Sum­mer’s not just for ma­jor ren­o­va­tions — sweat the small stuff, too

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - MIKE HOLMES

SUM­MER­TIME is the best time for build­ing projects and ren­o­va­tions, such as re­fin­ish­ing the deck, putting up a fence or paint­ing out­doors. Mother Na­ture is on our side, in terms of weather (for the most part), so we can re­ally dig in and get our hands dirty to get that pro­ject done and checked off the list be­fore fall. But some­times peo­ple for­get about sim­ple home main­te­nance that we should also be check­ing off our list, to help keep our homes safe and healthy. 1. Change your fur­nace fil­ter You should change it ev­ery at least ev­ery three months min­i­mum (so, at the start of ev­ery sea­son). Ev­ery­one re­mem­bers to change their fur­nace fil­ter in the win­ter, be­cause when we think win­ter we think heat­ing and the fur­nace. But for some rea­son, we for­get that we use our fur­naces over sum­mer, too. Ev­ery time we use the A/C (cen­tral air, not the win­dow units), we’re us­ing the fur­nace. That means many fur­naces might be work­ing overtime this sum­mer, so change your fil­ter. It’s a sim­ple way to help keep the air in your home healthy and clean, and it also helps re­duce al­ler­gies. 2. Stop pests Sum­mer­time is when most in­sects make their way in­doors, look­ing for cooler homes. Go around the ex­te­rior of your home and look for any po­ten­tial en­try points, such as around win­dow and door fram­ing, vent­ing, tears in win­dow screens and door screens, and cracks in the foun­da­tion, es­pe­cially be­low win­dows and doorsteps. I’ve seen swarms of bees and wasps find their way into homes through the tini­est cracks and open­ings. One house had a mas­sive swarm of bees that made a home be­hind the kitchen cab­i­nets (which were along an ex­te­rior wall). In another home, wasps found a tiny crack in the foun­da­tion be­low the front door steps that led di­rectly into the cold room. Also, watch for in­sect wings. If you see a bunch of wings around the ex­te­rior of your home, there’s a good chance you have ter­mites. (Ter­mites have wings, and once they find a new home they drop them.) Gaps around win­dow and door frames, as well as any vent­ing, should be sealed with rub­ber­ized ex­te­rior caulk­ing. Any cracks wider than a half-inch (1.3 cen­time­tres) should be filled with ex­pand­ing foam — there are spe­cial low-ex­pand­ing foams that don’t put too much pres­sure on fram­ing. Small foun­da­tion cracks can also be filled with an ex­pand­able foam or epoxy in­jec­tion. Torn win­dow screens should also be re­placed, and re­fill any gaps in your mor­tar (also known as tuck-point­ing). 3. Be green to save green Dur­ing sum­mer, we wa­ter our lawns, wash the deck, wash our cars, etc. Don’t use clean wa­ter that you pay for. In­stead, talk to a pro about in­stalling a grey-wa­ter re­use sys­tem that col­lects the rain­wa­ter that comes off your roof. Not only is it en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly, it also helps pro­tect your home. Rather than flow­ing down your eave­stroughs to the side of your home and pos­si­bly flood­ing your base­ment, you can use that wa­ter the next time you wa­ter your lawn or wash your car. It’s free and you help the en­vi­ron­ment. Also, think about switch­ing to LEDs out­side your home and us­ing so­lar ex­te­rior lights. Another trick to help you save is re­vers­ing ceil­ing fans. Dur­ing win­ter, ceil­ing fans should turn clock­wise — this helps cir­cu­late warm air trapped along the ceil­ing. But in the sum­mer, if the fan works in re­verse (so, coun­ter­clock­wise), it can help cre­ate a breeze. 4. Check for mould That musty smell in your base­ment, crawl space or at­tic is mould. In fact, that smell is mould “di­gest­ing.” Ad­dress the prob­lem by tak­ing care of any mois­ture is­sues. If you find sur­face mould and it’s less than three square me­tres, you can clean it your­self us­ing proper safety gear (i.e., res­pi­ra­tor and gloves) and a safe and ef­fec­tive prod­uct (like Con­cro­bium). Do not use bleach! If you have a big mould is­sue, you will need to call a pro. 5. En­joy the sum­mer! Sum­mer lasts only three months of the year, so make the most of it and make it right! Watch Mike Holmes on Holmes Makes It Right on HGTV. For more in­for­ma­tion,

visit makeitright.ca.

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