Take care of these tasks to avoid major home hassles, inefficiencies or unsightliness down the road


When you buy your first house, you have a lot going on with moving in, perhaps buying some furniture, hosting your first party at the house and getting used to those mortgage payments. With all that excitement, it’s easy to overlook routine home maintenance, especially when you’ve never had to tackle these tasks before.

To keep things from getting overwhelming, we’ve created this home maintenance guide for first-time owners. And don’t worry — most of these tasks take just a few minutes or a quick call to a trusted pro. Take a deep breath and dive into the 11 home maintenance to-dos you’ll need to handle in the first year of buying a home.


Check Your Furnace and HVAC Filters

Why: Who knows what dust and grime the previous owners or construction crews have left behind? Clogged filters make heating and cooling systems run less efficiently, which wastes energy and costs you money. They can also trap harmful pollutants and allergens that you don’t want lurking around your home.

How: Checking furnace and HVAC filters is easy. Just turn off your system, pull out your filters and inspect them for dirt and grime. If they’re dark and dirty-looking, get suitable replacements—your local hardware store likely has them. Just remove the old filter (with the system turned off, of course), slide the new one in and turn everything back on.

When: Right after you move in and every year at the same time afterward.


Recaulk Your Windows

Why: Justin Grebasch of G and S Installation USA points out that 80 percent of winter heat loss occurs due to cracks in a home. Sealing the spaces around windows with caulk goes a long way toward solving this problem.

How: Caulking processes and products will vary depending on the type of windows and siding you have. Start by asking a salesperson what kind of caulk you need for your particular finishes, then pare things down from there.

If you choose the right caulk the first time, you won’t have to recaulk the following season. Specifically, look at the joint movement capability listed on the product to ensure a lasting seal without cracking or peeling. “In my opinion quality caulk will have a movement capability between 25 and 50 percent,” Grebasch says. “At G and S Installation USA, we always use Dow Corning 795 due to its 50 percent movement capability, extensive range of adhesion applications and 20-year weather-seal warranty.”

When applying the caulk, make sure all surfaces are clean and dry, and pay attention to the temperature specifications in the product information. Since temperatures change most in the morning, it’s smart to start your project after they have leveled out.

When: As needed. Inspect the caulking around your windows at the end of every summer so you can touch up any damaged caulking while the weather is still dry.


Check Your Crawl Space for Water

Why: To avoid mold and water damage to the bones of your house.

How: It’s as simple as grabbing a flashlight, crawling in there and taking a close, careful look. Pay attention to corners, edges and changes in color, and use your fingers to test for dampness if you aren’t sure. If you find any water, call a home inspector immediately to figure out where it’s coming from.

When: Every fall before it rains. The key is to fix existing water damage before any more water gets in.

Check Wood Decks for Moisture

Why: Wood decks — including redwood and pressure-treated woods — need to be sealed and stained to prevent water damage and rot.

How: A quick splash test will tell you if the last seal is still working. If you fill a glass of water and spill it on your deck, you should see tiny beads of moisture form on the surface — a sign that the sealant is still repelling the water. If that doesn’t happen, then it’s time to reseal your deck.

When: You should do a splash test at the beginning of every summer and expect to reseal your deck every two or three years.

Check and Touch Up Exterior Paint

Why: Besides contributing to curb appeal, paint and stain serve as important protectants, preventing your gutters from rusting and wood siding from rotting.

How: Walk around your home — and get up on a ladder if needed — and look for chipping, peeling, blistering or cracking on every part, including the trim.

Touching things up could just mean sanding, scraping, patching, priming and repainting small areas. But if you see widespread areas of damage, it might be wise to repaint the whole thing.

When: Every summer.

Service and Clean the Furnace

Why: When your furnace isn’t running properly, it will suck energy and can even emit harmful carbon monoxide.

How: Call a pro. If you don’t have one you trust, call the manufacturer or installer and ask for a recommendation. Just be sure to use a licensed heating, ventilation and air conditioning specialist.

When: Having your furnace inspected every fall will prolong the life of your appliance.

Have Wood-Burning Fireplaces and Chimneys Inspected and Cleaned

Why: Creosote, a flammable byproduct of wood burning, can build up in fireplaces and chimneys. This creates a fire hazard and elevates the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

How: This is not a DIY project. Call a trained chimney sweep. They’ll use specialized equipment — and even get up on your roof, à la Mary Poppins — to ensure another season of safe wood burning. You can find a chimney sweep through the Chimney Safety Institute of America or the National Chimney Sweep Guild.

When: Every fall before fire-burning season.

Check the Bathtub Caulk and Toilet Seal

Why: Intact caulk and seals prevent water from leeching into the rest of your bathroom, causing mold and other damage.

How: Inspect the caulk that seals the tub to the floor, as well as the caulk around the edge of the tub, and the points where tub facets come out of the wall or tub surround. If the caulk is cracked or peeling, replace it with polyurethane bathroom caulk.

When checking your toilet seal, look for condensation or discoloration of the flooring around the seam where the toilet meets the floor. If you see either, call a plumber to help determine the source of the leak.

When: Annually. Set up a recurring calendar reminder on your phone, computer or tablet to make sure you don’t forget.
 
 

Clean Your Gutters and Roof Valleys

Why: Mucked-up gutters and roof valleys can caused water to back up and potentially enter your home via the foundation, roof or crawl space … or even freeze inside your gutters and wreck them altogether.

How: Grab a sturdy ladder and take a peek. Use gloved hands or even a trowel to remove debris from gutters before flushing them with a garden hose to make sure there aren’t any hidden clogs.

Remove debris on the roof by hand and check out the flashing while you’re up there to make sure it’s free of rust and holes.

When: Every fall or even twice annually if you live in a wooded area.


Seal Cracks in Asphalt Paving

Why: Patching cracks will extend the life of your driveway by preventing water from seeping underneath, creating potholes.

How: Grab a patching gun and some asphalt patching caulk, and let ’er rip! Then use a putty knife to smooth the top.

When: Check your driveway for cracks every summer and plan to completely reseal it every five years (another simple process involving a bucket of sealant and a big ol’ brush).


Give Your Garbage Disposal Some TLC

Why: Waste particles collecting on your blades and inside the drain can get stinky or even clog your disposal.

How: Pour a cup of vinegar into an ice cube tray and freeze it, then throw all the vinegar cubes into the disposal and turn it on. The cubes scrub the blades and drain, while the vinegar dissolves the scum.

When: Two or three times a year.

 


Source:  https://www.houzz.com/magazine/a-first-time-buyers-guide-to-home-maintenance-stsetivw-vs~28900284


Christine Tusher

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November brings fewer listings, more sales to housing market Saskatoon — The Saskatoon housing market continued its 2019 trend toward balance last month, as REALTORS® listed fewer but sold more homes than in the previous November, reported the Saskatoon Region Association of REALTORS® (SRAR) Wednesday. City listings fell 16 per cent to 451 from 534, as sales jumped 20 per cent to 243 from 203. Although the average price was down three per cent, to $333,295 from $343,361, dollar volume rose 16 per cent to $81 million, up from $69.7 million.


Including the surrounding region, new listings were down 12 per cent to 694 from 791, while sales rose eight per cent to 317 from 294 for a dollar volume of $102.3 million, up one per cent from $101.7 million. In the region alone, including communities such as Warman, Martensville and Dalmeny, new listings fell 11 per cent to 159 from 179, and sales were down nine per cent to 58 from 64. However, the average sales price rose four per cent to $314,650, up from $301,490, for a dollar volume drop of five per cent to $18.2 million. “It’s encouraging to see strength in sales and a slight decline in listings coming to the market, to keep it balanced,” said Jason Yochim, CEO of the Saskatchewan REALTORS® Association (SRA.)All Saskatchewan REALTORS® associations will amalgamate under the SRA banner in January, 2020.


Year-to-date numbers reflect similar trends. So far this year, and with only one month to go, Saskatoon agents have listed 7,443 homes to the MLS®, down three per cent from 2018’s 7,646, and sold 3,401, up seven per cent from 3,167. Sales are also up from 2017’s 3,286. The average sales price of $331,457 is statistically the same as last year’s, bringing the dollar volume up seven per cent to $1.1 billion, up from just over $1 billion. In the region, 900 homes have sold so far in 2019, down five per cent from last year’s 943, and listings have fallen three per cent to 2,789 from 2,874. Dollar volume is down eight per cent to $265.5 million from $289.8 million. The average price dropped four per cent to $295,141 from $307,352. At the end of the month, Saskatoon had 1,534 homes on the market, down 11 per cent from 1,716 at the same time last year, while the region had 947 homes, down eight per cent from 1,032. “It’s healthy for the market to see the number of active listings continue to shrink slightly,” said Yochim. “Two years ago, we were tipping over 2,100 at the high-water mark, so 1,500 is certainly good.”


Source: Media Release: December 2019 Jason Yochim, Chief Executive Officer, Saskatchewan REALTORS® Association

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Canadian winters are unpredictable, but most of us still have plenty of time until we really start to get hammered with sleet and ice.


As I write this, Toronto is getting its first snowfall of the year – and when I drove to the job site this morning, I was reminded how it seems like everyone forgets how to drive the first time the roads are slick with snow for the season. As we relearn to navigate winter roads, and make the mental note to switch over to our winter tires – are we also making our checklist to get our homes winter-ready?


Canadian winters are unpredictable, but most of us still have plenty of time until we really start to get hammered with sleet and ice. Here are a few things you might still need to take care of.


Winterize your pipes

Whenever cold air meets your pipes – there’s potential for freezing. A frozen pipe can lead to a flood, so it’s your job as a homeowner to mitigate that risk. Drain all your exterior lines, wrap pipes in insulating material, and fill any cracks or gaps around outdoor pipes with a low expansion foam and a weather-resistant caulking to keep the cool air out.

If you’re planning to travel this winter, it makes sense to turn the thermostat down to save on energy costs, but don’t turn it down too much. Keep it set to about 16 degrees Celsius so you aren’t surprised by frozen pipes on your return.


Good ventilation

Unless you’re a major winter nut, this time of year, you’re likely going to be spending much more time cooped up indoors. This is the time of year when our HVAC systems get a good workout – so it’s important to make sure they’re running efficiently.


During the winter, I usually change my air filter once a month. It’s a common misconception that the air filter is meant to create a better air quality in the home. And while it will help remove contaminants from getting circulated through the home, it’s true purpose is to protect the blower fan from dust and debris pulled into the return ducts. Cleaning the filters helps keep your system running smoothly and efficiently. Don’t skip this job.


Are your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans working well? While you can open a window to help pull out the excess moisture we create when bathing and cooking – who wants to leave a window wide open in the middle of February? Turn the fans on and hold a tissue up to them. If they’re able to hold the tissue in place, they’re doing their job. If it can’t even do that? Call your HVAC specialist, or get used to leaving the windows open this winter.

While you’re checking your vents and exhausts, give your dryer vents a good check. If lint accumulates it can become a serious fire hazard!


Schedule a fireplace check

For those of you who love a toasty fire on those long winter nights, fireplace and chimney inspections should be part of your regular maintenance schedules. Whether you’ve got a wood burning, gas, or even an electric fireplace, you’ll have to do some basic maintenance and service.

Don’t leave a fireplace unattended – and make sure you’re testing your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms every month. You should have an alarm on every floor of the house – plus outside sleeping areas. This is something you don’t want to take the risk on, believe me.


Expect the unexpected

Snowstorms can strike out of nowhere. Make sure you’ve got a good shovel, and plenty of deicing agent on hand for your driveways and walkways. Look at your home’s emergency kit (you do have one, right?) – and make sure it’s got everything you need. At minimum, you’ll need: flashlights, batteries, canned goods, water, and a fully stocked first aid kit – including necessary medication. If anything expired over the last year, replace it quickly.


There’s still plenty of time to get your home ready before winter truly sets in. Take advantage of the last few weekends before the snow hits to make sure your home is ready to weather any winter storm. And hopefully everyone will remember how to drive by the time we get our second snowfall.


Source: Mike Holmes, National Post

https://nationalpost.com/life/homes/prep-your-house-for-winter-you-will-be-glad-you-did

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