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Healthy Home

CO Safety in Your Home

By | Healthy Home, Home Maintenance, Indoor Air Quality | No Comments

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a risk that every homeowner needs to be aware of and manage to ensure a healthy and sound family home. It known as the silent killer as it is a colorless and odorless gas that has toxic effects for people and pets. CO gas is a byproduct produced through the combustion of fuel-burning appliances that are commonly found in homes, such appliances as: furnace, gas water heater, gas stove, gas dryer, gas barbeque, portable generators and fuel-burning space heaters. Running a vehicle in your garage can also produce toxic gases, even if the garage door is open.

Improper maintenance, poor ventilation or dysfunction of these appliances can cause a carbon monoxide leak with the risk of poisoning higher in enclosed spaces.

Symptoms of CO Poisoning

  • nausea
  • headaches
  • burning eyes
  • drowsiness
  • confusion
  • loss of consciousness

These symptoms tend to disappear with fresh air. However, medical attention may still be necessary if you have been exposed.

How to Keep Your Home Safe

  1. Annual maintenance and inspection of fuel-fired appliances such as your furnace, hot water tank, stove, fireplace.
  2. Installing Carbon Monoxide detectors throughout your home, regular testing and replacing upon expiry.

When in doubt of actual age of a carbon monoxide and/or fire detector we strongly recommend you to error on the side of caution and replace upon taking possession of your new home.

Home Maintenance - Smoke-Co Alarms

Carbon Monoxide Detectors…

It is best practice to have a carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home. There are carbon monoxide detectors that you can plug into your wall, battery powered and those built into your fire detector. CO detectors have an average expiry of 7 years and need to be replaced upon expiry. In our home, ours were only good for 60 months, so be sure to check! It is the best to have your detectors hardwired in so that when one alarm is triggered, all of your detectors will sound.

Not all carbon monoxide alarms sold in Canada adhere to Canadian Safety Standards. Look for one with the CSA or ULC symbols.

Be sure to mark your devices so that you are well aware of their expiry!

Related Links

Website on CO Safety
Home Depot – CO Detectors
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – Home Safety – Kidde
Stay Safe from CO – ATCO Gas

Seeking Assistance? Check out our Trusted Vendors for an electrician who would be happy to help.

If you suspect a gas leak, Call ATCO Gas immediately, they will do a free house visit to inspect further. 

ATCO Gas 24-hour Emergency Services: Edmonton and Area 1-780-420-5585 | Calgary and Area 1-403-245-7222 | All Other Areas 1-800-511-3447

Building Community Connections

By | Happy Home, Healthy Home, Uncategorized | No Comments

Get Connected in Your Neighborhood

Many of our readers recently moved into a new home leaving behind friends & neighbors. Staying indoors during the winter months can lead to boredom and the winter blues. Here are some ways to build connections, make friends and get involved in your community:

  • Introduce yourself to your neighbors.
  • Exchange phone numbers & follow on social media (let’s be honest, online community is getting more valuable these days)
  • Invite neighbors over for coffee, tea or dinner
  • Host a shin dig (Keep it simple, do a potluck)
  • Join your local neighborhood FB page (or start one!)
  • Volunteer at the local school
  • Get outside (bundle up and/or take advantage of the warmer days!)
  • Build a lending library (Check them out on our Pintrest board)
  • Give a warm welcome to new neighbors
  • Ask a neighbor for a cup of sugar! (Been there, done that!)
  • Offer a helping hand (lend a tool, helping move heavy items, shovel a sidewalk…)
  • Organize a community clean up!

We hope that our clients who have recently moved into new communities are finding their tribe and getting settled — as friendships and connections makes life so much sweeter!

Interesting Related Articles:
5 Ways to Cultivate Connection in Your Neighborhood
10 Ways to Build Community
Community Building 101
How Housing Impacts Adult Friendship

5 Ways Mice Enter Your Home In the Fall

By | Healthy Home, Home Maintenance, Winterizing | No Comments

5 WAYS MICE ENTER YOUR HOME IN THE FALL

In the autumn there is no question about it, mice will find any means necessary to find shelter. This means that your home could be at risk of a mouse infestation. Mice are masters of finding any way in a building they can, this is because they are able to squeeze through holes the size of a dime! And because cracks and holes in your foundation, windows, and roof are inevitable, nearly every home is a candidate for mice infestations.

Mice are full of diseases and they can also do extensive damage to your home:

  • They can spread diseases such as hantavirus (deer mice), salmonella, and listeria through their urine, droppings, saliva and nesting materials.
  • Because mice breed year-round and able to produce five to ten litters per year, with an average of 6-8 babies per litter, you could have up to 60 mice gnawing at your furniture, rugs, and your walls (to name a few of their favourite treats).
  • They can burn your house down, literally. They love chewing on wires to keep their teeth short and to gain access to places that the wires may be blocking. Mice can chew through soft concrete, wood, drywall rubber, plastic pipes, insulation, aluminum and even gas lines. Expensive repairs!

Rodent proof your house, here are my top 4 suggestions:

1.  Caulking – Go around your house and seal off the cracks and holes

2.  Clean up debris around your house – especially dog poop

3.  Don’t leave garbage and recycling in your garage

4.  Weather-stripping, especially your garage door. Mice will stay out

Happy Fall Season!

This article was brought to you by:

Bill Martin
Martin’s Pest Control
www.martinspestcontrol.com
(403) 460-7213

Important Questions to Ask During Your Home Inspection

By | Healthy Home, Home Inspections, Home Maintenance, Uncategorized | No Comments

At Bocc Home Inspections we like to help educate our clients on the important items of their new home. We do this through including tips and photographs in the report, marking important shut offs with custom tags, demonstrating how and where the following items are within each home.

Here is a list of questions we suggest to ask during your home inspection:

  • Grading: Is the grade around my entire home sloped away from my foundation walls and window wells?
  • Smoke alarms: How do I test the smoke detector?
  • Ventilation: What is a ventilation switch? Should it be on or off? How does it work with the heating system?
  • Furnace: Where is the disconnect breaker or switch located for the furnace?
  • Water: Where is the main water shut off? Kitchen and bathroom sink water shut off (if present)? Toilet water shut off?
  • Electrical: Where is the electrical panel? How do I turn breakers on and off and how do I reset them?
  • Detectors: Where are the smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, arc fault circuit interrupters and ground fault circuit interrupters? Where are the instruction manuals that are provided with these devices?
  • Eavestroughs: Are the eavestrough down spouts connected and directed away from my home and not towards my neighbour?

At Bocc Home Inspections we like to answer these questions and provide tips on these extra things to help ensure our clients can have a healthy and sound home, Because Our Company Cares For first time home buyers we also include a home maintenance manual as an extra resource for their journey of homeownership.

Recycling

By | Happy Home, Healthy Home, Uncategorized | No Comments

Reduce, Reuse & Recycle

We are all well versed in the 3 R’s, though it is important to keep in mind that there is an order of importance in the 3 R’s: it is best to look to reduce, reuse or repurpose and then recycle what we can. With the recent changes to waste management in Airdrie we have been reviewing how our household manages waste, and needless to say there is quite a bit of room for improvement.  Sure, we were recycling bottles, plastics, cardboard and paper, but found that there were many more simple changes we could implement to cut down our waste, such as extra recycling bins throughout the house, a compost bin under our kitchen sink, re-purposing old items and donating items to be reused.

Cities are helping us make recycling more convenient through recycling and compost pick ups right from our door.  Are you looking for way to cut down what your household sends to the landfill, but are looking for more information and support to do so? It leads us to question, what items are recyclable or compostable? Which items needs to go to the landfill? I was surprised to find out that fast food packaging can go into compost, as well as meats. Take a look at these images to help guide you along your way to reducing the items your household sends to the landfill:

Upcoming Changes For Airdrie City Residents

Clear bags voted out

On March 20, 2017 City Council voted to remove clear bags from the Waste Management Bylaw.

Starting the week of April 3, you will be allowed one bag of garbage per week (can be any colour of bag). Bag tags for excess garbage bags can be purchased for $3/tag. A total of four bags can be placed out for collection each week (one bag included in your fees plus up to three tagged bags).

Care and Compassion Provision
Council also approved care and compassion provisions that include:

Diaper Exemption
Residents who apply for the diaper exemption will receive excess waste tags for one extra garbage bag each week for six months. The household must have two or more children under the age of four and this exemption must be re-applied for every six months. The application form will be available shortly.

Medical exemption

Residents who apply for the medical exemption will receive excess waste tags for one extra garbage bag each week for six months. This exemption must be re-applied for every six months. The application form will be available shortly.

Waste Audits
Council directed staff to determine levels of contamination by looking for organics and recyclable materials in residential garbage bags over the next year. The results of the waste audits will be presented to Council in 2018.

Reduced fees
Due to successful contract negotiations, the estimated costs for waste management programs came in lower than estimated. The increase from resident’s current utility bill will be $3.92 where the estimated cost was $6.44. This takes into account the savings from the closure of Westside Recycle Depot, the reduction of one bag per of garbage per week, and the decrease in staffing at the Eastside Recycle Depot. It also takes into account the added cost of curbside recycling collection and the reduced commodity revenue from the Eastside Recycle Depot.

Curbside Recycling
Starting the week of April 3, single family homes in Airdrie will start receiving curbside recycling collection. Along with the addition of a blue cart program, changes to garbage collection will be implemented including a reduction to one bag per week of garbage.

SOURCE: City of Airdrie Website – Waste & Recycling,  http://www.airdrie.ca/index.cfm?serviceID=29

For More Information, Check out These Links:

Which Bin? Search Tool to Determine Where to Put an Item (Airdrie): http://www.airdrie.ca/index.cfm?serviceID=1045

What Goes Where? (Calgary): http://www.calgary.ca/UEP/WRS/Pages/What-goes-where/Default.aspx

Details on City of Airdrie Waste & Recycling: http://www.airdrie.ca/index.cfm?serviceID=29

Items that Cannot Be Recycled (Calgary): http://www.calgary.ca/UEP/WRS/Pages/Recycling-information/Residential-services/Blue-cart-recycling/What-Cant-Be-Recycled.aspx

Collection Schedule (Airdrie): http://www.airdrie.ca/index.cfm?serviceID=1094

Creating Hygge In Your Home

By | Happy Home, Healthy Home, Home Beautification | No Comments

Creating Hygge In Your Home

Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) is a Danish word meaning “Cozy Living”

  • Comfort
  • Relax
  • Peace
  • Social

“Hygge inspires joyful living, simple pleasures, togetherness, peace and warmth. It celebrates family and friends and taking time for relaxing and recharging. Hygge embraces community and the everyday; it is sharing a meal at the kitchen table and sitting quietly by a roaring fire on a rainy night.”  – Krista Hermanson of Krista Hermanson Design

How can we create Hygge in our home? It is more than just design, it includes taking time out of our day to relax, recharge and connect in our home. I believe a space influences our feelings, mood and activities; so by creating a space conducive to these hygge activities, we will be off to a good start!

  • Textures (thick knitted pillows or blankets, soft throws, lush area rugs)
  • Natural items (wool, fur, raw wood, ceramics)
  • Your favorite photos & things that you love
  • Candles (or room diffusers)
  • Music
  • Delicious foods and drinks
  • New bubble bath & pajamas/loungewear
  • Time spent with friends & loved ones
  • A good book or boardgame
  • Take up a new hobby (turn off the TV and reconnect in a calming activity, ex: knitting, poetry, writing, journalling, or crossword puzzles)
  • Simplicity – indulge in the simple pleasures of life. No need for extravagance
  • Flowers & plants

Winterization for our Calgary Winters

By | Healthy Home, Home Inspections, Home Maintenance, Winterizing | No Comments

Fall is the the best time to start winterizing your home before you find yourself with problems to fix in the middle of -20 weather.   Whether you choose to have a professional handle these items or if you are the do it yourself type of person, here’s a list of things you should consider addressing before winter.

Inside: 

Furnace Cleaning: A dirty furnace is less efficient and more likely to have mechanical issues. Have your furnace inspected and cleaned every 2 years (rather than 1) based on feedback from a HVAC Cleaning specialist. If you are in need of a recommendation, please don’t hesitate to contact us, we would be happy to refer you to a quality company.

Change Air Filter: For healthy, indoor air, change your air filter once every 4 to 6 weeks, and we recommend the less expensive filters as they allow more airflow which increases the efficiency of your HVAC system.

Vacuum Heating Vents: Take off the covers and hoses to your dryer, bathroom and stove vents and suction out lint and debris.  This will increase efficiency and decrease fire hazards.

Winterizing your A/C: It is best practice to cover your A/C in the winter season to prevent excess dirt, debris and mold from building up in the A/C unit and to extend the longevity of the A/C. As a fail-safe measure to protect yourself from turning on your A/C via your thermostat with the cover still on, we recommend removing or flipping the breaker on the exterior of the home beside the A/C.

Replace Batteries in Detectors: October is Fire Awareness Month so use it as a reminder to replace batteries in smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms and other safety instruments.

Attic Insulation: A quick way to see if your have enough insulation on the floor of your attic is to simply look across the floor of your attic.  If the insulation is level with or below your floor joists, more insulation is needed. There should be no low spots. Be sure not to cover any recessed light fixtures or soffit vents. Keep at least 3” away from lights (unless insulated ceiling rated). About 10-14” thick insulation or R -38 insulation is recommended.

Weatherstripping: Inspect the weather stripping around your doors to ensure it is in and as a good fit. There are generally one of three types: metal, foam plastic or plastic stripping. Check the metal for dents, bends and straightness.  Check foam plastic for resiliency, and plastic stripping for brittleness and cracks. Make sure it is securely held in place. Proper weather stripping is very helpful to prevent cold drafts, energy loss and other issues. If you are having condensation build-up on the interior of your windows this may mean that you have your humidity level too high, it should be between 30-40%. It also may mean that you are not getting adequate air flow.  Be sure to frequently open your blinds throughout your home to allow airflow in there areas to prevent excess moisture and prevent mold growth.

Water Heater: Drain this annually to help prevent any build up of scale inside the heater.

Outside

Drain Outside Faucets: Water pipes can freeze, swell and burst in the winter months, causing significant damage.  Turn the external shut valve off and open the faucet until the drip stops. And if you can find a place for your hoses indoors then bring them in to extend their life expectancy.

Downspouts: Use a ladder, gloves and a garbage bag to remove debris from the past year. Run water from a hose through the downspouts to ensure they are unclogged. Ensure downspouts are down and have extensions to discharge the water away from the foundation of your home.

Install Gutter Guards: Gutter guards are a good idea to minimize the amount of debris accumulated, but you’ll still need to check for clogs once a year in the fall.

Lawn Equipment: Run all gas powered lawn equipment until the fuel is gone.  Sitting inside your machine over the winter can cause avoidable wear/tear and cause fire hazards.

Seal Foundation: Repair and seal holes with a quality caulking material. Small cracks and holes in foundations are inevitable and can potentially lead to further damage if left untreated.

Inspect Roof Shingles: Shingles protect everything in the home so don’t overlook it. Also, include the metal flashing at all the roof joints to look for signs of leaking, rotting or damage.

Additional Resources:

• City of Calgary Inspections and maintenance for homeowners

• ATCO Gas

 

We love feedback!  Let us know what you do to winterize your home!

Writing Credit

We would like to thank Tyler Baptist (Realtor) for collaborating with us on writing this important blog on winterization. Tyler is a very personable, professional and passionate realtor here in the Calgary Area. Tyler Baptist, also know as the ‘Divorce Realtor’, specializes in easing the separation process for couples through providing resources and her experience to help ensure both individuals can come out on top.

Tyler Baptist

As a CENTURY 21® Real Estate professional, I am dedicated to providing you with the highest quality service possible. My personal knowledge of the Calgary and Airdrie Real Estate market is combined with the power of the CENTURY 21 brand – the most recognized name in Real Estate today.

Let me assist you in finding your dream home, in a neighbourhood that is right for you, and in the price range you want. Or if you are interested in selling a property, I also have the expertise to help you get the fastest sale possible and at the best price.

I look forward to the opportunity of working for you!

New Home Warranty

By | Healthy Home, Home Inspections, Home Maintenance, Uncategorized | No Comments

New Home Warranty

What is a New Home Warranty?

The Alberta government now ensures that there is a minimum of a “1-2-5-10” coverage on a newly built homes who building permit application was submitted after February 1, 2014.  Prior to this legislation home builders often offered varying degrees of a new home warranty, and may continue to offer higher standards than the minimum “1-2-5-10” coverage.

There are a number of warranty providers for home builders to choose from, it is good to know which provider your builder has partnered with. Familiarize yourself with your warranty provider, key warranty dates, and steps to take if you ever need to make a claim. Prior to expiry, we encourage having a licensed & certified professional inspector help ensure that your home’s major systems are built properly through a top to bottom new home warranty inspection.

What is Covered?

1-2-5-10 Coverage

1 Year: Labor and Materials
This includes everything within a home, even the cosmetic items such as trim, flooring and fixtures.

2 Year: Distribution Systems
Distribution systems includes your Heating, Plumbing and Electrical.

5 Year: Building Envelope
The shell of your home, such as wall framing, window installation, siding and roof.

10 Year: Structural Elements
Structural elements that are load bearing or that can cause structural damage such as the footings, beams, floor systems, foundation walls, framing and roof trusses.

What Can We Do For You?

Having a licensed residential inspector ensures that the structural deficiencies that the common homeowner is unaware of will be found so any necessary fixes can be addressed while they are under the home warranty.

Once your home is built, you’re responsible for basic maintenance and upkeep, such as cleaning out eavestroughs and changing furnace filters. You’re also responsible for maintaining appropriate grading with any new landscaping work. Let us provide knowledge on the proper upkeep of the systems within your home to help ensure you can maintain the value of your home!

Request for New Home Warranty Inspection:

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Warranty Expiry Details

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7 Important Facts About Mold

By | Healthy Home, Home Inspections, Home Maintenance, Indoor Air Quality, Mold, Uncategorized | No Comments
  1. Mold Spores are Practically Everywhere

Mold spores occur in every home and are impossible to eliminate from inside your home. Mold spores are brought inside a home through our windows, doors, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. They also enter indoor spaces by attaching to our clothing, pets, shoes, bags and even our building materials!

The key to preventing mold growth is by controlling moisture levels in your home; an ideal humidity level is between 30 to 40%.

  1. Not all Mold is Bad

Not all mold is bad; in fact, mold has an important purpose in our eco-system to consume dead organic material. With that being said, it can also pose as health hazards when it begins growing in indoor environments. People react differently to mold based on the length of exposure, type of mold, respiratory system, their immunity and allergies. Children, pregnant women and elders are more prone to develop health symptoms.

  1. Why Does Mold Growth Happen Indoors

 Homes can be a perfect environment for mold to growth being that they have ample food sources for mold – building materials and water. Molds feeds on organic material, within a home tends to grow in areas of: wood & wood products, paper & paper-like products, fabric, drywall, leather, fabric, cement, carpet, and grout.

     4Is My Home at Risk for Mold

There is always a risk of some of the mold spores that are present in your home taking sprout and growing, given that they have their key ingredient for growth – moisture!

The commonly known sources of moisture include floods; backed-up sewers; leaky roofs and/or water leaks. Though there are also less familiarly know culprits, such as a humidifier (requires regular cleanings); damp basements or crawl spaces; house plants; steam from cooking and showers; wet clothes hung to dry indoors; inadequate air exchange; excessive humidity; and condensation (which is especially a problem during the winter, on poorly insulated surfaces).

In the presence of moisture, the ideal temperature and ample food, mold will begin growing within 24 to 48 hours.

Did You know? You should always run your bathroom fan for 2X the time you ran your shower?”

  1. Most Mold Is Hidden

Most people think their home does not have mold because they can not see it. This is a problem as most mold is hidden; it can often be discovered behind a leaky shower or tub, behind walls or attics to name a few.

Mold can be detected through smell, visual clues, and knowledge of the building history, and often requires trained professionals with the proper tools, experience and knowledge.

  1. What is Involved in A Mold Inspection?

The first step a mold inspector / indoor air quality specialist will conduct is an assessment to determine if mold may be an issue in a home. The professional will use information regarding building history, health of occupants, moisture readings, and conduct a visual inspection with the assistance of a thermal imaging to investigate for moisture problems and visible apparent mold.

The inspector may also collect mold samples, either with a swab test, tape sample or air quality test for lab analysis to determine the type of mold and spore count present.  The goal of these tests is to determine the extent of the mold problem to allow for recommendations to address the mold issue.

If the tests indicate that there mold is present, then the first step is to fix the source of the moisture problem before removing the mold and having the air cleaned with an ozone blasting treatment.

  1. Failure to Fix a Mold Problem Results in Reduced Property Value

Mold is a serious issue.  If left untreated, it continues to grow and deteriorate the building materials and impact the air quality in your home. Mold is a living organism, as long as it has the ideal living conditions and food sources, it will continue to strive. Failure to fix the underlying causes of mold and effectively removing the mold will lead to further structural damage and reduced property value.
Take the first step to protecting your greatest investment by taking our short online Air Quality Assessment to see whether there may be a mold or air quality problem in your home.

Questions about mold? Call us (403) 585-6279 or email us.  We look forward to helping you ensure your home is healthy and safe!

Rain Rain Go Away!

By | Healthy Home, Home Inspections, Home Maintenance, Mold, Uncategorized | No Comments

In light of recent heavy rainfalls in the Calgary area, we complied a short list of some areas for homeowners to inspect so you can best protect your largest asset–your home. Being a licensed home inspector specializing in waterproofing matters, we have conducted a number of moisture intrusion inspections for home owners recently to investigate the cause of water intrusion issues.  Some clients have minor leaks, while other clients will have extensive repairs to make due to poor waterproofing systems on their home. Water is a home’s worst enemy, and it is worth taking all efforts to keep it out of your home! After all water inside a home left neglected can lead to structural damage, mold or health issues. It is best to error on the side of caution and address any leaks immediately, finding the cause and preventing another leak from happening in the future.

Here are a few areas you can inspect yourself:

  1. Ensure all downspouts are down and draining away from the home (6-8ft). You may need to install extensions on your downspouts to express the rainfall away from your foundation.
  2. Check your downspouts and gutters for blockages and clean out any debris.
  3. Do a full walk around your home to inspect the grading surrounding your home’s foundation. To avoid water intrusion, the ground around your home needs to slope away from the house. Be a nice neighbor, and consider your neighbors grading and how your grading may affect their home’s chances for water intrusion.
  4. Frequently visit the basement within your home, and look for any wet spots; especially after a heavy rainfall.
  5. Inspect your window wells outside. Ensure the wash-rocks within the window well are 6” below the window ledge, and that the weeping tile system is clear for water passage.

For true peace of mind have a licensed home inspector conduct a full inspection of the basement, attic, flashing, roofing, siding, window wells, grading, and more… Home inspectors are equipped with trade tools to help uncovered deficiencies hidden to the naked eye.

A licensed home inspector who is certified to conduct moisture intrusion inspections is your best bet to protect your home from preventable and costly water leaks! Call Adam with Bocc Home Inspections today at (403) 585-6279 to book a comprehensive moisture intrusion inspection, complete with the use of thermal imaging camera and moisture meter. If you have any questions regarding what you found during your own mini-inspection, please do not hesitate to reach us.

Helping ensure healthy and sound family homes.

Bocc Home Inspections Ltd.
www.boccinspections.com
info@boccinspections.com
(403) 585-6279