Chilly fall temperatures serve as a polite reminder that when winter arrives it can be sudden, often leaving homeowners unprepared for the troubles associated with extreme cold. A few simple plumbing preparations now will help prevent headaches and costly repairs thorughout the winter months:
- Disconnect outside water hoses. If left connected, water in the hoses can freeze and expand causing faucets and connecting pipes inside your home to freeze and break.
- Make sure outside faucets aren't dripping or leaking. Make the necessary repairs or call a plumber before freezing temperatures arrive. Be aware that when pipes freeze, water pressure builds causing cracks - no matter if the pipe is made of plastic, copper or steel. Even a tiny crack can unleash enough water to cause serious damage or flooding.
- If your home is equipped with interior shut-off valves leading to outside faucets, close them and drain water from outside lines.
- Cover outside faucets using a Styrofoan faucet insulation kit available at home centers.
- Insulate pipes in unheated areas, such as garages or crawl spaces. Apply heat tape or thermostat-controlled heat cables around pipes that are exposed and prone to freezing.
- Seal leaks around doors and windows to reduce cold air penetration.
- Your water heater works harder during winter months. Flush it out and remove sediment buildup, which causes corrosion, shortens life span and reduces heating efficiency. Drain several gallons from the faucet near the bottom of the tank. Connect a hose to the faucet and direct water into a nearby drain. Check your water heater manufacturer's website for specific instructions concerning your make and model.
- Carefully test the water heater's pressure relief valve ( Danger: water is very hot) by lifting up on the lever and letting it snap back. The valve should allow a burst of hot water into the drainpipe. If not, call a professional to have a new valve installed. Caution: If your water heater is more than five years old and the pressure relief valve has never been tested, you can actually cause a leak by testing older valves that have corroded or stuck seals. A plumber should be consulted.
- Check the temperature setting on your water heater's thermostate. St at 120F for optimum performance.
- Clear leaves and debris from outside gutters and downspouts to ensure easy drainage when water freezes and thaws throughout the winter season.
- Inspect and clean sump pump and pit. Pumps exposed to extreme cold can freeze, preventing the pump from operating.
- When leaving home for extended periods, shut off the main water valve and drain the system by opening faucets at the highest and lowest points of the house. Make sure the heat is left on and set no lower than 55F.
CAUTION: These plumbing tips are intended for homes that will be inhabited throughout the winter months. Many additional steps should be taken to winterize vacation properties that will be left unattended for weeks or months at a time. Seek professional help for winterizing such properties.
*** This information has been provided by Roto-Rooter Plumbers.
By now, many homeowners have probably replaced most of their incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, and no doubt have noticed how long these newer, energy-efficient bulbs last. Now, light-emitting diode (LED) lighting is the latest trend on the scene. Once used primarily for industrial and commercial applications, LED lighting is gaining ground at home - and there are many good reasons for that.
LED bulbs work in a unique way. Instead of emitting light and heat in all directions, an LED lights move electrons through a semiconductor material, creating light that shines in a specific direction. In LED bulbs used to replace standard bulbs, multiple diodes are used to create bright light while generating very little heat. While quite expensive compared to the older bulbs they replace, high power LED bulbs are more than twice as efficient as CFLs and eight times as efficient as incandescent bulbs, and can last as long as 20 years.
LEDs are often associated with cold, white light - and that was a fair assessment until not long ago. Now LED bulbs are available in warmer tones that are easier on the eyes (and more flattering). Like incandescent and CFL bulbs, there are LEDs made to fit standard light fixtures, recessed lighting fixtures, candelabra bases, dimmable fixtures, and even some landscape lighting. LED floodlights and spotlights are becoming more popular, particularly because they need replacement so infrequently. Other advantages of LEDs are that they contain no mercury or other toxic materials, are very unlikely to break if dropped, and reach full brightness as soon as they are switched on.
Homeowners should look for Energy Star rated LED bulbs, which have been tested to meet EPA standards of color quality and consistency, energy efficiency, and stable performance. Inferior products may make a lot of promises but may not deliver. By replacing the bulbs in their most-used and hard-to-reach fixtures, homeowners can start saving energy - and money - right now.
Big holiday meal preparation and clean up can lead to a lot of waste in the kitchen drain and garbage disposal. Also, a house full of guests equates to additional toilet flushes, dishwashing, laundry and showers, all of which put a strain on a home's plumbing system.
Avoid a visit from your plumber this holiday season by following these clog-prevention tips:
1. Never pour fats or cooking oils down drains as they solidify in pipes. Instead, wipe grease from pots with paper towels and discard in the trasn.
2. Avoid putting stringy, fibrous or starchy waste in the garbage disposal. Poultry skins, celery, fruit and potato peels, for example, cannot be sufficiently ground up.
3. When hosting guests, it's a good idea to wait ten minutes between showers so slow drains have time to do their job and water has the time to reheat.
Check out the illustration of how to dispose of food properly at:
This information was provided by ROTO-ROOTER Plumbing and Drain Service. As always, if you are in need of assistance with any plumbing or drain problem, professional Roto-Rooter plumbers are available 24/7! You can call them at 604-736-1323
Home buyer demand remains below historical averages in the Greater Vancouver housing market. This has led some home sellers to remove their homes from the market in recent months.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver reached 1,351 on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in January 2013. This represents a 14.3% decrease compared to the 1,577 sales recorded in January 2012, and an 18.3% increase compared to the 1,142 sales in December 2012.
New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 5,128 in January. This represents a 10.9 % decline compared to the 5,756 new listings reported in January 2012. Last month's new listing count was 18.9% higher than the region's 10-year new listing average for the month.
The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the Greater Vancouver MLS is 13,246, a 5.6% increase compared to January 2012 and a 4.5% decline compared to December 2012. This is the fourth consecutive month that overall home listings have declined in the region.
"When a home seller isn't receiving the kind of offers they want, there comes a point when they decide to either lower the price or remove the home from the market. Right now, it seems many home sellers are opting for the latter" said Eugene Klein, REBGV president.
With the sales-to-active-listings ratio at 10.2%, the region remains in buyers' market territory. Since June, this ratio has ranged between 8 and 11 %.
Many people suffer from post New Year's hangovers as their holiday spending account statements begin to arrive in the mail/inbox. This year, start the year off with a plan to minimize your monthly expenses and your interest carrying cost. Your mortage broker can assist you by conducting a no-cost, no obligation financial check-up and evaluate your multiple options.
Having access to all major institutions, mortgage brokers can provide you with the right product, mortgage or line of credit to assist you with your plan for 2013.
As an example, please see the before and after scenarios for people that took steps to rid themselves of their high interest debt. The result is staggering - a monthly savings of $1670 and the ability to reduce their amortization by 10 years if they contribute the initial payments towards their mortgage.
BEFORE BALANCE PAYMENTS AFTER BALANCE PAYMENTS
Mortgage $250,000. $1,390.00 $300,000. $1,434.00
Car Loan $15,000. $ 439.00 $0 $0
Credit cards $25,000. $750.00 $0 $0
RSP Loan $10,000. $525.00 $0 $0
TOTAL $300,000. $3,104.00 $300,000. $1,434.00
A mortgage broker's goal is to provide their clients with expert advice ensuring they have access to the right information and the best solution in the industry. Speak with your mortgage broker, you will be pleasantly surprised.
This information was provided by Maria Yazadjian of Dominion Lending Centres. You can contact Maria directly at 778-321-3448 or by Email at: firstname.lastname@example.org Make sure to let her know you read this on my blog!!
The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) provides a number of different resources to help you buy a home. It provides helpful advice on the basic knowledge you need before buying a home, plus useful advice to guide you throughout the process. Topics covered are:
1. Assess Financial Readiness
Assess your present household budget and your annual income to determine if you are eligible for a mortgage and how much you can comfortably afford.
2. Consider Mortgage Options
A mortgage is a loan, generally used to buy a property. How much you pay depends on how much you borrow (the principal), the loan's interest rate, and how long you take to pay it back (the amortization period). Do not be afraid to negotiate interest rates and mortgage terms with different lenders. They are offering you a product and talking to more than one lender helps you make an informed decision.
3. Mortgage Default Insurance
When you buy a home with less than a 20% downpayment, the mortgage needs to be insured against default. This type of insurance protects the mortgage lender in case you are not able to make your mortgage payments. It does not protect you.
4. Research Government Programs
The federal government has assistance programs to help homebuyers. Research government program requirements to see if you are eligible for things such as First-Time Home Buyers' Tax Credit, Home Buyers' Plan (withdrawing from your RRSP), etc. The provincial government also offers incentives to First-Time buyers.
5. Finding a Home
Finding your perfect home can be a long process. Your REALTOR will help identify the right type of home for you and continually research new listings in neighbourhoods that meet your needs. Your REALTOR will assist with questions such as: Where Do You Want to Live, What Type Of Home Do You Prefer, What Type of Ownership Are You Looking For, etc.
6. Making an Offer
After seeing many different homes, you have finally found one worth of an offer! What are the next steps?
7. Closing and Related Costs
Closing costs are the legal, administrative and disbursement fees associated with buying a home. Understanding these fees will help you budget more accurately. Remember these are additional costs over and above the price of the home.
For the entire article, please check out CRAS's website at:
Housing Market Sees Slight Changes In October:
The Greater Vancouver housing market saw a slight increase in the humber of homes sales, a slight reduction in the number os listings, and a slight decrease in home prices in October compared to the summer months. With those changes, the sales-to-active-listings ratio increased to 11 per cent in October from 8 per cent in September.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reported 1,931 residential property sales of detached, attached and apartment properties on the region's Multiple Listing Service in October, a 16.7 per cent decline compared to the 2,317 sales in October 2011 and a 27.4 per cent increase compared to the 1,516 home sales in September 2012.
October sales were 28.5 per cent below the 10-year October sales average of 2,700.
"Buyer demand increased slightly in October compared to the previous few months." Sandra Wyant, REBGV president-elect sait. "Overall conditions in today's market remain in favour of buyers, with low interest rates, more choice, and less time pressure in terms of decision-making. This translates into a calmer tmosphere for those looking to buy a home and it places more onus on sellers to ensure their homes are priced to compete in today's marketplace."
Since reaching a peak of $625,100 in May, the MLS Home Price Indes composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver declined 3.4 per cent to $603,800 in October. This represents a 0.8 per cent decline compared to last year.
"There have been modest price changes since they peaked in the spring. The largest reductions have occurred in the areas and property types that experienced the biggest price increases over the last few years," Wyant said.
Since hitting a record high in April, the benchmark price of a detached home on the Westside of Vancouver has declined 8.6 per cent while detached homes in Richmond and West Vancouver have seen declines of 6 per cent over the same time period.
Since reaching a peak in May, the benchmark price for a detached property in Greater Vancouver has declined 4.1 per cent to $927,500.
Sine reaching a peak in May, the benchmark price for an apartment property in Greater Vancouver has declined 2.9 per cent to $368,800.
If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
** All information has been obtained from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.
The leaves ae falling, the air is cooling off - autumn is here at last. Now is the perfect time to get your home in shape before winter starts to take its toll, and while the weather is still pleasant enough to spend time outdoors.
Seal it up: Caulk and seal around exterior door and window frames. Look for gaps where pipes or wiring enter the home and caulk those as well. No only does heat escape from these openings, but water can enter and cause structural damage and mold problems.
Look up: Check the roof for missing or damaged shingles. Water, wind, ice and snow can cause serious damage to a vulnerable roof, leading to a greater chance of further damage inside the home. It's best to have a qualified professional inspect and repair the roof, but you can do a preliminary survey from the ground using binoculars.
Clear it out: Clear gutters and eaves troughs of leaves, sticks, and other debris. Consider installing leaf guards if your gutters can accommodate them - they are real time-savers and can prevent damage from clogged gutters. Check the joints between sections of gutter, as well as between the gutter and downspouts, and make any necessary adjustments to tighten them.
No Hose: In climates with freezing weather, drain garden hoses and store indoors to protect them from the elements. Shut off outdoor faucets and make sure exterior pipes are drained of water. Faucets and pipes can easily freeze and burst, causing leaks and water damage.
Warm up time: Have the furnace inspected to ensure it's safe and in good working order. Most utility companies will provide no-cost inspections, but there can often be a long waiting list come fall and winter. Replace disposable furnace air filters or clean the permanent type according to the manufacturer's instructions. Using a clean filter will help the furnace run more efficiently, saving you money and energy.
Light that fire: If you enjoy the crackle of the fireplace on a chilly fall evening, have the firebox and chimney cleaned before using it this season. Cresote, a byproduct of wood burning, can build up to dangerous levels and cause a serious chimney fire if not removed.
** All information provided by Pillar to Post Home Inspections