Categories
Uncategorized

REDUCING THE DAMAGE OF WINTER ICE SALT

Rock salt is incredibly damaging to our properties on several levels.

 
  • Rock salt can damage or kill vegetation and trees. Salt damages roots and can also cause the plants to lose their winter hardiness.
  • It corrodes mortar used to hold pavers, flagstone, or other walkway materials together. This can lead to loose pavers or bricks.
  • It can cause corrosion to car parts, unprotected steel structures, and bridge decks.
  • Used regularly, rock salt can cause discoloration. You’ve likely noticed white powdery residue after you’ve salted your walkways, and as time goes by this doesn’t always wash away.
  • If you have pets, rock salt can dry out or irritate their paws and skin. If they eat it or lick up the melted ice they can develop a mouth irritation or even poison themselves.
  • Rock salt is not usually a problem for children, but it can cause irritation. That being said, if you know that your child swallowed a piece of rock salt, play it safe and call poison control.

 

So what are some alternatives?

 

Physical traction alternatives can include biodegradable cat litter, gravel, wood chips, straw, and heated stair mats. Some safe chemical alternatives include:

 
  1. Calcium Magnesium Acetate – Not only is this safe for your pets and plants, it also is no more damaging to your walkways than tap water. It works best at temperatures over 20 degrees, but can also perform at near zero degrees.
  2. Magnesium Chloride – For temperatures above -13 degrees, magnesium chloride is a top choice for deicing salt. It is also far less damaging to your walkways and plants than rock salt.
  3. Potassium Chloride – This works best when the temperature is above 15 degrees, and is not a skin irritant. It also is harmless to your vegetation, unlike rock salt.

Alternatives include biodegradable cat litter, gravel, wood chips, straw, and heated stair mats. Except for the heated stair mats, of course, these are used to provide traction rather than melt the ice.

Categories
Uncategorized

SHOULD YOU COVER YOUR AC UNIT FOR THE WINTER?

There is a reason to cover your air conditioner after the summer, and it’s not just for the winter snow. Your A/C unit is built to withstand the rain and snow, but it is not built to keep out leaves, seeds, or nuts. You will want to cover your system during the fall only when there is a chance of leaves or seeds getting into your air conditioner. If this happens leaves can create a place where moisture collects, which then causes corrosion.

 

When you cover your air conditioner, only cover the top of it. If you make your own cover, be aware that it should only come down the side about 6 inches. Don’t cover your unit completely. A cover that completely covers your unit will trap moisture inside which then causes rust and corrosion.

 

Covering your A/C unit in the fall prevents debris from getting in the top of it but covering the whole unit will trap moisture in.

Categories
Uncategorized

THE IMPORTANCE OF CLEANING YOUR GUTTERS

Fall is coming and as you start to bring in the hoses before winter creeps in don’t forget to also clean gutters to remove leaves, sticks, and debris. Keeping leaves out of gutters is crucial for protecting the structure of your home and preventing costly water problems in the future. Here’s the top five reasons you should keep your gutters clean heading into the winter.

  • Prevent water damage to your home. When gutters and downspouts are blocked with leaves and debris, rainwater will not drain properly. As water overflows from gutters, it can cause water damage and staining on both the interior and exterior of your home. 
  • Protect your roof from rot. Clogged gutters prevent rainwater from leaving the roof. When water continues to flood over, it can back up to your roof decking and rot it.
  • Keep pests away. Gutters clogged with leaves make a great home for rodents, birds, and insects. Keep them away from your home by not creating a home in your gutters.
  • Avoid foundation damage. When water is not routed away from your home, it can pool around the foundation of your house and. This water can crack your foundation when it expands and freezes in the winter months.
  • Avoid weight on ice filled gutters. Frozen gutters can pull at your home and roof because of the weight of all that frozen material. Avoid icicles and the possibility of gutter detachment.

Gutter and downspout cleaning can help prevent unexpected and expensive projects down the road. Taking preventive measures now can help minimize the likelihood of having to repair or replace your roof.

Categories
Uncategorized

DETECTING AIR LEAKS WITH THERMAL CAMERAS

It’s easy to detect air leaks when you sit next to a problematic window on a cold winter night. It is harder to detect an air leak that is letting your A/C air out during a hot summer day. We don’t always know where air leaks are in our homes or how they might be impacting our health, physical structure or wallets. One of the best ways to detect home air leaks is with an infrared camera.

 

Air leaks not only cost you more money on your heating and cooling bills but are also a source of poor air quality. Homes that continuously leak air might be susceptible to moisture issues, which can invite mould or even rodents and bugs into your home.

 

How Do Infrared Cameras Work?

An infrared camera detects radiation that reflects heat differences in temperature variations. The cameras can identify temperature variables that the naked eye just cannot see. The viewfinder of the camera will display a series of gradient colors on a small screen giving the operator a clear look at the heat spectrum in a particular space. These colors are expressed in brighter reds, yellows, and oranges for warmer signatures; while cool blues and purples indicate cool areas of a home.

 

How Infrared Cameras are Used to Find Air Leaks

Infrared cameras use colour gradients to detect where air is leaking. If a wall is a consistent colour then there is no air leak. If there is colour differentials around windows or at tops of walls it could mean bad caulking, defective windows or insulation slumping in your wall cavities. A big part of using an infrared camera is knowing what you are looking for.

 

Call the air leak experts today. Get Building Insights working on finding air leaks for you!

Categories
Uncategorized

HOW TO KEEP YOUR OUTDOOR FAUCET IN PEAK CONDITION

Each winter, the freezing and expanding of water can cause damage to your faucet. Whether or not you notice, they may start to leak in the subsequent summer. Leaking outdoor faucets can cause your pipes to freeze and crack, creating plumbing issues inside your home as well. 

 

If you discover that one of your hose bibs is leaking, you may be able to repair it yourself. Here are step-by-step instructions for diagnosing and correcting the source of your leak.  

 

Start by tightening the packing nut. Use pliers or a wrench, and tighten the packing nut next to the faucet’s handle. Take care not to tighten the packing nut so much that the handle is hard to turn or you damage the fixture. Turn the water on and off, and if the dripping stops, nothing else needs to be done.

 

If the hose spigot continues leaking even after you’ve tightened the packing nut, you may need to replace the packing washer.

 
  • Turn off the water supply. Before replacing the packing washer, turn off the water supply. Next, drain the faucet. Be sure to do this before taking the handle assembly apart.
  • Remove the handle assembly. Use pliers or a wrench to turn the packing nut counterclockwise until you can remove the handle assembly.
  • Remove the packing screw inside the handle assembly. With the packing screw removed, use a standard (or slotted) screwdriver to pry the packing washer out. It’s a good idea to take the old washer to the hardware or plumbing supply store to make sure you purchase a replacement washer of the proper size.
  • Replace the packing washer and screw. Insert the new washer and screw it in place.
  • Reassemble the faucet handle and tighten the packing nut. Again, take care not to overtighten and possibly damage the packing nut. 
  • Restore the water supply. Turn on the water supply and turn the faucet on and off a couple of times to test your repair.
 

If you suspect water and faucet problems in and around your home, have us inspect and suggest ways to fix and deal with your water problems.

Categories
Uncategorized

INSULATING FOR AIR CONDITIONING

Insulation isn’t just to keep you warm, it keeps you cool too! Adding insulation to your home’s building envelope (the walls, slab and roof that protect your home from the outside) can be one of the most cost-efficient ways to reduce your heating and cooling bills. In new construction, investing in the insulation is a smart way to reduce future maintenance costs by reducing the home’s energy consumption.

 

The insulation in the attic area plays a crucial role in maintaining cool interiors during summers. When sun shines on your attic, the attic absorbs heat. This heat then transfers to your living space, warming up the air conditioned air. As a result, the AC has to exert more to maintain the same degree of cooling.

 

Attic insulation effectively resolves this problem by adding a layer of insulation in the attic space. This insulation plays a dual role. At one hand, it prevents cool air from escaping into the attic and through the walls. At the other hand, it traps the heat and stops it from seeping into the living space. In this way, attic insulation helps you achieve comfortably cool interiors without overburdening your air conditioning.

 

If you think your attic insultation is low, book an inspection online for us to come check.

Categories
Uncategorized

PREVENTING DELIVERY PACKAGE THEFT

With online shopping becoming a more import part of how we get items we need during the pandemic, package theft also becomes a bigger concern. Most package theft is crime of opportunity so with a few handy tricks you can deter those pesky thieves from walking away with your family goods. 

 
Neighbourhood Monitoring
Work with your neighbours to watch for suspicious activity. Cars going back and forth up and down the street might be an indicator that somebody is looking for a quick grab. It’s a good time for your neighbors to be diligent watching for strangers in the neighborhood.
 
 
Using Smart Home Devices
Fortunately, the proliferation of smart home devices means you can now monitor deliveries from your phone. Video connected doorbells work in much the same way as traditional security cameras. Video doorbells have high-definition resolution, live video feed, motion alerts and more to help you keep an eye your porch with the help of motion alerts. Some cameras can even differentiate between people, animals, cars and packages. You can also look back at your video footage with cloud based video services to help neighbors and law enforcement (if necessary) identify who snagged your deliveries.
 
For a less permanent option, consider a battery-powered security camera. Weatherproof cams can withstand the elements, but they are much more mobile. Use one inside to keep an eye on your pet one day and move it outside when you’re expecting a package delivery the next.  
 
Step up your porch protection with integrated porch light-security cameras. These emerging smart home security devices combine smart lighting with smart video monitoring. With these devices, you can watch a live video feed, receive motion alerts and even talk to people via two-way audio intercoms. Some cams even have sirens, so you can scare someone away when needed.
Categories
Uncategorized

KEEPING COMMON PESTS OUT OF YOUR HOME

With spring arriving and nature waking up you’ll want to make sure you keep these common pests from coming indoors! Here’s some tips on keeping them outside!

Carpenter Ants
With rising temperatures, carpenter ants come out and forage for new locations. These ants can be seen inside and outside of your home. They may be coming from an outside nest and may have already made a colony in the walls of your home. They can create tunnels in wood that may damage the structure of your home.

Pavement Ants
Pavement ants are found outside in the soil, but can also enter your home to find food. Their colonies can get extremely large.

Bees and Wasps
You may be seeing a wasp, hornet or yellow jacket queen bee that may have stayed in your wall voids and attics during winter. Once they wake up, they will look for a place where they can lay eggs and establish their colonies. Do not let these insects stay in your home.

Spiders
Spiders are commonly found in basements, garages, porches and other sheltered places. They usually come out to search for food and other insects. Their presence in your home is an indication that you have insects at home. Look for cracks in windows and foundations where they might be getting in.

Houseflies
It seems like any time a door opens, these pesky insects find a way to get inside. The only solution you might have for them is to keep the doors always close. Houseflies have a short life span and will die off quickly unless food is left out for them to lay eggs in.

Fleas
To control a potential flea infestation this spring, it is necessary to take care of the family pets. Give them their regular bath and treatments. It is also possible for pet-free homes to get an outbreak of fleas as a result of fleas coming from an outside wildlife. To get rid of fleas, use even your basic household cleaning tools like vacuming rugs where eggs lie and conduct proper sanitation. This can go a long way to limiting the potential outbreak of fleas.

Rats and Mice
Rodents are not just a problem every spring since they can be an all-year nuisance. From the house mouse to the black rat, these pests are often found to be the worst type of pests in homes. To stop them from entering our homes, better search out their entry and block any potential entry points. Areas such as ill-fitting doors, vents, roof gaps, and pipes travelling through wall spaces are a potential entry way for these pests. Make sure that all sources of food are kept and stored in tight containers. Also, store woodpiles or similar items away from your home.

All pests feed on almost anything we eat, so be certain that:

• Your food is always cleaned and cleared away.
• You keep food in the refrigerator or in a tightly sealed container.
• Food scraps are also cleared from floors or countertops.

Categories
Uncategorized

ICE DAMS AND PREVENTION

What is an ice dam?
An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow (water) from draining off the roof. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into a home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation and other areas.

Effects of ice dams
Moisture entering the home from ice dams can lead to the growth of mold and mildew. These can cause respiratory problems.

Prevent the growth of mold and mildew by immediately drying out portions of the house that are wet or damp.
Take immediate action to get rid of the water source, clean the home environment and maintain its air quality.
What causes ice dams?
Nonuniform roof surface temperatures lead to ice dams.

Heat loss from a house, snow cover and outside temperatures interact to form ice dams. For ice dams to form there must be snow on the roof and, at the same time, higher portions of the roof’s outside surface must be above 32 degrees F (freezing) while lower surfaces are below 32F. These are average temperatures over sustained periods of time. For a portion of the roof to be below freezing, outside temperatures must also be below freezing.

The snow on a roof surface that is above freezing will melt. As water flows down the roof it reaches the portion of the roof that is below 32F and freezes. This causes the ice dam.

The dam grows as it is fed by the melting snow above it, but it will limit itself to the portions of the roof that average below 32F. So the water above backs up behind the ice dam and remains a liquid. This water finds cracks and openings in the exterior roof covering and flows into the attic space. From the attic it could flow into exterior walls or through the ceiling insulation and stain the ceiling finish.

What causes different roof surface temperatures?
Since most ice dams form at the edge of the roof, there must be a heat source warming the roof elsewhere. This heat primarily comes from the house. In rare instances, increased heat from the sun may cause these temperature differences.

Categories
Uncategorized

HUMIDITY AND YOUR CABINETS

High Humidity and Your Cabinets

Wood products in humid climates are especially susceptible to expansion due to the extra moisture in the air. The wood will absorb this moisture, causing it to swell or expand. If wood products are exposed to excessive moisture for an extended period of time, they may not resume to their original size. The key to controlling expansion and contraction is to control moisture in the wood by controlling the humidity. A common issue experienced with wood kitchen cabinet doors would be that they start to rub together. The minimum moisture content for decay to propagate is 22 to 24 percent, so building experts recommend 19 percent as the maximum safe moisture content for untreated wood in service. Water by itself does not harm the wood, but rather, wood that has consistent high moisture content will enable fungal organisms to grow.

 

Low Humidity and Your Cabinets

In low humidity conditions, wood will give off/release moisture and contract or shrink in size. During winter in colder environments, cabinetry will shrink from the dry heat produced by your home’s heating system. As the wood loses moisture, gaps will appear at the joints between the cabinetry pieces. Painted doors will also reveal seams at the joints as this natural movement occurs. Unfinished lines may appear around door panels. When the cabinetry regains its lost moisture under produced humidification or during the summer months, these gaps will often close and be less noticeable. This occurs with all wood products such as Kitchen Cabinetry, Millwork or Furniture, and will occur in any environment.

 

The ideal conditions for your wood cabinets is approximately 21-22°C or 70°F with a humidity level of approximately 35%-55%.