How Can I Fix Window Leaks?

As we enter the summer season In Ontario, we know that this time of year often comes with heavy rains, high winds, and severe thunderstorms. For many homeowners, this season means they are preparing to manage leaky windows and limit water damage to their homes.   

Whatever the time of year, leaks from patio doors and windows can create significant issues to your home, ranging from cosmetic damage to paint and window frames, to serious structural issues and skyrocketing heating and cooling bills each month. Addressing water leaks in your home as soon as you notice them is extremely important and will reduce the risk of major damage and costly repairs down the road.  

What Causes Window Leaks? 

Understanding what is causing your windows to leak is an important first step in fixing the problem. Some of the most common causes of leaking windows include:

Normal Wear and Tear 

Most instances of window leaks are caused by the sealant breaking down over time. The most obvious sign of damaged or degraded sealant is the presence of condensation around the edge of your window during rain. The sealant may also appear discolored or damaged. 

Other typical wear-and-tear problems with windows include damage to the locking mechanisms, preventing the window from closing entirely. Replacing window hardware is generally inexpensive and relatively simple to do and in some cases will solve the leaking issue.  

Installation Problems 

If your window leak doesn’t appear to be the result of worn, or degraded sealant or faulty hardware, it’s possible that your windows were installed incorrectly. Significant gaps between the flashing, improperly fitted windows, or rusted or corroded nails can cause leaky windows.  

Avoiding window installation issues in the future will come down to ensuring that you hire an experienced professional to correctly install them. 

Flawed Design  

In some instances, a leaking window is not caused by the window itself, but by the design of your home and its exterior. A lack of overhang or cracks within an exterior wall can lead to ongoing leaking that is expensive to repair. Detecting a design flaw in your home isn’t always easy, especially as you may not notice anything is wrong until you have a water problem or leak.  

An experienced building inspector is trained to identify these types of flaws and determine whether they are contributing to leaking and subsequent water damage.  

Are You Sure It’s Your Window? 

Sometimes, water entering your home is misidentified as a leaking window problem but is actually due to missing shingles, wall cracks, and clogged gutters. These problems often direct excess moisture or cold air into your home. This is why it’s often important to consult a professional building inspector to discover the root cause of the issue before you go through the trouble of replacing your windows.  

How To Fix Window Leaks  

Once you have successfully identified what is causing your window to leak, the next step is to figure out how to effectively repair your window if possible, or whether it needs to be replaced. Some repairs can be relatively easy and inexpensive, whereas other problems can be costly and complicated to fix.  

Re-Seal Windows Thoroughly 

If you suspect that your leaking window is due to degraded or damaged sealant, it is possible to take on this type of repair yourself. It is important to do this work on a dry day with no rain in the forecast to ensure the sealant has enough time to dry and set. Simply strip the old sealant from around the edges of the window, clean the area thoroughly, and then reapply the fresh sealant in smooth, even layers.  

Replace Window Hardware 

If the window isn’t closing completely due to faulty or damaged hardware and mechanisms, replacing the hardware is a good next step. This can be done quite simply, and hardware replacement pieces are typically not very costly.  

Replace the Leaking Window 

The most thorough and effective way of fixing a leaking window is to completely replace it. This job is best done by professionals to ensure that it is installed and sealed correctly, preventing future issues.  

Call an Expert  

If you’re not confident in your ability to determine the cause of your leaking windows, or simply want the benefit of expert advice, you might want to call in a professional home inspector. At Building Insights, we bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to each job and are experienced at the identification of water leaks and underlying causes. We can help you determine whether your window leak problem is a simple fix or in need of a complete replacement, as well as identify design flaws and installation issues.  

Contact us today to receive your free quote or to schedule an inspection!  


What is the Biggest Red Flag in a Home Inspection?

The home inspection process is designed to provide an understanding of the overall condition of a home’s major structures and systems. The goal of the home inspection is to provide as much information as possible about the internal and external condition of the home, including HVAC systems, plumbing, and electrical systems, the condition of the foundation and other structural elements of the home, and much more. In any given home, regardless of its appearance or age, finding a handful of items that need to be upgraded or repaired is fairly common. With that being said, certain issues in a home present a larger red flag for real estate agents and potential buyers than others.

Biggest Red Flags

The biggest red flag in a home inspection can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the property and the preferences of the buyer. However, some common major red flags that can indicate significant issues with a property include:

Structural Issues: Any signs of foundation problems, such as cracks in the foundation, uneven floors, or bowing walls, can be major red flags.

Water Damage: Water stains on ceilings or walls, mold or mildew growth, musty odors, or evidence of past flooding or leaks can indicate potential water damage issues, which can lead to costly repairs and health hazards.

Electrical Problems: Outdated or unsafe wiring, overloaded electrical panels, flickering lights, or outlets that don’t work properly can pose serious safety hazards and may require significant electrical upgrades.

Plumbing Issues: Leaks, low water pressure, clogged drains, or signs of water damage around plumbing fixtures can indicate plumbing problems that may require repairs or replacements.

Roofing Problems: Missing or damaged shingles, sagging rooflines, water stains in the attic, or evidence of roof leaks can indicate roof issues that may require immediate attention to prevent further damage to the home.

Pest Infestations: Signs of pest infestations, such as termite damage, rodent droppings, or nests, can indicate ongoing pest problems that may require professional extermination and repairs.

HVAC System Issues: Malfunctioning or outdated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems can lead to discomfort and high energy bills. Signs of problems include inconsistent temperatures, strange noises, or unusual odors coming from the HVAC system.

It’s essential to thoroughly review the home inspection report and discuss any concerns with the inspector to understand the severity of any issues and their potential impact on the property’s value and safety.

What is a potential red flag in an appraisal report?

A potential red flag in an appraisal report could include discrepancies between the appraised value and the agreed-upon purchase price of the property. This could indicate that the property may be overvalued or undervalued, which may raise concerns for both the buyer and the lender.

Other potential red flags in an appraisal report may include:

Comparable sales: If the appraiser’s selection of comparable properties used to determine the value of the subject property is questionable or not representative of the market, it could lead to an inaccurate valuation.

Property condition: Significant issues with the property’s condition that affect its value, such as structural damage, deferred maintenance, or safety hazards, may be noted in the appraisal report and could impact the appraisal value.

Legal or zoning issues: Any legal or zoning issues affecting the property, such as property line disputes, encroachments, or zoning violations, may be flagged in the appraisal report and could affect the property’s value or marketability.

Market trends: Rapidly changing market conditions or declining property values in the area where the subject property is located may be noted in the appraisal report and could affect the property’s appraised value.

It’s essential for both buyers and lenders to carefully review the appraisal report for any potential red flags and discuss any concerns with the appraiser or relevant parties involved in the transaction.

The Bottom Line

A home inspection from an experienced and qualified inspector can reveal major problems that often remain unseen to the untrained eye. Knowing the major signs to look for when considering purchasing a certain home is essential for any home buyer.

If you want to learn more about the home inspection process or receive a free quote, contact our team at Building Insights today!


The Best Practices for Maintaining your Chimney and Fireplace

The look of a classic wood-burning fireplace can add character and a sense of coziness to your home as an inviting family gathering spot during the colder months. It is highly important to keep your fireplace and chimney in pristine condition to optimize its heating efficiency, minimize general wear and tear, and save you money over time. Properly maintaining your home’s chimney and fireplace is essential for ensuring the safety of your loved ones. Below are our top tips for maintaining and preserving the life of your chimney and fireplace so you and your family can enjoy it for years to come.

Remove Ash Regularly from Your Fireplace – Routine grate and combustion firebox maintenance doesn’t only keep your fireplace tidy, it also helps promote a clean-burning fire, thereby reducing the build-up of creosote (a dangerous byproduct produced by burning wood and remains in the chimney until it’s removed) as well as other harmful substances in the fire chamber.

As wood burns, a layer of ash continually forms in and around the grate of your fireplace. Once this layer gets too high, it hinders the flow of air around the firewood which is necessary to ensure it burns cleanly and efficiently. However, a thin layer of ash can help start and keep the fire burning, because ash possesses excellent heat-keeping properties. Because of this, a balancing act is required to ensure the right amount of ash in the fire chamber.

Most experts recommend maintaining a layer of ash that is approximately one inch thick while removing any excess. Always be sure that the ashes are cold before removal and using a metal bucket and shovel is also a good idea to avoid injury.

Only Use Seasoned Firewood – The quality and type of wood you burn can have significant impacts on whether your fire is clean-burning. Whether you prefer to burn softwood or hardwood, ensuring the wood is well-seasoned is essential. This means that the wood is no longer green, and has been dried out enough that it will burn evenly and with minimal smoke.

Burning green wood can negatively affect the life of your fireplace and chimney due to the high moisture content that causes creosote to develop at higher levels than seasoned wood. Well-seasoned hardwood, including oak, walnut, and maple, is the best and safest type of wood for use in a fireplace.

Always Repair Damage Quickly – Chimneys are subjected to a lot of wear and tear due to weather. High winds, heavy rain, frost, snow, and ice, can cause damage to exposed chimney caps and tops. Over time, brick joints and mortar deteriorate, causing bricks to crack, split, and fall. Chimney caps can also become damaged, sometimes allowing rain to enter the chimney flue.

Making chimney repairs as quickly as possible is always a good choice. When left untreated, these structural problems can accelerate the deterioration process. It is important to have a professional chimney cleaning and repair company promptly fix any damage and conduct a thorough inspection for any problems that aren’t visible.

Be Prepared to Upgrade Your Fireplace – Fireplaces can vary significantly in maintenance needs and longevity depending on the type, and not all of them are designed to last. For instance, a contemporary wood-burning fireplace insert often only lasts for a decade or so before a replacement is required.

Older fireplaces that were constructed with solid cast-iron features and firebricks can sometimes last a lifetime, though chimney liners will likely need replacement. In addition, individual bricks, tiles, or stone veneers may become damaged from the constant heat. Whatever kind of wood-burning fireside is in your home, planning for repairs and replacement in your home maintenance budget is a good idea.

Get Routine Professional Inspections – For your peace of mind, scheduling regular fireplace and chimney inspections and cleaning services is essential. Experts recommend that these services be performed annually. A qualified and experienced inspector will take the time to thoroughly examine the complete chimney structure and system for any signs of damage, hidden soot, creosote build-up, blockages, debris, and possible wildlife.

Local Expertise in Southwestern Ontario

Incorporating these 5 tips into your home maintenance routine can help you enjoy your fireplace and chimney for as long as possible. Building Insights offers professional fireplace and chimney inspections in Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo, KW, Cambridge, St. Jacobs, Elmira, Listowel, Fergus, Elora, Arthur, Mount Forest, Drayton, Stratford, New Hamburg, Paris, Brantford, Ancaster, Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga, Brampton, Milton, Halton Hills, Erin and surrounding areas. Get in touch with us today to schedule our expert services or receive a free quote.


The Benefits of Adding a Sunroom to Your Home

If you want your home to look and feel luxurious, it might be worth considering the addition of a sunroom. A sunroom will add value, living space, and functionality to your home. A sunroom is typically a small home extension and is ideal for enjoying the warmth of sunshine, growing vibrant house plants, or relaxing while drinking your morning coffee or reading a book on a cozy evening.

Your family, friends, neighbours and guests will all admire and enjoy the additional living space, as well as the serene landscaped view it provides. If you’re considering building a sunroom for your home but are still on the fence, read on to learn our top reasons for adding a sunroom to your property.

Increase your Property Value – Sunrooms add a luxurious look and represent a slower and more relaxing lifestyle. Properties with sunrooms are typically priced higher and are more in demand in the world of real estate. Sunrooms also increase the square footage of living space and make a home appear larger and more upscale. These factors combined means that the addition of a sunroom can cause property value to increase significantly.

Create Additional Living Space – A home that is overly filled with furniture, fixtures and inhabitants can make it difficult to enjoy. By adding a sunroom to your home, you increase usable and functional space for you and your family. Sunrooms are perfect areas to relax and enjoy the natural light and fresh air it provides. Sunrooms can be used in a variety of ways, making them dynamic and flexible spaces that also provide the feel of a separate space while also bringing you closer to the beauty of nature and the outdoors.

Express Luxury – Most of us dream or have dreamt of a lavish home with gorgeous interiors and ample space. A beautiful sunroom brings a feel of luxury to any home, and can be a reflection of your lifestyle and personal preferences. A sunroom is a completely customizable indoor space, giving us the feeling of being outdoors while still being under a roof.

A Sunroom Can Lift your Mood and Support your Mental Health – Many Canadians suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (also referred to as SAD) especially during the winter months when sunlight is low. The addition of a sunroom means access to sunlight and essential vitamin d is easier, as sunlight can be received while still remaining indoors.

In addition, sunrooms can help to improve your mood, even if you aren’t struggling with a specific mental health issue. Sunrooms make it easier to connect with nature, and get sunlight and fresh air into your body without having to leave your home. Connecting with nature and receiving its benefits is proven to help lift one’s mood within minutes and improve their day to day experience.

Another Space to Entertain – A sunroom not only provides additional living space for your family, it also can serve as a warm and bright space to host friends and loved ones. Whether you like to host large parties or small intimate get togethers, a sunroom provides your guests with a gorgeous view and a comfortable space to relax and enjoy.

In addition, a sunroom can double as a “rain plan” should you be planning an outdoor gathering during the warmer months.

Sunrooms are Versatile – The possibilities of how you can use a sunroom in your home are endless. Sunrooms are popular spaces to create a home office in, as they are quiet, cozy and distraction free. Other people use their sunroom as an indoor greenhouse for their beloved houseplants and herb gardens. Using a sunroom as an art studio or hobby center is also a popular option due to the ample natural light and inspiring view.

What to Know Before you Build

If you’re serious about adding a sunroom to your home, it is important to understand the process. Additions typically involve a permitting process, as well as a home inspection before construction begins. A pre-renovation or pre-addition home inspection ensures that there are no existing structural issues, as well as structural issues down the road. The home inspector will also ensure that your contractor is doing everything according to code.

If you want to learn more about our home inspection services or want to receive a free quote, contact us at Building Insights today!


Home Inspection for First-Time Home Buyers

The role of a home inspection is to help a potential buyer make a more informed decision about the home they are considering buying. A home inspector is an expert in the identification of potential issues, as well as providing the potential buyer with a better idea of the ongoing maintenance and associated costs that the property will require.

If you’re thinking about buying a house, a thorough home inspection by an experienced professional can save you thousands of dollars in unexpected maintenance and repairs, or from unknowingly buying a money pit.

What is a Home Inspection?

A home inspection is a thorough visual assessment of a home’s internal and external physical structure and mechanical systems, such as the roof, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, and doors, as well as the HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems.

The home inspector will ensure that the major appliances are functional, evaluate the condition of the heating and air-conditioning systems, examine the electrical and plumbing systems, and check around the attic and basement.

The primary goal of a home inspection is to identify issues within the home itself. What a home inspector won’t tell you is whether you’re getting a “good deal” on the home or provide an opinion on the sale or asking price.

When Does the Home Inspection Happen?

The home inspection typically happens after the seller has accepted the buyer’s offer but before closing on the sale of the house. In order to provide adequate time for additional inspections or negotiations with the seller, the home inspection should be scheduled as soon as possible once you’re under contract.

It is important to allow at least seven to ten days in the home-buying process to take care of the home inspection.

How to Hire a Home Inspector

As the buyer, it’s your job to choose and hire a home inspector. In some cases, the seller will offer to provide their own home inspection report or claim that the house is pre-inspected. While this may seem tempting, you’ll want to arrange your own inspection to ensure that you can properly vet the inspector yourself.

In Ontario, Home inspectors are required to be licensed and insured, but this is simply the bare minimum.

To find a reputable inspector, seek recommendations from friends and peers, and find an inspector who is well-established and experienced. You can also check your local Better Business Bureau to see if the home inspector you are considering has a record of complaints.

One of the best practices is to interview any potential home inspectors about their experience, certifications, training, and potential areas of expertise. For example, if you’re considering purchasing a fixer-upper or an older house, you’ll probably want an inspector who knows historic homes.

You can also ask for references from previous clients, particularly homeowners who have been in their ’new’ homes for six months or more. This can help to determine whether any problems arose that were not reported in their inspections.

What Happens During a Home Inspection?

A home inspection typically takes several hours to complete a thorough walk-through and visual inspection of the home you’re considering buying. During that time, your home inspector will take notes and pictures. The most important part is that your inspector will provide an objective opinion on the condition of the home, as they are an unbiased expert.

What Won’t My Home Inspector Do?

Your home inspector won’t necessarily determine whether the home is compliant with local building codes. They also won’t comment on anything cosmetic, unless they reveal larger problems. For instance, they may comment on a ceiling stain because it indicates the presence of water damage.

While inspectors typically have a keen eye for detail, they won’t be able to identify anything that is unseen. This means that issues such as pests, asbestos, mold, or other potentially dangerous issues may go unnoticed.

Finally, any areas that aren’t easily accessible, such as a septic tank, won’t be included in the inspection as those types of issues often require specialized evaluations.

What’s Included in a Home Inspector’s Report?

A high-quality home inspection report should be extensive and thorough and contain checklists, summaries, photographs, and notes. The report may also contain an estimate of the remaining functional life of major equipment and systems, as well as of the roof, structure, paint, and finishes.

The Bottom Line

A home inspection is not a pass-or-fail examination. No fixes are mandatory following a home inspection, though it might uncover issues that require further negotiations with the seller. Ultimately, you’ll learn a whole lot about the home and increase confidence in your decision to move into your new house or discover enough that you decide to pass on the purchase.

Contact us at Building Insights for a free quote or to book your inspection today!


Home Safety Tips for Families

Our homes should always be a place of solitude, comfort, and safety. Whether you are a homeowner or a renter, ensuring the safety of your home and family is most likely at the top of your list. This is why it is incredibly important to take care of your home and be aware of potential hazards and dangers.

In addition to decorating and organizing your home, taking proper care of it should also include ensuring that your living space is safe. While it is impossible to prevent all emergencies completely, there are some things you can do to prevent and prepare for them should they arise. Read on to discover our top home safety tips that will help you sleep easy and relax at home knowing you’ve done all you can to keep your family safe.

House Fire Prevention and Safety Tips to Help Keep Your Home Safe

Examine All Electrical Cords and Outlets – It’s vital to regularly check all electrical elements and systems in your home for potential fire hazards. Keep an eye out for any of the following:

● Frayed or Loose Wires

● Ensure No Cords are Running Under rugs or Across Doorways

● Touch Outlets to Feel if They are Warm (they should not be!)

● Examine for a Damaged or Faulty Electrical System

● Never Overload an Outlet

● Avoid Overloading the Electrical System (always follow manufacturer instructions about maximum wattage and requirements)

● Baby Proof Outlets (if you have small children)

Inspect Home Heating – Preventing potential fires, carbon monoxide poisoning and heat burns is essential to the safety of your home. Inspect the following:

● Outside Vents (they should be clear of obstructions and properly sealed, always check following a significant snowfall)

● Inspect Woodburning Stoves and Fireplaces Twice Monthly (ensure the door latch closes properly and the room has a functioning smoke detector)

● Choose the Right Wood (for stoves and fireplaces you want a good supply of dry seasoned wood)

● Hire a Chimney Sweep/Cleaner Regularly

● Inspect your Water Heater Annually

Check Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors – Simply installing these detectors is not enough to ensure the safety of your home.

● Install Detectors Generously Throughout your Home (there should be at least one of each on each floor of your home and should cover all sleeping areas)

● Test Your Alarms Each Month

● Replace the Batteries Once per Year (or sooner if it is ‘chirping’)

● Clean All Detectors regularly

● Ensure All Family Members Know the Difference Between Detector Sounds

Use Fire Extinguishers – Fire extinguishers are an essential element of all home safety equipment. They are relatively inexpensive and can save lives.

● Strategically Place Extinguishers (keep one in the kitchen and on each floor)

● Learn How to Use Them (they aren’t helpful if you don’t know they work in an emergency!)

● Replace them as Necessary

● Consider Installing a Fire Sprinkler System

Establish an Escape Plan – Your family should be well informed about what to do in the case of an emergency. Design an escape plan that includes:

● Two Exit Routes in Case of Fire

● A Meeting Place for all Family Members to Gather

● A Rescue Ladder if Necessary

● Ensure all Family Members Know to Call 9-11 and the Address of the Home

Protect Small Children – Families with young children need to take some additional measures to ensure the safety of the youngest family members. This should include:

● Installing Window Guards on All Windows

● Installing Safety Gates at the Top and Bottom of all Staircases

● Locking up Hazardous Materials (this includes medications, cleaning supplies, and other dangerous materials)

● Keep Knives Out of Reach

● Add Padding on any Furniture with Sharp Corners or Edges

● Install Doorknob Covers on Entry/Exit Doors

● Fence in your Pool

● Teach Children their Address and how to call 9-11

Keep your Pets Safe – Furry family members should also be considered when you ensure the safety of your home.

● Ensure All Food is Locked Away or Out of Reach

● Lock up Your Garbage

● Keep Electrical Cords Away from your Pet

● Ensure Hazardous Materials and Chemicals Aren’t Accessible

● Include your Pets in your Escape Plan

● Make Sure Leashes/Collars and Crates/Carriers are Easily Accessible

When in Doubt – Hire a Professional!

If you have done all of the above and are still concerned about the safety of your home, call in a professional. Home inspectors are experts when it comes to identifying hazards and potential dangers in your home. They are trained to see things that the average homeowner might miss, and can also provide you with a plan for how to improve the safety of your home. If you would like to book a home inspection or receive a free quote.


House Damage by Squirrels and How to Prevent It

Spotting the common black and gray squirrels is something most of us do every single day. Squirrels are plentiful in Ontario and are often seen in trees, on grass lawns, and pretty well anywhere else outdoors! One place we don’t want to find squirrels, however, is inside our homes. While squirrels living outdoors isn’t a cause for concern, squirrels who take up residence in your attic or cause significant damage to your home can be.

Read on to learn more about how to know if squirrels are gaining access to your home, how to prevent them from entering, and what to do if you find wildlife inside your home.

How Do Squirrels Get into Homes?

Squirrels have excellent climbing skills and are able to easily chew through wood. This makes it relatively easy for them to climb onto your home and chew through any wood gables (or other vulnerable areas) to access the indoors. During the breeding season, female squirrels seek shelter to give birth and raise their litters safely, making this time the most common to find squirrels inside homes.

Some of the most common signs that squirrels may be living inside your home are:

  • The presence of fecal matter
  • Telltale damage by squirrels
  • A nest made of shredded insulation and/or wood
  • Scratching or other strange noises
  • Visible damage to the exterior of the home

About Squirrel Damage

When squirrels access your home, the damage can be widespread. Not only are they likely to damage the exterior of your home while they work to get inside, but once they are inside they will shred insulation and wood framing to create bedding. They can also chew through electrical wiring and PVC piping which in turn can lead to a fire and/or water damage. Essentially, squirrels have the potential to cause enough damage that you may have to file an insurance claim. Unfortunately, many homeowner insurance policies do not cover damage caused by local wildlife. Preventing these animals from entering your home is the best way to ensure the safety and aesthetics of your home.

How Can I Prevent Squirrels from Entering My Home?

One of the most effective ways to prevent squirrels from entering your home is to promptly fix any areas on the exterior that may be vulnerable to squirrels. This includes any holes, unsecured soffits, wooden window frames, etc. It’s also important to ensure that all doors and windows shut and seal properly, with no large gaps around the outer edges that small animals could squeeze through. On the inside of the attic of your home, inspect the area for signs of

previous damage by squirrels. Repair any areas that require it, and replace any insulation that may have been damaged or removed. You can also install steel screens over any vents or other purposeful openings to prevent squirrel access through them.

It is important to routinely inspect the exterior and interior of your home for signs of squirrel damage, as well as for any areas that squirrels might use to gain access. Being proactive and practicing prevention is the best method of protecting your home from wildlife.

What If I Find Squirrels Inside My Home?

If you do find that squirrels are in fact living inside your home, it is best to consult the professionals. Professional wildlife removers are trained in how to safely and humanely remove wildlife that has taken up residence in your home. Squirrels can carry diseases that can be deadly, so don’t risk trying to remove them yourself.

When in Doubt, Call a Home Inspector

If you are concerned that squirrels may be accessing an area of your home, and you aren’t able or want to inspect your home for signs of wildlife and possible damage, call your local home inspector. Home inspectors are experts when it comes to spotting damage and identifying access points for squirrels and other critters. They can also help you make a strong prevention plan and identify any areas that are vulnerable or in need of repairs.

If you want to learn more about how to prevent squirrels from entering your home, book your inspection, or receive a free quote, contact us at Building Insights today!


Changing a Furnace Filter

How often do you think about the filter in your home’s furnace? If replacing your furnace filter isn’t part of your routine home maintenance practice, or it’s been a while since you’ve changed it, now is an excellent time to think about it! 

When it comes to maintaining your HVAC system, as well as ensuring that the air in your home is as clean and healthy as possible, routinely changing your furnace filter is highly important.  

Read on to discover our top reasons why replacing your furnace filter is essential to the comfort of your home and the health of your HVAC system:  

System Efficiency – Replacing your furnace filter is important to ensure that your HVAC system runs as efficiently as possible. When the filter becomes clogged with dirt, grime, pet hair, and dust, the A/C and furnace end up having to work twice as hard just to move air throughout your home. This, in turn, will drive up your energy costs each month, which also increases your home’s carbon footprint.  

Health Concerns – When a furnace filter is dirty, it allows dander, dust, and even mold to continue to circulate through your home. This can cause your family to breathe in this unclean air which can exacerbate conditions such as allergies, asthma, or other respiratory concerns.  

Increased Maintenance Costs and a Shortened HVAC System Lifespan – When your system has to work harder than intended to heat and cool your home due to a clogged filter, it can overheat and burn out. This can mean expensive repairs, or in some cases, replacing the entire unit.  

A Clean Filter Means a Cleaner Home – A clean, new air filter can drastically reduce the amount of dust inside your home, as it traps the dust and as a result, it is no longer circulating. By decreasing the amount of dust in your home, your home will be cleaner in general and will require less time cleaning.  

How Often Should I Change My Furnace Filter? 

Hopefully, we’ve successfully convinced you that replacing your furnace filter regularly is highly important and beneficial. How frequently the filter should be changed depends on several factors such as the type of filters, whether there are pets in the home, the type of HVAC system, etc. A good general rule of thumb is to change the filter every other month.  

How Do I Change My Furnace Filter? 

Replacing a furnace filter is a relatively simple task that any homeowner can tackle on their own, and takes approximately 5-10 minutes.  

Step by Step Instructions for Changing your Furnace Filter 

Step 1: Turn off the Power to the Furnace 

To begin, ensure that you turn off your furnace at the thermostat. This is a crucial step; if the furnace turns on without a filter in place, it might suck up any dust and debris which can cause damage to its internal components. 

Step 2: Find the Service Panel 

The next step is to locate the furnace’s service panel and slide or open the door. If you are unable to find the panel, refer to the manual for the furnace. If the manual is not available, in most cases the air filters are located near the air handler or blower compartment of the unit. They are also occasionally located in the ductwork near the blower fan or air-uptake vent within your home.  

Step 3: Remove the Dirty Filter 

After locating and opening the service panel, simply slide the filter out while taking care to note the direction of the arrow on the filter frame. You’ll want to install the clean filter with the arrows on the frame pointing in the same direction. The arrows indicate the direction of the airflow on the filter, and in order for it to work effectively it must be pointing in the correct direction.  

Step 4: Install a New Filter 

After removing the existing filter, simply replace it with a clean one. Before sliding it in, ensure that it is the correct size and that the arrows on the frame are pointing in the same direction as the previous filter. Once the new filter is in, you are safe to turn your thermostat back on and properly dispose of the old filter.  

The Bottom Line  

Replacing your furnace filter is a highly important basic home maintenance task, and is relatively simple to do. Properly caring for and maintaining your home’s furnace means cleaner and healthier air for you and your family, and a HVAC system that will continue to work effectively for years to come. 

If you want to learn more about changing furnace filters, receive a free quote or to schedule your home inspection, contact us at Building Insights today!  


Raccoon in the Attic

Raccoons are known mischief makers, between their masked bandit appearance and their ability to make big messes of our garbage cans. They can be the most nuisance, however, if they find a way into your attic. It’s not always easy to know right away whether the sounds or movements you are detecting are that of a raccoon or another critter.  

Conducting an inspection of your home yourself in order to determine whether a wild animal has made your house their home, is relatively straightforward. Read on to learn about how to inspect your home for wildlife, what to do if you find live animals, and how they commonly enter your home so you can prevent them from taking up residence in the future.  

How Do I Inspect My Home for Animals? 


Examine your home for signs of structural damage that may have been caused by raccoons or other animals as they enter the attic. Raccoons are known for shredding wallpaper, and removing insulation that surrounds any pipes, the roof, and vent ducts to use as bedding material. This type of damage is typically easy to spot and is a good indication that an animal is present in the area. 

Raccoon Sighting 

This may seem obvious, but sighting the animal within your attic is the most surefire way to confirm the presence of a raccoon (or other critter) in your home.  

Nocturnal Sounds & Movements 

Raccoons are naturally nocturnal animals, which means they tend to sleep all day and be most active at night. Pay attention to any strange or unfamiliar noises in your home at night, especially ones that might be coming from the roof or attic. Raccoons typically make rustling and scurrying noises. They also tend to communicate with each other with a variety of sounds and can be highly vocal. Baby raccoons tend to “mew” like a kitten and also make whining noises. The presence of any of these sounds is a good sign that a raccoon has made a home in your attic.  

Fecal Droppings 

One of the other ways to determine the presence of raccoons or other critters is to examine the area thoroughly for any fecal matter. If you do find feces, make sure you don’t come into contact as they can carry viruses and infections. Raccoon feces is mostly tubular in shape and can produce a pungent odor.  

Garbage Remnants 

Examine the area for any garbage debris such as food wrappers, or other food remnants as this can be a good sign that a raccoon has taken up residence in your home.  

How Do Raccoons Enter My Home?

Raccoons are incredibly resourceful animals and they can make a home in just about anywhere within your home.  

Attic – The attic is one of the most commonly seen places for raccoons to make a home. They typically enter through a window, vent, or any small cracks that may exist along the framework. Raccoons have long and strong front nails which makes them excellent climbers.  

Chimneys – Chimneys are great avenues for wildlife to easily enter your home. Chimneys offer protective shelter and darkness once they reach the top of the damper.  

Roof Vents – In order to ensure proper ventilation, all houses are equipped with roof vents which can often be used as an open door to raccoons, even the ones with aluminum or plastic covers. On colder nights, the warm air from the vents often attracts raccoons to the area.  

Pet Doors – Raccoons can be quite fearless when they smell food, and there isn’t much that can do to stop them from attempting to gain access. Pet doors can make it very easy for raccoons to enter your home, and once inside, raccoons will cause mischief and destruction as they build their dens and search for food. 

Nearby Trees – In more urban areas, taller trees can become an oasis for a family of raccoons. Trees provide raccoons and other animals with essential resources such as shade, shelter, and a place to stalk their prey. Raccoons will also often use trees that are close to a house in order to gain access to the interior of your home. 

Open Windows and Framing – It is important to ensure that your windows and casings are always secured and closed, especially at night. A raccoon simply needs to track the smell of food through an opened window in order to plan to gain entry. 

What Do I Do if I Find a Raccoon in my Attic?

If you happen to find an animal in your home or have confirmed its presence through other means, it is important to proceed cautiously. In order to effectively remove the animal, you should contact a reputable wildlife removal service, and ensure that they use humane tactics. You should never try to remove a wild animal yourself, as it can carry rabies and other diseases that could seriously harm you or your family.  

If you want to learn more about what to do when you have a wild animal in your home or to receive your free quote, contact us at Building Insights today!  


Should I Test the Air Quality in my Home?

Being aware of the quality of the air we breathe is an essential part of protecting our health. While air pollution levels outdoors are monitored, managed, and reported by experts, the quality of the air in your home is your responsibility to assess.  

Some of the most well-known air quality hazards are mildew, mold, and radon. But overall air quality in your home can be affected by a wide variety of factors, such as the circulation of air, how clean your home is, the building materials that were used, and the function of each area of the home.  

Read on to learn more about the causes of poor air quality, how to assess your home’s air quality, and tips for improving indoor air quality overall.  

What Causes Poor Indoor Air Quality? 

Pollutants & Chemicals  

Chemicals such as formaldehyde, ozone, and carbon monoxide can be produced from paint, furniture, flooring and carpeting, cleaning products, and sometimes even the ground beneath the foundation of the home.  

In addition, biological pollutants, including mold, fungi, allergens, and bacteria, can be caused by unmitigated moisture from such things as plumbing leaks and relative humidity, animals, and indoor plants. Inorganic sources can also affect indoor air quality, such as dust, asbestos, combustion, and lead. 

Temperature, Air Circulation, and Humidity 

While the above pollutants are somewhat obvious air quality hazards, there are other factors that can affect the air in your home. If the temperature is too warm or cool, there is poor air circulation, or if the humidity in the air is unbalanced, you’re likely to notice a decrease in the quality of air in your home.  


Poor ventilation can cause low-level pollutants to become concentrated in certain areas. When a home doesn’t have a proper ventilation system, air pollutants are not removed from the air, and fresh, clean air is not being effectively circulated throughout your home. 

When Should I Assess My Home’s Air Quality? 

When it comes to deciding when your home’s air quality should be assessed, just use common sense. If you know you have issues with mold or poor ventilation, then it’s a good idea to get an assessment sooner than later.  

Pay close attention to any conditions that you can see or smell, such as visible water damage or discolouration of the floors or walls. If you notice a strange or unpleasant smell in certain areas of your home, this can also be an indication that there may be something that is affecting your air quality.  

It’s also important to be aware of any physical sensations or persistent health symptoms (such as a chronic cough, headache, or nasal congestion) that you may experience when inside your home, as they can be an indication of poor air quality and the presence of mold, asbestos, or lead.  

How to Perform an Indoor Air Quality Test 

While it is possible to purchase tests that detect certain air quality pollutants such as radon and carbon monoxide, a thorough test of indoor air quality is best left to professionals. A professional indoor air quality assessment includes initial observations, data collection, and testing of samples. The professional will then provide you with a thorough report of their findings and strategies to improve air quality based on their results.  

How to Improve the Air Quality in Your Home  

Keep it Clean – One of the simplest ways to improve the air quality in your home is to establish a thorough and regular cleaning routine. Vacuuming regularly helps to eliminate air pollutants such as dust, pet dander, dirt, and hair. Regularly washing bedding and drapery is also important. By reducing these pollutants in your home, you can dramatically improve indoor air quality.  

Change your Filters & Clean your Vents – Furnace filters and air circulation vents can become very dirty and full of debris. Changing your furnace filter every 3-6 months and regularly vacuuming out floor vents is an important practice when trying to improve air quality.  

Purchase an Air Purifier – Investing in a high-quality air purifier is a great way to improve the air quality in your home. Place it in the highest traffic area of your home, and the purifier will work to remove pollutants and irritants from the air.  

Consider a Dehumidifier – If you are concerned about humidity in your home potentially causing mold or other air pollutants, a dehumidifier can be a great option. By reducing the moisture in the air, your home becomes less hospitable to the growth of mold and other air pollutants.  

The Bottom Line  

While we hear a lot about the quality of air outdoors, the air inside your home is just as important. Hiring a professional to test your indoor air quality is the best way to ensure that you and your family can enjoy a healthy and happy home for years to come. If you want to learn more about how to improve your home’s air quality or to book a professional home inspection, contact us at Building Insights today!