Winter Home Maintenance Reminders
❄️Winter Edition ☃️
By: Michelle McPhee, Broker, SRS,SRES
This time of year can be very busy; shopping, hosting, and perhaps even traveling. But there are things that you should do in and around your home at this time of year.
Hopefully you’ve done the Fall Home Maintenance inside and outside of your home and so here are a few reminders for things to be done this time of year.
❄️ While it may be obvious, we sometimes get lazy and need a reminder – clear the snow from your sidewalks and around the entrances to your home. Don’t forget to clear the snow from your meters that may be on your property as well as the fire hydrants nearby. Make sure you don’t pile the snow up against your home. You don’t want the snow to melt and cause water to seep into your home’s foundation. Try not to use salt – there are plenty of alternatives including sand and pet-friendly salt. Use it sparingly and only when the cold temperatures warrant it. Remember it can be re-used! Scoop it up and put it back in the bucket if there’s excess. Our environment and 4-legged friends will thank you!
❄️ Another area to make sure you clear snow and ice away from your storm sewer that you may have at the end of your or your neighbor’s driveway. Take a few minutes to walk around the outside of your home and check the air vents and dryer vents, make sure they’re not clogged.
❄️ If you use extension cords outside for lights or for your snow blower, ensure they are outdoor grade and in good shape. Check for frayed cords and replace – don’t try to repair them yourself.
❄️Take a walk around the outside of your home and look up at the roof – are there any missing shingles or other issues; if so, now’s the time to get a hold of a professional and get them to fix the small issues before they become much larger and expensive ones. The same goes for your gutters, if you didn’t get the opportunity in the Fall to clean them out, make sure they aren’t clogged now – ice jams could be a big issue.
❄️ Get your HVAC system serviced – the sooner the better. It always seems like the furnace fails to work on the coldest night of the year! If it’s been a few years since it was serviced it’s even more important – it will potentially need a cleaning as well. Make sure you are changing your furnace filters on a regular basis. If you have pets, or people in your family with allergies you may need to change the filters more often. Write down the date the filter should be changed in your calendar or set up an electronic notification – whatever works best for you so that you remember to change the filters consistently.
❄️ If you don’t have them, Smart home devices are a great idea. You can get a Smart thermostat and set the temperature in your home for various times of the day. Don’t heat the home when people aren’t home, and set the thermostat to have the home nice and toasty when you get home. You can also get Smart devices set to have your inside and outside lights come on even when you’re not home. With it getting darker earlier in the day, many people are often coming home to a dark house. Get these timers and your home will look lived in even when you’re not home – deter break-ins and come home to a lit up home. These are not just for times when you’re away traveling.
❄️ You can also get a Smart water-leak detector to monitor your boiler or water heater. A leak from a water heater can quickly cause a lot of damage – especially when you’re not home and the leak occurs.
❄️ Monitor the humidity level in your home during the winter months when things can dry out pretty quickly. Dry air is not only uncomfortable for us but it can damage our wood furniture, wood cabinets and flooring. If you don’t have a humidifier on your heating system, investigate the cost of getting one added. Or alternatively use humidifiers or even diffusers throughout your home.
❄️ It wouldn’t be a bad idea to check out your sump pump. You want to make sure it works otherwise you could end up with a flooded basement and potentially damage to your foundation. Locate the exit pipe and check for dirt and debris - clean it out if there is any and make sure the water is being directed away from your home’s foundation.
❄️Now that the colder weather is here, you may more easily notice some drafts coming from your doors and/or windows. There is a variety of weatherproofing DIY kits you can purchase to help keep your warm air inside.
❄️ Pack an emergency kit for your family’s needs in the event your home loses power. It should have working flashlights, potable water, some non-perishable snacks (protein bars, nuts, pre-made protein drinks, etc.) extra blankets, a battery operated radio, and charged banks for your phones. Make sure this kit is easily accessible when the power goes out.
❄️ An emergency kit would also be a good idea to have in your car. Extra blankets, flares, non-perishable snacks, working flashlights are all a good idea to have in it along with a small shovel and a bag of salt/sand.
Follow these tips and your home – inside and out – will be ready for the next chapter in our Canadian calendar.
Fall Maintenance – Inside and Out
🍂 Fall Edition 🎃
By: Michelle McPhee, Broker, SRS,SRES
Love them or hate them Canada has four seasons, and Autumn is a great time to ready your home for what can be brutal winters.
Outside Fall Checklist:
🍂 It’s not the greatest idea to go out and walk around on your roof, but you can still do a visual inspection and if there’s any loose or missing shingles now’s the time to get a hold of a professional roofer.
🍂 Also inspect the soffits and flashing. It’s also a good idea to clean out the gutters and make sure the water can flow freely. Again this may not be a job that is safe to do yourself. Running a water hose is a great way to get rid of all the debris.
🍂 It’s also a good idea to do a visual inspection of your home’s siding. Again a professional may need to be called in if there are any loose or missing pieces.
🍂 Check out the caulking around your doors and windows. Caulking can break down over time and it’s a fairly inexpensive and easy job to replace or even just fill in the cracked caulking. Energy efficiency is important as we head into the coldest months of the year, and every little bit helps. It would also be a good idea to take a close look at the screens of your windows and doors; many screens get tears and rips in them from much use during the summer. Again energy efficiency is important as we head into the winter. Do they need replacing, or are they in good shape and just need a good cleaning?
🍂 Wash the windowsills while you’re at it! Check your doorsills and thresholds, they most likely will need a good cleaning and perhaps a freshening up with some paint.
🍂 Once this work is done on the exterior of your home, take a look at your yard, front and back. In the front, and if you live in an area with lots of trees that are shedding their leaves, make sure the street sewer catchments are kept clear – this may be a daily check if you have lots of leaves in your area! One final cutting of your grass (leave the clippings on it for best fertilization over the cold months), do the winter maintenance on your mower and put it away for a few months!
Inside Fall Checklist:
🍂 Just like Spring cleaning, Fall cleaning really is a thing! This time of year a good amount of emphasis should be put into ensuring the air quality of your home is as “clean” as possible. So this means replacing or cleaning the filter on your furnace and HVAC system. If the filters are washable remove them and give them a good vacuum to remove most of the dust, then wash in a solution made of lukewarm water and mild soap. Rinse thoroughly and let dry before replacing. You should also vacuum your bathroom vents as well vacuuming all registers and grilles to make sure there is no dust accumulation. Keeping vents clean allows for proper air circulation and helps to ensure good indoor air quality.
🍂 After removing the grease filter from your range hood, soak it in warm soapy water with some baking soda. Then scrub it with a non-abrasive brush, rinse, and dry. This method will ensure your filter is working to its full potential.
🍂 Check and clean your clothes dryer vent. This can be an often neglected task that could result in a dire situation such as a house fire.
🍂 Check your crawl spaces and basement for leaks or moisture.
🍂 Remember to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors – they only have a 10 year lifespan, so replace them if they’re older than this. Replace the batteries in all of them.
🍂 It would also be a good idea to inspect fireplace and chimney dampers, and clean if necessary.
Follow these few tips and your home – inside and out – will be ready for the next chapter in our Canadian calendar.
Don’t relax on your holidays until you read this
By: Michelle McPhee, Broker, SRS,SRES
A lot of us wait many, many months for our annual summer vacation. We plan where we’re going, where we’ll stay, what we’ll eat and what we’ll see and do. But are you giving as much time and thought into what you should do BEFORE you leave your home?
We leave for our annual family vacation and usually we just close and lock the door and shout “Yippee” as we drive away. But what are we forgetting to do?
- Clean your house - or pay someone to do so. There’s nothing like coming home to a sparkly clean home after a holiday. You’ll most likely have laundry to do when you return from your holiday so make sure you don’t leave piles to do before you leave. Run the dishwasher or do your dishes, don’t leave anything around with food scraps or residue on it - gross and just an invitation for creatures, ants, bugs etc. And don’t forget the refrigerator! I know… it’s not a fun chore… but coming home to a fridge with food that’s been sitting in it for a week is not fun either.
- Tidy up the outside of your home. Does the grass need cutting before you leave? What about your outdoor plants - give them a good soaking with water. Another good tip is to take your baskets down and put them in a kiddie pool that you’ve put some water in and let them sit in the pool and water while you’re gone so they don’t dry out.
- If at all possible, invite your neighbors to park one of their cars in your driveway - at least at a few different times during the days. Would also be a benefit if they could grab any flyers that get delivered and take them in for you. If you get mail delivered to your mailbox at your front door perhaps they could hold on to that for you till you’re back.
- Now’s a great time to invest in some timers if you don’t have any! Make it look like someone is home by putting a few lights on timers that come on and go off during the “dark hours”. Confuse would-be burglars by making it look like you’re at home in the evening. You can use a simple old-school timer or get a fancier one that can be multi-programmed and even controlled while you’re away.
- Make sure your alarm will take care of the house in an emergency. Ensure the batteries are recharged and depending on your alarm company, let them know you’re leaving. You can change who they notify during an emergency, but some require it in writing, so plan ahead! If you don’t have an alarm, you can buy ones that aren’t hard-wired and can easily be set up in an afternoon.
Hide the spare key. If you have a spare key under a front door mat, consider tucking it somewhere less conspicuous. Yes there’s always the fake rock option - as long as you sufficiently hide that fake rock!
- This is an obvious one - check all your windows and doors to ensure they’re all locked.
- Program your thermostat. Not only will it help with energy efficiency it will ensure you come home to a nicely cooled (or heated) home.
- Before you leave, make sure to unplug electronics around the house that don't need power while you're gone. Not only will it save you on your energy bill, it will lower the risk of an electrical fire. Unplug things like routers, televisions, computers or unused chargers.
- This one is a hard one… refrain from “advertising” that you’re away or GOING away. You don’t need complete strangers knowing that your house is vacant!
By following the above tips and practices you’ll ensure you have a restful time away and not worry about forgetting to do something at your home before leaving for your well-earned holiday. Oh and lists are your best friend - I have lists for lists!! Enjoy.
Spring Cleaning Time
By: Michelle McPhee, Broker, SRS,SRES
A helpful guide on how to get your home ready for Summer.