Gearing up for winter – Tips !

One of the great joys of living in Canada is the change of seasons. Autumn’s colors and crispness will soon be making way for winter’s exciting first snowfall. Of course, one of the great burdens of living in Canada is the extreme conditions we ask ourselves and our houses to live through.

That burden can be lighter for both you and your house with regular maintenance. As good cooking and great paint jobs can attest, success lies in the prep work. Now is the time to get moving to ready your house for a cold winter and a wet spring. Here are our suggestions for a simple pre-winter tune-up.

Tools You May Need
Sharpened eyeball
The brunt of the weather abuse is borne by the roof and the exterior skin of the house. Roof

Get a ladder, a pair of binoculars, or a trusted roofer, and check the roof. If you have a sloped roof, look for shingles that are cracked, curled, loose, damaged, or missing. Repair where needed. Pay attention to the junctions between the roof and chimneys, pipes, and walls, for example – the metal flashings often need re-securing or re-caulking. If you have a flat roof, clean off leaves and branches, and cut back overhanging tree limbs. On the roof membrane, look for bulges, worn spots, or split seams. Flashings are important here also.

While you are up there, you should have a look at the chimney, if there is one. Brick chimneys may have missing mortar or loose bricks, and should have a screen to keep animals out. Metal chimneys should be free from rust.

Eavestroughs and Downspouts
While at roof level, be sure to clean and re-secure the eavestroughs. We cannot overstate the importance of having free flowing and leak free gutters and downspouts on the overall health of the house, especially the basement. If your eavestroughs can’t control the rain or melting snow, the ground will get soaked. Soaked ground means much higher risk of a leaky basement. Keep your basement in mind while you are dangling from the edge of the roof!

Follow the downspouts to ground level to double check where they dump the water. Above ground spouts should be well connected at the elbow, and discharge at least six feet away from the nearest wall, or at a point where run-off will be carried away from the house. For any house older than about 40 years, downspouts draining below ground should be considered for disconnecting from the below grade pipe system, and extending to drain above ground. This is an easy and surprisingly effective basement leakage cure in many older houses.

Speaking of the basement again, take a tour around the house to check how the ground directs traffic. Any and all surfaces next to the walls should be sloped to shed water away. Bad grading is another common and preventable cause of basement leakage. This is exponentially more important on warm winter days – melting snow runs quickly across the surface of still frozen ground. If the grading is bad, it will flow right to the house, and possibly right into the basement. Now is the time to grab the shovel and re-slope the grass, or call a paving contractor or handy person to correct a negatively sloping driveway or walkway.

During the exterior walkabout, check the windows and doors for any wood in need of paint, and any joints that need re-caulking. Check also the caulking at pipes, vents, and other wall penetrations.

Inside the house, we are going to need heat. Lots of it.

The most important pre-winter activity can be done by anybody no matter what their skill level, for usually low cost, in about 2 minutes: pick-up the phone, and schedule a heating system maintenance call. Even a new unit needs this check. The technician will clean the burners and fan, lubricate the moving parts, change the filter and check the operation of the important safety mechanisms. If the service is to be done later in the heating season, you can start on the right foot by replacing or cleaning the furnace air filter. If you have a humidifier you should clean it out as well.

Once we have heat, let’s do what we can to keep it in the house.

Weather Stripping
If you live in a new house, odds are good your windows and doors are well sealed. Old windows and doors, and even some newer ones, may need sealing to keep heat in and cold out. One approach would be to replace them. Luckily, great improvements can be made with simple weather stripping kits available at any hardware store. Due to the tremendous variation in shapes and sizes, we could write a novel about how to do this, but all you really need to do is to find the pre-packaged material that has a picture of your window or door, or something close to it, and follow the instructions.

Final Notes
The previous suggestions are the most important winter tune-up steps. Other good ideas include cleaning the heating grates, especially on the big cold air returns, cleaning and lubricating exhaust fans, and cleaning out the dryer vent and cover. If you have electric baseboard heaters, vacuum the dust off the interior fins, and make sure drapes and curtains are several inches above their hot surfaces.

Source – Carson Dunlop


How much will that home improvement cost you?

This is a great reference post from the Carson Dunlop Resource page

Go to their site for more tips on Home Maintenance and more

The following costs are intended as ballpark estimates for repairs and/or improvements to a typical three bedroom home. Our experience has shown that actual contractor quotations can vary by as much as 300%. Naturally, the quality of workmanship and materials will influence costs. The complexity of the job, accessibility and even economic conditions can also alter actual costs.

Roofing / Flashings / Chimneys
Install conventional asphalt shingles over existing shingles $2.00 – $4.00 per sq.ft.
Strip and reshingle with conventional asphalt shingles $2.75- $5.50 per sq.ft.
Strip and reshingle with premium quality asphalt shingles $5.00 – $10.00 per sq .ft.
Strip and re-roof with cedar shingles $9.00 – $18.00 per sq .ft.
Strip and replace built-up tar and gravel roof $10.00 – $20.00 per sq.ft. (min. $1000)
Strip and replace single-ply membrane $10.00 – $20.00 per sq.ft. (min. $1000)
Reflash typical skylight or chimney $500.00 – $1000.00
Rebuild typical chimney above roof line $25.00 – $50.00 per row of bricks (min. $400)
Rebuild typical single flue chimney above roof line $200.00 – $400.00 per lin.ft. (min. $1000)
Install galvanized or aluminum gutters and downspouts $5.00 – $10.00 per lin.ft. (min. $500)
Install aluminum soffits and fascia $8.00 – $16.00 per lin.ft.
Install aluminum or vinyl siding $6.00 – $12.00 per sq.ft.
Repoint exterior wall (soft mortar) $3.00 – 6.00 per sq.ft. (min. $500)
Repoint exterior wall (hard mortar) $5.00 – $10.00 per sq.ft. (min. $500)
Parge foundation walls $3.00 – $6.00 per sq.ft.
Dampproof foundation walls and install weeping tile $150.00 – $300.00 per lin.ft. (min. $3000)
Install a deck $25.00 – $50.00 per sq.ft. (min. $1000)
Resurface existing asphalt driveway $2.00 – $4.00 per sq.ft.
Install interlocking brick driveway $8.00 – $16.00 per sq.ft.
Rebuild exterior basement stairwell $5000.00 and up
Build detached garage $70.00 – $140.00 per sq.ft.
Build retaining wall (wood) $20.00 – $40.00 per sq.ft. (min. $500)
Build retaining wall (concrete) $30.00 – $60.00 per sq.ft. (min $500)
Painting (trim only) $2000.00 – $4000.00 and up
Painting (trim and wall surfaces) $5000.00 and up
Underpin one corner of house $5000.00 and up
Underpin or add foundations $300.00 and up per lin.ft. (min. $3000)
Lower basement floor by underpinning and/or bench footings $150.00 – $300.00 per lin.ft. (min. $5000)
Replace deteriorating sill beam with concrete $60.00 and up per lin.ft. (min. $2000)
Install basement support post with proper foundation $800.00 – $1600.00
Perform chemical treatment for termites $2000.00 and up
Repair minor crack in poured concrete foundation $400.00 – $800.00
Upgrade electrical service to 100 amps (including new panel) $1200.00 – $3000.00
Upgrade electrical service to 100 amps (if suitably sized panel already exists) $800.00 – $1600.00
Upgrade electrical service to 200 amps $1700.00 – $3500.00
Install new circuit breaker panel $700.00 – $1400.00
Replace circuit breaker (20 amp or less) $100.00 – $200.00
Add 120 volt circuit (microwave, freezer, etc.) $150.00 – $300.00
Add 240 volt circuit (dryer, stove, etc.) $300.00 – $600.00
Add conventional receptacle $200.00 – $400.00
Replace conventional receptacle with ground fault circuit receptacle $70.00 -$140.00
Replace conventional receptacle with aluminum compatible type (CO/ALR)(assuming several are required) $60.00 – $120.00 ea.
Upgrade entire house with aluminum compatible receptacles, connectors, etc. $1000.00 – $2000.00
Rewire electrical outlet with reversed polarity (assuming electrician already there) $5.00 – $10.00 ea.
Replace knob & tube wiring with conventional wiring (per room) $1000.00 – $2000.00
Install mid-efficiency forced-air furnace $2500.00 – $5000.00
Install high-efficiency forced-air furnace $3500.00 – $7000.00
Install humidifier $300.00 – $600.00
Install electronic air filter $800.00 – $1600.00
Install mid-efficiency boiler $3500.00 – $7000.00
Install high-efficiency boiler $6000.00 – $12000.00
Install circulating pump $400.00 – $600.00
Install chimney liner for gas appliance $500.00 – $1000.00
Install chimney liner for oil appliance $700.00 – $1800.00
Install programmable thermostat $200.00 – $400.00
Replace indoor oil tank $1200.00 – $2500.00
Remove oil tank from basement $600.00 and up
Remove abandoned underground oil tank $10000.00 and up
Replace radiator valve $300.00 – $600.00
Add electric baseboard heater $250.00 – $500.00
Convert from hot water heating to forced-air (bungalow) $10000.00 – $20000.00
Convert from hot water heating to forced-air (two storey) $15000.00 – $30000.00
Clean ductwork $300.00 – $600.00
Cooling / Heat Pumps
Add central air conditioning on existing forced-air system $3000.00 and up
Add heat pump to forced-air system $4000.00 – $8000.00
Replace heat pump or air conditioning condenser $1200.00 – $2500.00
Install independent air conditioning system $10000.00 – $20000.00
Install ductless air conditioning system $3000.00 – $7000.00
Insulate open attic to modern standards $0.80 – $1.60 per sq.ft.
Blow insulation into flat roof, cathedral ceiling or wall cavity $2.00 – $4.00 per sq.ft.
Improve attic ventilation $30.00 – $60.00 per vent
Replace galvanized piping with copper (two storey with one bathroom) $2500.00 – $5000.00
Replace water line to house $2000.00 and up
Replace toilet $500.00 and up
Replace basin, including faucets $750.00 and up
Replace bathtub, including ceramic tile and faucets $2500.00 and up
Install whirlpool bath, including faucets $3500.00 and up
Retile bathtub enclosure $1000.00 – $2000.00
Replace leaking shower stall pan $1000.00 – $2000.00
Rebuild tile shower stall $2500.00 – $5000.00
Replace laundry tubs $400.00 – $800.00
Remodel four-piece bathroom completely $6000.00 – $50000.00
Connect waste plumbing system to municipal sewers $5000.00 and up
Install submersible pump $1000.00 and up
Install suction or jet pump $700.00 and up
Install modest basement bathroom $6000.00 and up
Add drywall over plaster $4.00 – $8.00 per sq.ft.
Sand and refinish hardwood floors $2.00 – $4.00 per sq.ft.
Install replacement windows $40.00 – $120.00 per sq.ft.
Install storm window $200.00 – $400.00
Install masonry fireplace (if flue already roughed-in) $3000.00 and up
Install zero-clearance fireplace (including chimney) $3500.00 and up
Install glass doors on fireplace $300.00 and up
Install skylight $3000.00
Remodel kitchen completely $10,000.00 -$110000.00


Home Maintenance Tips!

Here is a great article from Carson Dunlop on Priority Maintenance on Your Home

There are so many home maintenance and repair items that are important; it can be confusing trying to establish which are the most critical. To simplify things, we have compiled a short list of our favorites. These are by no means all-inclusive, nor do they replace any of the information in a home inspection report. They should, however, help you get started on the right foot. Remember, any items marked as priority or safety issues on your home inspection report need immediate attention.

Install smoke detectors as necessary (usually one on each level of the home, near any sleeping areas). Install carbon monoxide detectors, according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
Make any electrical improvements recommended in the home inspection report.
Remove any wood/soil contact to prevent rot and insect damage.
Change the locks on all doors. Use a dead bolt for better security and to minimize insurance costs.
Correct trip hazards such as broken or uneven walks and driveways, loose or torn carpet or uneven flooring.
Correct unsafe stairways and landings. (Railings missing, loose, too low, et cetera.)
Have all chimneys inspected before operating any of these appliances.
Locate and mark the shut-offs for the heating, electrical and plumbing systems.
Label the circuits in electrical panels.
If there is a septic system, have the tank pumped and inspected. If the house is on a private water supply (well), set up a regular testing procedure for checking water quality.

Clean the gutters in the spring and fall.
Check for damaged roofing and flashing materials twice a year.
Cut back trees and shrubs from the house walls, roof and air conditioning system as needed.
Clean the tracks on horizontal sliding windows annually, and ensure the drain holes are clear.
Test ground fault circuit interrupters, carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors using the test button, monthly.
Service furnace or boiler yearly.
Check furnace filters, humidifiers and electronic air cleaners monthly.
Check the bathtub and shower caulking monthly and improve promptly as needed.
If you are in a climate where freezing occurs, shut off outdoor water faucets in the fall.
Check reversing mechanism on garage door opener monthly.
Check attics for evidence of leaks and condensation and make sure vents are not obstructed, at least twice a year. (Provide access into all attics and crawl spaces.)

This article was taken in its entirety from the Carson Dunlop site