TeamFisher's Saskatchewan winter home maintenance list

This post was originally published in October of 2009. I thought it might be a good time to kick it back to the top of the list.

Like it or not, winter is coming and now is the time to get your home ready for it. A few hours looking after some preventative home maintenance items may save you from dealing with costly emergency repairs when everyone else is looking to have something fixed and service people are stretched thin.

Here is a list of things we should all be looking after over the next couple of weeks to keep our Saskatoon homes in tip-top shape, and our families safe living in them.

If I’ve missed something that you feel should be added to my list please leave a comment below.

On the inside

  • Consider having your home heating system professionally serviced to ensure reliability and efficient operation through the long winter.
  • Change the furnace filter, ensure that the furnace chimney is sound and free from obstructions and that the furnace has an adequate source of fresh air.
  • If you don’t already have one, consider a humidity control system for your home to keep air comfortable.
  • Consider a programmable thermostat to save on energy costs and maintain maximum comfort.
  • Tune up the hot water system, perhaps even draining and refilling the tank to remove sediment build up from the bottom of the tank.
  • Have a professional inspect and clean fireplaces and chimneys for safety and efficiency.
  • Test and service your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure that they are operational. Replace the batteries, whether they need it or not.
  • Add weather-stripping as required on the inside of doors and windows.
  • Purchase and install window insulation kits to cover inefficient windows from the inside to prevent heat loss and ice build up on windows.
  • Give ceiling fans a quick cleaning, oil the motors, and reverse the direction in which they turn to push warm air back down into the room.
  • Remove window-mounted air conditioners and cover central air conditioning units to keep the snow off of them.
  • Clean your clothes dryer vent from the inside and the outside of the house to remove potential obstructions.
  • With several additional hours of daily darkness just around the corner consider installing night lighting in hallways especially around staircases and hallways.

On the outside

  • Have a walk around the roof of your home to look for loose, damaged or missing roofing material. Inspect for cracks in the flashing seals around skylights, chimneys and vent stacks.
  • While you’re up there, give the gutters a quick cleaning to make sure that water can run freely in the spring. Clogged gutters can allow water to back up against the house causing damage to roofing material and siding. Worse, excess water will fall over the outside edge of the gutter reaching the ground near your foundation wall. Finally, excess build-up in gutters produces stress to the systems supporting the gutter and can reduce life.
  • Make sure that the extensions on your downspouts are carrying water four to five feet from the foundation wall and that the grading of soil surrounding the house is diverting the flow of water away from the foundation wall, and not towards it.
  • Terminate the water source to all exterior taps and sprinklers and open all exterior valves to ensure proper and complete drainage.
  • Underground sprinkler systems should be blown out to prevent water lingering below ground in the system’s pipes from freezing.
  • Tidy up your landscaping by pruning shrubs and tree branches away from the house, particularly those that might encroach on the roof, gable venting or overhead utility lines.
  • Clear the areas around foundation walls to prevent build up of debris and leafy material, which can trap moisture at the foundation wall.
  • Inspect foundation walls and exterior vents to ensure that you’re not providing easy access to rodents seeking a warm place to stay over the winter.
  • Apply exterior caulking around windows and doors as needed. Even a small opening can allow a lot of heat to escape from your home. Homes with wood siding and windows that protrude past the siding material should only be caulked on the sides and at the top. Some opening beneath the sill provides an area through which moisture can escape from exterior walls.
  • Seal cracks in the exterior finish of buildings and cracks in flat concrete surfaces to prevent water penetration that can freeze and expand causing further damage.
  • Lubricate hinges including those on overhead garage doors.
  • Tune up electric garage door openers.
  • It’s time to put the summer toys away and crack out the winter goodies. You know, ice scrapers, shovels, snow blowers, etc.
  • Remove fuel from gas powered yard care equipment and run the equipment continuously until all remaining fuel has been burned.
  • If you do the Christmas lights thing, they’ll be a lot more fun to install in October than December.

Wishing you all a wonderful and short winter.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Real estate geeks can follow our daily updates on Twitter @Norm_Fisher.

Our Saskatoon home search tool offers MLS listings represented by all real estate brands, presented with more detail than you’ll find anywhere else. Check it out here.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

I have a huge favour to ask of you and I’m really hoping you will help

I have a huge favour to ask of you and I’m really hoping you will help.

On May 12, Royal LePage will host a “National Garage Sale for Shelter” and our Saskatoon office is participating.  All of the proceeds raised in Saskatoon will benefit local women and kids seeking shelter at the YWCA Crisis Shelter and Interval House.

Often, these people are fleeing homes where they’re being abused. Yes, there’s a lot of that going on, even here in our lovely city. When these people finally gather the courage to make a break they need a place to go. The Shelter Foundation is all about ensuring that they have a safe place where they can get a fresh start.

We need stuff to sell. Decent stuff that people will pay for.

Please, do me a big favour and look around your home for a few good items that you no longer use, things that others might find useful. If you can make the time, drop them by my office at 620 Heritage Lane before May 11 between 8:30 am and 5:00 pm.  If you can’t make it by, drop me a note (my contact information is all here) and we’ll make sure your items gets picked up.

Then, drop in on May 12. We’ll be here from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm selling burgers and baking, and hosting one huge garage sale.

A quick click of the “Like” button at the top or bottom of this post to help us spread the word would be hugely appreciated as well.

By the way, the proceeds of this National Garage Sale and those conducted in the past will most likely blast past the $1 million dollar mark this year. Through agent commission donations and the fundraising activities of the Royal LePage network, we have raised more than $14 million to help provide a safe haven to more than 30,000 women and children each year and to support prevention programs that stop the cycle of family violence. Tens of thousands of dollars have been raised to benefit Saskatoon shelters. It’s a darned good cause and it makes a huge difference for many, even here in our lovely city.

Thanks so much for your support.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Forty-seven percent of couples argue about cleaning: Cool house cleaning facts

It’s not everyday that you think about house cleaning. Well, actually, you probably do think about house cleaning most days but I expect that it’s rare that you actually think about house cleaning facts outside of the regular scrubbing, dusting, washing and such. I stumbled across this awesome infographic today that details some interesting facts about house cleaning and I thought I’d share it here.

The infographic was produced by the Golden Shine Cleaning Company in San Diego. While you may never have the opportunity to use their services at home, you may find their website handy, particularly their archive of blog articles where you’ll find all kinds of great house cleaning articles, several on health friendly ways to clean.

Prospective renters should beware of online scams for rental homes

You’re browsing online classified ad sites looking for a place to rent, when suddenly, one of those offers that seems too good to be true sits before you. In all likelihood, it’s not true.

This ongoing scam usually targets houses that are legitimately for sale. Online fraudsters grab details of the home from an Internet posting and advertise the home for rent, typically requesting a very reasonable deposit and a pretty attractive monthly rent. The “owner” will almost certainly be out of the country right now, or otherwise unavailable to show you the home in person and will suggest that you “just drive by and have a look from the outside.”

When you see what an amazing deal it is, you quickly agree to his/her terms and forward the requested deposit, which of course, you never see again.

Don’t “rent” a property that you can’t get access to. If you view a home and want to rent it, don’t be afraid to ask the person showing you the property for some form of identification. If they won’t provide it, be suspicious. Never do this kind of a deal online.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Mold: A growing problem in the home

I happened across this video today and I thought it was worth re-posting here. Its a report done by CBC in Ottawa about mold in the home.

In my experience, it’s not unusual to find traces of mold in resale homes. As the video suggests, some of them are toxic while others pose far less of a health risk. In any case, if you notice the presence of mold in a property you’re interested in buying it’s definitely worth having tested. The cost of remediation can be significant if the mold is toxic and at an advanced stage.

A company like Canadian Indoor Air Quality Investigators can assist you with testing if you discover traces of mold in your home or in one that you’re considering. They’re both well equipped to remediate as well.

CMHC has also published a helpful guide titled, Fighting Mold – A Homeowners Guide that’s worth checking out.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Vidorra