It’s Time to Clean Your Eave Troughs!

Rain pouring down a house protected with eave troughs Eave troughs are a critical part to maintaining your home. Eaves protect your roof, walls, foundation, sidewalks and landscaping. Neglected eaves can fill with debris, water and ice which can result in serious interior and exterior problems such as:

  • Damage to the roof system (shingles and plywood)
  • Wall damage
  • Attic problems
  • Damage to the eaves themselves

These problems can result in expensive and time consuming problems such as water damage, rot, damaged insulation, leaks, mould and increased likelihood of pest infestations.

When rain gutters are neglected, water can’t flow properly out of the downspouts and away from your home. This may cause:

  • Foundation problems – shifting and cracks
  • Water entering the basement or crawlspace
  • Damaged landscaping
  • Shifting concrete or walkways
  • Wood decks to rot faster

Depending on the number of trees in your area, your home’s eave troughs should be cleaned twice yearly – spring and fall.

If your home’s eaves are protected with leaf guards, dirt and smaller particles can still enter, clog the trough and cause damage. It’s recommended inspect the eaves and guards every two years and you may need to call a professional for a cleaning.

It’s also important to check that the downspouts are clear of debris. Blocked downspouts can cause water to back up and ultimately cause unnecessary damage to your home.

Before cleaning your eaves, please remember “safety first”! Use a long enough, study and well balanced ladder and enlist a buddy to help with the task. Remember to never lean the ladder on the eaves themselves as they may collapse, detach or bend.

If you decide to hire a professional for the job, ensure that the company has liability insurance in case of injury.

Like other home maintenance jobs, it’s important to remember…

Eave trough maintenance is measured in pennies – but the repairs are measured in dollars!

 

Easy Home Maintenance Suggestions

Home Maintenance Tips Gibb Insurance BrokersFor most home owners, it’s likely there are some home maintenance tasks that you know you ‘should do’, but due to time constraints or lack of knowledge, we often neglect.

These little odd jobs can help save you money, keep you safe, and protect your largest investment: your home!

So take a few minutes to add these actions to your ‘to-do’ list.

Safety and money saving home maintenance actions:

Replace your furnace filter – Doing so will help your furnace function more efficiently.

When was the last time you replaced your furnace filter?

Clean your HRV unit – A clean HRV will help your heating and cooling system run more efficiently.

When was the last time you cleaned your HRV unit?

Replace your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors – Smoke detectors only have a life span of 10 years, and CO2 detectors only 8 years.

When was the last time you replace your smoke or CO2 detectors?

Clean your dryer vents – Clean vents not only help improve efficiency, but also is the best way to prevent devastating dryer vent fires.

When was the last time you cleaned your dryer vents?

Service your dishwasher  – Dishwasher hoses can dry out and crack over time. Food particles can build up and damage seals; both may result in costly water damage.

When was the last time you serviced your dishwasher

Have your sump pump inspected – Ensuring that your sump pump is in good working order (including the back-up battery) is essential to a dry basement.

When was the last time you had your sump pump inspected?

Clean your fridge’s condenser coils – This will help with the efficiency of your appliance.

When was the last time you cleaned your fridge's condenser coils?

Inspect the bathroom caulking – Old caulking can crack, come loose and may result in leaks or the growth of mould and mildew. Inspect and replace caulking once a year or as needed.

When was the last time you replaced or inspected your bathroom's caulking

Inspect your washing machine hoses – Just as with dishwashers, these hoses can dry and crack which may result in water damage to your home. It’s recommended to check these hoses monthly.

When was the last time you inspected your washing machine hoses?

Being proactive about your home and appliance maintenance is better than be reactive in the case of an emergency. Take some time to get these items crossed off your to-do list!

Time to Clean Your HRV

Maintaining Your HRV for air quality and efficiencyYou might be wondering, “What’s an HRV? Do I have one?” If you live in home built in the last 20 years or have updated the heating system in your older home, then you likely have one, and it likely needs cleaning.

An HRV or Heat Recovery Ventilation may also be known as an air exchanger. An HRV provides fresh air into your home and helps improve climate control. An Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) works similarly, but also helps to regulate humidity in the home.

As home construction technology improved and homes became more airtight, the need for fresh air became necessary. An HRV or ERV solves the problem of moisture laden, stale and polluted air while maintaining a desirable indoor climate.

Maintaining your HRV is important for air quality in home your and to help your heating and cooling system run more efficiently.

There are 7 steps to a happy HRV according to CMHC

Step 1: First, turn off your HRV and unplug it.

Step 2: Clean or Replace Air Filters – Dirty or clogged filters can lower ventilation efficiency. Try to clean your filters at least every two months. Filters in most new HRVs can be easily removed, cleaned with a vacuum cleaner, then washed with mild soap and water before being replaced. Older units have replaceable filters. If your HRV is easily accessible, this is a five-minute job.

Step 3: Check Outdoor Intake and Exhaust Hoods – Remove leaves, waste paper or other obstructions that may be blocking the outside vents of your HRV. Without this vital airflow, your HRV won’t function properly. During winter, clear any snow or frost buildup blocking outside vents.

Step 4: Inspect the Condensate Drain – Check to see if your HRV has a condensate drain — a pipe or plastic tube coming out of the bottom. If it does, slowly pour about two litres of warm, clean water in each drain pan inside the HRV to make sure it is flowing freely. If there’s a backup, clean the drain.

Step 5: Clean the Heat Exchange Core – Check your HRV owner’s manual for instructions on cleaning the heat exchange core. Vacuuming the core and washing it with soap and water will reduce dust that can build up inside the core.

Step 6: Clean Grilles and Inspect the Ductwork – Once a year, check the ductwork leading to and from your HRV. Remove and inspect the grilles covering the duct ends, then vacuum inside the ducts. If a more thorough cleaning is required, call your service technician.

Step 7: Service the Fans – Remove the dirt that has been accumulated on the blades by gently brushing them. Most new HRVs are designed to run continuously without lubrication, but older models require a few drops of proper motor lubricating oil in a designated oil intake. Check your manual for complete instructions.

A well maintained HRV unit is essential for the health of your home. Please share this article with friends and family

Time and Money Saving Spring Home Maintenance

Spring home maintenance tips by Gibb InsuranceIncluding regular maintenance your home’s appliances and to the interior of your home can save you thousands. Not only will your appliances work more efficiently when properly maintained, they will likely last longer – saving you money!

These following suggestions can also help protect your home from unnecessary damage, and potentially save you thousands.

–          Replace your furnace filter and consider having your air conditioning unit serviced – An efficiently functioning furnace will save you money.

–          Clean your HRV (air exchanger) unit – check the manual for proper cleaning instructions

–          Check that your sump pump is working as well as the battery operated backup pump

–          Turn on your exterior facets and check for leaks

–          Test the ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) in the kitchen and bathrooms

–          Inspect the venting system for your clothes dryer. Replace any damaged vents and ducts and remove lint from all the potential hiding places. If you have an extensive dryer venting system, you may want to hire a professional. This is critical for preventing dyer fires.

–          Check your dishwasher hoses for signs of cracks and deteriorayion

–          Clean the dust from your refrigerator’s coils. It will help your fridge run more efficiently

–          Clean all vents in bathrooms and kitchens to ensure their efficient functioning

–          Remove and dust all furnace vents in your home

–          Inspect your attic for areas of moisture or dampness to determine if your roof is leaking.

By being proactive with the maintenance of your home in the spring, you’ll feel assured knowing it’s running efficiently and safely for the entire year.

Home Appliance Maintenance – Save Time and Money

Appliance Maintenance TipsWe all know the frustration and cost of having to replace an appliance – Being proactive in the maintenance of your home appliances can help save you time and money.

Here are few basic tips to help you keep your appliances functioning at their best.

Refrigerator

  • Clean the condenser coils beneath and behind the fridge. The dust makes your fridge run less efficiently.
  • Clean the gasket seals with warm water and mild detergent to keep them well sealed, clean and flexible.
  • If you have a water filter (for water and ice), replace it every six months to help prevent clogs, leaks and cleaner water.

Toaster oven

  • Regularly cleaning and removing crumbs from toaster overs helps to reduce the risk of fire.

Microwave/Range Hood

  • When was the last time you cleaned the grease filter in your over the range microwave?  Soak the filter in hot water and detergent, (ammonia-free) , and lightly scrub.
  • Keeping the inside of your microwave clean helps it function at its best. Microwave a bowl of water and lemon juice for a minute to help remove stuck on food.

Garbage disposal

  • Keep the blades sharp and clean and odors at away by running a cut up lemon in the disposal with warm water.

Stovetop

Cooktops – Ceramic cooktops work best when clean. Use a product specific for cooktops and wipe clean regularly.

Traditional coil burners – Inspect coil burners making certain they are level and without ‘hot spots’ that could result in a short and a fire hazard. Replace burners with defects immediately.

Oven

  • To avoid a fire hazard, regularly clean your oven. Follow the safety precautions exactly as detailed in your owner’s manual.

Washing Machine

  • Detergent residue can build up inside washing machine tubs. Use a cleaner once a month to keep washing machines odor and residue -free.
  • Inspect the hoses on a monthly basis for signs of wear or damage

Dishwasher

  • Remove the racks and remove debris in the holes of the spinning arms.  Clean the edges of the door around the gasket to help prevent leaks.  The area under the bottom of the door can accumulate debris, be sure to remove any stuck on food particles.
  • If mildew or mold is a problem in your dishwasher, leave the door open for a few hours after use, allowing the machine to dry out.
  • Regularly inspect the hoses for signs of wear or damage.

Dryer

  • Clear out the lint trap after every use. Follow the directions in your owner’s manual to disassemble the dryer and vacuum out accumulated lint on a yearly basis.
  • Regularly check the area around the dryer’s vent cap outside to be sure it’s not blocked by leaves or landscaping to help with proper air flow.
  • Your dryer’s entire venting system should be cleaned out at least once a year (from the inside of the dryer to the outside vent). You may need to hire a professional to do this, but it’s important for fire safety.

Before tackling any appliance maintenance, for you and your home’s safety, please be sure to follow the exact directions in your owner’s manual. If you’ve lost or misplaced your manual, a quick Google search can be done to find one online.

Fall Exterior Home Checklist

Windsor Essex Fall Exterior Home Checklist Gibb Insurance BrokersFall is a great time to be in Windsor and Essex County. There are still outdoor festivals, apple and pumpkin picking and cooler weather to explore parks and outdoor spaces.

Before the cold weather settles in, fall (now!) is the best time to attend to the exterior of your home in preparation for winter.

Here are a few tips that can save you time and money in the future.

  • Inspect and clean gutters and downspouts. Be certain that water is draining well away from your home.
  • Repair any damaged steps, handrails, sidewalks, and driveways to help prevent winter slip and fall accidents.
  • Check for cracks and gaps around windows and doors and seal with weather stripping or caulk to save money on heating your home.
  • Winterize outdoor faucets and lawn irrigation systems – many people who’ve never previously had issues with freezing faucets experienced water damage during last winter’s record setting low temperatures.
  • Book a furnace cleaning and inspection – The best time to have a professional inspect your heating system is before you need it.
  • If you home has an air exchange, clean the main filter at once yearly and the other filters every 3 months.
  • Inspect and clean out dryer vents to improve efficiency and help prevent dryer fires.
  • Inspect your roof for damaged or missing shingles, the integrity of flashing and vents.
  • Check that your snow removal equipment is in running order – it’s better to do this now if it requires repair, well in advance of needing it.

We at Gibb Insurance feel that the more prepared you are, the better! So be proactive in maintaining your home’s exterior this fall for an easier winter!

New Garbage Bylaw in Windsor

Garbage bylaw city of WindsorRecently a city of Windsor bylaw came into effect requiring that all garbage must be in a hard-sided bin with a lid. Garbage collectors will not pick up garbage that is not in a bin or pail. Garbage that is stored outdoors must also have a lid on it at all times. Currently the city is still spreading awareness, but fines for non-compliance may begin soon.

Many other Ontario cities have the same or similar bylaws.

Why is this bylaw necessary?

The city of Windsor, as well as other municipalities have a problem with skunks, rodents and other garbage eating vermin. This by-law will help reduce their easy access to a food source and thereby their population.

For this reason, even if you don’t reside in the city of Windsor, it’s a great idea to store and put out your trash in a hard sided container with a lid. The containers can be purchased at your local hardware stores, starting at about $10.

How do you feel about the new bylaw? Do you think more municipalities should follow, or do you feel it’s unnecessary? Please leave a comment below.

Protecting Your Home – Be Proactive

Tips to help prevent dryer fires - Gibb Insurance Amherstburg OntarioRecently a home in Windsor sustained an estimated $100,000 in damage as a result of a dryer fire, luckily, no one was injured.

How could this tragedy have been prevented? 

Here are some tips to help prevent dryer fires:

  • Ensure that you dryer vents are made of metal and not plastic or foil. Vents made from plastic or foil often have ridges and can sag, creating a place for lint to easily build up and block proper ventilation.
  • Clean your ducts regularly. Also clean under and behind your dryer regularly. Not only with this help prevent dryer fires, it will help your machine run more efficiently.
  • Be aware when drying material that may have come in contact with gasoline, cleaning chemicals or cooking oils. Consider washing these items twice and hanging to dry.
  • Dryers with a moisture sensor are the preferred safer model. When the dry-cycle is ended by a thermostat, the dryer may run longer than necessary. If you have a machine with a moisture sensor, be sure to clean the sensor regularly.

Remember that all mechanical elements of our homes require regular maintenance. Create a schedule for your home’s maintenance and stick to it to help keep your family safe and you home running efficiently. If you want additional peace of mind, don’t leave appliances running when you’re away from your home.

Spring Home Exterior Maintenance Checklist

We’re all itching to get outside: to clean up the mess winter left behind, work on our lawns and gardens and just to enjoy the outdoors.

Early spring is the perfect time to look for and repair damage that might have been done to your home over the long winter months. Here are some considerations.

Roof

⁏ Look for and replace any missing or worn shingles

⁏ Check that the seals around vents and chimneys are still impenetrable

⁏ Ensure that your eaves and downspouts are still straight, debris-free and are draining properly

Spring Exterior Home Maintenance Checklist Gibb InsuranceWindows and doors

⁏ Look for rotted or damaged wood around windows and doorframes – repair and replace as needed before the heavy spring rains come

⁏ Check that the caulking is in good shape and repair or replace if it has come loose or dried out over the winter

⁏ Look at your window and door screens for holes and repair as needed

Vents

⁏ Make sure that vents are well sealed and free of debris

Driveway, patio and decks

⁏ Check for signs of heaved patio blocks and pavers: repair and replace as necessary – they may be a tripping hazard.

⁏ Replaced any wood that appears rotted on decks and steps

⁏ Ensure that hand rails are still tightly affixed

Foundation

⁏ Check that downspouts are draining well away from your foundation

⁏ Look for low areas around your foundation where water might sit and add fill to these low areas

Although it might take some time to complete the spring checklist for the exterior of your home, being proactive about your home’s maintenance could save you huge hassles and thousands of dollars.