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Home Maintenance

5 Ways Mice Enter Your Home In the Fall

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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

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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.

Easy Guide to Staining Your Deck and Fence

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Easy Guide to Staining your Deck and Fence

Applying a wood treatment such as a stain or paint help prolong the life of your exterior wood by protecting it from the sun’s rays and moisture. Skipping maintenance on your exterior wood you risk having the wood dry, crack, split, warp, turn grey and rot.

PREPPING TO STAIN

Sand
Adam’s favorite thing to do! Not… Sanding is never a good time, though it is very important to sand to avoid splinters if you have splitting and cracks in your deck. For a semi-transparent stain it is important to sand in the same direction of the wood’s grain to avoid the scratches & resulting staining lines caused from sanding against the grain. Therefore, a sanding puck or a belt sander would work better than an orbital sander. We rented a handheld belt sander from Home Depot for $16/4hrs or $23/24hrs and a 2-pack of belts for $15.

Clean
Whether your deck has been stained before or not it is important to clean the wood with a deck cleaner before staining. It took me awhile to wrap my head around this, as I was looking to save time by skipping this step as our deck hasn’t been stained before so I thought it would be considered cleaned. However, it helps open the pours, removes BBQ grease, dirt, and bits of grass or whatever may be in your deck or fence. With your fence it may be more difficult to spread the cleaner on, so I was told that you COULD wash the fence with your garden hose (NOT A PRESSURE WASHER – this will damage the fibres of the wood) if it hasn’t been treated before. Though it is always best to use a wood cleaner on all exterior wood before painting/staining, nonetheless.

Tips for Applying a Wood Cleaner:
1. Spray the wood with your garden hose first
2. Apply the cleaner however you feel is best – could use a painting roller or pump sprayer. We chose to use a painting roller.
3. Scrub the cleaner on wood using a push broom.
4. Let sit for 15 Minutes.
5. Rinse off with garden hose.
6. Let it properly dry for 2 days before staining.

APPLY WOOD STAIN

Selecting Wood Paint/Treatment
You can go with a transparent, semi-transparent or solid color. If you prefer to see a wood grain you need to select a transparent or semi-transparent stain (this is what we chose!). For Alberta’s climate it is important to find a stain with good sunscreen properties and UV protection in order to extend the lifespan of your exterior wood. Having some waterproofing properties is important as well, though in Alberta we don’t get tons of rain so I was told this is less of a priority. When you have higher water-resistant stain you will likely have a glossier and more smooth of a coating on top which will make your deck more slippery, especially when there is snow on top of it. With us having kiddos we are going to choose one that is less glossy in order to prevent falls and accidents.

Stain/Paint
For solid stains or paints you could use a roller to apply, with following up with a brush to get the stain into the cracks and seams. With a semi-transparent stain you will want to use a brush to apply the stain on the wood. It is best to complete a piece of wood then move onto the next in order to have the stain blend nicely in. Be cautious around siding when applying the paint, you may like to use green painters tape to prevent paint and splashes from getting on your siding. Be sure to apply 2 coats, this helps your color and wood protection to last longer. It should be able to last 1-3 years.

After all that hard work, be sure to pour yourself a cold one and enjoy your beautiful deck/fence!

 

 

Make Sure Home Improvement Projects are Up to Code Before Selling

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Make sure home improvement projects are up to code before selling!

Make Sure Your Home Improvement/Maintenance Projects are Up to Code Before Selling

It’s almost always a good idea to boost the appeal of your property prior to listing a home for sale. But there are right ways and wrong ways to do it. If you’re handy and creative, there is no reason not to tackle some of the routine maintenance and upkeep items yourself. But, depending on the scope and size of the improvements, you might be required to seek permission and approval of your local government officials.

Knowing when to do so is key to your success. Neglecting prior approval and final inspection may potentially negate all your good intentions, cost you additional money and, perhaps, even make your property unsalable.

Building Codes

Most governmental jurisdictions and some neighbourhood associations require that homeowners submit plans and seek approval for major projects. Additions, structural alterations, plumbing and electrical improvements, and various other home projects are likely to require permits and inspections. Your city might require a permit to build a fence or a wall, to pour concrete for a driveway, to have a new roof installed, or to change out the windows for more energy-efficient models. Always check with the authorities before beginning any work.

Generally, no permit is needed to replace kitchen appliances or plumbing fixtures, to repaint interior walls or replace flooring, or to add decorative lighting and landscaping elements. But, if your home is located in a gated community or a subdivision that has strict association requirements, you might need committee approval for exterior alterations.

While most of the requirements detailed in the National Building Code of Canada address safety, design and construction of new commercial buildings, the code also governs demolition, use changes and alterations to existing buildings. A significant portion of the code addresses housing and small buildings. Recent code changes deal with stairways and ramps, railings and guardrails, among other updates. Associated standards deal with fire safety, electrical standards, plumbing requirements and energy. Individual provinces and jurisdictions may impose additional or slightly different requirements.

Know the Requirements

National and local standards are enforced by local building inspectors. Although existing homes may not be in compliance with current codes, it is important to remember that buyers are looking for safety and value. It can be financially advantageous to make changes that modernize your property on top of the usual upgrades you may be thinking of.

Always check with local authorities regarding current code requirements for insulation, electrical standards, plumbing, heating and air conditioning systems, ventilation and vent pipes, fans and toxic substance detectors, in addition to standards for stairs and railings, and for driveways and walkways. Whether you do the work yourself or hire a contractor, ask about permits and fees, and whether or not inspections are required.

Document the Changes

Most buyers will respond favourably to evidence of updates that reduce energy costs, increase home safety, or add to a home’s usability and appearance. Keep detailed records of costs and dates, permits and inspections, whether you replace an old water heater, install new attic insulation, or repair an ailing fence. Take before and after pictures if it’s appropriate. If you complete an addition, relocate the electrical panel, or add a sliding glass door, note when the work was completed, the names of architects and contractors, and the date of final inspection, issuance of a certificate of occupancy or project approval. Also keep a copy of the approved plans and any materials specifications or product warranties.

Your home projects, no matter how large or small, should result in a faster sale and a higher price. If you have questions about the value of planned improvements, you might want to check with a certified home inspector or your real estate agent.

Barbecue Cleaning Tips

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How to Clean & Maintenance your BBQ

Last summer we had an incident where the grease in our tray caught fire in our BBQ, requiring us to use our fire extinguisher to put out the fire before it spread.  Grease fires can be extra dangerous as often someone’s first instinct is to throw water on it, which only causes it to spread! We hope everyone has a fire extinguisher in their home for the unexpected times such as this.

With the arrival of barbequing season we wanted to share some tips on how to prevent fires such as this through proper cleaning & maintenance on your BBQ.

How to Clean a Gas BBQ Grill

  1. Turn off and disconnect the gas bottle(propane tank).
  2. Clean your BBQ grill while still warm.  Use steam cleaning trick (below) to keep it warm while eating.
  3. Brush and/or scrape your grill grates and hot plates to remove burned on food.
  4. Use your dishwasher to clean your grates and hot plates.
  5. Clean inside of grill with warm soapy water and a stiff brush.
  6. Rinse off Teflon grill sheets.
  7. Clean the drip tray by discarding foil and absorbent material.
  8. Clean outside if grill with warm soapy water and a soft sponge.
  9. Re-assemble grill grates and hot plates.
  10. Replace drip tray foil and refill with BBQ grease absorbent mix or kitty litter.
  11. Re-position Teflon grill sheets.
  12. Reconnect your gas bottle and check connections for leaks with soapy water.
  13. Run the BBQ grill on high for 15 minutes to burn off any remaining soap or water.
  14. Apply cooking oil to grates and hot plates to re-season.

Remember to be careful with painted and stainless steel surfaces.

Use non-scratch scrubbers, always test on a small area and follow the grain on any stainless steel.

SOURCE: Elgas.com

Simply Ways to Declutter Your Home

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25 Things You Can Clear Out of Your Home

Get a Head Start on Spring Cleaning!

  1. The old cell phone you ditched when you upgraded.
  2. Power cords that don’t work/aren’t needed/you don’t even know what they belong to.
  3. Worn out or extra cooking utensils and measuring cups.
  4. Mugs you kind of hate.
  5. Lingerie, socks and underwear you never wear.
  6. Ripped, stained, damaged clothes you’re holding onto for whatever reason.
  7. Throw pillows that no longer go with your decor.
  8. Linens you don’t use.
  9. Kids artwork (take a pic first!). You could incorporate all the photos into a photobook!
  10. Tax paperwork older than seven years.
  11. Shoes you haven’t worn in over a year.
  12. Makeup that’s old.
  13. Hair ties & pins that are in bad shape.
  14. Nail polish that’s crusted shut/out of style/gross.
  15. Underwear/boxers that have holes in them (keep the mouse in the house).
  16. Books you’re never going to read again.
  17. Toys your kids never play with.
  18. Jewelry you haven’t worn in more than a month.
  19. Old cans of paint (colors that are no longer in your home) taking up space in the storage room.
  20. A sentimental item you’ve been guilted into keeping that you don’t want.
  21. Clothing in storage that is just taking up space.
  22. Outdoor wear that is outdated or unloved (touques, mix-matched gloves, scarves, snowpants, coats etc…).
  23. Old magazines and paperwork that have already been read.
  24. Cleaning products and chemicals . Be sure to dispose of safely!
  25. Fridge & pantry items –check expiry dates.

A great way to donate your unwanted items that are still in good condition to goodwill, family in need or a ‘Giveaway’ page on Facebook.

 

“If you don’t love it or use it, it is clutter!”

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

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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!

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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