Winter prep tips for your home

Winter prep tips for your homeAs the weather gets colder, it’s important to make sure your home is winter ready. Here are a few simple tips on how to prevent exterior winter damage from Jack Rende, senior merchant of building materials at the Home Depot Canada.

Inspect your roof. Then, apply roof repair glue to any loose shingles in order to help avoid leaks or damage in your home.

Choose durable, weather-proof shingles. GAF Timberline High-Definition shingles can withstand category three hurricane-force winds of up to 246 kilometres an hour.

Install roof-heating cables. This will cut down on snow or ice buildup, saving your home from expensive long-term damage. Before installing, make sure your eavestroughs and roof have been well cleaned. Then, attach roof cable clips to your roof in a zigzag pattern. Finally, secure your heating cable to the clips.

Prep eavestroughs and downspouts. Seal any cracks with a silicone sealant and install a filter to prevent leaves from clogging.

Reapply exterior caulking. It’s important to do so in any gaps between your siding and window or door frames.

Turn off exterior faucets. Be sure to drain water from outdoor pipes, valves and sprinkler heads to prevent pipe bursts. If your home is 10 years or older, consider installing frost-proof faucets.

How to put out a fire at home before it starts

How to put out a fire at home before it startsFor many of us, the aesthetics of our home –– a colourful garden, new furniture or trendy appliances –– often become our primary focus. But this can leave little time for unseen elements that can become a safety hazard.

Something overlooked like a loose or frayed cord can spark a house fire, and this happens most frequently during the winter months, according to the Canadian Red Cross.

It doesn’t take much for a fire to start in your home, but it doesn’t take much to prevent one. That’s why around this time of year, it’s crucial to take small, precautionary measures that will keep your family out of harm’s way. Here are four easy steps for a fire-free home:

  1. Develop a fire escape plan. Should a fire occur, it’s important to evacuate the home as quickly as possible. Creating a fire escape plan and practicing that plan twice a year will help ensure the safety of your loved ones in the event of a fire.
  2. Check smoke detectors frequently. A functioning smoke detector can be the difference between a false alarm and a life-threatening scenario. Install them on every level of the house and take the time to test them monthly, replacing batteries at least twice a year; daylight saving time always serves as a good reminder.
  3. Store and recycle batteries the right way. Once you have changed the batteries in your devices, be sure to recycle the old ones. Used batteries that are disposed of or stored incorrectly or damaged can be a safety hazard. Keep your home and the environment safe by recycling all your old batteries. Call2Recycle Canada has more than 8,000 drop-off locations across the country, so one is bound to be close by. You can visit their website at call2recycle.ca and plug in your postal code to find one closest to you.
  4. Pay attention to detail. Have an eye for the little things. Make sure your home’s heating sources are clean, as many house fires are started by poorly maintained furnaces or stoves, or chimneys with buildup. Check wiring and cords and fix or replace any frayed extension cords, exposed wires or loose plugs. Finally, make sure to store combustible materials in open areas and away from heat sources.

Re-doing your roof checklist

Whether you’re building a home from scratch or replacing the roof of an existing home, it’s important to consider the range of materials available and build a budget based on your needs. With a variety of styles and colours to choose from, you can easily find a look to match your home at an affordable price.

Jack Rende, senior merchant of building materials at Home Depot, suggests asking the following questions when choosing your roof materials:

  1. How long will the roof last? The climate you live in is one of the most important factors here.  When selecting roofing materials, choose one with better durability to withstand mother nature.
  2. Does the type of roofing complement the style of your home? Bring you personal style to the exterior with a wide range of roof colours, looks and architectural shapes. The appearance of a roof can dramatically affect the look of your home, so it’s important that the material be suitable to its aesthetic.
  3. Is this roofing material within my budget? The cost of a new roof can vary drastically depending on the type of material and cost of installation. An asphalt roof is the most commonly used.  It’s also the least expensive and requires minimal installation. The complexity, height and steepness of your roof can also affect the installation costs.

 Find more information online at homedepot.ca.

 

Healthy lawns, healthy homes

A thick, healthy lawn is a lot more than nice-looking green space.  Well-maintained turf contributes to a deeper root structure that helps your lawn withstand the extreme heat and cold of our Canadian climate, cools our atmosphere and reduces erosion.

All living things need food for optimal health, including plants and grass. A healthier lawn will provide benefits for your home, including the trapping of airborne dust and other pollutants for cleaner air. In fact, a 50 by 50 foot lawn produces enough oxygen every day for a family of four.

It’s important to use the right fertilizer for your type of lawn, so always read the bag for information that includes the amount of nutrients, such as the NPK, which stands for nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. The bag will also tell you how much area it will cover and how to apply it properly.

Newly established lawns require phosphorous for root growth. Older lawns that have had the clippings left on after cutting gain nutrients back as the clippings decompose. Established lawns can usually use a phosphorous-free formula.

Fall is one of the most important times to feed your lawn to provide nutrition that will help see your lawn through the long winter. If you have leftover fertilizer from last season, you can still use it. Break up any clumps before placing it in the spreader, and store any remaining fertilizer in the original package, sealed and in a cool dry place.

Find more information to produce the healthiest lawn online at greenerworld.ca.

4 ways to keep your home fresh as it gets colder

4 ways to keep your home fresh as it gets colderWith the chill in the air, furnaces are on and windows are closed for the next few months. But this can lead to dry, stale air inside the home. Here are some ways you can reduce dry skin and irritated airways without getting fresh air from outside.

Keep fabrics clean. Ensure a clean environment at home, especially in the rooms where you spend the most time. Sheets, blankets, pillows, rugs – all these fabrics are perfect allergen collectors. Wash them regularly and try to avoid down-filled duvets and pillows, especially if you are an allergy sufferer.

Keep pets out of the bedroom. Even though it’s winter and you want to get cozy with your furry friend, pet dander can wreak serious havoc on your body when you’re sleeping. To help with the transition, set up a sleeping area with toys and other items your pet likes, so you can feel confident they’re comfortable without you.

Reduce use of harsh, smelly chemicals. All winter, our houses are closed, which means anything with a harsh chemical smell can’t escape and we’re subjecting our airways to it. Experiment with all-natural cleaning products including white vinegar, lemon and baking soda.

Humidify your air. To keep the air in your house fresh, consider purchasing a humidifier. The Philips Humidifier Series 2000 has evaporative technology that spreads 99 per cent less bacteria compared to leading ultrasonic humidifiers. Plus, the 360° design evenly distributes humidified air throughout the room, making it the perfect solution for dry, stuffy air in your home.

Equip your home and family for safety

Most Canadians are under-protected and unprepared when it comes to fire and carbon monoxide safety, according to a nationwide survey conducted by First Alert. However, Fire Prevention Month in October is a great time to prepare a safety checklist to ensure your home and family are protected from the threats of smoke, fire and CO.

Help protect against the “silent killer.” An odourless and colorless gas, carbon monoxide is the number one cause of accidental poisoning and it can only be detected with an alarm. Yet more than a third of Canadian homes do not have a CO alarm. Consider hassle-free protection by installing 10-year sealed battery alarms that eliminate the need for battery replacement. Check all alarms monthly using the “test” button.

Install smoke alarms. Nearly one in five two-storey homes have just one smoke alarm installed. To secure the highest level of protection, install smoke and CO alarms inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. For ultimate home safety, select combination models, such as the First Alert 10-year Battery Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarm, which features a slim, contemporary design that mounts unobtrusively on a wall or ceiling.

Be prepared to fight small flames. Beyond alarms, having fire extinguishers — and knowing how to use them — is an important part of maintaining a safe home for you and your family. Place extinguishers in convenient locations on every level of the home, in the kitchen and in the garage.

Practice your emergency escape plan. Research shows that of the 56 per cent of us with an emergency escape plan, only one in five practice it twice a year. Make sure to involve everyone in your household in creating a plan and practice it at least twice every year. As part of this plan, equip second-floor bedrooms with escape ladders and discuss how to use them. Identify two ways out of each room and a meeting place outside. Emphasize that once at the predesignated meeting area, everyone must wait until officials clear your home for safe re-entry.

The secret to organizing your home

For those trading in their outdoor activities for some indoor fun, it’s time to get ready for all the extra time you’ll be spending inside. Here are some key tips to start getting your home organized this fall:  Declutter and repeat. Start by going through drawers, cupboards and closets and arrange items using boxes, baskets, containers and bins. Not only does this create a tidy space, but it makes it easier to find items. Next, either shred old papers that have been piling up or organize them using file folders. A colour-coded filing system works best — think green for your finances, blue for anything house related and orange for personal files. Lastly, hide cords using ties, boxes or hooks to instantly create a clear space.  Use the walls. Think of all the various items that can double as décor and storage that go up on walls in your main living spaces. Purchase a coat rack to ensure coats aren’t tossed over the banister anymore, put up floating shelves to store books and various knick-knacks, and install hanging canvas bins to store toys or scarves and toques. In closets and laundry rooms, add shoe racks and a variety of hooks to hang anything from keys and umbrellas to mops and brooms.  Give your items some second-hand love. This time of year, we’re usually shuffling all things summer into storage. But before you pack up last season, take time to sort through clothes, furniture and décor. Make a keep, donate and recycle pile to maximize storage space and eliminate clutter. But don’t stop there — go through other items that can be recycled, such as used batteries that pile up because you’re not quite sure what to do with them. Used batteries can be recycled to reclaim materials that can be used to make new items like golf clubs and silverware. Call2Recycle has more than 8,000 drop-off locations across the country, so one is bound to be close by. Find one nearest to you online at call2recycle.ca.  www.newscanada.comFor those trading in their outdoor activities for some indoor fun, it’s time to get ready for all the extra time you’ll be spending inside. Here are some key tips to start getting your home organized this fall:

Declutter and repeat. Start by going through drawers, cupboards and closets and arrange items using boxes, baskets, containers and bins. Not only does this create a tidy space, but it makes it easier to find items. Next, either shred old papers that have been piling up or organize them using file folders. A colour-coded filing system works best — think green for your finances, blue for anything house related and orange for personal files. Lastly, hide cords using ties, boxes or hooks to instantly create a clear space.

Use the walls. Think of all the various items that can double as décor and storage that go up on walls in your main living spaces. Purchase a coat rack to ensure coats aren’t tossed over the banister anymore, put up floating shelves to store books and various knick-knacks, and install hanging canvas bins to store toys or scarves and toques. In closets and laundry rooms, add shoe racks and a variety of hooks to hang anything from keys and umbrellas to mops and brooms.

Give your items some second-hand love. This time of year, we’re usually shuffling all things summer into storage. But before you pack up last season, take time to sort through clothes, furniture and décor. Make a keep, donate and recycle pile to maximize storage space and eliminate clutter. But don’t stop there — go through other items that can be recycled, such as used batteries that pile up because you’re not quite sure what to do with them. Used batteries can be recycled to reclaim materials that can be used to make new items like golf clubs and silverware. Call2Recycle has more than 8,000 drop-off locations across the country, so one is bound to be close by. Find one nearest to you online at call2recycle.ca.

The one design feature you’re overlooking

When it comes to decorating your home, it’s a smart idea to put your time, energy and money into the elements that make a difference to beauty and comfort. And don’t forget the window treatments.

An essential element in any space, window coverings manage illumination, privacy and even energy efficiency. They set the tone and ambiance; create a finished, polished look; and, can be a gorgeous design element that draws the eye.

When choosing the right window treatments for your home, consider these elements:

Light control and privacy. Harsh light at the window? Look for products with innovative fabric designs that transform sunlight into a soft glow and help protect your furnishings from damaging UV rays, such as the Silhouette line from Hunter Douglas. Want more light? Look for shades that can help channel light deeper into your room, filling dark corners and reducing your need for electrical lighting.

Privacy. You don’t need to sacrifice streaming sunlight for privacy from neighbours. Just look for products and operating systems that provide clever ways for giving you the privacy you want while maintaining your view through to the outside.

Energy efficiency. As much as 50 per cent of a home’s heating and cooling energy can be lost through its windows. But window treatments that provide insulation and solar heat control can reduce your energy bills by keeping your home warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

Safety. Kids and pets can get hurt with hanging cords and chains. From cordless and motorized operating systems, retractable lift cords, cord tensioners and wand controls, there are several operating system options for enhanced child and pet safety.

Smart-home convenience. Imagine your shades moving automatically to the exact position you prefer to achieve the specific lighting effect you love, or adjusting themselves for optimal energy efficiency throughout the day. With Hunter Douglas’ PowerView Motorization system, your shades will automatically move to schedules you set, so they’ll always be in their perfect positions 24/7.

Fresh ways to make over furniture

With more time indoors on your hands thanks to cooler weather, you finally resolve to refinish that forgotten wooden chair that’s been tucked away in the garage all summer.

Whether you’re only giving the chair a fresh coat of paint or refinishing it from scratch, be sure to protect yourself and those around you in the process. Keep these tips in mind before beginning a new refinishing project.

  1. Read the label. Follow all safety and usage instructions on the label, including how to dispose of any leftover products.
  2. Work in an area with lots of ventilation. Refinish old furniture outdoors, if weather permits. If you work inside, open the windows to make sure there is plenty of ventilation.
  3. Do not use sanders, heat guns or blowlamps. This can create dust and fumes that may contain lead.
  4. Use a chemical paint stripper. Ideally, choose one with a paste that can be applied with a brush. Paint strippers contain substances that may be harmful, so use them carefully.
  5. Keep children and pregnant women away from the work area. This will help ensure their safety.
  6. Always wear safety glasses, gloves, and a good-quality breathing mask. The label will provide more detailed information on personal safety equipment you should use. This is essential to protect you and your family.
  7. Store materials properly. Make sure that you store refinishing chemicals in a dry, cool place. Keep any hazardous material away from children’s reach.
  8. Dispose of refinishing waste materials properly. It can be dangerous to throw away rags and certain other materials that have been used for refinishing furniture. Aside from potentially starting a fire, they can also cause serious damage to the environment.

Seasonal maintenance tips in and around your home

Seasonal maintenance tips in and around your homeAlthough 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.