Spring season is a great opportunity to get outdoors and fix up your home after a long, cold winter. There will be parts of your home, both inside and out, that need some TLC, especially if you want to keep your home nice and prepare it for a buyer. Spring cleaning activities can be done quickly and are worth the effort to maintain the home for the entire year.

Spring Home Maintenance TipsSpring Checklist for Home Owners

Things to clean when the weather gets warm include:

  • Leaves and other debris around the air conditioner
  • Gutters, window wells, storm drains, and downspouts
  • Screens on windows and areas around doors
  • The chimney area, if it wasn’t done in the fall
  • Trees or shrubs that need to be trimmed back
  • Any early signs of stinging insect areas near the home

Areas to check or repair with your home:

  • Inspect gutters for signs of sagging or damage
  • Weather damaged holes and cracks in the roof, siding, trim, and windows
  • Low areas of the yard or near the foundation that have flooding damage (these can be a breeding ground for insects)
  • Outside faucets that may have been frozen or pipes that need replacement
  • Attics areas, crawl spaces, bathrooms, and painted surfaces that have mildew or water damage
  • Excess insulation in pipe areas, garages, or crawl space that needs removal
  • The working order of all smoke detectors
  • The status of the air conditioning system

Additionally, you can make your home summer ready with a few extra touches. Take the opportunity to beautify the yard, plant flowers, and fertilize trees. These maintenance suggestions are an excellent way to improve the value of your home and keep it like new all year long.



Keeping your Fireplace Safe for the Winter Season

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Feet Warming at FireplaceIs there anything more wonderful this time of year than a mug of hot chocolate, a good movie on the Television, with a warm and cozy fire burning nearby? Not hardly!

Yet, it is not uncommon at this time of year for us to hear in the news that some unlucky family has tragically lost their home to a fire caused by a poorly maintained wood burning fireplace. This is doubly tragic when we consider how easily this can be avoided, simply through the proper care and maintenance of your fireplace.

Burning wood will cause a buildup of creosote within the chimney and flue of your fireplace. This tar-like substance is highly flammable and difficult to remove. Hiring a professional, a “chimney sweep” (they sure do exist), to clean your fireplace is the best way to ensure that your fireplace is clean and safe for burning wood.

Beyond that, we would like to recommend a few things you can do to ensure that your fireplace remains safe throughout the year.

Steven’s 9 Tips for a safe wood burning fireplace:

  1. Hire a professional to clean your fireplace at least once each year, either before or after the season
  2. Make sure the flue is open prior to lighting a fire
  3. Use only clean, well-dried, seasoned wood to reduce the buildup of creosote
  4. Never leave a fire unattended
  5. Install a screen for your fireplace, to reduce sparks reaching your floors
  6. Sweep away old ash and debris before lighting a fresh fire (make sure all embers are extinguished prior to sweeping)
  7. Sprinkling damp coffee grounds over the ash will reduce dust when sweeping out your fireplace
  8. Do not use chemical cleansers inside your fireplace, as they may be combustible
  9. Never leave combustible material near your fireplace

Having your fireplace inspected and cleaned annually remains a very good idea, ensuring peace of mind and the safety of your family.

If you would like more detailed information about fireplaces and fireplace safety, read this article, “Cold Outside, Cozy Inside; All about Wood Burning Fireplace Anatomy and Maintenance Tips,” from TrustedPros.com.

If you’re unsure about the safety of your fireplace, get in touch with Ampwood Home Inspections right away for a safety inspection.

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What Home Renovations Have the Best Resale Value?

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Categories : Renovations
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Winter Home Maintenance Tips

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As winter approaches, your home is susceptible to more hazardous conditions. This includes pipes freezing, damage from the cold weather, and high heating costs. If the home is not prepared properly, the value of the home can decrease due to wear and tear. Staying up-to-date with winter maintenance activities will keep it as good as new.

Here is a checklist of things to do to keep your home safe and maintained in the cold winter months:

  • Check the roof. Watch for damage from ice and remove icicles.
  • Avoid frozen pipes. Keep cabinet doors open for the heat to reach pipes, such as below sink areas. A slow dripping faucet can help pipes that are vulnerable to extreme weather, such as pipes that run through an unheated or unprotected space.
  • Prevent leaks. Check the basement area for leaks and water, especially during a winter thaw.
  • Test the electrical system. Check all ground-fault circuit interrupters to make sure they are working properly and offer shock protection. These outlets can cut off power to an electrical device; they should be tested especially after an electrical storm.
  • If you are going out of town, prepare the home. Keep the heat turned on, even if you are leaving for an extended period of time.
  • Keep heating costs down. Clean and check or replace furnace air filters every month. Install storm windows or use plastic-film sheets from a hardware store on windows for the winter season.
  • Prepare for an emergency. Check the pressure gauge on all fire extinguishers and replace if necessary. Also, make sure to have a 72-hour kit on hand in the case of blackouts or snowstorms.

A home that is ready for winter will remain in good condition, keep costs down, and allow you to enjoy a cozy winter without worry.


Basement apartments licensing starts in early 2014

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What does this mean for Mississauga Home Inspections?

Basement Apartment Licensing coming into effect in Mississauga. I am sure all other cities in GTA will follow suit if they do not already have it in place.  Read this article posted on Mississauga.com website: Basement apartments licensing starts in early 2014.  Photo Courtesy of Mississauga.com website.

For rent Mississauga Staff photo by John Stewart The City of Mississauga is licensing second units, also known as basement apartments, and the new statutes come into effect Jan. 2.

For rent
Mississauga Staff photo by John Stewart
The City of Mississauga is licensing second units, also known as basement apartments, and the new statutes come into effect Jan. 2.

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Gas Fireplaces

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Source: CMHC

Fireplace and armchairNothing is nicer on a cold winter night than curling up beside a warm fire. Gas fireplaces can offer a clean burning option with a convenient click of a button. A recent survey of household energy use found that 23 per cent of Canadian single- and semi-detached and row-housing reported having a gas fireplace and of those, 22 per cent reported using them every day once the temperatures dip. Depending on the size and location of your fireplace, the added warmth can help ease the heating burden on your furnace, causing it to turn on less frequently. But will that save you money? Not necessarily, according to research undertaken at the Canadian Centre for Housing Technology (CCHT).

The study tested gas fireplace use and its impact on both furnace use and total gas energy consumption in the CCHT’s R2000 certified research house. Researchers wanted to find out if operating a gas fireplace would reduce total gas consumption. It also looked at whether running the furnace fan continuously had any benefits on heat distribution to rooms away from the fireplace compared to having the fan automatically turn on only when the furnace was required to provide heating for the house.

The results showed that, while the furnace came on less frequently during fireplace use, total gas energy consumption overall actually increased by approximately 10 to 16 per cent. This is because the gas fireplace, which had a measured efficiency of only 76 per cent, was offsetting the operation of the furnace with an efficiency of 94 per cent. The study also found that even when the fireplace was not in use, overall gas energy use was 6 per cent higher compared to the control house because of the gas consumed by the small, but continuously running, pilot light.

While running the furnace fan continuously was expected to distribute heat from the fireplace to other rooms more effectively than when run intermittently, the researchers found that operation of the fan had very little influence on the temperatures in other rooms in either mode. In fact, not only was there no difference in heat distribution, continuously running the furnace fan actually increased daily electrical energy use from 6 kWh to 11 kWh, which can be significant given that typical Canadian homes use a total of 15 to 30 kWh per day.

Gas fireplaces are a wonderful way to enhance the beauty of your home, providing a warm ambience during our cold Canadian winters. However, using your high efficiency furnace as the main method of heating your home will save you energy and money in the long run.

For more information on this and other CMHC research visit http://www.cmhc.ca/. Research undertaken at the CCHT can also be found at http://www.ccht-cctr.gc.ca/eng/projects/index.html

For over 65 years, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has been Canada’s national housing agency, and a source of objective, reliable housing information.

For story ideas or to access CMHC experts or expertise, contact CMHC Media Relations — National Office at: 613-748-2799 or by e-mail: [email protected].

Published: December 20, 2012

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Wiarton Willie Predicts Early Spring

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CTV Article:

wiarton willieGroundhogs throughout Canada are split in their spring predictions, with some shadows suggesting six more weeks of winter while others have forecasted an early spring.

Canada’s most celebrated groundhog, Wiarton Willie, is predicting an early end to this year’s erratic winter weather after the creature failed to see its shadow Saturday morning.

Hundreds bundled up to watch Willie emerge from its burrow in Bruce Country, Ont.

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/wiarton-willie-predicts-early-spring-others-forecast-more-winter-1.1140248#ixzz2JlgbeUrS

Get ready for the warm weather! Read our Spring Home Maintenance tips…

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Is your Home Protected from Catastrophic Water Damage?

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In the wake of the terrible damage throughout the eastern third of the US caused by hurricane Sandy, it is necessary to stress the need for flood insurance for homeowners. While it is true that such a massive storm is rare, occurring perhaps once in a lifetime, the catastrophic damage to literally millions of homeowners begs the question, “Is your home protected from flooding?”

The simple answer to this question is “NO!” Standard homeowner’s insurance does not protect the homeowner from this type of flooding, deemed “Acts of God.”

Homeowners’ insurance does not cover flooding

For anyone who has ever had the misfortune to experience a flooded basement, they know the damage caused by flooding can be extensive, incredibly inconvenient, and expensive to repair. It is not an experience any homeowner would wish to repeat.

Flooding can take place due to a variety of causes, such as: spring run-off, melting snow, an over flowing river, lake or stream, excessive groundwater build-up, or even a swimming pool that overflows. Whether aided by wind, rain, or heavy snowfall, or by an Act of God, damage to your home caused by flooding is not covered by your homeowner’s insurance; regardless of how comprehensive you thought your policy to be.

A comprehensive homeowner policy will however cover water damage to your home when the cause is “sudden and accidental.” Sudden and accidental water damage will include damage caused by sudden failure of a heating or air conditioning system, an overflowing washing machine, a blocked toilet, accidental sprinkler going off, or a burst water pipe. Damage caused by freezing or sewer back-up will likely not be covered, though you may be able to purchase protection from these with a rider to your policy.

How to protect your home from water damage

Here are some tips on how can you prevent or limit water damage to your home:

  • If the area in which you live is susceptible to sewer back-up, make sure your home has a back-flow valve and plugs for drains, toilets and other sewer connectors installed.
  • Install a sump pump, if necessary. (Only in High Water Table Areas)
  • Test your sump pump for proper function.
  • Install a battery back-up or buy a small gas generator for your sump pump, in case of electrical failure.
  • If your basement is unfinished, store items in plastic containers or on shelving at least 12″ above the floor.
  • Keep all window wells clear of leaves and debris and periodically checking your foundation for signs of cracks.
  • Keep rain gutters, eaves, and downspouts clear of debris.
  • Make sure water flow (grading) is directed away from the foundation of your home.
  • During winter, keep snow away from the foundation to reduce surface water during sudden spring thaws and winter rains.
  • Areas around ground level windows and window wells should be cleared of snow regularly.
  • Seal all foundation cracks around the exterior perimeter of the home.

The condition of your home’s foundation, and your entire home, is a housekeeping or maintenance issue. It is not an insurance issue. If the land around your house slopes in towards your foundation the chance of ground water building up is greater. It is always a good idea to check with your insurance broker to confirm what your homeowner policy covers.

If you are worried about the possibility of your home flooding for any of the reasons above, you should invest in a comprehensive home inspection to help determine your risk. Contact us today for a FREE estimateof the cost of inspecting your home by a Certified Home Inspector.


Note: Insurance information provided by Active Insurance & Financial Group Inc.
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Ontario home values up 18 per cent since 2008

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The Canadian Press Published Tuesday, Sep. 25, 2012 2:27PM EDT Last Updated Tuesday, Sep. 25, 2012 3:03PM EDT

PICKERING, Ont. — Ontario homeowners will see the determined value of their houses rise 4.5 per cent in each of the next four years — and may face tax increases as a result — following a report that found property values have risen 18 per cent since the last update in 2008.

The report released Tuesday by Ontario’s Municipal Property Assessment Corp. said property owners will see an average assessment increase of 4.5 per cent in each year for the next four years as it phases in the increases.

Any tax increase based on the new assessments could put a greater financial squeeze on some cash-strapped owners at a time when interest rates could also go higher.

However, an increase in a home’s value doesn’t necessarily mean property taxes will rise. If the assessed value of a home has risen by the same percentage as the average in a given municipality, there may not be an increase in taxes, said the organization, which is funded and operated by the province’s municipalities.

Read more: http://www.cp24.com/ontario-home-values-up-18-per-cent-since-2008-1.970911#ixzz2CySPHrzP

Categories : Blog, Real Estate News
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Three Deadly Mistakes Every Home Buyer Should Avoid

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By: Internachi
Deadly Mistake #1: Thinking you can’t afford it. Many people who thought that buying the home they wanted was simply out of their reach are now enjoying a new lifestyle in their very own homes. Buying a home is the smartest financial decision you will ever make. In fact, most homeowners would be broke at retirement if it wasn’t for one saving grace — the equity in their homes. Furthermore, tax allowances favor home ownership.
Real estate values have always risen steadily. Of course, there are peaks and valleys, but the long-term trend is a consistent increase. This means that every month when you make a mortgage payment, the amount that you owe on the home goes down and the value typically increases. This “owe less, worth more” situation is called equity build-up and is the reason you can’t afford not to buy. Even if you have little money for a down payment or credit problems, chances are that you can still buy that new home. It just comes down to knowing the right strategies, and working with the right people. See below.

Deadly Mistake #2: Not hiring a buyer’s agent to represent you. Buying property is a complex and stressful task. In fact, it is often the biggest, single investment you will make in your lifetime. At the same time, real estate transactions have become increasingly complicated. New technology, laws, procedures, and competition from other buyers require buyer agents to perform at an ever-increasing level of competence and professionalism. In addition, making the wrong decisions can end up costing you thousands of dollars. It doesn’t have to be this way! Work with a buyer’s agent who has a keen understanding of the real estate business and the local market. A buyer’s agent has a fiduciary duty to you. That means that he or she is loyal only to you and is obligated to look out for your best interests. A buyer’s agent can help you find the best home, the best lender, and the best home inspector in your area. That inspector should be an InterNACHI-certified home inspector because InterNACHI inspectors are the most qualified and best-trained inspectors in the world.

Trying to buy a home without an agent or a qualified inspector is, well… unthinkable. Deadly Mistake #3: Getting a cheap inspection. Buying a home is probably the most expensive purchase you will ever make. This is no time to shop for a cheap inspection. The cost of a home inspection is small relative to the value of the home being inspected. The additional cost of hiring a certified inspector is almost insignificant by comparison. As a home buyer, you have recently been crunching the numbers, negotiating offers, adding up closing costs, shopping for mortgages, and trying to get the best deals. Don’t stop now! Don’t let your real estate agent, a “patty-cake” inspector, or anyone else talk you into skimping here. InterNACHI front-ends its membership requirements. InterNACHI turns down more than half the inspectors who want to join because they can’t fulfill the membership requirements. InterNACHI-certified inspectors perform the best inspections, by far. InterNACHI-certified inspectors earn their fees many times over. They do more, they deserve more and — yes — they generally charge a little more. Do yourself a favor…and pay a little more for the quality inspection you deserve.
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Household Hazards

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By: International Association of Certified Home Inspectors

This list of terms covers most of the common household dangers likely to be encountered by InterNACHI inspectors.

  • algae: microorganisms that may grow to colonies in damp environments, including certain rooftops. They can discolor shingles; often described as fungus.
  • alligatoring: a condition of paint or aged asphalt brought about by the loss of volatile oils, and the oxidation caused by solar radiation; causes a coarse, “checking” pattern characterized by slipping of the new paint coating over the old coating to the extent that the old coating can be seen through the fissures. “Alligatoring” produces a pattern of cracks resembling an alligator hide, and is ultimately the result of the limited tolerance of paint or asphalt to thermal expansion and contraction.
  • asbestos: a common form of magnesium silicate which was commonly used in various construction products because of its stability and resistance to fire. Asbestos exposure, caused by inhaling loose asbestos fibers, is associated with various forms of lung disease. Asbestos is the name given to certain inorganic minerals when they occur in fibrous form. Though fire-resistant, its extremely fine fibers are easily inhaled, and exposure to them over a period of years has been linked to cancers of the lung and the lung-cavity lining, and to asbestosis, a severe lung impairment. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber sometimes found in older homes. It is hazardous to your health when a possibility exists of exposure to inhalable fibers. Homeowners should be alert for friable (readily crumbled or brittle) asbestos, and always seek professional advice in dealing with it.
  • bleeding: the migration of a liquid to the surface of a component or into/onto an adjacent material.
  • blister: an enclosed, raised spot evident on the surface of a building. They are mainly caused by the expansion of trapped air, water vapor, moisture or other gases.
  • blue stain: a bluish or grayish discoloration of the sapwood caused the growth of certain mold-like fungi on the surface and in the interior of a piece, made possible by the same conditions that favor the growth of other fungi.
  • bubbling: in glazing, open or closed pockets in a sealant caused by the release, production or expansion of gasses.
  • buckling: the bending of a building material as a result of wear and tear, or contact with a substance such as water.
  • carbon monoxide (CO): a colorless, odorless, highly poisonous gas formed by the incomplete combustion of carbon.
  • cohesive failure: internal splitting of a compound resulting from over-stressing of the compound.
  • condensation: water condensing on walls, ceiling and pipes; normal in areas of high humidity, usually controlled by ventilation or a dehumidifier.
  • corrosion: the deterioration of metal by chemical or electrochemical reaction resulting from exposure to weathering, moisture, chemicals and other agents and media.
  • crater: pit in the surface of concrete resulting from cracking of the mortar due to expansive forces associated with a particle of unsound aggregate or a contaminating material, such as wood or glass.
  • crazing: a series of hairline cracks in the surface of weathered materials, having a web-like appearance; also, hairline cracks in pre-finished metals caused by bending or forming; see brake metal.
  • cupping: a type of warping that causes boards to curl up at their edges.
  • damp-proofing: a process used on concrete, masonry and stone surfaces to repel water, the main purpose of which is to prevent the coated surface from absorbing rainwater while still permitting moisture vapor to escape from the structure. Moisture vapor readily penetrates coatings of this type. Damp-proofing generally applies to surfaces above grade; waterproofing generally applies to surfaces below grade.
  • decay: disintegration of wood and other substances through the action of fungi.
  • distortion: alteration of viewed images caused by variations in glass flatness or in homogeneous portions within the glass; an inherent characteristic of heat-treated glass.
  • drippage: bitumen material that drips through roof deck joints, or over the edge of a roof deck.
  • dry rot: see fungal wood rot.
  • feathering strips: tapered wood filler strips placed along the butt edges of old wood shingles to create a level surface when re-roofing over existing wood shingle roofs; aso called “horsefeathers.”
  • fungal wood rot: a common wood-destroying organism which develops when wood-containing material is exposed to moisture and poor air circulation for a long period of time (six-plus months); often and incorrectly referred to as “dry rot.”
  • fungi (wood): microscopic plants that live in damp wood and cause mold, stain and decay.
  • incompatibility: descriptive of two or more materials which are not suitable to be used together.
  • lead-based paint: Lead is a highly toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around homes. Lead may cause a range of health problems, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Children age 6 and under are most at risk because their bodies are growing quickly.
  • migration: spreading or creeping of a constituent of a compound onto/into adjacent surfaces; see bleeding.
  • mud cracks: cracks developing from the normal shrinkage of an emulsion coating when applied too heavily.
  • mushroom: an unacceptable occurrence when the top of a caisson concrete pier spreads out and hardens to become wider than the foundation’s wall thickness.
  • photo-oxidation: oxidation caused by rays of the sun.
  • ponding: a condition where water stands on a roof for prolonged periods due to poor drainage and/or deflection of the deck.
  • pop-out: see stucco pop-out.
  • radon: a naturally-occurring, radioactive gas which is heavier than air and is common in many parts of the country. Radon gas exposure is associated with lung cancer. Mitigation measures may involve crawlspace and basement venting and various forms of vapor barriers.
  • scrap out: the removal of all drywall material and debris after the home is “hung out” (installed) with drywall.
  • seasoning: removing moisture from green wood in order to improve its serviceability.
  • settlement: shifts in a structure, usually caused by freeze-thaw cycles underground.
  • sludge: term for the waste material found in sump pump pits, septic systems and gutters.
  • spalling: the chipping and flaking of concrete, bricks and other masonry where improper drainage and venting and freeze/thaw cycling exists.
  • splitting: the formation of long cracks completely through a membrane. Splits are frequently associated with lack of allowance for expansion stresses. They can also be a result of deck deflection and a change in deck direction.
  • ultraviolet degradation: a reduction in certain performance limits caused by exposure to ultraviolet light.
  • UV rays: ultraviolet rays from the sun.
  • veining: in roofing, the characteristic lines or “stretch marks” which develop during the aging process of soft bitumens.
  • warping: any distortion in a material.
  • water vapor: moisture existing as a gas in air.
InterNACHI inspectors are trained in detecting these and other common household dangers.
From Household Hazards – Int’l Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) http://www.nachi.org/hazards.htm#ixzz24NQPwwW1
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