windows to allow fresh air inside.

Accessorize. Add inviting elements like fresh flowers, throws or toss cushions. Does your room have a distinct focal point? Carefully chosen and placed accents or artwork can really make it stand out.

Create curb appeal. Clean and pressure-wash the driveway and walkways. Cut the grass, pull weeds, and trim shrubs. Consider planting annuals to add colour. Paint your front door and house numbers.

Reboot your entry-way. It’s simple, but it sets the tone. Make sure it’s bright, open and functions effectively. Install some clever storage solutions –– there are plenty of options even for small spaces. It should always feel good to walk through the front door. After all, there’s no place like home.

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Hidden Health Hazards That Could Be Lurking In Your Home

(NC) Many of us like to make our homes cozy retreats during the chilly winter season, stockpiling blankets and firewood. But another important way to prepare for spending so much time indoors is to make sure our homes are safe and healthy places to live. Here are some common risks that could be present and what you can do about them.

Carbon monoxide. This gas causes illness and can lead to death. Carbon monoxide can be present in your home or cottage at any time of the year, but the risk is greater in winter months because homes in Canada are usually heated by furnaces, wood stoves, water heater or boilers and other appliances that run on fuels — devices that can release the gas if they are not installed correctly or malfunction. Protect yourself with a carbon monoxide alarm and by properly ventilating your home.

Radon. This is an invisible, radioactive gas that causes lung cancer and comes from uranium in the ground. The only way to know the radon level in your home is to take a simple and inexpensive test that can be done by using a do-it-yourself kit or by a certified measurement professional. If the level in your home is high, it can be fixed at an affordable cost. A radon mitigation system can be installed in less than a day and in most homes will reduce the level by more than 80 per cent for about the same cost as other common home repairs such as replacing the furnace or air conditioner.

Wood smoke. Whether your wood stove is your main source of heat, a back-up or a fun way to add some warm ambiance, wood smoke contains a number of pollutants that can be harmful to your health. You can help reduce the environmental and health impacts of wood smoke by maintaining your stove, cleaning your chimney and using your dampers. Choose dry, seasoned wood, let it breathe and burn smaller pieces of wood. If renovating, consider switching your heating source or purchasing a low-emission stove.

Find more information at www.canada.ca/radon.

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