Maintenance

Energy Efficiency

SAVING ELECTRICITY IN YOUR HOME

A: By following these energy saving tips you can save a lot of money on your electrical bill

Lighting and heating

  • Install compact fluorescent light bulbs
  • Turn off lights when not in use
  • Turn down your heat at night, if possible
  • Use a small lamp instead of lighting an entire room
  • Clean lamps and fixtures on a regular basis to get the best lighting

Appliances

  • Buy energy efficient appliances
  • Set your refrigerator at a lower setting
  • Hang your clothes outside to dry

Water

  • Install a low-flow showerhead
  • Wash your clothes in cold water
  • Have the thermostat on your water heater turned down when you have it serviced

SAVING HEATING FUEL IN YOUR HOME

A: Here is a list of suggestions that can help reduce the cost of running your furnace this winter.

Furnace filter

Inspect and clean your filters regularly and change or clean as necessary. A dirty or plugged filter can significantly reduce the amount of air movement in the house, making your furnace less efficient.

Furnace Motor

Have the belt on the fan motor inspected annually to ensure that it is in good working order. Be sure to have an extra one on hand in case it breaks. It’s a good idea to have it replaced on a regular basis to avoid a break.

Also ensure your blower motor is properly oiled according to your owner’s manual.

Ductwork

Check to make sure that there is nothing blocking air flow in your ducts and vents. Items placed over a vent (e.g. furniture or children’s toys) will reduce the effectiveness of your air flow and your furnace.

Seasonal Maintenance

1.Q: Homeowner's Guide to Oil Tanks

A: FUEL TANK PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE

Preventive Measures Every homeowner using fuel oil should follow these preventive measures to protect their home, family and neighbours:

  • Be aware of the smell of oil. Contact your heating oil supplier immediately if you smell fuel oil
  • If your tank is 15 years of age or older, consider replacing it
  • Never buy or install used fuel oil tanks. Never transfer oil from an old tank to a new tank, as water and contaminants can also be transferred​
  • Oil tanks should be located at least 100 feet from the nearest water source. Tanks located beside drive ways should be protected with concrete posts
  • Protect your tank and lines from falling snow or ice Oil tanks should rest on a solid, non-combustible, level surface
  • Oil tanks should not be touching a wall, resting on wood or wood supports, or raised on stacked blocks
  • Have your oil tank, fuel lines and furnace inspected by a certified oil burner mechanic at least once a year
  • When you have a furnace serviced, ask the oil burner mechanic to verify that your oil tank is approved by Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC)

2. Q: Fighting Mold — The Homeowners' Guide

A: Understanding mold

  • Mold can be harmful or helpful — depending on where it grows.
  • Mold needs moisture to grow.
  • Mold does not grow on dry materials.
  • Mold growing inside a home can affect the occupants
  • Occupants can learn to recognize mold.

How to recognize high moisture levels

Windows are usually the coolest surfaces in a house and may collect condensation in the winter when outdoor temperatures are low and indoor air is warm and humid. These conditions indicate that there is too much moisture in the air and may encourage mould and mildew growth in your home.

The damage that high moisture levels can cause
Mould blackens the grout lines in your shower, discolours drywall, shows up as black spots on siding, darkens decks, and grows on and rots woods (such as window frames and sills).

If left unchecked, a major mould infestation can ruin your home and your health. Mould can cause a health hazard such as an allergic reaction, runny noses and sneezing.

How to reduce high moisture levels

  • Use bathroom fans whenever you use a shower
  • Use the kitchen fan whenever you cook
  • Run only full loads in washers and dishwashers
  • Avoid hanging clothes to dry inside the house
  • Check that your dryer vent is connected properly to the dryer and that it is venting outside
  • Turn down or switch off your humidifier

How to remove mould

Surface moulds grow in just about any damp location, such as the grout lines of a ceramic tiled shower or on window frames. Mould is easy to scrub away with a little detergent (dishwashing liquid) and water mixture.

Even for simple cleaning, protect yourself from contact with mould by wearing a long-sleeve shirt and long pants, plastic or rubber gloves, goggles and a dust mask.

Tip: Special gloves made of nitrile are as tough as latex but thinner and more protective

For more information, please look at the following document developed by Health Canada, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and in partnership with the Assembly of First Nations. Mould & Your Health: What you need to know for a healthier home.

3. Q: SPRING PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE

A: Spring is the time to start repairs on the exterior of your home

  • Have your fireplace or wood stove and chimney cleaned and serviced as needed
  • Check smoke, carbon monoxide and security alarms and replace batteries
  • Clean windows and screens, repair or replace if needed
  • Ensure that exterior steps and decks are level
  • Check that your fuel oil tank is level
  • Have your house leveled if it is on an adjustable foundation
  • Open valve to outside faucet only after the temperature outside is warm enough to prevent freezing
  • Examine the foundation walls for cracks or leaks, where moisture could get in, and repair as required
  • Make sure the sump pump is operating properly before the spring thaw sets in
  • Check eaves troughs and downspouts for loose joints and secure and caulk them. Clear any obstructions and ensure that the downspouts and splash pads direct water away from your foundation

4. Q: SUMMER PREVENTATIVE MEASURES

A: Over the summer, there are a number of indoor and outdoor maintenance tasks to look after, such as repairing steps, painting and checking your chimney and roof:

  • Inspect electrical service lines for secure attachment where they enter your house
  • Make sure there is no water leakage into the house along the electrical conduit, apply caulking if required
  • Check for and seal off any holes in exterior walls that could be an entry point for small pests, such as ants and rodents
  • Check basement pipes for condensation or dripping. Try reducing the humidity in your home and insulated the cold water pipes
  • Check and replace damaged caulking and weather stripping around windows and doorways
  • Disconnect the duct connected to the dryer and vacuum lint from duct, the areas surrounding your clothes dryer and your dryer’s vent grille outside
  • Lubricate door hinges and tighten screws as needed
  • Vacuum the bathroom fan cover

5. Q: FALL PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE

A: Fall is the time to get your home ready for the coming winter

  • Have the furnace or boiler in your heating system serviced
  • Check and clean or replace furnace air filters each month during the heating season
  • Check for any exposed water lines that might freeze in the winter and insulate them
  • Remove the grilles on forced air systems and vacuum inside the ducts
  • Vacuum electric baseboard heaters to remove dust
  • Check the sump pump to make sure that is working properly. Also, check that the outlet line is clear and that there are no leaks
  • Have your hot water tank serviced by a qualified technician
  • Ensure all windows are closed tightly
  • Remove screens from the inside of windows to allow air from the heating system to keep condensation off window glass
  • Ensure all doors to the outside are shut tightly and check other doors for ease of use. Replace the door weather-stripping, if it’s worn out
  • Ensure that the ground around your home slopes away from the foundation wall, so that water does not drain into your basement or crawl space
  • Clean leaves from eaves troughs and roofs, and test downspouts to ensure proper drainage from the roof
  • Drain and store outdoor hoses. Close valve to outdoor hose connection and drain the exterior faucet
  • Check that any heat tape protecting your water and sewage lines are on and working properly

6. Q: WINTER PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE

A: During winter months it is important to check your home carefully for any problems. Do any repairs as soon as possible before they get worse and cost you more money to repair

  • Ensure a clear path to the water tank intake
  • Check and clean or replace furnace air filters each month during the heating season
  • Vacuum smoke, carbon monoxide (CO), natural gas and liquid propane gas detectors, as dust or spider webs can prevent them from functioning
  • Check all faucets for signs of dripping and change washers as needed
  • Clean drains in sinks, bathtubs and shower stalls
  • Vacuum radiator covers on the back of refrigerators and freezers
  • Vacuum bathroom fan covers
  • Check the gauge on the fire extinguisher, recharge or replace, if necessary
  • Check fire escape routes, door and window locks and hardware, and lighting around outside of house. Ensure that your family knows what to do in an emergency
  • Check your home for excessive moisture levels, for example, condensation on your windows, which can cause significant damage over time and pose serious health problems
  • Test plumbing shut-off valves to ensure they are working and to prevent them from seizing

Technical Advice

1. Q: HOME REMEDIES

A: One simple method for cleaning small clogs is to use a tried-and-true combination of baking soda and vinegar. Empty one-half cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by one-half cup of white vinegar. Cover the drain and let the mixture stand for a few minutes. Then pour a pot of boiling water down the drain. The baking soda and vinegar dissolve fatty acids, allowing the clog to wash down the drain. Boiling water should only be poured down the drain of stainless steel kitchen sinks. Do not pour boiling water down bathroom sinks or bathtubs. The porcelain may crack or break.

2. Q: HOME REPAIR

A: How to reduce condensation on the windows

If condensation continually builds up on your window you may have a broken window seal or you may have high humidity. You may want to consider installing a new energy efficient window.

  • If you have drapes, be sure to leave them open so warm air can pass over the window
  • Use bathroom fans whenever you use a shower
  • Use the kitchen fan whenever you cook
  • Check for worn out weather-stripping
  • Check if the window hardware is operating properly
  • Install plastic window film on any drafty windows

How to repair a leaky tap

A leaky tap can cost you a lot of money. If water drips at one drip per second, you will have to pay for 400 gallons of wasted water in a year. If the dripping water is hot water, you will also pay a higher electricity or fuel bill to heat the wasted water.

Most taps are easy to fix. Replacement parts are inexpensive and are available at hardware stores or in the hardware section of your local store. A leaking tap is often caused by a worn out washer, while leaks around the handle are often caused by a worn O-ring. To stop the leak you simply have to replace the washer or O-ring.

3. Q: SMOKE DETECTORS

A: What is a smoke detector?

A properly working smoke detector in your home is designed to alert you and your family if there is a fire in the home. Many fires happen when families are asleep. A smoke detector will warn when it senses smoke in order to give you time to escape the fire.

Who needs a smoke detector?

Every home needs at least one smoke detector.

How do smoke detectors work?

Most smoke detectors are battery powered but some, particularly those installed during the construction of you house are wired into a home’s electrical system. Most of the ones that run on household power have a battery backup in case of a power outage.

How much does a smoke detector cost?

A smoke detector should cost around $20 and can be purchased in the hardware section of your local store.

Who installs smoke detectors?

You can install a battery powered smoke detector yourself. Follow the instructions that come with the smoke detector. Smoke detectors that have to be wired into electrical system in your home should be installed by a qualified technician.

Where should I install a smoke detector?

Install smoke detectors outside of bedrooms. Install at least one smoke detector on every floor level. Smoke and heat rise to the ceiling. A smoke detector should be installed on the ceiling in a central location.

4. Q: HOME SAFETY

A: Ensure that all of your family members know:

  • what number to dial in the case of emergency
  • which exits to use in case of a fire or other emergency
  • the location and use of fire extinguishers
  • the location and use of safety ladders, if applicable
  • the location of your home’s shut-off valves and how to use them
  • the location of the main electrical breaker panel and how to shut off the power to a circuit and
  • where to meet outside the home in case of emergency

Teaching Young Children Safety

Talk to your children about what to do in an emergency and make sure they understand the instructions. In a visible area, post information such as emergency numbers, a neighbour’s contact information and fire exit plans. Have your children memorize your home phone number, address, and parent or guardian’s work and cell phone numbers.

First aid kit

Every family needs a first aid kit. It is a simple inexpensive way to protect your family in an emergency. Buy a first aid kit and make sure that all your family members know where it is located and how to use it.

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

  • Remember the PASS word: It stands for “pull, aim, squeeze, and sweep”
  • Make sure the fire extinguisher is upright
  • Remove the plastic tie from the handle
  • Pull the pin from the handle
  • Aim the nozzle low, while keeping the extinguisher upright
  • Squeeze the handle and direct the spray at the base of the fire, not further than 12 feet away
  • When you can see that the fire is being put out, cautiously move toward the fire, keeping the extinguisher focused on the base of the fire
  • Spray in a side-to-side motion until the fire is out

Contact your fire department if you are interested in training in the proper use of a fire extinguisher