Tag Archives: Storm Damage

21 Things You Need to Stock Up On Before a Winter Storm Hits Cross all of these items off your list long before the flurries start.

Whenever the TV weatherman starts filling evening newscasts with endless reports of an ominous snow storm, everyone does one thing: rushes to the store to buy all the bread, water, and milk they can find. While it’s good to stock up on those food basics, being storm prepared involves a bit more than that — and it’s better to get yourself ready long before the first weather reports come in. Here’s what you should have in your house and your car to weather the storm with ease — even if you’re holed up indoors for a few days.

1 A flashlight 1-flashlight

When winter storms are at their worst, they sometimes knock out your electricity. So invest in a flashlight (or several!) to hold onto at all times. A few candles won’t hurt either (and give a nice ambiance post-sunset), but flashlights or portable lanterns are definitely safer.



2  A wireless radio 3-radio

Just make sure it’s a hand-crank or battery-powered radio so you can stay in-the-know even if your electricity goes out.




3 Batteries 2-batteries

Your battery-operated safety devices (like your flashlight and radio) are no good if they don’t have their source of electricity.



4 A first-aid kit 4-first-aid-kit

Just in case you get stuck in your house — and can’t make it to a hospital in case of an accident — make sure you have one of these safety kits that contains all of the essentials.


5 Extra blankets for warmth 


Also, file warm jackets, hats, gloves, and really anything that will keep you toasty warm in the event that the power (and your heat!) go out under this category.
6 A full week of medications  


Since not taking your medicine could have extreme consequences, you should keep up to seven days worth of meds on-hand before a storm (or really ever). The American Red Cross also recommends stocking up on any additional health-related items, like contact lenses, syringes, or hearing aids with extra batteries.


7 Copies of personal documents 7-personal-documents

This includes medication and pertinent medical information, proof of address, the lease or deed for your home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies, credit cards, and social security cards.


8 All your toiletries 8-toiletries

We’re talking toothpaste, face wash, shampoo and conditioner — really anything you need to stay clean (and sane) during your time inside.



9 A gas-powered space heater 


“When the power goes out, you want to limit the heat distribution to one room to save energy,” explains Arne Bostrom, a Test Engineer in the Consumer Electronics Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute. But be careful: They can be dangerous if not used properly. Never leave your heater unattended, and steer it clear of drapes, shades, bedding, and anything flammable.


10 A backup power generator 


While pricy, generators are your best bet when you lose power, since they can keep your water hot, your fridge cold, and your heat on even if a winter storm knocks out your electricity.


11 A three-day supply of non-perishable food 11-non-perishable-food

Think: canned food, peanut butter, all the usual suspects. But Sharon Franke, Director of the Kitchen Appliances and Technology Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, also recommends uncut fruit and shelf-stable milk from Horizon Dairy, because they don’t require refrigeration.


12 A three-day supply of water 


Bostrom warns that sometimes your water supply can be compromised or contaminated during a heavy storm or bad weather — so keep extra water on hand as a back-up. The American Red Cross recommends one gallon per person.
13 Matches


In the case of a power outage, Franke says you can light the surface burners with a match on your electric ignition gas or dual fuel range or gas cooktop: “Hold a lighted match to the burner, then turn the knob to the low position.” But she says to use extreme caution when lighting burners and warns that not all models are equipped to be manually lit, so you should refer to your Owner’s Manual before attempting this.
14 A non-electric can opener14-can-opener

Because what good is your can of corn if you can’t open it?



15 Pet food and supplies 16-pet-food

Animals have to eat, too! Make sure you have at least a three-day supply of food for your pet and anything else they might need while you’re stuck at home, like a collar, leash, ID, carrier, or bowl.



16 A cooler filled with ice 


If you don’t have a backup generator, you should keep a cooler filled with ice on-hand so you can put refrigerated food in it to keep it cold if the power goes out and won’t be back on again for more than four hours, according to the United State Department of Agriculture.
17 Baby food and supplies 


Since your baby can’t eat the same food as you, make sure when you hit up the grocery store you also get jars of baby food, formula, bottles, and plenty of diapers.


18  18-tire-chainsTire chains

To help your tires track in the snow, you should invest in a pair of chains. Bostrom says they normally cost between $100 and $200 for a quality pair, but that you should check the chain laws in your state before purchasing.


19 A bag of sand 


In case you get stuck in snow or ice, have a bag of sand on hand to sprinkle on your driveway. Look for play sand or traction sand, which contain more grit and are gentler on pet’s paws and plants.
20 A shovel 


Keep a plastic one in the trunk of your car so you can shovel out your tires if you need to travel in the snowy conditions. And stick with plastic at home, too — metal shovels can deposit tiny metal filings on the surface of your drive or walks.
21  A full tank of gas 


And always make sure your car’s tank is filled in case you don’t get a chance to hit up the gas station — often in weather emergencies gas gets tapped out quickly at local stations







Five Spring Fix-it Projects

image001For most homeowners April showers bring rust, clogged rain gutters and all manner of sticky doors and windows. To help with these troubles, here are some sure-fire solutions to common spring problems. They’re easy enough to tackle in a weekend so you can spend more time smelling those beautiful spring flowers.

Rain Gutter Repairs

Nobody likes to clean or repair gutters. However, there are a few ways to make the job easier. First, for clogged downspouts, try using barbecue tongs to reach in and pull the leaves out. This doesn’t always work, but considering the alternative of using a hose to flush out the clog and getting wet and covered with gutter goop, it’s worth a try.

Second, to repair loose gutter nails try replacing them with extra-long lag screws. The lag screws tend to be stronger, hold better and can easily be installed with a cordless drill equipped with a nut driver bit.

Repairing Cracks in Concrete

Concrete always cracks. For most cracks less than 1/4″ , applying concrete caulk is a good way to make repairs. Just clean the crack out with a high-pressure hose nozzle, let it dry and then apply the caulk into the crack. For larger cracks, substitute concrete patch for caulk.

Large cracks or small, repair is necessary because water that seeps into cracks will soften the ground underneath and cause more cracking. The situation worsens if the water freezes.

Sticky Windows and Doors

With all the wet weather that spring brings, wooden windows and doors can’t help but swell and stick. To repair a sticky door or window, first mark where it is sticking, next remove the door or window by taking out its hinge pins, prop it up securely, then use a hand plane to carefully remove any excess material that is causing the sticking. Power planes will also work, but they tend to remove too much wood. When the wood shrinks back during the drier, warmer days of summer, the gap will be too wide.

For sliding windows, the trim around them is often the cause of sticking. Trim must be removed and reinstalled to allow for more movement. To do this, carefully remove the trim with a flat bar and pull the nails out backwards, that is, grasp the nail point with pliers and pull. If the trim was installed properly with finishing nails, you should be able to do this without damaging the wood. When reinstalling, keep the fit snug but not as tight as it was. If you reinstall the trim too loosely, the windows will rattle when the wood shrinks again.

To keep windows and doors from sticking in the first place, make sure that they are sealed with a good coat of paint, including the tops and bottoms. But don’t paint the channels where windows need to slide. Instead, use a light coat of linseed oil as a sealer.

Painting over Water Damage

The problem with water stains is that painting over them will not make them go away unless you use a primer-sealer first. When looking for a sealer, follow these basic guidelines: First, oil-based sealers usually work better than water-based ones. Second, choose a sealer that has a high amount of solids, which are the pigments and other elements that do the actual covering of the stain. Paint, hardware and home centers carry primer-sealers, sometimes called sealer-primers.

Another tip for using an oil-based sealer is to use disposable brushes and rollers. Cleaning up after using oil-based products can be messy and often requires that you spend more on paint thinner than your brushes and rollers are worth.

Painting and Repairing Rusty Fixtures
It used to be that the only way to do a good paint job over rust was to get out the naval jelly or wire brush and remove the rust first. Thankfully, paint additives are now available to help paint stick to rust while also neutralizing the rust and stopping corrosion from continuing under the paint.

Left untreated, rust will eventually cause fixtures to lock up. Prevent this by keeping fixtures well lubricated. One of the most common mistakes people make is trying to lubricate outdoor fixtures with light oil or silicon from spray cans. Because these oils are so light, they often evaporate and/or dilute existing lubrication thereby making the problem worse. For fixtures like gate hinges and latches, use heavy grease. It will not evaporate and its high viscosity is the best thing for heavy-duty parts. Most auto parts stores have heavy grease.

A Good Impression – From the Ground Up


You’ve cleared out all the old clutter, painted the windows, and planted some flowers. You’re sure you’ve thought of all the little things about your home that will make a good impression to a
potential buyer. Yet, even if your home décor is beautiful, if your property shows any signs of a leaky foundation or drainage problems, then a buyer who may have fallen in love with the rest of your home will simply walk away when they see what’s happening downstairs.

Every aspect of your home relies upon its foundation. If a buyer detects moisture, cracking, heaving, or other problems in your home’s foundation, it can often be an indication of intensive and costly repairs needed in the future. The common denominator of such problems is usually water. There are a few simple and cost-effective solutions a homeowner can take to address these common foundation problems early, before a small problem becomes a bigger one.

The majority of foundation trouble is due to inadequate drainage. A heavy rainfall on an average-sized roof can produce thousands of gallons of water that spew from the different downspout located around the house. The first thing to do is check eaves and drainpipes for clogging. Metal snake type cleaners are available at building supply stores to assist in cleaning those hard to reach spots.

If you’re sure the gutters are clear, yet you’re still having moisture problems, the next thing to do is to check the angle of the downspout ends or ‘kickers’ which route the downspout water away from the basement walls. If the downspout nearly touches the ground before the bend for the kicker, then you are creating a choke point for the water flow at peak times. It’s far better to have the downspout ‘kicker’ to start angling away from the house while it’s still 8-12 inches above the ground. This longer, higher slope will let gravity help evacuate the water faster. Also, try to pipe all water to a low point away from your home. But do keep in mind where the water is draining, so you can keep the neighbours happy too.

If these measures fail to solve your home’s drainage problems, it may be that you have to dig deeper – literally. It may be that you have to install a drainage trench, or ‘weeper’ tile underground to help alleviate the build-up of rainwater around your house. The ‘weeper’ is essentially a small sewer pipe that pulls the water away from the house quickly. It a very labour-intensive job that requires digging a trench 12 to 14 inches deep for drain lines leading water away from your problem areas. There’s a relatively low skill level, so some able-bodied do-it-yourselfer may be tempted to do it on their own, with a little help from their local home improvement store.

Remember to correct any moisture problem in your foundation before you fix any cracks, stains, and blemishes, or you’ll end up doing the same job over and over again! For more tips of solving buyer objections before they arise, contact your local Coldwell Banker real estate professional.

Alternatives for Ice Removal

We all know we have to keep our sidewalks and driveways clear of snow and Ice and salt is the most commonly used product,, but it is hard on the environment , your plants, grass, concrete, masonry.and our pets paws.

Here are a few alternatives.

  • Urea is the second most common de-icer besides salt.  It is a liquid, making it easy to apply to pathways, and more convenient to clean up.  However, its state also means it can cause more damage to surrounding plants. It’s also less convenient to purchase.
  • Alfalfa meal is a less popular solution. Like urea, it is a natural fertilizer; however it contains less nitrogen so it’s a bit less damaging. It’s a very effective de-icer, and due to its dry and grainy nature, it provides additional traction to those walking and driving on it. Unfortunately it is more difficult to purchase.
  • Sugar beet juice is becoming a more popular method for de-icing, being adopted by many municipalities for winter road care, like Toronto and Niagara Region. The juice from sugar beets lowers the freezing point of water, and helps with de-icing. It is colorless, odorless, and harmless. However, it’s more expensive than its salty counterpart and less convenient to purchase.

Frozen Pipes-Here’s some suggestions on how to avoid them

Now that the cold weather has arrived with a vengeance, here are some tips to keep your pipes from freezing.

1. Be Prepared

Preparation is key, cut some blocks out of foam insulation to block off foundation vents leading to crawl spaces and know where your water shutoff is located in case a pipe breaks. Another item homeowners should have on hand is a temporary patch kit (sold at home centers) to seal off burst pipes as they wait for favorable weather to make a permanent repair or to hire a plumber to sweat in a new length of pipe. Above all, find out which local plumbers are equipped and ready to handle frozen pipes.

2. Turn Up The Thermostat

If you live in an old house built over an uninsulated crawl space, this isn’t the time to worry about your heating bill. Turning up your thermostat will increase the air temperature in the crawl space by projecting heat energy through the floor into the space. Plan on insulating and air sealing the space.

3. Install Fiberglass

Take a ride to the nearest home center and pick up a package or two of fiberglass insulation. While you’re there, get a set of heavy-duty disposable coveralls, a dust mask, work gloves and a package of fresh utility knife blades. Don the protective work wear, load the fresh blades in the knife and access your insulation needs in the attic, crawl space or other out-of-the-way place installing insulation over poorly protected pipes. This is one scenario where neatness doesn’t count, just get the insulation where it needs to go.

4. Use Foam Board To Insulate Large Areas

Got a really big area to protect? Keep the heat in with a rough-and-ready barrier built with foam board,  especially if this is a temporary set up. If you’ve never worked with foam board, it’s easy to cut. Mark its surface with a carpenter’s pencil or a Sharpie pen. Score to the depth of a utility knife (if need be, score it from both sides) and snap it on the line. Hold it to wood framing with 1-1/4-in or 1-5/8-in. coarse-thread drywall screws.

5. Install A Heating Cable

Install a heat trace cable to keep a cold pipe from freezing. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the packaging for how to do this. Some heat tapes are wrapped around the pipe, others simply run along it. If you can’t find heat trace cable at your local home center, try an electrical supply house. Sometimes this cable is cut to length from a roll, in which case you may have to buy a kit (or separate parts) to convert into a working heat trace cable. In other cases, the cable is sold ready to use, with one end safely terminated and insulated and the other end with an electrical plug.

6. Place A Space Heater

You can keep unprotected pipes above freezing by simply placing an electric heater near them. Remember, the goal is not to make the space toasty warm and comfortable. It’s to keep the water in the pipe above freezing.

7. Turn Off The Water

In the worst case, turn off the main water valve while the house is unoccupied or while you sleep. If a pipe freezes and breaks, the spillage is limited only to the water in the pipe.

8. Open Cabinet Doors

It’s not unusual for plumbing running to a kitchen sink on an exterior wall to be extremely vulnerable because the wall is not insulated. Open the cabinet doors along that wall to project heat into the space. Place an electric heater in front of the cabinets for an extra measure of cold protection.

Keep Your Pipes From Freezing

Frozen pipes can be a problem at this time of year. While in most cases, water pipes are situated inside the building insulation, holes in the insulation or an especially brutal cold front may cause your pipes to freeze. When water freezes in the pipes,  it expands. Continued freezing and expansion will not only stop the flow of water,  it will also build pressure and cause the pipe to burst, which may be expensive torepair. Here’s how to avoid it:

Click Here for Full Article on how to  keep Your Pipes From Freezing

Fixing Wet Basement

Here is a great Youtube video

Saw this article on Bob Villa’s site:


Find the Water
Fixing a wet basement begins with finding the cause. Infiltration of surface water, infiltration of groundwater, presence of outside humidity, and presence of indoor humidity are common causes of wet basements.

Surface water intrusion is when water runs toward the foundation and finds an entry. Groundwater enters through the walls and floor by wicking action or by hydrostatic pressure when the surrounding soil is saturated or the water table is high.

Warm, moist summer air can enter a house and condense on the basement’s cooler floor or walls. Indoor activities, like an improperly vented dryer, can create humidity that settles in the basement.

Fix the Problem
To avoid ongoing problems with mold or mildew, get rid of any water-damaged furnishings and possessions unless they can be properly cleaned. Then identify and treat the source of the problem.

Surface Water
If surface water is the culprit, watch how the roof drainage system works and where rain water flows during a rainstorm.

A gutter or downspout plugged with debris may be sending rainwater over the gutter, down along the foundation, and into the house. Regular cleaning or installing a product that prevents debris from getting into the trough will end that problem.

If there is no debris but rainwater is still overflowing, the downspouts may be clogged, incorrectly sized for the roof area, or insufficient for the size of the house. Consider getting larger gutters, adding another downspout, or increasing the downspout size and its corresponding gutter opening.

Downspout extensions that direct rainwater away from the house may be improperly placed or not long enough to protect the home from surface water. Experts suggest extensions of at least 10 feet to get the discharge away from the house without sending water into a neighbor’s yard.

Check the grade to see if it has been improperly set or has settled in spots, sending water toward the foundation. Check paved areas, driveways, and walkways that may be directing water toward the house. Proper slope has to be regained and may mean replacing pavement.

Basement window wells and stairwells can collect water, causing leaks into the basement. For a window well, put a drain system underneath, cover it with a clear plastic cover and be sure the well has a raised-lip edge to repel water. For a stairwell, consider a raised-lip edge and a roof to cover the area.

Groundwater is difficult to control. The ground surrounding a basement may become saturated with rainwater or an underground spring, especially if the soil is a heavy clay. Water pressure from saturated soil will push water through tiny cracks in the foundation. If groundwater levels rise above the basement floor, water will leak in.

If the problem is small, a homeowner may try patching cracks from the inside. Interior crack repair does not prevent water from getting into the exterior section of the wall. Water trapped inside the basement wall can weaken the foundation. After pinpointing the source, a homeowner might dig down along the foundation to see if outer wall repairs are small or large before making a repair decision.

Large cracks may require a structural engineer or basement specialist to fix any cracks, seal the outside, and install a drain around the perimeter of the house.

Warm moist air, from inside activities or the outside, can condense on cooler basement walls and floors. Install energy-efficient windows, use a dehumidifier or air conditioner, and circulate household air to prevent moisture buildup.

Indoor humidity can have several sources. A working sump pump can produce unwanted humidity, but can be easily controlled. Put a tight-sealing cover on the sump pump and install a floor drain with a trap so that water can get to the sump.

A dirt floor or crawl space may also emit moisture. One possibility is to pour a concrete floor over a sealed polyethylene moisture barrier on the floor. For crawl spaces, a ground cover will reduce the moisture coming up through the earth. Insulate perimeter walls if water pipes or heating ducts are in that area. Insulate cold-water pipes and walls. Install proper dryer exhausts and vent basement showers directly outside. Don’t hang wet laundry in the basement.

Fixing a wet basement may mean replacing decaying wood. If wood supports or framing appear water damaged, check with a professional to see if there are structural problems.

Winter Tires … right for the season


Photo of road in winter

Are your tires the right ones for winter driving? Do you drive where there’s a lot of snow? The condition and type of tires you use are important for safety.


If you are like most vehicle owners, you probably have “all-season” tires on your vehicle. While they are designed to handle most driving conditions, they may not be suitable in heavy snow.

Photo of road in winterProper tires do make a difference for your safety!
All-Season Tires Good all-weather performance. Not as effective in heavy snow and slush.
Wide or Hi –
Performance Tires
Unless designed for snow, traction is limited in snowy conditions.
Winter Tires Deeper tread. Best for snow, slush and on ice, as well as wet and dry roads.
Studded Tires
(optional for Northern Ontario residents only)
Most effective on wet ice when the temperature is near zero.

All-season tires can begin to lose their grip when the temperature drops below +7°C. Winter tires are made for cold and snowy conditions. They remain more flexible than all-season tires in colder temperatures and the deeper tread pattern allows the tire to clear itself of snow as it rotates. Studded tires are most effective on wet ice when the temperature is near zero, but don’t outperform other tires in other winter conditions.

Tips from the experts…

Symbol for excellent snow traction

Tires marked with this symbol meet the requirements for excellent snow traction performance. They are designed for driving in snowy conditions.

  • Check the condition of your tires and check air pressures regularly. A tire can lose one pound of air pressure for every five-degree drop in temperature.
  • Avoid mixing tires of different tread patterns, construction and size. Replace any that are damaged or have worn treads.
  • It’s recommended you install four winter tires, even on front-wheel drive vehicles, for best control in slippery and snowy conditions.

Stopping distances at 50 km/h*

Chart:sub-compact 39.1 m winter tires, 50.7 m all-season; minivan 38.3 m winter tires, 51.1 m all-season; 4-wheel drive 35.7 m winter tires, 42.8 m all-season

Test conditions

  • – 20° C with 3 to 5 cm of compacted snow and ice on asphalt surface.
  • Vehicles equipped with automatic transmission and anti-lock brakes.
  • Tests in 4-wheel drive vehicle conducted in all-wheel drive mode.

*Fournier L., Comparative Evaluation of Performance of All-Season tires and Winter tires, Ministry of Transportation, Quebec, 2002.

Mash Home Tip of the Day: Getting Water Stains out of Wood

If you have water stains on your wood furniture or flooring, try this easy way to try and get rid of those pesky stains using two household products you probably already have. It’s worth trying and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg,