Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Holiday Fire Safety

Residential fires take their toll every day, every year, in lost lives, injuries, and destroyed property. The fact is that many conditions that cause house fires can be avoided or prevented by homeowners. Taking the time for some simple precautions, preventive inspections, and concrete planning can help prevent fire in the home - and can save property and lives should disaster strike.
  • All electrical devices including lamps, appliances, and electronics should be checked for frayed cords, loose or broken plugs, and exposed wiring. Never run electrical wires, including extension cords, under carpet or rugs as this creates a fire hazard.
  • Fireplaces should be checked by a professional chimney sweep each year and cleaned if necessary to prevent a dangerous buildup of creosote, which can cause a flash fire in the chimney. Cracks in masonry chimneys should be repaired, and spark arresters inspected to ensure they are in good condition and free of debris.
  • When using space heaters, keep them away from beds and bedding, curtains, papers - anything flammable. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for use. Space heaters should not be left unattended or where a child or pet could knock them over.
  • Use smoke detectors with fresh batteries unless they are hard-wired to your home's electrical system. Smoke detectors should be installed high on walls or on ceilings on every level of the home, inside each bedroom, and outside every sleeping area. Statistics show that nearly 60% of home fire fatalities occur in homes without working smoke alarms. Most municipalities now require the use of working smoke detectors in both single and multi-family residences.
  • Children should not have access to or be allowed to play with matches, lighters, or candles. Flammable materials such as gasoline, kerosene, or propane should always be stored outside of and away from the house.
  • Kitchen fires know no season. Grease spills, items left unattended on the stove or in the oven, and food left in toasters or toaster ovens can catch fire quickly. Don't wear loose fitting clothing, especially with long sleeves, around the stove. Handles of pots and pans should be turned away from the front of the stove to prevent accidental contact. Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher within easy reach. Extinguishers specifically formulated for grease and cooking fuel fires are available and can supplement an all-purpose extinguisher.
  • Have an escape plan. This is one of the most important measures to prevent death in a fire. Local fire departments can also provide recommendations on escape planning and preparedness. In addition, all family members should know how to dial 911 in case of a fire or other emergency.
  • Live Christmas trees should be kept in a water-filled stand and checked daily for dehydration. Needles should not easily break off a freshly-cut tree. Brown needles or lots of fallen needles indicate a dangerously dried-out tree which should be discarded immediately. Always use nonflammable decorations in the home, and never use lights on a dried-out tree.
  • Candles add a festive feeling, and should be placed in stable holders and located away from curtains, drafts, pets, and children. Never leave candles unattended, even for a short time.
  • Holiday lights should be checked for fraying or broken wires and plugs. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines when joining two or more strands together, as a fire hazard could result from overload. Enjoy indoor holiday lighting only while someone is home, and turn them off before going to bed at night.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Finance minister announces down payment rule changes

New down payment rules will go into effective February 15, 2016.

“The Government’s role in housing is to set and maintain a framework that is equitable, stable and sustainable. The actions taken today prudently address emerging vulnerabilities in certain housing markets, while not overburdening other regions,” Finance Minister Bill Morneau said in a release. “They also rebalance government support for the housing sector to promote long-term stability and balanced economic growth.”

The minimum down payment for new insured mortgages will increase from 5% to 10% for the portion of the house price above $500,000, the finance ministry wrote.

For example: A $750,000 home will now require $50,000 down -- 5% for the first $500,000 and 10% down for the remaining $250,000.

Properties up to $500,000 will continue to require a minumum of 5% down. Properties in excess of $1 million will still require 20% down.

The changes are meant to reduce taxpayer exposure while supporting long-term stability of the housing market, according to the ministry.

“This measure will increase homeowner equity, which plays a key role in maintaining a stable and secure housing market and economy over the long term,” Morneau said. “It also protects all homeowners, including many middle class Canadians whose greatest investment is in their homes.”

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Winterize your home to prevent water damage

Harsh winter winds, freezing temperatures, rooftop snow and ice build-up can cause damage to your home.

Water damage from ice and snow melt is the most common winter-related disaster Canadian homes face, but it can be prevented with a few simple steps.

Darren Gradus, CEO of Canada Restoration Services, a nationwide restoration company, shared a few tips about what you can do to protect your home from water damage in the winter.

Look at your house from the top down. To begin protecting your home from winter water damage, start with your roof. “Everything’s coming down now,” says Gradus, referring to falling leaves and sticks from trees above.

Make sure your gutters are clean, removing leaves, sticks and other debris so snow and ice can flow unobstructed. If gutters are clogged and water can’t get away, melting show will pool up and seep into your home.

Gutter guards are a great way to protect your gutters from debris build-up.
Prepare for water backups. “Fall rain can lead to sewer backups and city line backups,” says Gradus.

It’s recommended to install a backup valve and make sure your sump pump is in good working order.

Inspect for air leaks. Look for cracks or holes in the outside walls and foundation and be sure to seal them up. Make sure skylights have proper weather stripping to ensure snowmelt can’t enter.

Protect pipes from freezing. Keeping your home warm (at least 20 degrees Celsius) can protect your pipes. Maintaining heat in your home, even if you’re going away for a week or more, is vital.

“Pipes will freeze when the heat is turned off,” says Gradus. When you come back home and turn the heat back on, or when the temperature begins to rise, these frozen pipes will burst, causing a flood in your home.

Before the snow arrives, turn outdoor taps off for the winter, first allowing water to drain out. Outdoor pipes are most exposed to the cold weather and are the first to freeze.

Just Listed