Sunday 13 January 2019

New Year Resolutions for your home: slamming doors

Did your mom ever get on your case for slamming doors when you were a kid?  Maybe not everyone did, but I think a lot of us can relate.

As it turns out, mom was right - it's not a good habit.

Slamming doors on a regular basis, whether out of anger or just force of habit, is not good for them. Over time it can push the door jamb out of line, which can affect the weather sealing on an exterior door and allow heat loss and increase your home energy bills.

It can also damage or loosen hinges and closing hardware - not usually an expensive repair but still an inconvenience compared to taking the little extra bit of time to close doors properly.

Thursday 10 January 2019

New Year Resolutions for your home: smoke detectors

Smoke detectors are an important safety feature in our homes.  They sit there silently (except maybe when we burn toast in the kitchen and such) and it can be easy to take them for granted.  But it's important to think about them every now and then.

For one thing, you should have one on every level of the home.  Besides the fact that [the law requires this], it improves their effectiveness.  Although a second floor smoke detector will eventually pick up smoke from a fire in the basement, there will be a delay until the smoke reaches the top floor.  This can vary in speed depending on barriers to the smoke from basement doors being closed to bulkheads and walls creating a damming effect on the smoke's flow.  This can allow the fire to spread more before you are alerted on the second floor, and with how quickly fire can spread even a few minutes can mean a difference between life and death.  So, if you don't already have one on every level, it would be a good thing to take care of right away.

Second, changing their batteries on a regular basis is a good idea.  Everyone has their own preference about when to do it, but many do it either at the beginning of the year (good time to start now if you haven't done them recently) or at one (or both) of the DST time changes.  At least once a year is a good idea to be safe.  Most smoke detectors have a low-battery warning where it will intermittently chirp to indicate the battery is getting low.  Certainly changing the battery in this situation is a good idea, but it's better not to rely on it - it wouldn't be the first time a battery died quickly and you may miss any warning while out of the house.  And when it comes to the smoke detectors, "better safe than sorry" is no weak platitude.

Finally, it's also a good idea to change the smoke detectors themselves every now and then.  Every manufacturer and model will have their own guidelines so check them out.  If you can't find information on your smoke detector or don't know how old it is, it might be a good idea to install new ones to be safe.

More information on maintaining your smoke detectors is available on Ontario's [Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services site].

Tuesday 8 January 2019

New Year Resolutions for your home: regularly changing the furnace filter

We're one week into 2019.  Have you forgotten your New Year Resolutions yet?  I hope not, but if you have you can always start again.

On the topic of changes of habits, though, let's look at some over the next few posts for your home.

When was the last time you changed your furnace filter?  Are you keeping track of when you change it?  It's not horrible if you let it go a little longer than you should but severe neglect can cause the furnace to work harder than it has to, adding to wear and tear.

A furnace filter should typically be changed every 90 days or so, and it's a good habit to put a new one in for the start of each usage season (ie. first time using heat in the cold months and first time using A/C in the warm months). 

[How often you should change it can depend on a few factors though]..

For one thing, there is a difference in quality of filters.  Really cheap filters would be better replaced more frequently, as much as every 30 days.

But even with a better quality filter that is good for 90 days, if you add some pets into the household, it's advised you change the more often.  Every 60 days with one cat or dog, or as frequently as every 20-45 days with more than one. 

Allergies in the home will also affect how often you want to change it, but you'll probably be able to tell when that is becoming an issue.  A better quality filter can also be helpful with this.