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

Our Saskatoon homes search tool gets some nice updates

MyRealPage, the people who provide us with the ability to deliver MLS listings through our website are some of the industry’s best. They deliver a smooth and effective search product with regular updates to enhance the home search experience. Today, they added some nice improvements to the search functionality that I think make a huge difference for users of the search tool.

The updates are live and functional now, available behind the “Saskatoon Homes” tab at the right side of the navigation bar, just below the header image on this page.

Check out the “Show More Options” link highlighted in the image below where you can select certain styles of home (bungalow, two-storey, etc.) or specify the type of garage you most prefer.

Even better, notice the “Kitchens” drop down menu which allows you to easily identify homes with rental suites (both legal and non-legal), and just as easily eliminate them from your search results if you’re not interested in having a suite in your home.

If you’re interested in an easy and effective home search tool, you must take some time to explore ours. Here are just a few of the advantages over realtor.ca.

  • Updated far more frequently to give you quicker access to new listings from all real estate brands
  • Search by neighbourhood, map, MLS number or property address
  • More search fields for fully customized results
  • Many additional data fields displayed including taxes, days on the market and more Cooliris slideshow functionality
  • Mapping functionality for Google maps and Google Earth
  • Neighbourhood “Walk Scores” which maps amenities in each area
  • Save your favorite searches for easy access on return visits
  • Enable and disable email notifications for new listings and price reductions
  • Choose from numerous sorting and listing view options
  • Save your favorite listings for easy review
  • Mobile access to your account on an iPhone or a Google Android device
  • Easy contact options for additional information with our assurance that you’ll never be contacted unless you ask for assistance

Please check it out on our Saskatoon Homes page. You won’t be disappointed.

My thanks to Bill Skrypnyk, Technical Director for MyRealPage and everyone else who contributes to the hard work that goes into delivering a great product. You’ve been super to deal with every step of the way.

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.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Reduce energy costs and emissions while increasing the resale value of your home

Installing a high-efficiency furnace in your home is certainly good for the environment, and it’s also good for the household budget, in some cases reducing energy costs by more than thirty percent. In fact, according to SaskEnergy, “upgrading your heating equipment is the best improvement you can make to save energy and money.”

The chart below demonstrates potential savings derived from the installation of a high-efficiency furnace, based on average home owner’s use of natural gas and electricity in Saskatchewan. Electrical costs are based on continuous operation of the furnace motor during the winter months and utility rates that were effective on June 1, 2009. Actual savings may vary based on a number of variables.

In addition to the energy savings that you’ll see through the use of a more efficient heating appliance there are several other opportunities for savings when you upgrade.

•    There is no provincial sales tax payable on “ENERGY STARqualified furnaces and boilers.
•    You could qualify for an upgrade grant of up to $1,420 through the Saskatchewan EnerGuide for Houses Retrofit Grant Program.
•    According to ENERGY STAR, a programmable thermostat can further reduce energy consumption costs by as much as $180 a year, plus you can qualify for an additional $15 rebate with the Programmable Thermostat Rebate from SaskEnergy.
•    The ENERGY STAR Loan Program provides financing at prime plus 2% on approved credit. *
•    The cost of your new high-efficiency furnace qualifies for the Federal Home Renovation Tax Credit and could increase your saving by hundreds of dollars.

If all of that isn’t enough to convince you, here’s an added bonus; a high-efficiency heating system will increase the resale value of your home and make it more attractive to a growing number of energy conscious home buyers.

* Visit the SaskEnergy website for full details including terms and conditions.

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.

If you live in Saskatoon we’d sure appreciate hearing your comments about your neighbourhood. Please visit our “Saskatoon Neighbourhoods” page and let us know what you love about your community.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Tips for staying safe in your community and in your home

Perhaps you’ve already heard that it’s Realtor® Community Safety Week in Saskatoon. If you haven’t, let it be known that His Worship Mayor Donald Atchison has declared it so, and so it is.

You’ll be reminded that it’s Realtor® Community Safety Week by a series of safety tips airing on C95FM and Rock102. I’ve also noticed some service announcements in the Star Phoenix. The highlight event for the week is a Neighbourhood Safety Fair that happens on Saturday, September 12 from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm. It will be held at Sonnenschein Way, just south of the Farmer’s Market. If you can find the time, it’s probably worth attending. Apparently, there will be children’s activities and prizes, self-defense demonstrations, home safety products and lots of good safety related information.

Whether or not you can attend you should check out a free publication that’s being offered by the City of Saskatoon. It’s called “Safe at Home” and it contains about a dozen pages of great tips for staying safe in your community and in your home. Please read it and be safe, this week and every other.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Search Saskatoon MLS listings the way you want to search

I suppose I’m a little biased. After all, I did choose it, but I have to say that this website now has the slickest MLS listings search tool available to Saskatoon home buyers. If you haven’t checked it out yet, please do. I’d love to hear what you think.

Located under the “Saskatoon Homes” button on the navigation bar, this powerful home search tool provides access to Saskatoon MLS listings represented by all local real estate brands. Regular data feeds typically result in new listings appearing here within hours of hitting the agent MLS, and well ahead of realtor.ca.

You’ll have options to search by selecting neighbourhoods, by drawing out a preferred geographic area on a Google map, by address, or by known MLS numbers.

Search results are delivered quickly and with a number of viewing options.  Results can be easily sorted to display by price, by listing date, or even by house size.

Without a doubt, the detailed listing view provides more information than you’ll be accustomed to seeing on any other public home search site, including realtor.ca.

The search tool works and provides full details on MLS listings with no registration required, but there is additional functionality if you don’t mind throwing your name and email address into a registration form. You have my promise that we won’t treat your registration as an invitation to spam you. If you need something, just ask. Otherwise, we’ll leave you to browse on your own.

Registered users can save searches to a private portfolio so they don’t have to be executed each time they return, but rather, selected from their list of searches. They can save their favorite properties to separate lists, rank listings using a star rating system, make notes on listings, and opt in or out of email notifications on changes to their saved searches (price changes and new listings).

There’s an awesome mobile component for iPhone and Android devices. Rumour has it that a Blackberry version is in the works.

Check out one of the quick search links that reside on the side bar under “Search Saskatoon MLS Listings” or customize your perfect search here.

Hats off to MyRealPage who developed and market the tool. Technical Director Bill Skrypnyk, along with his crew of top-notch programmers have been busting their butts to bring some huge improvements to the product over the past few months.

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.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate