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:


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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Fall Yard Maintenance!

School is back in and Summer is coming to an end! I love the fall season but with it comes a checklist of outdoor maintenance. Here is a compiled list of to- do’s for your yard this fall!

  1. Clear Out Flower Beds- clean all debris out of the flower beds, trim down the plants that may need pruning.
  2. Till the Garden- Do you have a veggie garden? Now is a great time to pick your last crops and till the rest. This preps your vegetable garden for the coming year.
  3. Trim the Trees- This must be done every year, it is always good to know which branches are getting out of hand, these can cause major damage to your home, or worse the neighbors!
  4. Drain Out the Water- from your hose, your irrigation system or any temporary pools you may have up. Store them in a dry place until next Spring/Summer.
  5. Clean Out your Gutters- No one wants to do this but it is necessary to avoid build up and damming in the gutters.
  6. Rake/Mulch the Yard- If you do not have tons of leaves it wouldn’t hurt to use your lawnmower to mulch them, however if you have a yard full of leaves I would rake up the majority first.
  7. Fertilizer- Spread a great fall fertilizer if you want a great lush lawn in the spring.
  8. Plant Fall Bulbs- Any shrubs/fall annuals and bulbs that are to be planted in the fall now is the time to do it. Ask your local garden center for help deciding which plants are best in the fall season.
  9. Protect Plants- The plants that are cold-sensitive must be wrapped with burlap or cloth, the shrubs you would like to keep their shape make sure you use a protective shield such as a tree tepee or make it a DIY project!
  10. Protect the Deck- Power wash the deck and then seal it with a weather proof seal. This will help make it last years longer!




(NC) Did you know that water is the leading cause of home damage in most provinces? Just this past May, communities across the country had to cope with flooding as heavy rainfalls hit various regions over many days.


What can you do to protect your home? Here, Marc Barbeau, property claims manager of Intact Insurance shares his top four tips:

  1.  Water-resistant décor.  The next time you’re renovating your home, explore installing cement board instead of drywall in your basement. It’s typically used in showers and tubs and is less likely to absorb water. Cement boards are extremely moisture resistant and dry quickly when wet. For base moulding, consider a formed, paintable plastic material instead of wood. This way, even if water gets in, your home may be able to withstand excess water and mould damage.
  2. Install backflow valves and sump pumps.A sump pump may help keep your basement safe and dry by collecting and disposing the water from your home. Already have a sump pump? Think about adding battery backup for times where the power is out.

When there’s a heavy rainstorm, it may become too much for the sewers to handle, and waste can back up through floor drains, toilets and sinks. A backwater valve is a one-way valve that is installed on the main drain of your home. In the event of a backup, the valve closes to stop sewage from coming in.

  1. Consider overland flood
    It’s estimated that only 10 to 15 per cent of Canadians have insurance for overland flooding. New insurance products can help cover this. For example, Intact Insurance’s enhanced water damage package consists of up to four components: sewer back-up, water and sewer lines, overland water and ground water. It’s best that you talk to a broker to ensure you’re getting the coverage you need.
  2. Keep valuable items on higher floors.Store sentimental and valuable items on the upper floors of your home, away from the basement as many of these items may never be replaced if your basement floods.

Spring into home maintenance!!

(NC) Renovating is great for increasing the value of your home, but regular home maintenance is the easiest way to preserve your investment. As the weather warms, it is a perfect time to do a quick inspection of your home and catch up on simple seasonal chores.
With a little effort, you can keep your home looking great and functioning well for years to come. Here’s a few tasks you should check off your to-do list:
• Clean out the gutters and remove any debris.
• Repair siding and peeling paint.
• Inspect your chimney and roof. Replace or repair loose or damaged shingles.
• Trim overgrown shrubs and trees, keeping branches two feet from the house.
• Inspect deck boards for possible deterioration and rot. Replace damaged boards and seal or re-stain, as necessary.
• Turn on the water supply to hose bibs and exterior faucets. Check for leaks.
• Clean windows and window tracks. Replace any damaged screens.
• Check around doors and windows for cracks and gaps. Caulk, as necessary.
• Clean your outdoor spaces (driveway, deck, porch, etc). Fix any damage. Reseal the driveway, if needed.
• Fertilize and aerate the lawn. Seed to fill any patchy areas.
• Inspect the attic for poor ventilation, pests, damaged sheathing, mould or insufficient insulation levels. Top up insulation, as needed, with a mould and moisture-resistant product made of inorganic materials like Roxul Comfortbatt. Aim for a depth of 16 inches and an R-value of 50.
• Replace the furnace filter. Clean air vents, as needed.
• Clear out the dryer vent, removing any lint or debris which can pose a fire hazard.
• Check the washing machine and dishwasher fill hoses to make sure there are no cracks developing.
• Test ground fault circuit interrupters in the bathroom, kitchen, outside receptacles and on the electrical panel.
• Inspect and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Change the batteries and replace units more than 10 years old.
Since your home tends to be your biggest investment, maintenance is time well spent!
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Tips for dads to plan the perfect Mother’s Day

(NC) With mom’s special day just around the corner, dads and partners can use these simple tips to prepare for a day she won’t soon forget.
1. Create a homemade DIY gift. Moms love receiving a gift with a personal touch from the kids, so spend an afternoon with them making something she’ll love. Thoughtful ideas include a card with the kids’ handprints, a vase you all decorate together, or family picture mounted on a hand-painted frame.
2. Bake while she sleeps. Think moms dream of breakfast in bed? Most moms really just want time to sleep in, roll out of bed, and take a luxurious hot shower or bath. Instead of waking her up with breakfast, let her do her thing while you keep the kids entertained by cooking with them in the kitchen. Bake a delicious treat she can enjoy for brunch whenever she’s ready. Powerful and easy-to-use, the Cuisinart Precision Master Stand Mixer is great for making sweet treats, soft breads and salty favourites. It also comes with a recipe booklet with step-by-step instructions, meaning you can master whatever dish she loves.
3. Remember — it’s all about her. Just because it’s Mother’s Day doesn’t mean she wants or needs to spend all day with the kids. Make a reservation at a nice restaurant for dinner and let her decide what she wants to do the rest of the time. Whether that’s spending the day in bed with a book and wine, seeing a movie with friends, or going to the spa, let her know you’ll hold down the fort while she’s doing whatever she pleases. Bonus points if you do some laundry or fix that thing she’s been asking you to for months.
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Basement flooding: How to avoid standing in knee-deep in water

(NC) Flooding and water damage are things no homeowner ever wants to deal with. But depending on where you live, your home may be prone to flooding.

If you’re buying a home, make sure that you’re aware of any flooding issues in the area and find out if there are prevention tools already in place to avoid flooding.

It’s also critical that homeowners understand that overland flooding, such as water swells from nearby rivers or lakes and water seepage through your foundation, are not covered under standard home insurance policies.

Along with the short-term mess and annoyance, floods can lead to other problems like respiratory issues, long-term damage not covered by insurance, and a decrease in property value.

“Basement flooding is a serious issue that needs to be approached in a proactive manner,” explains Glenn Cooper of Aviva Insurance. “Even a small crack or leak, if not addressed immediately, can lead to serious issues.”

Understanding the signs and being proactive about taking care of your home will help reduce your risk. Check out these tips:

  1. Get a plumber to inspect your home once a year for potential issues that could lead to flooding. The inspection can help you find issues that could lead to a flood, including cracks in the foundation walls, poor drainage, and overflowing or clogged eaves troughs and downspouts.
  2. Clean your eaves troughs on a regular basis.
  3. Refrain from pouring harmful liquids down your drains.
  4. Have a back-water valve installed to prevent sewer back-up..
  5. Have a sump-pump with battery back-up in case of power outage and make sure to inspect it regularly to ensure it’s working correctly.
  6. Ensure landscaping slopes away from the house.

Find more information through your insurance broker or online at