Planting a Vegetable Garden at your Muskoka Home

carrots-dirty-fresh-vegetables-1268101

We all know that fresh produce is the best kind and locally grown is a wonderful way to get it. How local do you want? How about home grown! Planting and growing your own vegetables is good for your body and your mind.  It will not only provide great fresh food for your family but while working in your garden you get exercise and reduce stress.

If you are new to vegetable gardening, it’s not difficult. Here are a few important things you should consider.  A little planning before you start to dig will save frustration and give you a better chance of success.

The right location

A good vegetable garden should be in a spot that gets plenty of sun, about six to eight hours each day. To figure out the sunny spot watch the sun and shade patterns in your yard on a bright day. This will guide you to the best location. The sun is highest in the sky in late June, so early in the year, like now, the days might be a bit shadier. Choose a level place as gardening on a hill is much more challenging, however if you need to, you can create terraces.

Size matters

Do not be too ambitious your first year. Keep your small garden as it will be easier to manage. You can always make it bigger next year. A 10’ x 10’ space can produce a good amount of fresh and tasty produce if it is well managed. Rows can be anywhere from 2’ to 4’ feet wide.  Remember that wide rows will need to have paths on both sides.

Prepare your soil

The earth you plant in is undoubtedly the most important ingredient in successful vegetable garden.  You should till or break up the top soil (your existing soil) at least eight inches deep, if not more. Once you have this layer all well cleared of weeds and aerated it is time to fortify it.  Get some compost  (the District of Muskoka offers it free each year) or you can buy it from a garden supply centre. You can also use a manure or a similar soil amendment with organic matter also available from your local landscape or garden centre. Mix thoroughly with your existing soil at a bout a 40% compost to 60% soil ratio. If you are building raised beds, you may need to buy some additional topsoil.

Choosing what to plant

The region of Ontario has a comparatively short growing season. You can plant cool weather veggies such as peas, spinach, broccoli and kale starting in late April or early May. Start lettuce in early to mid May. Warm weather plants like tomatoes, beans, peppers and squash can be planted in June. Though seeds are the most economical way to plant, for tomatoes, peppers and broccoli, it is best to buy small sets of seedlings from a garden centre.

For a small garden plot, choose compact varieties of plants. Bush beans and peas will be a better choice than vines. Some vegetable varieties are ready for harvest faster than others; pick the quick growing varieties if you can. You should be able to plant a second round of cool season vegetables in August.

After planting

Moisture is the key. A good mulch layer and water are the final ingredients. The mulch helps to keep the soil moist while adding organic matter to your soil over time. Seeds will need frequent water and moist soil to germinate. You can cut back on watering frequency as plants get larger, however water thoroughly so that more than the surface layer of soil gets wet.

The planting dates suggested here are approximate and a long Muskoka winter followed by a very wet early spring will require oblivious adjustments. A surprise late frost or an early summer can change things too for better or for worse! That is part of the fun of vegetable gardening. Don’t loose heart as when one crop has a bad year, another may do well. You never know exactly what to expect, but with good soil, water and some determination, you’ll be enjoying fresh vegetables grown at your Muskoka home throughout the summer.

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Why I love being a Muskoka Realtor in the Winter

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Fire and Ice festival – Picture from Discover Muskoka

Being an active Muskoka Realtor I get to see this beautiful region in all the seasons. Yes, there are times I am more happy to live here than others. The -35oC  mornings in January do take my breath away and not always because of the spectacular scenery!

However, being a devotee of fresh-air and out-door fun, I know Muskoka in winter can be a blast too. That’s why I am never surprised to be selling recreational homes and cottages ALL year round. Muskoka is not just a summer destination any more.

Here are a few things I know my friends and family enjoy and are definitely part of the draw for my buyers.

Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing
One of the most amazing ways to enjoy the majestic Muskoka winter landscape is to bundle up in your warmest clothes and snap into your cross-country skis or snowshoes. There are numerous trails to choose from giving you easy access to nature and a great cardiovascular workout too. Favourite locations are Algonquin and Arrowhead Provincial Parks and also the Frost Centre Ski and Snowshoe Trails  which offers ample space for an outdoor adventure, with nine track-set ski loops of varying difficulty, plus nearly 40 kilometers of back-country hiking trails through the Muskoka winter wonderland. If you want to try out these activities but do not have equipment you can rent from several places including Algonquin Outfitters and Muskoka Outfitters.

Snowmobiling
If you are a fan of something faster, snowmobiling is an exhilarating way to experience the Muskoka winter. Yes, it is noisier than skiing or hiking, but it also allows you to cover a lot more territory. The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs manages a 1,200-kilometer network of tracks, stretching across the Muskoka winter landscape. Remember to ride in Ontario you must have a valid driver’s license and purchase a trail permit, but you need not own your own sled. Rentals are available you can find out more by visiting the OFSC’s website.

Skiing
Muskoka isn’t exactly known for its mountainous terrain, but there are enough peaks and valleys here to take advantage of our beautiful Muskoka winter. In Huntsville, the Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area features  downhill runs and  a snowboard terrain park with options for most skill levels and a ski shop and rentals available on site.

Dog-sledding
In Muskoka you say? Yes, you don’t need to travel to the Arctic Circle to experience the thrill of dog-sledding. North Ridge Ranch in Huntsville offers visitors the opportunity to “mush!” with a team of 60 beautiful Alaskan huskies. Take a short 1 hour run or a half day tour with a hot chocolate break in the middle. You will be given the opportunity to meet the dogs and take some lovely pictures too!

Ice Fishing
The region’s most popular on-water activity in summer may be boating but in the winter the fish win for sure. Once the lakes have frozen over there are many locations you can simply cut a hole and bring your pole to have hours of fun. In the Huntsville area, Hooked Young provides all-inclusive ice fishing experiences in mobile shacks or in a large cabin with cooking facilities and a washroom. Knowledgeable guides take you to where the fish are, maximizing your chances to hook a lake trout, northern pike or pickerel, while enjoying the company of fellow anglers.

Taking a Spa Day
A day out in our dry crisp Muskoka can take a toll on your body. Fortunately, Muskoka is home to several wonderful spas. Among the most luxurious is the Spa at the Rosseau, which offers facials, body treatments, couples packages and more in a calming space overlooking its namesake lake. Elsewhere, Touch SpaThe Amba Spa and Spa Taboo feature equally diverse treatment packages – perfect for a little skin and muscle rejuvenation after a day or two of outdoor fun and exercise.

Bracebridge Fire & Ice Festival                                                                                        Whether you are shopping for a Muskoka property or not, be sure to take in the Fire & Ice Festival in Bracebridge on January 26, 2019. With fireworks, fire pits, a legendary downtown tube run, interactive ice displays, a skating trail in Memorial Park, Lumberjack Show, wood carving, Birds of Prey interactive show & more – there is something for everyone.

I love being a Muskoka Realtor as much as I love simply being a Muskoka resident in the stunning winter we get to enjoy. If you are thinking that you would love being here as much as I do, then take a look at my listings and let me find you a perfect Muskoka home or get-away.

The Pros and Cons of Listing your Muskoka Home During Holiday Season

Holiday TreeIt’s tinsel time but don’t worry if you are thinking of selling your Muskoka home. While there are some challenges at this time of year, there are also some little-known advantages to selling through the Holiday Season!

The Challenges

  • Some salespeople close-up shop and take a break rather than take on new business.
  • People in general are distracted by friends, family, presents and parties. To be honest it can be an exhausting season and the prospect of attempting to sell you home may be overwhelming.
  • The condition of your property, roof, septic system (if you have one), and landscaping are difficult for buyers to assess in the winter. Pictures from other seasons and receipts/permits are helpful.

The Advantages  

So, let me show you where the advantages lie.

Buyers with Time to Look

Although it is a busy time of year, many people have time away from work during this season. If they are looking to purchase a home, they will gladly use this time to look at a new listing.

A Lot Less Competition

When you are selling at the height of the spring or summer seasons, you need to work hard to stand out from the crowd, especially in busy markets like we have seen recently in Muskoka.  During the winter there are often far fewer properties available and very few “new” ones, giving motivated buyers fewer prospects to consider.

You can take of this opportunity to be one of a special few!

It is an Emotional Season

It is the season of less work and more play. Folks are full of merriment and generally feeling happier and more relaxed. When buyers are happy, they are often in a better mood to negotiate and more likely to act. This definitely means that the process can be easier on all parties.

The new year is also a time of reflections and fresh starts. Many buyers will want to have that fresh start in a new home just like you would like to sell the one you are currently in and have your own fresh start.

A Special Kind of Romance

A home can have a unique appeal during the Holiday season especially here in Muskoka with beautiful snow as our backdrop. If your target market is families, you can tastefully decorate so it lives and breathes the perfect family Christmas. If you have a great starter home, then dress it with the cozy warmth of a romantic home for two.

Buyers can get more emotional over the holidays, so appealing to the heart strings isn’t taboo. Embrace the season and try to connect with others who love it.

Leftover Fall Demand

The Fall selling season is over, and some people who recently sold their homes are still looking for their next home. Additionally, there are still buyers who missed out in competition during the busier summer months who are still looking to purchase their dream home.

Rental Market Opportunities

The rental market is often in flux at this time of year. Leases are up, and people are working out their next steps. Will it be a new place to rent or is it time to buy? You could be one of the few good choices they have.

Money, Money, Money

The end of the year often heralds financial changes. Taxation requirements, investment maturities and annual bonuses are often calculated, and people’s thoughts turn to where to invest. Real Estate is always a popular choice.

There are many reasons buyers might want or need to purchase a new home before Auld Lang Syne kicks in. Make it a smooth proposition for them and bundle your property as the solution to their problems.

However you choose to celebrate or even if you celebrate the holidays, this is a great season to consider listing you Muskoka Home with a hard working Realtor. Call me today and let me help you have a Happy New Year.

 

Tips and Tricks for the Muskoka Home Owner Snowbird to Prepare for Departure!

Palm Tree Matalach FLIf you are a Muskoka snowbird heading to the sunny south for the winter, here are some important things you can do to help protect your vacant home. Taking these steps can help protect your home from winter damage drawing the attention of those who would seek to steal things or damage your home while you are away for an extended period of time.

Make Your Home Appear as Though It Is Continuously Occupied

  • Forward your mail, stop newspaper delivery, and ask a friend or relative to collect flyers or other items that may be left at your door or on your driveway.
  • Arrange for someone to remove snow after storms.
  • Install motion-sensitive exterior lights and put interior lights on timers and set them to come on at varying times to discourage prowlers.

Take Steps to Protect Your Home from Thieves

  • Confirm that your alarm systems are in working order and have been activated.
  • Secure external doors and windows with deadbolt locks, security-type hinges and sturdy door frames that cannot be spread apart. Install slide locks or other equivalent security locks on sliding glass doors or French doors.
  • Store valuables that you are not taking with you in a safe deposit box or other secure offsite location.
  • Do not post your vacation or travel plans on social media sites, as potential thieves can use that information to learn that your house is vacant.

Protect Your Pipes to Avoid Water Damage by Turning Off Your Water Supply

  • If a pipe bursts or leaks while you are away, it could cause significant damage. Consider completely turning off the water supply if no one will be in the home for an extended period of time. REMEMBER, if your home is protected by a fire sprinkler system, do not turn off the water to this system.
  • Drain your pipes of all water by opening the faucets and flush your toilet to clear the water from the tank and bowl, then consider pouring antifreeze in toilet tanks and bowls to prevent any remaining water from freezing. Do not use auto antifreeze, rather use non-toxic antifreeze rated for plumbing systems.
  • To help confirm that the pipes have been drained, consider having a plumber blow compressed air through the pipes.

Keep Your Home and Plumbing Warm if Your Water Supply Stays On

  • If you decide against draining your water pipes, keep the furnace running to help ensure the home stays warm and the pipes do not freeze.
  • Set the temperature at 10°C or higher to help keep the interior of the floor and wall cavities where the water piping is likely located above freezing temperatures. Keeping room and cabinet doors open also helps the heat circulate and warm the areas where pipes are located.
  • Shut off the water to washing machines and dishwashers where possible, to avoid any leaks or broken hoses while you are away.
  • Turn off the heat source and water supply to hot water heaters (if separate from your boiler).
  • Shut off and drain outdoor water faucets to prevent freezing damage.
  • If you have water treatment systems don’t forget they need to be winterized too. YouTube has lots of videos on how to do this or call a local expert if you need help.
  • Consider having a water flow sensor and low temperature sensor installed on your main water supply pipe and hooked into a constantly monitored alarm system or your smart phone.

Perform Routine Maintenance Before You Leave

  • Have your heating system inspected and serviced before winter. Have your fuel tanks filled before you leave and ask someone to check on heat and fuel levels regularly while you are gone.
  • Have your roof inspected before you leave and clean your gutters to help prevent ice from building up.
  • Remove dead trees or large overhanging limbs that could damage your house.
  • Unplug all unnecessary appliances before you leave.
  • If you have a landline phone make sure you can retrieve messages from the answering machine or voicemail so it does not indicate FULL or unattended when someone calls.

Make Your Home Unattractive to Pests

  • Clean your home thoroughly to help discourage new “residents” from moving in.
  • Clean, defrost and unplug refrigerators and freezers, wiping them dry and leaving doors propped open to prevent mildew. Also clean the oven.
  • Inspect your home for openings that animals could use to enter. For example, make sure your fireplace flue is closed, as bats, birds and squirrels are known to get inside this way.
  • Check weather-stripping, insulation and exterior doors and windows to ensure no major deficiencies are present. Water and insects can enter through these openings.
  • Chimneys should be inspected by a chimney service and, if necessary, cleaned to ensure that they are free from obstructions such as nesting birds. Install chimney guard screen-caps to help prevent any infestation.

Be Ready for Emergencies

  • Notify the police department that the property will be vacant and provide emergency notification numbers.
  • Install smoke detectors on at least every floor (preferably tied to a constantly monitored fire alarm system so the fire department will automatically be notified in case of alarm) and confirm that the sensors and system are tested regularly.
  • Ask a trusted friend, neighbor or relative to keep an eye on your home and be available in emergency situations. Give them access to your home so they can regularly monitor heating, electrical and water systems. This may be a requirement of your insurance and a minimum frequency of visits may be stipulated to prevent voiding your policy. Make sure you understand the requirements of your insurer.
  • Have them also check the roof for ice dams and inspect for leaks inside. Make sure they have your contact information and a list of local contractors they can reach if repairs or service are needed.

 

As your Muskoka Realtor I am always happy to help you find the resources you need to get your self ready for your winter away.

Choosing a Great Muskoka Realtor

Closing you Braceridge Home Purchase - Karen Acton Royal LePageAs a Muskoka Realtor I cannot sell your home for you or help you purchase one until I have sold you on me! Here are some great reasons why you should consider using my services to ensure that your have a satisfying Realtor experience.

Education and Experience

You do not need to know everything about buying and selling real estate if you hire me. I have taken the required RECO courses and have many years of practical award-winning experience that you can benefit from. After all Henry Ford said, “When you hire people who are smarter than you are, you prove you are smarter than they are.”

Neighbourhood Knowledge

I know my area well. I not only list and sell in the Muskoka area I live here and have for many years.  I know about the Muskoka communities and if I do not have a specific answer for you, I know who to ask.

Concierge Service

I have a great network of other Realtors, Lawyers, Home Inspectors and Mortgage Lenders who I can call upon to help me assist you.

Handle All the Required Paperwork

In the 1970’s you could buy or sell a property using a one-page document but today with all the Federal, Provincial and Regulatory paperwork required you will need to deal with several sets of multi-page documents to achieve a successful sale or purchase. I can and will guide you through it all and make sure you understand what you are signing before you sign it!

Understand Market Conditions

Real estate markets are often in a state of flux.  While there can be periods of stability, that can change quiet suddenly. A loss of jobs in a community can make a large difference and turn a sellers’ market into a buyers’ one in just a few days. It is my job to be alert to these changes and advise you accordingly.

Value and Price Guidance

Contrary to popular belief, it is not my job to tell you what price to list your property for or what to offer on the one you want to buy.  However, it is my job to provide you with some actual market data to draw conclusions about CURRENT market values and give you my insights based on my experience. That way you can make an informed decision.

Be Your Buffer

As your representative it is my job to filter out all the spam! When I list your property, I will not be the only one showing it, so I will prepare your listing with all the details, documents, and information a potential buyer needs so they can make a decision easily and without waiting for answers. When you are buying I will methodically determine exactly what type of property you like and then only take you to properties with a high probability of meeting your criteria.

Negotiation Skills

Whether you are buying or selling it is almost impossible to keep your emotions out of the mix. I am your “cool calm and collected” negotiator.  I will stand between you and your equally emotional counterpart and negotiate for you the best price and terms possible.

Your Person

Once you have an accepted offer I am not going to disappear from the picture. I will continue to be standing beside you answering your questions. When you have general questions and don’t want to bother your lawyer or mortgage broker, call me. When you want to know where to buy a fridge or hire a great plumber or contractor call me. I will be happy to help.

Realtor for Life

This one may sound a bit cliché but I really do want to earn that title. Many of my past clients call me for a re-evaluation of a home or cottage that I assisted them with years ago. They do not intend to sell but simply want to manage their assets and need to know.  I am happy to offer this service to them. I am often asked to assist family or friends of my past clients in Muskoka with buying or selling; or to find a Realtor for them in another community that will give them the same level of service they enjoyed with me. I work hard to earn this level of loyalty from my clients as I do sincerely love my profession and want to be your Muskoka Realtor for life!

 

Managing your well in a Muskoka Drought

dug_wellIn all areas, including Muskoka, groundwater levels in wells will vary over time.  While we are not experiencing an official drought yet, we are definitely in a “dry spell” and more and more people are starting to have issues with water levels and the quality of water in their wells. Water conservation and pump adjustments can help manage your water well during drought.

Droughts can be stressful for the many Muskoka residents who rely on private wells for their water supply. As wells tap groundwater aquifers that cannot easily be seen or monitored the very invisible nature of groundwater leads to an uneasy feeling among home and cottage owners relying on wells. There is an almost constant fear that their water supply could dry up without warning. 

The Normal Cycle of Groundwater Levels

The water level in a groundwater well will fluctuate naturally during the year. Groundwater levels tend to be highest during March and April in response to winter snowmelt and spring rainfall. The movement of rain and snowmelt into groundwater is known as recharge.

Groundwater levels usually begin to fall in May and continue to decline during the summer. Groundwater recharge is limited during late spring and summer because trees and other plants use the available water to grow. Natural groundwater levels usually reach their lowest point in late September or October. In late fall, after trees and plants have stopped growing and before snow begins to fall, groundwater levels may rise in response to rainfall and recharge. Groundwater recharge persists through the fall until cold temperatures produce snowfall and frozen soil that limit the ability of water to infiltrate into the ground. Groundwater levels during winter may be stable or fall slightly until spring snowmelt and rainstorms start the annual cycle again. Given this natural cycle of groundwater, most problems with wells tend to occur in late summer or early fall when groundwater levels naturally reach their lowest levels.

How Can I Conserve Water?

Water conservation measures become critical during times of drought. If you rely on a private well, you should conserve water as mush as possible always and especially as soon as drought conditions occur.

You can significantly reduce the water use within your cottage or home by making changes in habits and by installing water-saving devices. Examples might include flushing the toilet less often, taking shorter showers, only washing full loads of dishes or laundry, not rinsing dishes before the dishwasher unless especially dirty, not rinsing anything under running water but filling a sink or basin to rinse, brushing teeth with a glass of water and not a running tap, collecting water from roof gutters into rain barrels for outside use. Other good things to implement are household bans on the nonessential use of water such as car washing and lawn watering.  

What Can I Do If My Well Runs Dry?

There are a number of reasons why a well may quit producing water. Water quality problems like iron bacteria and sediment may clog the well and severely restrict water flow and the recovery rate of the well. This becomes more noticeable in dry seasons when there is less ground water available. Shocking or cleaning your well may increase the flow of water however it will not bring back water to a dry well unless the water table comes back up.

Under persistent dry weather conditions, the water level in your well may drop below the submersible pump or intake foot valve, causing a loss of water. In some cases, the water level may only temporarily drop below the pump/intake when water is being frequently drawn from the well during showers or laundry. Under these conditions, you may be able to continue using the well by initiating emergency water conservation measures and using water only for essential purposes.

If the water level permanently drops below the submersible pump or intake, it may be possible to lower the pump/intake within the existing well. In most cases this will only provide a short-term solution to the problem. More permanent solutions require either deepening the existing well or drilling a new well. Be aware that deepening an existing well may not increase the well yield and could produce water of different water quality characteristics. You should consult with a local well driller  to determine the best solution for your situation.

Proper management of private wells during droughts will become more important as competition for water in Muskoka increases.

Can I have water delivered to my well?

The simple answer is of course yes but the honest one is that it is not worth it. A well is a tube not a cistern. It has no bottom so if you put in several hundred gallons of water it will seep out of the bottom until it is gone or reaches the level of the water table. You will only be able to benefit from the water for a brief time before it drains away. Having water delivered to your well is not a fix and much of what you pay for will seep away.

As a Muskoka realtor I try to ensure that my buyers are aware of the water source at any potential home or cottage they want to purchase. I include a potability (safe drinking water) clause and often include a clause about the well pump and production. However, no home owner can control the water table and if you are living with a well, or plan to be, you will need to understand how it works and how to best protect your family in the occasional drought we experience here in Muskoka.

Getting Your Home Winter Ready in Muskoka

Eavestrough-Cleaning-Karen ActonOK, so the snow fell, the thermostat dropped, and you still have not done any winter prep around your Muskoka home or cottage. All is not lost; the weather man says that it will be gone in a day or two, so you still have time to get things done. Let this little dive into winter be a great reminder that you still have a few unfinished home maintenance tasks left to check off the list.

Here are some helpful lists I have put together for you from the many great resources on-line. Hope you find them helpful.

Windows and Doors

  1. Check the weather stripping around windows and doorframes for leaks to prevent heat loss. Replace weather stripping, if necessary.
  2. Replace all screen doors with storm doors if you have them.
  3. Replace all window screenswith storm windows if you have this type of window system.
  4. Examine wooden window frames for signs of rot or decay and repair if required.
  5. Check for drafts around windows and doors. Caulk inside and out, where necessary, to keep heat from escaping.

Lawn, Garden, and Deck

  1. Trim overgrown branches back from the house and electrical wires to prevent iced-over or wind-swept branches from causing property damage or a power problem.
  2. Aerate the lawn, reseed, and apply a winterizing fertilizer to promote deep-root growth come spring.
  3. Ensure rain or snow drains away from the house to avoid foundation problems. Make sure the ground slopes away from the house. Add extra soil to low areas, as necessary.
  4. Clean and dry patio furniture. Cover with a heavy tarp or store inside a shed or garage to protect it from the elements.
  5. Clean soil from planters. Bring pots made of clay or other fragile materials indoors.
  6. Dig up flower bulbs, brush off soil, and label. Store bulbs in a bag or box with peat moss in a cool, dry place for spring replanting.
  7. Remove any attached hoses and store them away for the winter to prevent cracks, preserve their shapes, and prolong their life.
  8. Shut off exterior faucets. Drain water from outdoor pipes, valves, and sprinkler heads to protect against pipe bursts.
  9. Inspect decks for splintering, decay, or insect damageand treat, if needed, to prevent further deterioration over the winter. Clean leaves, dirt, and pine needles between the boards of wooden decks to thwart mold and mildew growth.
  10. Inspect outdoor lighting around the property. Good illumination will help minimize the chance of accidents on icy walkways at night.
  11. Check handrails on exterior stairs to make sure they’re well secured.

Tools and Machinery

  1. Bring all seasonal tools inside and spray them with a coating of lightweight oil to prevent rust.
  2. Weatherize your lawn mower by cleaning off mud, leaves, grass, and debris.
  3. Move your snow blower and shovels to the front of the garageor shed for easy access.
  4. Prepare the snow blower for the first snowfall by changing the oil and replacing the spark plug.
  5. Sharpen ice chopper and inspect snow shovels to make sure they’re ready for another season of work.
  6. Make sure you have an ample supply of ice melt or sand on hand for steps, walkways, and the driveway.

Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning

  1. Inspect the firebox and flue system to ensure that they’re clean of any soot or creosote and that there aren’t any cracks or voids that could cause a fire hazard.
  2. Check fireplace for drafts. If it’s cold despite the damper being closed, the damper itself may be warped, worn, or rusted. Consider installing a Chimney Balloon into the flue to air seal the area tightly.
  3. Clean or replace the air filter in your furnace for maximum efficiency and improved indoor air quality.
  4. Clean your whole house humidifier and replace the evaporator pad.
  5. Bleed valves on any hot-water radiators to increase heating efficiency by releasing air that may be trapped inside.
  6. Check that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
  7. Remove air conditioners from windows or cover them with insulated liners, to prevent drafts.
  8. If you have an older thermostat, consider replacing it with a programmable unit to save on heating costs.
  9. Install foam-insulating sheets behind outlets and switch plates on exterior walls to reduce outside airflow.
  10. Make sure fans are switched to the reverse or clockwise position, which will blow warm air down to the floor for enhanced energy efficiency and comfort.
  11. Flush hot water heater tank to remove sediment, and check the pressure relief valve to make sure it’s in proper working order.
  12. Examine exposed ducts in the attic, basement, and crawl spaces, and use a sealant to plug up any leaks.

Gutters, Roof, and Drains

  1. Check for missing, damaged or warped shingles and replace, as necessary before you get stuck with a leak.
  2. Check for deteriorated flashing at the chimney, walls, and skylights and around vent pipes. Seal joints where water could penetrate using roofing cement and a caulking gun.
  3. Check the gutters and downspouts for proper fastening, and re-secure if loose or sagging. The weight of snow and icecan pull gutters off the house.
  4. Clean gutters of any debris. Make sure downspouts extend away from the house by at least 5 feet to prevent flooding of the foundation and water damage from snowmelt.
  5. Ensure all vents and openings are covered to prevent insects, birds, and rodents from getting inside to nest in a warm place.

It is always a challenge to get started with a long list of chores but by taking care of your property you prolong the life of it and you will enjoy a safe and warm winter in this beautiful winter wonderland we call home.