Winterizing Your Home: A Handyman’s Checklist

Winterizing Your Home: A Handyman’s Checklist

A few weeks ago it was quite easy to believe that we’d never have to put on our coats, but the last few evenings have made it clear “the season of home improvement” is over. With the Canadian Farmer’s Almanac forecasting a “deep freeze” for the early months of 2017, the time is now to shift focus from remodeling to winterizing your home.

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Why winterize? By planning ahead and completing these tasks in advance, you’ll be in a far better position to face the coming harsh weather than virtually all of your neighbours.

Implementing these changes will protect your home from sustaining damage, drastically reduce hydro bills, and keep you warmOverall, winterizing your home will make your life much easier.

Exteriors

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Don’t get caught off-guard by a snow day. Instead, take the following precautions and take the weather by surprise. 

We interviewed handymen on our staff and developed a list of steps homeowners should take before the next weather warning:

1. Thoroughly clean your gutters, ridding it of rainwater, leaves, dirt and other debris, at least once a year. The best time is early in fall, before heavy rainfall.

2. Replace weatherstripping on your home’s exterior doors, thoroughly closing off all air leaks, and install a door sweep under each. Weatherstripping tape is typically $5-10 per roll, and door sweeps, also known as draft guards, are available at most home centres for $10-15. Here are a few ideas to help you create your own!

3. Caulk all remaining gaps in your siding, windows and doors, giving special attention to the seams. Caulk is available at every home centre and is about $5-10 per tube, with caulking guns sold for $20.

4. If your chimney isn’t in active use, seal it with a chimney balloon. It’s an expensive purchase, but will drastically reduce heat loss. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, represents an estimated 14% of your home’s heat loss.

5. Plant a row of conifer trees on the north and northwest sides of your home to create a “windbreaker.” Successfully executed, this long-term project can reduce heating costs by up to 30%. If you do attempt this, plant the trees a one or two tree-height distance from your rooftop and driveway. This will provide the best possible protection, and will prevent snow from falling from the branches onto your rooftop and driveway.

6. Place straw bales – available at any feed store – around your home’s foundation. This helps to insulate the foundation and keeps floors warmer.

7. Replace your windows and doors with newer, energy efficient units. This can help you reduce energy bills by 12%. If you’d like extra protection, replace the exterior doors with storm doors.

8. Drain your rain barrels early on. This will prevent them from freezing when the weather gets harsh, and also give you a reserve of water with which to use for your plants.

Interiors

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1. Install a furnace filter to ensure the air flowing through your home is clean. If you’d like to save money and waste, opt for a permanent reusable filter and clean it at least every 90 days.

2. Use bubble wrap to insulate your windows, which can reduce heat loss by up to 50% in single-glazed windows and by up to 20% in double-glazed windows.

3. Replace your curtains with more energy efficient units. 

4. Cover all electrical outlets with foam insulation gaskets, which can be purchased for $5.45 at Home Depot.

5. Cover your water heater with an insulating blanket. 

6. Your garage shares a wall with your home, and it’s completely unheated. You can partially solve the problem by creating a solar furnace for your garage.

Living Warm

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Winterizing your home is key to protecting your home, saving money and enjoying a high quality of life this year. Right now, it’s the most important project for all homeowners.

It isn’t all that you can do, however. The next step is to winterize your lifestyle. Eat hot foods, bake bread, wear layers and, of course, keep calm and call a handyman!

Storm Kit: 72 Hours

Storm Kit: 72 Hours

Why post about a storm kit? Why not post tips on how to function in a brutal heat wave or how to fry an egg on a sidewalk?

After a weeks-long drought and a series of unfulfilled shower warnings, few reached for their umbrellas after CP24 predicted a severe rainstorm on Saturday.

In fact, the first (and only) reply on Twitter was: “You’ve been wrong about rain for weeks now. Why should we believe you today?”

fallen tree

This time, however, there were results. The rain fell for hours, causing flooding, damage and power outages throughout the city. In Brampton and Oshawa, there were even reports of tornadoes. By nightfall, storm warnings across southern Ontario were finally lifted. On Tuesday, it rained again from the earliest hours until late in the afternoon.

With summer storms back in force, we’d like to help you get ahead of the game.

storm kitEveryone should have a special ‘storm kit’ that contains exactly what they’ll need for 72 hours –  three days – without power.

This is the view of Toronto Hydro, the Canadian Red Crossthe Toronto Office of Emergency Management, and Public Safety Canada, among others, but how many of us actually have one?

 

The Kit

Every member of our team did. Handyman Shawn is an outdoors type, and when he isn’t hanging pictures, patching drywall, or installing shelves, he goes for long hikes up north. He told us: “If you were going camping, what would you take? Those camping backpacks are really just large emergency kits.”

It isn’t difficult. Most of the recommendations are very affordable and very easy to find – in fact, there’s a very good possibility that you already have all or most of them.

  • Food and water – Be sure to have a three-day supply of bottled water (four litres per person per day) and ready-to-eat food. Prevention, the popular health magazine, has an excellent article listing 49 highly nutritional, ready-to-eat foods.
  • Medical supplies – Have a first-aid kit and a one-week supply of all necessary medicines (including prescription drugs). Don’t forget a cooler bag with ice packs to keep all of the medications cold.
  • Hygiene supplies – You will of course need a supply of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, toothbrushes and dental floss.
  • Tools  Make sure you have the basics – hammer, screwdrivers, pliers, wrench, fastener, and a utility knife. With a multitool, you can accomplish a number of essential functions without weighing down your storm kit.
  • Clothing – Pack an extra pair of clothing and shoes for everyone, as well as sleeping bags and warm blankets for each person.
  • Electronics – You’ll need flashlights and a radio – crank or battery-powered. If they’re battery-powered, change them at least once a year.

There are some survivalist-oriented stores in Ontario, but none operating in Toronto. Army surplus stores stock survival gear, however.

Aftermath

End of the Storm

After the clouds cleared, CP24 stoically surveyed the fallout. Areas were flooded and 6,800 people lost power. Trees that had stood for decades collapsed – onto sidewalks, streets and cars.

Our team received a number of calls to assist homeowners and businesses after the weekend. We helped restore damaged drywall and remove damaged material, along with a number of other small fix-ups people needed in the aftermath.

In Brampton, one man described what he saw upon returning home:

“When I came (home) I saw the roof was off, my whole patio set was gone,” the man said. “Right now my whole house is completely flooded inside with the rain. It’s coming down from all three levels – all the rooms are soaked.

“The shingles are all gone from the roof. My BBQ is in the neighbour’s yard. All the trees are down on the side of my neighbour too.”

Storms are much like life; they’re unpredictable. The best you can do is plan ahead, and a well-prepared storm kit is the perfect way to do so.

Home Storage Optimized: Doing it Right

Home Storage Optimized: Doing it Right

It’s said that there’s a time and place for everything, but this philosophy often leads to being featured on Hoarders. This is because there’s both a right and wrong way to approach home storage.

The right way isn’t difficult – it just takes a good strategic sense and a little effort. If you’d like some tips from the team, read on.

home storage

Are We All Hoarders?

Many observers have noted that the compulsion to collect is alive and well in North America.

Novelty Pen Collection

Is anyone going to tell me Alex & Betty’s pen collection isn’t neat?

Only weeks ago, the New York Times asked its readers to share their collector stories, and it wasn’t long before the cultured readers of America’s newspaper of record replied with some interesting tales.

Betty Schwartz and Alexander Wilensky amassed 300-500 novelty pens. Barry Harrison collected vintage photos of men standing in rows.

In a society where “stuff” is so prevalent, where is the line between normalcy and a ‘hoarding disorder’? The National Psychologist stated: “Everybody collects something.”

Your understanding of the science of home storage is key to falling on the right side of the line separating hoarders and collectors.

Storage as a Statement

Tribal Art Collection

I don’t think anyone could consider this beautiful collection of tribal art to be “hoarding.”

There are two different types of home storage: open and closed.

Open storage is, naturally, out in the open (such as on shelves) and closed storage is in drawers, closets and other areas hidden from public view.

Hoarders generally make no distinction between open and closed storage, but a collector does.  The best way to approach open storage is by consciously incorporating it into your home’s design.

This will make the process much easier and more fun. Open storage is no different than wall art – it’s that crucially-important “personal touch” that every home should have. Your collections and special ‘things’ are a part of you, so why not share them?

Some tips about how to best present your collections:

1. Organize – Do you have a lot of books? Arrange them by genre or colour. Do you collect coins? Store them in displays (another thing we hang) and group them according to type or year.

2. Be selective – If you’re making your storage a part of your collection, be sure that it’s presentable. Don’t include books with visibly-damaged spines.

Strategic Sense

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Essential to the science of home storage is a good strategic sense. The key to this is to think ahead.

When you’re figuring out where to put everything, consider every factor – the item’s function, the room’s function, and how you’ll interact with it.

The website of the U.S. Department of Commerce includes a section on material storage, and their very first instruction to their employees is: Store heavy objects on lower shelves.

Lifting TipsAs discussed in our last article, the proper way to lift heavy objects is to squat and support the weight of the object with your legs, rather than straining your back.

Furthermore, can you imagine how much difficult (and dangerous) it is to control a heavy item while standing on a stepladder.

It’s also important to consider the function of the item and your relationship with the room itself. You wouldn’t store toilet paper or spoons, forks and knives in the garage, would you?

If you are in the room very often, use it to store items you’ll use frequently – things like electronics, musical instruments or books you’re currently reading. If you need it, make it open storage – “out of sight, out of mind,” right?

Custom Home Storage

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If you can’t find a place to store your lunchbox collection, book an appointment with a professional handyman service. They specialize in installing wall shelving, cabinetry, and other home storage systems.

Here’s a little sneak peak from our workshop. This is where shelves come from!

Cash in on Condo Upgrades

Cash in on Condo Upgrades

condo upgrades for toronto

Are you living in a condominium or planning to? There’s a decent chance so, and you almost certainly know people who are.

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation states that “58,665 highrise condominium units were built in Toronto in the decade starting in 1984.” And it seems the city’s love affair with condo life is far from over.

Simultaneous with the surge in condo construction, however, is another trend. From December 2014 to May 2015, the number of new, unsold condos surged from less than 1,000 to nearly 3,000. 

Experts are in dispute as to whether these numbers are indicative of a ‘condo bubble’ about to pop, but one thing is clear: there are plenty of condos to go around, and selling yours isn’t going to be easy unless you work to distinguish it from the rest. That’s where we come in.

Your Condo Heroes

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Odd Job’s mobile workshop is a stylish, well-organized moving arsenal of materials and tools for every project, is smaller than other contractor vans. It is specifically designed to park in condo spaces without a hitch.

One condo owner referred to our van as “a virtual condo-mobile.”

Our team has had extensive experience performing condo upgrades – everything from quick visits for small repairs to multi-day redecoration projects.

Along the way we’ve cultivated a wide array of contacts among real estate agents and condo owners. This network, which includes contacts at major condo builders like Empire Communities, the Monarch Group and Tridel, has provided us with a unique insight into the condo market.

We know exactly which condo upgrades will be profitable and exactly how to execute them with efficiency and quality our competitors cannot duplicate. 

Illumination in Style

A beautiful space is like a photograph – regardless of how gorgeous its contents, it can be ruined by the wrong lighting. 

Your unit’s beautiful furnishings aren’t serving their purpose if your visitors can’t really see them, and even more importantly, the wrong lighting sets the wrong mood.

The lighting installed by the builders is virtually always rather plain and uninspired, and so this is one of the condo upgrades that should be at the very top of your to-do list.

Floor the Competition!

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New Hardwood Flooring Makes for Smooth and Safe Hallways

Hardwood flooring is and always has been the gold standard of condo aesthetics.

Installing hardwood floors throughout your condo is an extremely expensive upgrade, however, and a growing number are opting for high-quality laminate instead. 

In either case, this stands alongside the installation of lighting as one of the condo upgrades that will make your space look both larger and more modern.

Furthermore, the right flooring combined with the right lighting will literally make your unit glisten!

And once again, those interested in upgrading their unit’s flooring need look no further than Odd JobInstalling and repairing floors of virtually every type is a longtime company specialty. See our work for yourself!

A Brush With Beauty

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A fresh coat of paint matching the furnishings of your space can create a vibration for you and your visitors that is nothing short of magical.

As with the other condo upgrades showcased here, painting the interior of your unit will: (a) create a much more modern ‘feel.’ (b) make your unit seem much larger than it actually is. 

It is also has the effect of making your space look much brighter, and will seamlessly collaborate with the right flooring and the right lighting to achieve true irresistibility for your space.

Odd Job has extensive experience in the area of interior painting, and we can do everything from changing the flavor of your space to touching up a few inconvenient blemishes.

Odd Job to the Rescue!

It’s a safe bet that implementing the three major upgrades featured here properly will drastically increase the value of your condo unit.

Give us a call at (416) 520-1161 or take a few minutes to fill out our online “book-a-handyman” form.

Introducing our Furniture Maintenance Services

Odd Job offers professional furniture assembly, maintenance, unpacking and moving services of the highest quality and efficiency.

Whether you’ve just moved in or giving your space the makeover you’ve been dreaming of, our mission is to make your life easy.

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Furniture Assembly

furniture-4We’ve always offered furniture assembly services to our clients. After all, selecting new furniture and then seeing it in your space is empowering and fununtil you have to put it together!

Our professional team of fully licensed, insured and background-and-identity-checked technicians will fully assemble your furniture and place it where you’d like it before you can say “Odd Job rocks!” 

Whether you’ve just moved in or you’re planning a big update, we’re here to take care of your furniture assembly needs. When booking your visit, be sure to tell us:

  1. How many pieces are to be assembled?
  2. What size are the pieces?
  3. What type of furniture is it – chairs, tables, beds?

Furniture Maintenance

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“The product will keep longer by retightening the screws from time to time.” Ikea

You’d like your beautiful furniture to last as long as possible and so would we. That’s why we offer furniture maintenance services, including:

  • Reassembly
  • Resurfacing / Restoration 
  • Re-tighten
  • Painting
  • Replacing parts and hardware

Moving Furniture

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We are not professional movers – however, our goal is to make your home updates run as smoothly as possible.

Say you purchased furniture and need it moved to another property? The big moving companies won’t be interested, but we will!

Our services include:

  • Unpacking
  • Disassembly
  • Moving furniture from property-to-property

Ready to relax and watch us accessorize your space? Book us today and tell us your furniture assembly, maintenance and moving needs!