NH15-32-2003
Home care
A Guide to Repair and Maintenance
Your home is your biggest investment. It's where you spend most of your time, so keeping it
healthy, well tended and safe is worthwhile.
Home Care offers step-by-step instructions for keeping your home in peak condition. Doing regular inspections and basic maintenance is often easy and can prevent a small problem from growing
into a bigger one-one that could result in serious damage to your home and costing you a lot
more money.
Home Care from CMHC, is essential for anyone who wants to learn more about doing home
maintenance and repairs. CMHC has hundreds of information products to help you maintain
your home.
The Household Guide to Water Efficiency
Start saving on your monthly water bills by increasing your water efficiency. The Household Guide
to Water Efficiency offers the tips to do it.
$7.95
61924
Homeowner's Inspection Checklist
Homeowner's Inspection Checklist will help you identify the symptoms, track down the causes
and carry out simple cures for some of the most common household problems.
$19.99
62114
The Clean Air Guide
Canadians spend up to 90 per cent of their time indoors and many are affected by allergies—Find
out what you can do to make the air in your home healthier for you and your family.
$5.95
61019
61082
www.cmhc.ca
Home care: A guide to repair and maintenance
Revised Home Care from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)
Home care
A Guide to Repair and Maintenance
CMHC—Home to Canadians
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has
been Canada’s national housing agency for more than 60 years.
Together with other housing stakeholders, we help ensure
that Canada maintains one of the best housing systems in the
world. We are committed to helping Canadians access a wide
choice of quality, affordable homes, while making vibrant,
healthy communities and cities a reality across the country.
For more information, visit our website at www.cmhc.ca
You can also reach us by phone at 1-800-668-2642
or by fax at 1-800-245-9274.
Outside Canada call 613-748-2003 or fax to 613-748-2016.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation supports
the Government of Canada policy on access to
information for people with disabilities. If you wish to
obtain this publication in alternative formats,
call 1-800-668-2642.
Home Care
A Guide to Repair and Maintenance
CMHC offers a wide range of housing-related information. For details, call 1-800-668-2642 or visit our
website at www.cmhc.gc.ca
Cette publication est aussi disponible en français sous le titre : Votre maison : l’entretien et la réparation 61210
The information contained in this document represents
the best available information at the time of publication.
CMHC assumes no liability for any damage, injury, or
expense that may be incurred or suffered as the result
of the use of this publication.
National Library of Canada cataloguing in publication data
Main entry under title: Home care: a guide to repair and maintenance
Rev. ed.
Issued also in French under title: Votre maison, l’entretien et la réparation.
ISBN 978-0-660-18987-9
Cat. no. NH15-32/2003E
1. Dwellings–Maintenance and repair–Handbooks, manuals, etc.
1. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
© 1982, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Revised 2003
Reprinted 1985, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
Printed in Canada
Produced by CMHC
Contents
Keep Your Home in Good Repair
Home Care is Important ...............................................................1
Fire Safety ...........................................................................................2
Structural Safety................................................................................4
Know Your Limits ............................................................................4
About Home Care ............................................................................5
Getting Started
Assessing Your Home .....................................................................9
Your Tool Kit ..................................................................................11
Basic tools ....................................................................................11
Chisels ..........................................................................................11
Drill and drill bits ......................................................................11
Fasteners.......................................................................................12
Hammers and mallets................................................................13
Ladders ........................................................................................13
Ladder safety ...............................................................................14
Levels.............................................................................................14
Mitre box......................................................................................14
Nail sets .......................................................................................14
Planes, rasps and files.................................................................14
Pliers .............................................................................................14
Pry bars .......................................................................................15
Safety equipment .......................................................................15
Saws ...............................................................................................15
Circular saw safety .....................................................................15
Scrapers .......................................................................................16
Screwdrivers ................................................................................16
Squares and tape measures......................................................16
Staple guns ...................................................................................16
Trowels and jointers ..................................................................16
Wrenches.....................................................................................17
Other handy items ....................................................................17
Basic Home Repairs and Maintenance
Foundations and Basements................................................21
Prevention tips ............................................................................21
Special considerations ...............................................................21
Tasks ..............................................................................................21
Repair minor cracks...............................................................21
Install a moisture barrier in a dirt floor basement or
crawl space...............................................................................22
Prevent mold from forming in foundations
and basements.........................................................................23
Repair above-grade parging..................................................23
Clean up visible mold ............................................................24
Floors...............................................................................................26
Prevention tips ............................................................................26
Repair tips ....................................................................................26
Special considerations ...............................................................26
Tasks ..............................................................................................26
Fix vinyl floor covering..........................................................26
Replace flexible floor tiles ....................................................27
Replace ceramic floor tiles...................................................27
Repair damaged carpeting ....................................................28
Repair hardwood floors........................................................28
Stop floor squeaks..................................................................29
Walls and Ceilings.....................................................................31
Prevention tips ............................................................................31
Repair tips ....................................................................................31
Special considerations ...............................................................31
Tasks ..............................................................................................31
Patch small holes ....................................................................31
Repair a large, damaged area or hole ................................32
Fill and finish surface cracks.................................................33
Repair drywall taping that has pulled away from
the wall......................................................................................33
Caulk and fill cracks around the bathtub or shower ...33
Replace ceramic tiles .............................................................34
Reattach items that have pulled away from the wall .....35
Seal gaps around plumbing vents that penetrate
into attic or through exterior walls...................................36
Seal wall and ceiling electrical boxes and wires ..............37
Painting the interior ...............................................................38
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
i
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Plumbing........................................................................................40
Prevention tips ............................................................................40
Homemade drain cleaner .........................................................40
Repair tips ....................................................................................40
Special considerations ...............................................................40
Tasks ..............................................................................................41
Repair leaky faucets ...............................................................41
Clear clogged sink or tub drain ..........................................42
Diagnose toilet problems .....................................................44
Fix running toilets...................................................................46
Fix toilet flushing problems..................................................48
Insulate or replace toilet tanks ...........................................48
Replace wax toilet seal..........................................................49
Repair leaking shower stalls and tub surrounds .............50
Fix leaks in ABS drain pipes .................................................51
Secure noisy pipes..................................................................52
Thaw frozen pipes ..................................................................53
Repair problems with water pumps and
pressure tank ...........................................................................53
Maintain hot water heaters..................................................54
Maintain septic system .........................................................56
Maintain water treatment equipment ..............................56
Maintain sump pumps ...........................................................57
Electrical ........................................................................................58
Prevention tips ............................................................................58
Repair tips ....................................................................................58
Special considerations ...............................................................58
Tasks ..............................................................................................59
Replace fuses and reset breakers .......................................59
Replace a wall outlet .............................................................59
Replace a wall switch.............................................................60
Replace a cord plug................................................................60
Replace a simple light fixture...............................................61
Heating and Cooling Equipment .......................................62
Prevention tips ............................................................................62
CMHC garbage bag airflow test .............................................62
Repair tips ....................................................................................62
Special considerations ...............................................................62
Tasks ..............................................................................................63
Clear obstructed ducts and registers................................63
Fix noise or poor circulation in hot water
heating systems .......................................................................63
Replace a thermostat.............................................................64
Attach loose electric baseboard heaters ..........................65
Clean electric baseboard heaters ......................................65
Inspect furnace for signs of inefficient combustion........65
Identify and prevent combustion spillage..........................65
What to do if you smell gas ................................................66
Install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO)
detectors ..................................................................................66
CO safety in garages..............................................................66
Deal with fires .........................................................................66
Check for damaged and unsecured chimneys .................67
Clean chimneys .......................................................................67
Clean or replace furnace filters ..........................................68
Humidity in houses ................................................................68
Clean central furnace-mounted humidifiers.....................69
Clean and service air conditioner ......................................69
Maintain wood stoves and fireplaces .................................69
ii
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Ventilation Equipment............................................................70
Prevention tips ............................................................................70
Measuring humidity with a hygrometer ................................70
Repair tips ....................................................................................71
Special considerations ...............................................................71
Tasks ..............................................................................................71
Clean bathroom and kitchen fans.......................................71
Clean range hood filters .......................................................71
Clean air intakes and exhausts to ensure clear
airflow........................................................................................72
Replace inefficient bathroom fan and dryer duct
systems......................................................................................72
Inspect and clean HRVs.........................................................73
Windows and Doors ................................................................74
Prevention tips ............................................................................74
Repair tips ....................................................................................74
Special considerations ...............................................................74
Tasks ..............................................................................................74
Repair water leaks around windows, doors,
skylights, other penetrations................................................74
Replace window and door weatherstripping...................75
Fix problem windows ............................................................76
Replace broken windowpanes .............................................77
Fix or replace screens ...........................................................79
Replace problem lock sets or interior passage sets ......80
Adjust sticking doors (interior and exterior)..................81
Replace door hinges ..............................................................82
Adjust self-closure devices ...................................................82
Maintain garage overhead doors.........................................83
Siding ...............................................................................................84
Prevention tips ............................................................................84
Repair tips ....................................................................................84
Special considerations ...............................................................84
Tasks ..............................................................................................84
Maintain vinyl and aluminum siding ....................................84
Maintain wood and wood-based siding .............................85
Maintain stucco siding............................................................86
Maintain masonry ...................................................................86
Maintain flashings and caulking ............................................86
Roofs ................................................................................................87
Prevention tips ............................................................................87
Repair tips ....................................................................................87
Special considerations ...............................................................87
Tasks ..............................................................................................87
Repair leaking roofs ...............................................................87
Replace damaged asphalt shingles.......................................88
Prevent ice dams.....................................................................88
Maintain flashings and caulking ............................................88
Maintain vents in soffits and roof........................................89
Maintain seals around roof penetrations ..........................89
Eavestroughs and Downspouts ...........................................91
Prevention tips ............................................................................91
Repair tips ....................................................................................91
Special considerations ...............................................................91
Tasks ..............................................................................................91
Clean and adjust eavestroughs and downspouts ............91
Fix small leaks in eavestroughs and downspouts ............91
Install splash blocks ................................................................92
CONTENTS
Steps, Ramps, Decks and Porches .....................................93
Prevention tips ............................................................................93
Repair tips ....................................................................................93
Special considerations ...............................................................93
Tasks ..............................................................................................93
Repair or replace wood steps .............................................93
Repair minor cracks or holes in concrete .......................95
Maintain wood with stains and preservatives..................95
Maintain railings.......................................................................95
Getting More Help ................................................................99
Tips for Hiring a Professional....................................................101
Learn More....................................................................................102
Glossary ........................................................................................105
Index ................................................................................................109
Grading and Drainage.............................................................96
Prevention tips ............................................................................96
Repair tips ....................................................................................96
Special considerations ...............................................................96
Tasks ..............................................................................................96
Maintain proper grade adjacent to foundation................96
Prevent erosion.......................................................................97
Clean and adjust window wells...........................................97
Seal cracks between sidewalks, driveways and walls......98
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
iii
Keep Your Home
in Good Repair
Keep Your Home in Good Repair
The home you live in represents
a big investment. It’s also where your
family spends a lot of time, so keeping
it healthy, well tended and safe is
important. Home Care will help you keep
your home in good condition and guide
you through common repairs. This is
not a book about renovation. It’s about
keeping your home in good shape,
making it healthier and eliminating
unsafe conditions. The best way to do
this is by inspecting your home regularly
and performing basic maintenance. Fixing
a small problem is usually easy and
prevents bigger problems that can cause
serious damage and cost more money.
Performing basic maintenance and
repairs also provides opportunities
to make your home healthier for you,
your family, the community and the
environment. Home Care tells you how
to use Healthy Housing™ approaches
in your home. Whether you are a renter
or homeowner, Home Care is the book
for you.
Healthy Housing™
and Home Care
Healthy Housing™ concept
contributes to making homes that are:
• healthier for the occupants
• more energy efficient
• more resource efficient
• healthier for the global
environment
• more affordable to create, operate
and maintain.
Basic repairs and maintenance provide
great opportunities to make better
healthy housing choices. The Healthy
Housing™ sections throughout
Home Care will help you make
healthier choices including:
• Occupant health—Control and
repair moisture problems to avoid
mold growth that can affect your
health. Use materials such as waterbased glues and low toxicity paints
that will off-gas little or contain
no harmful chemicals.
• Energy efficiency—Replace burned
out light bulbs with compact
fluorescent light bulbs to save on
energy usage and reduce monthly
electricity bills.
• Resource efficiency—Repair leaky
taps promptly to conserve water.
• Environmental responsibility—Use
water-based paints for any painting
work. These paints are safer for
disposal.
• Affordability—Maintain home
heating systems to keep them
operating at peak performance.
This saves money as well as energy.
Home Care is Important
There are three main things to
consider when caring for your home:
1. safety;
2. preventing and repairing wear and
tear; and
3. maintaining indoor air quality
(IAQ) and improving comfort.
Safety first
When you think about maintaining
your home, safety always comes first.
• Fire safety—Prevent situations that
can cause fires such as faulty
heating equipment or electrical
problems.
• Structural safety—Repair any
problem that affects the structural
safety of your home such as a
damaged foundation or rotten floor.
• Indoor air quality (IAQ)—
Improperly operating fuel-burning
appliances can create carbon
monoxide, an odorless and
potentially deadly gas. This is an
extremely dangerous situation and
must be corrected immediately.
Also, moisture problems that result
in mold growth can affect the IAQ
in your home and cause serious
health issues.
• Occupant safety—Several elements
around the home can be serious
hazards. Loose handrails, damaged
stairs or loose flooring are
examples of details that need to be
repaired to avoid dangerous tripping
or falling injuries.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
1
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Fire Safety
House fires kill people
Hundreds of people die every year
from house fires. Over two-thirds of all
fires in Canada occur in the home.
There are almost 1,000 residential and
apartment fires a week, more than
50,000 a year.
What causes fires?
Carelessness and untidiness are
the most frequent causes of home fires.
Cigarette smoking, electrical wiring,
appliances and combustible materials
start fires that could have been
prevented.
What can I do to keep my family
safe?
• Install smoke alarms. Locate them
on each level of your home
(including the basement), at the top
of every stairway and in hallways
between the bedrooms. Test the
alarm monthly by pressing the test
button. If the alarm is batteryoperated, change the battery on a
set day, every six months. The days
that the time changes between
standard time and daylight saving
time are easy days to remember.
Bedroom
Living
room
Basement
Hall
Bedroom
Kitchen
Furnace
• Keep fire extinguishers handy and
charged. Train everyone in your
home to use a fire extinguisher
properly.
• Have a family fire safety plan and
practice it regularly.
• Make your home a no-smoking zone.
• If smoking is allowed in the home,
always empty ashtrays in a metal ash
can. Keep matches and lighters out
of reach of children.
• Check that appliances are turned off
before leaving your home.
2
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
• Use only appliances that are
approved by the Canadian Standards
Association (CSA) or Underwriters’
Laboratories Canada (ULC). An
approved appliance will have a label
or sticker that shows it is CSA- or
ULC-approved.
• Keep appliances in good working
order. Replace or repair damaged
plugs or cords.
• Keep stoves clean from grease that
can start a serious fire.
• Keep areas around cooking and
heating equipment clean and free
from combustible materials. Remove
curtains from windows close to the
stove. Blowing curtains on an open
window can easily catch on fire.
• Have heating equipment inspected
and cleaned once a year.
• Clean chimneys and stove pipes at
least once a year.
• Safely dispose of unneeded items or
rubbish that could cause a fire.
• Keep the area under stairways clear
of stored materials. A fire that starts
in a stairway spreads quickly and
could destroy your way out of the
building.
• Store paint, gasoline and other
liquids that can burn or explode in
safety containers, outside and away
from the house.
• Keep the grass around your home
cut to prevent grass fires that can
spread to your home.
Your family fire safety plan
• Sit down with your family and work
out ways to get out of the house
and where to meet outside.
• Review and practice the plan twice
a year, for example, when the time
changes between standard time and
daylight saving time. These are also
good times to check your smoke
alarm to ensure it operates properly,
and to change the battery if it has
one.
• Keep all pathways and areas around
outside doors clear so that you can
escape quickly.
• Make sure all windows can be
opened easily so they can be used
to escape.
• Know whom to call if there is a fire.
In many places you can call 9-1-1,
but in some places you need to call
the fire department. Everyone in
your household should know the
number to call. Post emergency
numbers beside every phone in your
house. If your phone has a speed dial
feature, consider programming the
number into it.
• Have at least one smoke alarm on
each storey in your home. Most fire
victims suffocate from smoke and
poisonous gases. A smoke alarm
could save your life once a fire has
started.
• Make sure that your house number
is large and easy to see from the
street, especially when it is dark
outside. Every second counts when
help is needed. Install numbers at
entrances or on both sides of a
street mail box so that you can be
found quickly. Reflective numbers are
a good choice because they are
weather resistant and can be applied
on almost any surface.
How do I fight a fire in my home?
The first five minutes of a fire are
critical. If a fire starts in your home, you
may be able to do something when it’s
small and before it turns into a big fire.
Each fire is different and every fire is
dangerous.
Here are some helpful fire safety
tips:
NEVER TAKE CHANCES. If the fire
is large or too much for you to handle,
get out, close the door behind you and
call for help.
Clothing fires
• If clothes catch on fire, smother
the fire quickly.
• Lay the victims down on the floor
and roll them in a rug, coat or
blanket to smother the fire while
keeping their head exposed.
• Gently beat the fire out. Give the
victims burn or shock first aid and
get help immediately.
Cooking fires (involving fat, grease
or oil)
• Turn off the stove or appliance and
cover the pan or close the oven.
• Pour baking soda on the fire or
use an ULC-approved, Class B fire
extinguisher.
• Never use water! It will spread
the flame.
KEEP YOUR HOME IN GOOD REPAIR
Fire Safety
Electrical fires (motors, wiring and
so on.)
• Unplug the appliance if possible or
turn off the power.
• Use an ULC-approved, Class C fire
extinguisher or pour baking soda on
the fire.
• Never use water on live wiring as
you may get an electric shock.
Fires in ordinary combustibles such
as wood or paper
• Stay low out of heat and smoke.
• Aim the ULC-approved, Class A
extinguisher at the base of the fire.
For floor fires, sweep from the edges
Class of Fire
in. For wall fires, sweep from the
bottom up.
• Stay outside closets and attics. Shoot
the stream from the extinguisher in.
Fire Extinguishers
Fires are divided into three classes:
Class A: ordinary combustibles such
as wood or paper
Class B: flammable liquids such as
cooking grease or gasoline
Class C: electrical
Your fire extinguisher will have a
symbol on it that shows what class of
Extinguisher to use
fire it can fight. Familiar yourself with
the symbols and know what type of fires
your extinguisher can fight. In your
home, multi-purpose extinguishers that
can be used for Class A, B, and C fires
are usually the best types to have.
Inspect your fire extinguisher
monthly. Check the gauge to ensure
that the extinguisher is properly
charged. Extinguishers need to be recharged or replaced periodically. The
nozzle should be clear of any
obstructions and the seal should be
intact. Follow maintenance instructions
on the extinguisher.
Symbol
Water, multi-purpose dry chemical
or foam type
Hang extinguisher on brackets
supplied by the manufacturer so that
the top of the extinguisher is not
more than 1,500 mm (5 ft.) above
the floor.
Ordinary combustibles—wood, paper,
textiles, rubbish
This symbol indicates that the extinguisher
is for use on Class A fires. The background
of the symbol will be metallic or green.
Multi-purpose dry chemical, carbon
dioxide (CO2) or foam type
Hang on brackets supplied by the
manufacturer so that the top of the
extinguisher is not more than
1,500 mm (5 ft) above the floor.
This symbol indicates the extinguisher is
for use on Class B fires. The background of
the symbol will be either metallic or red.
Flammable liquids—oils grease, paints
Multi-purpose dry chemical or
carbon dioxide (CO2) type.
Hang on brackets supplied by the
manufacturer so that the top of
the extinguisher is not more than
1,500 mm (5 ft) above the floor.
Live electric equipment, motors, wiring
This symbol indicates the extinguisher is for
use on Class C fires.The background of the
symbol will be either metallic or blue.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
3
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Structural Safety
Prevent and repair wear and tear
Over time, everything wears out.
A home is a busy place, inside and out,
and it is exposed to a lot of wear and
tear from the occupants and weather.
Door hinges get loose and paint fades.
The equipment inside your home and
the materials used in the building also
wear out or become damaged over time.
Your furnace filter needs to be replaced
and roof shingles may leak eventually.
Eliminate moisture problems
Moisture resulting from water leaks
or excessive humidity inside your house
is often the cause of serious problems.
Too much humidity can cause mold
growth or condensation on windows
or other cold surfaces. Daily activities in
your home generate a lot of moisture.
Four people generate approximately
nine litres (two gallons) of moisture
each day from regular activities, such as
bathing, cooking, drying clothes indoors,
dishwashing and floor washing.
Control humidity and eliminate
mold to breathe easier. Do not humidify
without measuring the relative humidity
level first to determine if the house is
too dry. Many houses do not need
added moisture. A relative humidity of
30 per cent in the winter should be
sufficient to avoid breathing or mold
problems. Relative humidity above
50 per cent next to cold surfaces can
lead to mold growth. (Note: The relative
humidity next to cold surfaces is higher
than that in the middle of the room)
Maintain indoor air quality and
increase comfort
We spend up to 90 per cent of our
time indoors—most of it in our homes.
The more you can minimize and control
moisture and contaminants in your
home, the more comfortable you’ll be
and the more likely that your home
will have better indoor air quality.
Controlling moisture is critical for
avoiding mold growth and dust mites
that affect the air quality and comfort
in your home. Other things can also
affect IAQ and even cause health
problems. There are two categories of
contaminants—biological and chemical.
Biological contaminants include
molds, dust mites, pollen, animal dander
and bacteria.
Chemical contaminants include
cigarette smoke, combustion gases from
fuel-burning appliances, and emissions
from cleaning products, furnishings,
building materials and hobbies.
An effective IAQ strategy includes:
1. Eliminate. Eliminating the cause
2.
3.
of the problem is always the best
option. For example, molds need
moisture and foods to grow such
as paper, cardboard or anything
organic. By properly maintaining the
humidity levels in your home, molds
will be unable to grow. You can also
ban all cigarette smoking from
indoors, keep animals outside all
the time, and use non-toxic and
fragrance-free cleaning products.
Separate. Keeping separate what
you can’t eliminate is another
option. For example, furnishings
made with particleboard can emit
gases that will affect the indoor air.
Seal the particleboard with a waterbased urethane. Keep cleaning and
hobby products isolated in sealed
plastic bins.
Ventilate. Mechanical ventilation
will help to reduce moisture and
dilute the levels of pollutants in
your home.
Know Your Limits
Home Care covers the more routine
repair and maintenance situations. Some
repairs are more complex than others
and may be better done by a
professional. Sometimes maintenance
tasks may seem straightforward, but will
include safety checks that only a wellequipped professional is capable of
doing. For instance, annual servicing of
gas or wood heating appliances and
chimney cleaning are opportunities for
a professional to spot unsafe conditions.
The work must be completed by a
licensed or qualified person.
Go ahead with only those repairs
that you feel you are capable of doing.
You may live in a rental unit and not be
permitted to do certain repairs. Doing
repairs yourself can save you money, but
trying to do a repair that is beyond your
skills may end up costing you or your
landlord more. Check with your landlord
before making any repairs.
If in doubt about how to fix a
problem—call a professional.
If in doubt about whether you are
permitted to do a repair—call your
landlord or the applicable utility
company.
Home Care provides an estimate of
the skill level required to carry out each
maintenance or repair task.
Skill level rating: 1 - Simple
maintenance—no previous experience
or training required
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner—some experience in using
tools and doing repairs required
Skill level rating: 3 - Skilled
homeowner—skills and experience in
using tools and doing more advanced
repairs required
Skill level rating: 4 - Qualified
tradesperson/contractor—training, skills
and experience required
Skill level rating: 5 - Specialist/
Expert—specialized training, advanced
skills and experience required
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Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
KEEP YOUR HOME IN GOOD REPAIR
About Home Care
• In Getting Started, you’ll find out
about assessing your home and
about the basic tools you’ll need.
• Basic Home Repairs and Maintenance
explains common situations for all
the major areas of your home. Each
section offers tips on preventing
problems and making repairs easier.
There are also handy reminders
about safety and pointers on making
your home healthier by choosing
Healthy Housing™ improvements
that can improve occupant’s health,
energy efficiency, resource efficiency,
environmental responsibility and
affordability.
• There will be times when you will
need a professional either to do the
work or help you to figure out what
needs to be done. In Getting More
Help, you can learn about hiring the
professionals you need. You’ll also
find a list of excellent publications
and other resources to help you
learn more.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
5
Getting Started
Getting Started
Assessing Your Home
The first step in doing maintenance
and repairs is to survey your home to
see what needs to be done. Start
outside and assess the foundation,
exterior walls and roof. Look for cracks
in the foundation, damaged or stained
siding, cracks around doors and
windows, and damaged or missing
shingles. When you are finished outside,
move inside. Begin in the basement and
move through the entire house looking
at the living areas and the attic. Look for
moisture stains, bubbled paint, plumbing
leaks, cracks in walls and hazardous
conditions.
As you do the inspection, note all
the repairs that need to be done.
Consult the Homeowner’s Inspection
Checklist for more complete home
inspection information.
Homeowner’s Inspection Checklist
(62114) will help you make sure your
home is safer; more energy-efficient and
more comfortable all year round, in as
little as a few minutes a week. The
practical guide has “how-to” tips for
every room of your house on the most
common problems to look for, the
most effective solutions, plus the handy
Healthy Housing Evaluation Tool and
Basement-to-Roof Maintenance
Calendar. To order, contact the nearest
CMHC office or call 1-800-668-2642.
Once you’ve completed your
inspection, set your priorities.
1. Safety first. Any problems that
2.
3.
4.
relate to safety need to be done
immediately. Examples are a
damaged chimney that could be a
fire hazard, or a broken stair that
could cause someone to fall.
Small problems that could become
big problems. Repairs that will lead
to a major or more costly repair
should have a high priority. A
leaking pipe could lead to damage
to the surrounding wall and serious
mold growth.
Maintaining and improving comfort.
Any repairs that maintain or
improve comfort can be beneficial.
Regular cleaning or replacing of
furnace filters can keep the air
cleaner and will help to keep the
furnace operating well.
Other repairs needed such as
touching up paint and oiling
squeaky door hinges.
There are also some items that
should be checked at particular times
of the year. Here is a simple, monthly
maintenance checklist to help you.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
9
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
January
4 Check furnace and air exchanger
filters. Clean or replace filters
when they are dirty.
4 Inspect the house for excessive
moisture.
February
4 Check furnace and air exchanger
filters. Clean or replace filters
when they are dirty.
4 Inspect plumbing for drips and
leaks.
March
4 Check furnace and air exchanger
filters. Clean or replace filters
when they are dirty.
4 Inspect the home for moisture
damage.
4 Inspect the home for interior
maintenance.
April
4 Check furnace and air exchanger
filters. Clean or replace filters
when they are dirty.
4 Test the smoke detector and
replace the battery.
4 Check the fire extinguisher
pressure gauge. Get extinguisher
re-charged if needed.
4 Inspect the basement for signs
of water leakage.
4 Check the siding and outside of
your home for winter damage.
4 Clean any debris from the
eavestroughs and downspouts.
Reattach any sections that are
loose.
4 Inspect the grade and landscaping
for proper drainage.
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Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
May
4 Inspect windows and doors for
operation and screens for needed
repairs.
4 Inspect foundation walls for cracks
and leaks.
4 Check furnace and air exchanger
filters. Clean or replace filters when
they are dirty.
4 Clean the chimney for any woodburning appliance at the end of the
heating season.
June
4 Check furnace and air exchanger
filters. Clean or replace filters when
they are dirty.
4 Have the septic tank checked and
cleaned, if needed (usually every
three years).
4 Inspect the condition of the roof
for loose or missing shingles.
4 Check the yard for exterior
maintenance needs such as fences
and shed repairs or tree and bush
trimming.
September
4 Check furnace and air exchanger
filters. Clean or replace filters
when they are dirty.
4 Clean the chimney and have the
furnace serviced.
4 Vacuum electric heaters to
remove dust.
October
4 Test the smoke detector and
replace the battery.
4 Check the fire extinguisher
pressure gauge.
4 Check furnace and air exchanger
filters. Clean or replace filters
when they are dirty.
November
4 Inspect your home for excessive
moisture.
4 Check furnace and air exchanger
filters. Clean or replace filters
when they are dirty.
4 Check the home for interior
maintenance needs.
July
4 Check furnace and air exchanger
filters. Clean or replace filters when
they are dirty.
4 Check drainage ditches for debris
and clean, if needed.
4 Check the home for interior
maintenance.
December
4 Check furnace and air exchanger
filters. Clean or replace filters
when they are dirty.
4 Check windows and doors for
ice build-up.
4 Check electrical cords, outlets
and plugs for damage.
August
4 Check furnace and air exchanger
filters. Clean or replace filters when
they are dirty.
4 Check the home for exterior
maintenance.
Professional home inspectors
can also help to inspect your home
or a prospective home. Houses with
significant areas of mold may need
to be inspected by a knowledgeable
indoor air quality investigator.
For suggestions on hiring a home
inspector or indoor air quality
investigator, refer to the Getting
More Help section in this publication.
GETTING STARTED
Your Tool Kit
Once you’ve taken a survey of what
needs to be done and decided what to
do first, you’ll want to get to work.
You’ll need some basic tools to do
repair and maintenance jobs around the
home. Choosing tools is very personal.
Select tools that feel “right” in your
hand. Many tools have special grips to
make it easier to hold onto the handle.
Tools are also available in lighter weights
or special sizes that may work better for
people with smaller hands. Most of the
tools described in this section can be
bought one-by-one, as you need them.
This listing is not meant to be a
complete list of all the tools you might
want to own. More expensive tools or
other tools you might need can be
rented or borrowed.
Chisels
Basic tools
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
caulking gun
chisel—25 mm (1 in.) for wood
combination square
drill and drill bits—cordless is
handiest
drop cloth
dust mask
fasteners—a basic selection of
screws, nuts, and bolts
flashlight
hammer—454 g (16 oz.)
ladders—step and extension
level
nail set
pliers—locking, needle-nose,
slip-joint
retractable steel measuring
tape—5 m (16 ft.)
safety goggles
sandpaper (various grits)
saws—cross cut and hack saw
scrapers—various widths
screwdrivers—various sizes
in square drive (Robertson),
star (Phillips) and slotted type
socket set and driver
staple gun
stiff brush or wire brush
toilet plunger
utility knife
wrench—adjustable
Useful extras
• chalk line
• clamps
• cold chisel
• drain auger
• ear protection for using
power tools
• framing square
• knee pads
• mallet
• mitre box
• multipurpose tool
• plane—block type
• saws—bow, backsaw and
circular saw
• stud finder
• wrecking bar—flat
• wrench—hex, pipe
A chisel is a sharp, cutting and
refining tool with a bevelled cutting
edge. Wood chisels come in standard
sizes and are used to chip, cut, pare and
shape wood. They are designed to be
palm- or mallet-driven. They have plastic
or wood handles. Use a honing stone
to sharpen wood chisels.
Cold chisels are usually made of
solid steel and are used to chip out
loose masonry or to cut sheet metal.
Use a grinding wheel to sharpen a cold
chisel.
Drill and drill bits
You’ll need a drill and drill bits to
make holes for bolts, screws, other
fasteners and for other purposes.
Cordless, battery-operated drills are
the handiest types for work around the
house. Heavy-duty cordless drills and
electric drills are also available for jobs
that require a lot of drilling. The most
popular light-duty drills take bits up to
9 mm (3/8 in.) in diameter. Heavier duty
drills may take bits up to 12 mm (1/2 in.)
in diameter or larger. Drill bits are
available in a variety of shapes, sizes and
serve many purposes including standard
drilling and specialty uses. When
selecting the bit, choose one that is sized
and designed for the type of drilling that
you plan to do. Install the bit according
to the drill manufacturer’s directions.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
11
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Fasteners
For a toggle bolt, drill a hole in the
plaster large enough for the folded
toggle to go through.
Common nails have large heads. Use
them for rough work where appearance
is not important.
Remove the toggle. Put the bolt
through the item you are hanging.
Replace the toggle. Push it through the
wall and tighten with a screwdriver.
Machine bolt
Finishing nails have small heads. You
can drive them below the surface with
a nail set and cover them with filler. Use
them where appearance is important
and you do not want the nail to be
visible.
Plastic anchor screws are increasingly
being used for attaching light items to
drywall. First, drill a small hole in the
wall and drive the casing even with
the wall surface. Put the screw through
the item and into the casing. Tighten
the screw. Some self-tapping anchor
screws can be inserted into drywall by
lightly tapping and then screwing them
into place.
Carriage bolt
Stove bolt
Flat
Oval
Round
Flat Square
Special nails are available for a
variety of uses (drywall, roofing and
masonry) or added strength (spiral nails).
Square nut
Slotted
Hex nut
Phillips
Robertson
Use screws where holding strength
is important. Screws come in various
types for different jobs such as general
purpose, drywall and sheet metal work.
The most common drive heads for
screws are the square-drive
(Robertson), star (Phillips) and slotted.
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Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Use molly bolts or toggle bolts to
attach heavy items to drywall-finished
walls.
Molly bolts have two parts, a bolt
and a casing. Drill a small hole in the
plaster and drive the casing in even with
the wall surface. Tighten the bolt to
spread the casing in the back. Remove
the bolt and put it through the item you
are hanging, then into the casing. Tighten
the bolt.
Cap nut
Wing nut
GETTING STARTED
Flat washer
A 454-g (16 oz.) claw hammer is a
good general purpose hammer. Hold the
hammer near the end of the handle for
more hitting power. To start a nail, hold
the nail in place and tap it gently a few
times until it is set firmly, then hit it
straight in.
safety. Watch out for power lines when
placing ladders. Contact with power lines
can cause serious injury or death.
Split-ring lock washer
Use nuts, bolt, and washers to fasten
heavy items together or when extra
rigidity is required. Use one or two
washers on either side of the item to
prevent the nut or bolt head from
slipping or digging into the item. Drill a
hole for the bolt in the two items to be
attached. Slip one washer over the bolt
and thread the bolt through the hole.
Put the second washer over the
exposed threaded end of the bolt and
thread on the nut. Tighten the nut with
a wrench while holding the bolt head in
place with a screwdriver or wrench.
To remove a nail, use the claw end
of the hammer. Place a small block of
wood under the hammer head to
provide extra leverage and avoid
marking the surface.
Use lock washers in situations
where vibration tends to loosen nuts.
The lock washer always goes between
the item (or flat washer) and the nut.
An extension ladder is needed to
work at heights above 2.5 m (10 ft.).
A stepladder is self-supporting and very
versatile. Do not use a stepladder over
2.5 m (10 ft.) high because it will be too
unstable. Choose an extension ladder
instead.
900 mm
(3’)
length
Hammers and mallets
1/4 length
Use a wood or rubber headed
mallet to drive a wood chisel and to
shape metal.
The base of the ladder should be
placed so that the distance from the wall
is equal to one-fourth the length of the
ladder.
Here is a simple method to
correctly place a ladder:
Ladders
• Lean the ladder against the wall.
• Place your feet at the base of the
ladder.
• Stretch your arms out, straight in
front of you. If your arms
comfortably reach the rungs, the
ladder is at the correct angle. If your
arms do not reach comfortably,
adjust the angle of the ladder.
An extension ladder and a stepladder
are often needed for home repairs. Proper
placement of all ladders is important for
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
13
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Ladder safety
• Use a ladder with a non-slip base
if it is standing on smooth or sloping
surfaces.
• Never let the ladder rest against
windowpanes or glass doors.
• Check the treads and side rails
to make sure that they are sound
and tight.
• Is the ladder long enough? At least
two treads, or 900 mm (about 3 ft.)
should extend above where you
need to climb.
• Having a helper hold the base of an
extension ladder or tying the ladder
off at the top are good practices.
• Some work, such as painting a high
wall, may be unsafe to do from a
ladder. Use scaffolding.
• Always face the ladder and use both
hands when climbing up or coming
down. Raise or lower your materials
and tools with a rope or sling.
• Never lean from a ladder. If
something is beyond safe and easy
reach, move the ladder.
• Never leave the ladder standing
except for short breaks during your
work. When you finish your
workday, take the ladder down and
put it away.
Levels
Mitre box
Block Plane
A mitre box is a simple guide to
use when sawing moulding or trim at
exact angles. Inexpensive mitre boxes
made of wood are used with a
separate backsaw.
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Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Planes, rasps and files are used to
remove excess material and smooth
surfaces. A block plane is handy to trim
down the edge of a door that is sticking.
Pliers
More expensive ones made of
steel, come with a backsaw set in a
steel box. Electric mitre saws are a
popular choice at a higher price. They
can often be rented. Power mitre saws
are very handy since they are usually
very accurate, easy to use and able to
cut compound angles.
Nail sets
A level helps you to make things
horizontally level or vertically plumb.
A carpenter’s level is a straight bar that
has several vials of fluid positioned in
the bar. The vials have a bubble inside
and marks showing the centre of the
vial. To test whether something is level
or plumb, hold the bar against the
surface you’re checking and see
whether the bubble stops moving in
between the centre marks of the vial.
If it does, the surface is level or plumb.
Planes, rasps and files
There are four basic types of
pliers—gripping, adjustable, cutting and
locking. For your tool kit, you’ll probably
want at least one of each type. Slip-joint
pliers are adjustable and can be used for
many jobs around the house. Use them
to help remove nails or brads since they
are small and do not have a head to grab
with a claw hammer. Pull the nail out at
the same angle as it was driven in. Use a
small block of wood under the pliers for
leverage and to protect the finish. Groovejoint pliers are also adjustable and can grip
objects of any shape.
Long-nosed pliers are a gripping type
and good for bending wire, especially
for electrical work. Do not use pliers
to turn nuts because they will damage
them. Use a wrench instead.
A nail set is a small metal device
used to sink the heads of nails slightly
below the surface of the wood without
harming the finish.
Use diagonal cutting pliers when
you need to cut wire.
Locking pliers have an adjusting
knob that enables you to clamp the
pliers’ jaws tight. Once you’re done
with your task, release the lever to
unlock the pliers.
GETTING STARTED
Pry bars
Saws
A portable circular saw can save
you lots of muscle power and time.
Use it as a crosscut saw to cut across
the grain of the wood or a ripsaw to
cut along the grain of the wood.
Adjust the saw blade so that the
amount of blade extending below the
“shoe” is one tooth deeper than the
thickness of the material to be cut. As
you guide the saw forward, the blade
safety guard is automatically pushed
back, exposing the blade for cutting
25 mm
(1”)
Pry bars or wrecking bars are
made of steel and come in several
sizes. They usually have a claw at one
end for removing nails and a wedgeshaped prying edge on the other end.
Use a small pry bar made of flat steel
stock to remove mouldings. Use a
medium-sized bar about 600 mm (2 ft.)
long, made of hexagonal stock for
heavier carpentry work.
A handsaw or crosscut saw with
about 10 teeth per 25 mm (1 in.) is
good for most household work.
30°
Safety equipment
Mark your cut lines clearly.
Support your work and hold it firmly
near where you are cutting. Pull the
saw back several times to start a
groove. Saws cut on the forward
stroke. Let the weight of the saw do
the cutting.
Wear a dust mask to protect
yourself when working with drywall,
wood or fibrous insulation. Refer to
the ratings on the packaging and
choose a mask that will protect you
for the specific job you’re doing.
A backsaw has fine teeth on one
edge and reinforcement for rigidity
along the back edge. Use a backsaw
with a mitre box for precise cuts.
Proper ear protection while using
power equipment is essential. Refer to
the safety ratings on the packaging and
choose the ear protector that is rated
for the specific job you’ll be doing.
Goggles will protect your eyes
from debris, drywall dust and wood
chips as you work. Goggles are rated
for safety and for the specific job.
Choose goggles that meet your needs
and provide the proper protection.
Use a hacksaw with a removable
blade to cut metal such as bolts, nuts
and pipes.
For ripping work (cutting the
board along the grain), use a ripping
guide. After adjusting the blade, set
the ripping guide the same distance
from the saw blade as the width of
the material to be cut off. Place the
guide against the edge of the piece
as you cut.
Circular saw safety
• Make sure the saw has a guard
that will automatically adjust while
using it to keep the saw teeth
from being needlessly exposed.
• Make sure that power to the saw
cuts off when the trigger is
released.
• Always wear goggles or a face
mask to prevent injury.
• Examine the material that you are
going to cut. Make sure it is free
of nails or other metal before you
begin.
• Ensure the material is supported
properly so that it won’t move or
“kick” as you cut.
• Check that the area under the cut
line is clear to allow the blade
room without cutting into the
support.
• Hold the saw firmly against the
work when cutting.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
15
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Squares and tape measures
• Never feed a circular saw into
the material backwards. It will
suddenly grab the material and
shoot it toward you.
• Never overload the saw motor
by pushing too hard or cutting
material that is too thick for the
saw.
• Always try to make a straight cut
to avoid binding the saw blade. If
the blade binds or sticks in the
groove, back the saw out slowly
and firmly in a straight line. As you
continue cutting, adjust the
direction of the cut so that you
are cutting in a straight line.
• A sharp blade makes cutting much
easier and does not overload the
saw.
• Always pull the electric plug
before adjusting the saw or
inspecting the blade.
Scrapers
Wall scraper, or
wallboard taping
knife
Combination square
Thumbscrew
45°
Level
Try square
Rafter, or
steel, square
A combination square is useful for
testing squareness and marking
perpendicular, parallel or 45 degree
lines. The versatility of the combination
square makes it a good first choice.
The framing square is handy for
lining up materials evenly, measuring
and marking square cut lines. It is
usually made of metal.
The try square is smaller than the
framing square. It is also used for lining
up, marking and to check cuts for
square. One side is usually made of
wood or metal.
Scrapers have thin, flexible, broad
blades that make them useful for
removing old wallpaper, loose paint and
plaster, and for filling holes and cracks
with new plaster. They come in various
sizes.
It’s easier to screw into wood if you
make a small test hole first with a nail
or drill to avoid splitting the wood. It will
also be easier to screw into the wood
if you rub soap or wax on the screw
threads.
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Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
A masonry trowel has a flat, thin
steel blade set into a handle. Use a
rectangular steel trowel to spread
concrete or apply cement parging.
Brick trowel
Pointing
trowel
Combination
raker-jointer
Convex
jointer
V-jointer
The brick trowel is a large
triangular trowel and is used for
mixing, placing and spreading mortar
on bricks and blocks. Use a smaller,
triangular, pointing trowel to fill holes
and repair mortar joints in a process
called pointing.
Putty knife
Screwdrivers
You need three types of screwdrivers
in assorted sizes for home repairs: the
slotted, the star type (Phillips) and the
square drive (Robertson). The blade of
the screwdriver should snugly fit the
opening in the screw head. When using
a screwdriver, push against the head of
the screw as you turn it.
Trowels and jointers
A 5-m (16 ft.) retractable steel
measuring tape is an essential tool.
Staple guns
A staple gun and the appropriate
staples are handy for a number of
household chores such as replacing
screens in wood windows and doors,
tacking down carpet and other jobs
that would otherwise call for small nail
and a hammer. When using a staple
gun, press down against the top of
the gun with one hand as you squeeze
the trigger with your other hand.
Never discharge the gun in anyone’s
direction. The staples can cause serious
eye injuries.
Use a jointer to finish masonry
joints. Finish joints are made on the
outside of a masonry wall to make it
more waterproof and to improve its
appearance. Jointers are available in
different shapes.
GETTING STARTED
Other handy items
Wrenches
Monkey
wrench
Pipe wrench
Adjustable
wrench
Adjustable wrenches are very versatile
because they can be adjusted to fit
different sizes of nuts or pipes. Use a
pipe wrench to tighten or loosen pipes.
Use a monkey wrench on large nuts.
Combination
Offset
double
box-end
Double
openend
Hex
wrench
Fixed wrenches are available in
open-ended, box-ended and hex styles.
A popular choice is the combination
wrench, which has an open end and
a box end of the same size. A fixed
wrench fits only one nut size, so you
need an assortment of them. If a nut
is hard to loosen, put a few drops of
penetrating oil or kerosene on it. Let
it soak a couple of hours or overnight.
A ratchet handle and sockets are
used to tighten or loosen nuts. They
are stronger and faster than
adjustables and usually provide more
leverage than fixed wrenches. With the
use of extensions, they work well for
nuts that can’t be reached with a
wrench.
• Use an all-purpose penetrating
lubricant to loosen rusted or
“frozen” nuts.
• Have a selection of abrasives such as
sandpaper and steel wool for sanding
and finishing work.
• Use a chalk line to mark a straight
line.
• Clamps are very versatile for holding
objects while you work. They come
in a variety of shapes, sizes and types
for specialty uses.
• A drain auger, sometimes called a
plumber’s snake, may be needed
when a plunger fails to clear a
clogged drain.
• A drop cloth made out of fabric will
protect items and not be as slippery
as a plastic cloth.
• Keep a flashlight with charged
batteries with your tool kit so it will
be there when you need it.
• Kneepads are essential for floor or
roof work where kneeling is
required.
• A stud finder will help you to locate
studs quickly and accurately.
• Utility knives can be used to cut
almost anything; they come with
replaceable blades that are razor
sharp. The better knives have
retractable blades.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
17
Basic Home Repairs
and Maintenance
Basic Home Repairs and Maintenance
FOUNDATIONS
AND BASEMENTS
The most common foundation and
basement problems are:
• minor cracks
• excessive mold growth
Maintenance includes:
• reducing moisture for all types of
foundations and basements
• repairing above-grade parging
Prevention tips
Keeping water away from the
foundation is the best way to prevent
problems.
• Keep eavestroughs, downspouts and
downspout extensions clean, in good
repair, and extended far enough
away so that the roof water flows
away from the foundation.
• Add eavestroughs, if not present on
all eaves.
• Ensure that the grade adjacent to the
foundation does not “hold” water,
but directs the surface water away.
• In the basement, check for moisture
by taping a 1 m2 (3 ft2.) sheet of
polyethylene to the concrete or
masonry wall or slab. If condensation
forms under the sheet after a day,
there is moisture present.
• If the grade cannot be built up
around the foundation, consider
covering the ground with a layer of
clay. Another option is to bury
polyethylene sheeting 150 mm (6 in.)
deep, and sloped away from the
foundation. Either these methods
will help to move water away from
the foundation.
• Place screens on eavestroughs or
downspout entries to prevent clogging.
• Install a sealed cover over the sump
pump pit.
Special considerations
You may not see liquid water
entering through cracks. However, water
from the ground may be wicking into the
concrete floor or walls and evaporating
into the basement air. White, chalky
stains, known as efflorescence, are an
indication of moisture evaporation from
concrete. The added moisture load in the
air may lead to condensation and mold
problems on cold surfaces.
Healthy Housing™
• The basement is the most likely place
to find moisture and mold problems.
Maintaining a clean and dry basement
provides the foundation for a healthy
home. Eliminate stored items that can
hold moisture and become moldy.
Use plastic containers, not cardboard
boxes, and keep stored items on
shelves, not on the floor.
water or soil gas to enter. Severe or
active cracks (particularly if they’re
horizontal) may be an indication of
unsafe conditions or future problems
that could lead to collapse. Consult a
structural engineer or basement
specialist concerning multiple, severe
or expanding cracks.
Tasks
Repair minor cracks
Minor cracks may not allow water
leakage or indicate structural problems.
However, they may provide a path for
water vapour or soil gases to enter the
home and should be sealed.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: polyurethane caulking,
hydraulic cement
Tools: Hammer, cold chisel, wire brush,
vacuum, caulking gun
Floor joist
Downspout
Water vapour
from damp walls
Safety
• Most foundation problems relate to
either water vapour being transferred
from the ground into the house
through walls and floor or liquid
water entering through cracks. Minor,
hairline cracks require attention to
prevent water or soil gas entry. Major
cracks can allow large quantities of
Drain-water
movement
Concrete
block wall
Capillary
dampness
Water
vapour from
damp floor
Leakage
Concrete footing
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
21
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
1. Look for cracks in the basement
2.
3.
4.
walls outside, above grade.
Inside the basement, look for cracks
in concrete floors and walls or in
concrete block walls. There are
often minor cracks in the floor
along the perimeter of the walls or
around posts.
For narrow, dry cracks brush out
any loose concrete chips or dust
and vacuum the crack. Apply
polyurethane caulking.
For slightly larger or wetter cracks,
enlarge the crack with the hammer
and cold chisel. Try to make the
crack wider inside than at the
surface to lock the patch in place.
Brush and vacuum out the concrete
chips and dust. Apply a hydraulic
cement patch following the
manufacturer’s instructions.
Cold chisel
Crack
Under
-cut
edge
Trowel
Patch
compound
Crack
Patch
compound
5. Note: Usually if there is an interior
vertical crack on a concrete
foundation it will continue all the way
to the exterior. If there is moisture
seeping through, the exterior may
have to be excavated to expose the
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Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
foundation to the footing. Chisel out
the crack according to the hydraulic
cement manufacturer’s instructions,
usually about 19 mm (3/4 in.) wide
and 25 mm (1 in.) deep so that the
edges are undercut. Install hydraulic
cement following the manufacturer’s
instructions, then apply foundation
coating. For extra protection, place
a 300 mm (12 in.) wide polyethylene
or bituminous membrane over the
crack to grade level, sealing as required with foundation coating or according
to manufacturer’s instructions.
Install a moisture barrier
in a dirt floor basement or
crawl space
Whether dirt floor basements or
crawl spaces are heated or not, they may
create excessively high water vapour levels
in the air. With just a dirt floor, there is no
barrier to prevent the entry of water
vapour or soil gases. Traditionally, crawl
space vents have been used to keep crawl
spaces dry but research has shown that
these vents are often ineffective. Also, in
spring and summer when the outside air is
warmer and carries more water vapour in
suspension, the vents may actually
introduce more moisture to the crawl
space. However, an uncovered dirt floor
can be the biggest moisture source. Even if
it seems dry, it acts as a giant sponge,
wicking water to the surface where it
evaporates into the crawl space air and
possibly condenses again on cooler
surfaces.Very few crawl spaces are actually
isolated from the house—so the crawl
space air becomes the house air eventually.
A ground moisture barrier is needed to
control moisture in crawl spaces.
Uncontrolled moisture may lead to
mold growth. Mold growth may occur
even on the dirt under a moisture
barrier. Although moisture may not
penetrate the barrier, toxic chemical
emissions from mold may come through.
It’s best to create an inhospitable habitat
for molds under the dirt floor moisture
barrier, in the most environmentally
friendly way possible.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: sidewalk salt, 0.15 mm
(6 mil) or preferably thicker polyethylene
sheeting, contractor’s sheathing tape,
polyurethane caulking; possibly concrete,
patio stones, concrete blocks or bricks
Tools: shovel, garden rake, caulking gun,
(a tape dispenser is handy), staple gun,
garbage bags, dust mask, goggles, old
clothes or disposable coveralls
Sealant
Continuous moisture
barrier
1. Ensure that the grading and
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
drainage around the house will
prevent crawl space flooding. These
issues must be resolved first.
Installation of a floor drain would
also be ideal but may be
impractical.
Always wear a mask and goggles
when working in the crawl space.
If there is standing water or visible
mold, seek professional assistance.
Place any debris from the crawl
space into garbage bags and carry
it out.
Rake the crawl space dirt floor
smooth. Remove any sharp rocks.
Ideally, grade the dirt floor so there
are no depressions likely to become
pools of water.
Sprinkle sidewalk salt throughout
to create an inhospitable habitat for
mold growth.
Lay the polyethylene moisture
barrier on the floor. Overlap and
tape the joints. Caulk the edges to
the base of the wall or, if possible,
staple and seal to the main floor
sill plate at the top of the wall.
If possible, install a poured concrete
floor. Next best is to cover the
polyethylene with a layer of sand
and install a floor made of patio
stones. If neither option is possible,
try to ensure that the moisture
barrier is undisturbed by holding
it in place with concrete blocks
or bricks.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
Prevent mold from
forming in foundations
and basements
The secret to preventing basement
mold problems is to keep basements dry.
Mold cannot grow without moisture.
Basement moisture and mold symptoms
include foundation cracks that leak, flooding
from a high water table, damp or moldy
walls or floor, condensation on windows or
pipes, wet insulation, moisture damaged
finishes, musty or damp carpets, damp
stored items, high humidity, and stuffy damp
smells. Some basic maintenance techniques
can keep moisture to a minimum.
Skill level rating: 1 - Simple
maintenance
Materials: none
Tools: garbage bags, utility knife, dust
mask, goggles
1. Ensure that eavestroughs and
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
downspouts (with extensions)
direct water away from the building.
Slope the grade away from the house.
Where a perimeter drain tile
system exists, remove leaves or
debris from window wells so that
they can drain more easily.
Patch cracks (as noted above).
Remove basement carpets unless
the concrete floor is absolutely dry.
Carpets trap moisture, providing
a good habitat for dust mites and
mold. Even carpets that seem dry
may be damp underneath. If
necessary, cut carpets into strips and
place in garbage bags for removal.
Minimize basement storage to
provide less food for molds and
improve air circulation. Store items
on shelves off the floor and away
from the exterior walls. Keep items
on the shelves in plastic containers,
not in cardboard boxes. Cardboard
boxes absorb moisture and stay
damp.
7. If there is ever a flooding event,
8.
remove all damaged materials
promptly.
Use a dehumidifier in the basement
in summer. Circulating air with a fan
can be helpful in all seasons.
2. Dampen the area to be patched.
3. Combine three parts screened sand
to one part cement (3:1 mix) with
enough water to make a stiff mix.
Repair above-grade
parging
Parging provides a finished
appearance above grade, but it also serves
as part of the moisture control system for
foundations both above and below grade.
Above grade, parging helps prevent rain
or surface water leakage by sealing any
cracks, holes or form tie cavities (created
by the ties that hold the concrete forms
together). It also protects exterior
insulating systems that may be damaged
by exposure to sunlight. Below grade,
parging must be applied to concrete block
walls to seal joints and provide a smooth
surface similar to poured concrete, before
dampproofing is applied. Parging can also
be used to seal form tie holes or other
openings in poured concrete walls before
dampproofing. Being struck with a hard
object may damage specialty parging
systems that cover exterior insulating
systems. Parging on galvanized stucco
mesh over dense glass fibre, mineral fibre
or preserved wood foundations may also
suffer damage. Parging over concrete or
block may flake off due to the freeze-thaw
action of water that may get behind it.
4. Trowel a layer no more than 6 mm
(1/4”) thick onto the affected area.
5. If a second layer is required, when
the patch is still soft, scratch it with a
nail or other sharp object to provide
a gripping surface for the next coat.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: Portland cement, sand and
water; or a specialty pre-mixed parging
designed to adhere to polystyrene
Tools: hammer, cold chisel, stiff brush,
trowel, sponge, shovel, wheelbarrow or
mixing board, pail
6. When the patch has dried thoroughly
7.
(24 hours), dampen the area again
and apply a second 6 mm (1/4”) layer
that should blend smoothly with the
surrounding parging.
When the patch is close to dry,
texture it to match the surrounding
parging using a damp sponge.
1. Remove any loose parging with the
cold chisel. Clean the affected area
with the brush.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
23
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Clean up visible mold
“Small area” clean-up
The presence of mold is a sign that
there is too much moisture in your home
—a situation that must be corrected.
You can clean up “small areas”
of mold (fewer than three patches, each
smaller than a square metre) yourself.
Infants and other family members with
asthma, allergies or other health
problems should not be in the work
area or adjacent room during the
cleaning.
Mold may be any colour: black, white,
red, orange, yellow or green. If you’re not
sure whether the suspected spot is mold,
dab it with a drop of household bleach. If
the stain loses its colour or disappears, it
is likely to be mold. If there is no change,
it is probably not mold.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner—small area of mold
The amount of mold determines the
type of clean-up needed.
Materials: unscented detergent
solution, wet rag or sponge, baking soda
If there are one or more
patches of mold, at least one of
which is greater than 3 m2 (32 ft2),
about the size of a full sheet of
plywood, it is considered “large”
and should be cleaned up by a
professional mold cleanup
contractor. A mold problem this
extensive also indicates a major moisture
problem that must be addressed to
prevent the mold from returning.
Tools: household rubber gloves, disposable
dust mask, safety glasses or goggles, high
efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum
Washable surfaces
1. Vacuum surfaces with either a
2.
3.
vacuum cleaner equipped with a
high efficiency particulate air
(HEPA) filter, an industrial vacuum
cleaner exhausted outside or a
central vacuum exhausted outside.
Scrub with an unscented detergent
solution.
Sponge with a clean, wet rag and
dry quickly.
Using an unscented detergent
will make it easier for you to detect
residual moldy odours.
Moldy drywall
1. If the mold is only on the surface
and not caused by a moisture
problem behind the drywall, follow
the vacuuming instructions listed
above, then clean the surface with a
damp rag using baking soda or a bit
of detergent. Do not allow the
drywall to get too wet.
Mold that comes back after cleaning
usually indicates that the source of
moisture causing the mold growth has
not been removed. Seek professional
help from a trained indoor air quality
investigator.
How to clean up moderate mold
problems
If you follow the proper procedures
and use the proper protective equipment,
you can clean up “moderate areas” of
mold. “Moderate” means more than three
patches of mold, each smaller than one
square metre, or one or more isolated
patches larger than one square metre but
smaller than 3 m2 (32 ft2) or about the
size of a standard sheet of plywood.
Infants and other family members
with asthma, allergies or other health
problems should not be in the work
area or adjacent room during the
cleaning.
A small cleanup should take minutes
(not hours) to finish. When the cleanup
will take hours to a day to finish, it is
suggested that you upgrade to a better
safety mask, such as a half- or full-face
respirator with HEPA cartridges. These
masks need to be properly fitted to
your face.
Skill level rating: 3 - Skilled
homeowner
Materials: plastic sheeting, tape,
unscented detergent solution, wet rag
or sponge, baking soda, TSP solution for
concrete surfaces
Tools: household rubber gloves,
disposable dust mask or half-face
respirator with HEPA cartridges, safety
glasses or goggles, exhaust fan, HEPA
vacuum
General cleaning
1. Isolate the area to be cleaned with
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
24
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
plastic sheeting, taped to walls and
ceiling.
Install an exhaust fan on a window
in the room being cleaned to
prevent contamination of other
areas of the house as well as to
provide ventilation.
Vacuum surfaces with a vacuum
cleaner that has a HEPA filter or
a central vacuum that exhausts
directly to the outside.
Scrub or brush the moldy area with
a mild, unscented detergent
solution.
Rinse by sponging with a clean, wet
rag. Repeat. Dry quickly.
HEPA vacuum the surfaces that
were cleaned as well as surrounding
areas.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
Cleaning wood surfaces
Moldy drywall
1. Vacuum mold from wood surfaces
The paper facings of gypsum
wallboard (drywall) grow mold when
they get wet and don’t dry quickly.
Cleaning with water containing detergent
not only adds moisture to the paper but
also can eventually damage the facing. If
the mold is located only on top of the
painted surface, remove it by general
cleaning (above). If the mold is
underneath the paint, the moldy patch
and other moldy material behind it are
best removed by cutting out the section
of moldy drywall. The surrounding areas
should also be cleaned. If the area is large,
a mold clean-up contractor should do
this. New materials will become moldy if
the moisture entry has not been stopped.
Materials should not be replaced until the
source of the moisture is corrected.
Before removing moldy wallboard,
temporarily cover the affected areas with
plastic sheeting sealed at the edges with
tape. This helps to minimize the spread of
mold spores during the remediation.
2.
3.
4.
using a HEPA or externally
exhausted vacuum. Skip the
vacuuming step if the wood is wet.
Clean with a detergent solution,
then sponge with a clean, wet rag.
Extract the moisture using a
dry/wet vacuum and/or clean, dry
rags.
Accelerate the drying with fans and
open windows. If the relative
humidity outside is high, close
windows and use a dehumidifier.
The wood should not be allowed to
remain wet for more than a day.
If cleaning with detergent and water
does not remove the mold, wear a mask
and try sanding the surface with a
vacuum sander (simultaneous vacuuming
and sanding). Do not attempt to sand
without vacuuming, because it will
spread the mold. This method will not
work if the mold has penetrated to the
core of the wood. Severely moldy and
rotten wood should be replaced.
Any areas that show new patches
of mold should be cleaned promptly.
Cleaning concrete surfaces
Call a trained investigator
1. Vacuum the concrete surfaces to be
2.
3.
4.
5.
cleaned with a HEPA or externally
exhausted vacuum cleaner.
Clean up surfaces with detergent
and water. If the surfaces are still
visibly moldy, use TSP (trisodium
phosphate). Dissolve 250 ml (8 oz.)
of TSP in 9 L (2 gal.) of warm water.
Stir for two minutes. Note: TSP
must not be allowed to come
in contact with skin or eyes.
Wear rubber gloves and eye
protection. Saturate the moldy
concrete surface with the TSP
solution using a sponge or rag.
Keep the surface wet for at least
15 minutes.
Rinse the concrete surface twice
with clean water.
Dry thoroughly, as quickly as
possible.
A trained investigator is needed when:
1. There is an extensive amount of mold.
2. Mold comes back after cleaning.
3. The house smells musty but no
mold is visible.
4. A family member is sick and the
house is suspected of having a mold
problem.
Contact your local CMHC office for
a list of trained investigators in your area.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
25
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
FLOORS
Floors take a lot of wear and tear.
We walk on them, drag things across
them and drop things on them. Damaged
flooring should be repaired immediately
to prevent accidents. Keeping floors in
good condition requires general cleaning
and regular maintenance.
The most common floor problems
are often available at tool rental
stores.
• Always sand wood floors in the
direction of the grain, not across the
grain.
• Wear rubber gloves to protect your
hands from stain.
• Specialty tools such as manual or
electric tile cutters, nippers and
trowels can be rented.
are:
Special considerations
• damaged or loose sheet floor
covering
• damaged flexible floor tiles
• loose or damaged ceramic floor tiles
• buckled, stained or torn carpeting
• scratched or worn hardwood floors
• squeaking
Healthy Housing™
• Choose water-based glues for
flooring repairs. These products have
minimal affects on the indoor air
quality in your home, can be cleaned
up with water and cause few
disposal problems.
Tasks
Fix vinyl floor covering
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: replacement flooring,
masking tape, flooring glue
Tools: straightedge or square, utility
knife, putty knife, rolling pin
1. Cut a piece of flooring large enough
to cover the area to be patched
and to match any pattern. Tape the
replacement piece in place, lining up
any patterns with the existing
flooring.
Maintenance includes:
Safety
• regular sweeping and washing to
minimize dirt that will scuff and
scratch the floor.
Prevention tips
• Fix small problems before they turn
into big repairs.
• Have mats available outside your
entry door to encourage people to
wipe their feet and minimize the
amount of tracked-in dirt.
• Have people remove their shoes in
the house to avoid tracking dirt
through the house.
Repair tips
• When installing flooring, keep some
extra pieces in case you need
replacement parts for future repairs.
• If you install new vinyl floor
covering, try to choose a
heavyweight type, especially for high
traffic areas. The flooring will wear
better and need less maintenance.
• A putty knife is handy for removing
flooring and applying glue.
• Use a rolling pin to smooth the
patched area.
• The largest tile selection will
typically be found at a store that
specializes in tiles and flooring
products.
• A special carpet-cutting tool, similar
to a cookie cutter, is available from
carpet stores.
• It’s a lot easier to cut ceramic tiles
with a proper tile cutter. Tile cutters
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Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
• Older flexible tile flooring (usually
before the mid-1980s) may contain
asbestos. Asbestos poses health risks
only when fibres are in the air for
people to breathe. For a small repair
such as replacing a broken asbestos
floor tile, wet the material to
minimize dust, wear an approved
dust mask and protective clothing,
and do a thorough cleanup using a
vacuum with a HEPA filter. Check
with your local and provincial
authorities about how to safely
dispose of the asbestos material in
your area.
• Large repairs such as replacing an
entire floor that is covered with
asbestos tiles, will have to be done
by a contractor who is experienced
in asbestos removal. Anybody who
works with asbestos must wear an
approved face mask and gloves, along
with protective clothing. Additional
precautions such as isolating the
workspace, filtering the exhaust air
and disposing waste properly are
usually required.
• Damaged floors can pose serious
tripping hazards.
2. Using the utility knife, cut through
both pieces of flooring to create a
perfect patch.
3. Remove the entire patch piece and
the damaged piece of original
flooring.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
2. The tiles and subfloor should be
3.
4. Apply glue to the patch piece and
carefully press it into place in the
hole. Finish by flattening the patch
with a rolling pin, then wiping off
any extra glue.
kept at room temperature or
warmer before you attempt repairs.
Colder temperatures make the tile
stiff, more likely to break and
prevent the adhesive from adhering
properly.
Align the replacement tile with the
pattern on the existing floor. Check
to be sure that it fits in the old
opening before applying adhesive
or peeling off the protective
backing from self-adhesive tiles. If it
does not fit or the tiles overlap,
trim it with the utility knife.
Replace ceramic floor tiles
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: grout, tile adhesive or
mortar, tile
Tools: pencil or non-permanent marker,
mixing bowl, utility knife or glass cutter,
combination square or straightedge,
pliers, measuring tape, scrap piece of
wood to trim tiles on, notched tile
adhesive or mortar applicator, nippers,
trowels, tile cutter, rubber gloves,
protective eyewear
1. Remove grout around the tile with
a utility knife. Lift out the tile. If the
tile is hard to remove, break the tile
into small pieces with a hammer.
Wear protective eyewear to
protect your eyes from flying tile.
Scrape the old adhesive and other
loose material off the floor and any
existing tiles if you are going to use
them again.
Replace flexible floor tiles
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: replacement tiles, flooring
glue if tiles are not self-stick
Tools: straightedge or square, utility
knife, heat gun
4. Check the trimmed tiles for fit. If all
5.
1. Lift the old tile from the subfloor
with the help of the putty knife.
A heat gun will help to soften the
adhesive and make it easier to
remove the tile. Clean off the
adhesive from the subfloor. The
subfloor and replacement tiles must
be clean of adhesive and dirt in
order for the repair to work.
is okay and the subfloor is still
clean, you are ready to begin
resetting. Always start with full tiles
and work out toward the trimmed
ones. If the new tiles are selfadhesive, just peel off the protective
coating, line up the tile carefully, and
firm it in place. To set non-adhesive
tiles, apply a thin, uniform coat of
tile adhesive to the subfloor with
the applicator or putty knife before
firming each tile in place. Use a
rolling pin to firm in place.
Clean up excess adhesive
immediately according to the
manufacturer’s directions.
2. If you are using a new tile, you may
have to cut it to fit. Mark the cut line
or lines on the top (glossy) surface
of the tile using a pencil or nonpermanent marker. Make a straight
cut by lining up a straightedge or
square with the marked lines and
scoring (shallow surface cut) the
surface with a sharp utility knife or
glass cutter. You must press down
heavily enough to cut through the
tile glaze, so keep your fingers clear
of the blade. Afterwards, place the
scored line over the edge of a table
top, press the tile down firmly with
the palm of one hand, and snap the
overlapping edge off with the other
hand. The tile should break cleanly
off at the line. (Renting and using a
proper tile cutter makes this much
easier to do.)
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
27
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
3. Cut curved or round lines as a
4.
series of short interlocking straight
scores made just inside the area
perimeter. Score the enclosed area
with hatches, then carefully nip out
the enclosed, hatched area with
pliers. Rough edges can be ground
to shape with an inexpensive
grinding bit mounted on a power
drill.
Test fit the tile, then spread ceramic
tile adhesive on the tile back and
the space to be filled. If using
mortar, spread the mortar evenly
on the space to be filled using the
notched trowel. Press the tile or
tiles firmly in place, in line with the
existing tile edges. Clean out excess
adhesive from grout spaces.
Repair damaged carpeting
Repair hardwood floors
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: replacement carpet, doublesided tape, seam adhesive
Materials: wood filler and wood stain
to match
Tools: straightedge or square, utility
knife or carpet tool
Tools: putty knife, fine sandpaper, cloth,
rubber gloves
1. Clean dirt and debris from the area
2.
3.
4.
1. Cut away damaged carpet using the
2.
5. Once the tile has set firmly, fill the
6.
7.
8.
9.
28
joints with grout. Mix only as much
as you need, adding water to the
powder to form a paste. Press the
mixture into the joints with a putty
knife and finish tooling the joints
with a wet, gloved finger.
Wipe the excess grout from tiles
and other surfaces. Sponge grout or
mortar off tools in a shallow pail of
water. Wipe tools clean with a dry
rag.
Let grout dry for about an hour.
Do a finish polish with a soft, damp
cloth.
Dispose of the leftover grout in
your garbage, not down your sinks!
Let the newly grouted joints dry
overnight.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
carpet tool or utility knife and
straightedge.
Cut a replacement patch to fit the
hole. Be sure to line up the pattern
and nap of the patch with the
carpet. Cut double-sided carpet
tape slightly larger than the hole.
Insert the tape into the hole so that
it goes under the carpet and patch
seam.
3. Line up and place the patch so that
it matches the carpet pattern and
direction of the nap. Seal the seam
with the seam adhesive.
to be repaired. Patch the hole or
scratch with wood filler, using a
putty knife.
Gently sand the patch until it is
smooth and even with the
surrounding area.
Apply stain to the patched area so
it matches the rest of the flooring.
Seal the patched area with the
same coating as the floor.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
Stop floor squeaks
The structure of a house floor
consists of wood joists that are
supported by load-bearing walls, wood
beams or steel beams. Solid blocking
or cross-bridging may be used between
joists so loads can be shared. On top of
the joists is a subfloor made of plywood,
oriented strand board or, in older
homes, wood boards. If the floor finish
is sheet vinyl, vinyl tile or ceramic tile,
another layer of plywood or similar
product may be installed on the subfloor
to provide a smooth surface under
those materials. Hardwood and
carpeting may be installed directly over
the subfloor.
Floors squeak for a variety of
reasons. If the pieces of wood in the
layers are not tightly fixed to each other,
they may have enough flexibility to rub
against each other or against the
fasteners. Pieces may not have been
adequately fitted or fastened originally.
Solid wood pieces may have dried and
shrunk so fasteners are no longer tight.
Subfloor panels may squeak at the edges
where they meet. Panels may delaminate (glued layers separate) due to
moisture. In older homes, the floor
structure may not be rigid enough to
prevent squeaky floors. In order to stop
squeaks, all pieces must be properly
supported and tightly fastened.
The best time to fix floor squeaks
is before you install a new floor finish.
The first challenge is to pinpoint the
squeak. This is usually easiest if the joists
and subfloor are visible from below. In
the squeaky area, examine the joists and
subfloor while a helper walks on the
floor area above. If there is a finished
ceiling below the squeaky floor, you’ll
have to try to locate the squeak from
above. You’ll also have to try to locate
the joists by tapping the floor and
listening for a solid sound that indicates
a joist. Joists are usually found every
400 mm (16 in.).
Skill level rating: 3 - Skilled
homeowner
Materials: annular-ringed finishing nails,
common spiral nails, screws, glue, wood
shims, wood glue, putty or wax, solid
blocking, steel bridging,
Tools: hammer, screwdriver, nail set,
handsaw or circular saw, drill, chalk line
metals to come into contact. For
example, ensure that heating ducts and
copper plumbing pipes are separated
and securely fastened. Use wood
bridging instead of steel bridging where
necessary.
From below
Solid blocking
If the whole floor seems too
flexible, rows of bridging or blocking not
more than 2.1 m (6 ft. 10 in.) apart may
stiffen it by sharing loads between joists.
1. Measure the length of the joists
2.
3.
between supporting beams or walls
underneath.
Divide the length so that one or
two equally spaced rows of bridging
will not be more than 2.1 m (6 ft.
10 in.) apart.
Chalk a line on the underside of
the joists, perpendicular to their
length, where bridging is to be
located.
Joist
1. If you decide to use solid blocking,
2.
cut pieces from the same size
lumber as the joists.
Fit the pieces in place in a staggered
fashion to allow end nailing with
3 or 4 nails. Where necessary, use
smaller dimension lumber to
accommodate pipes or wires.
If there is a gap between a joist
and the subfloor:
Steel bridging
Subfloor
Shim
4. To install pre-manufactured steel
bridging, hammer one end into the
top of a joist and the other into the
lower part of the adjacent joist. Set
another piece at the opposite angle
to form an X. Since there are wires
and pipes between floor joists in
most houses, using steel bridging is
probably easiest. Wood bridging
consisting of pieces not less than
19 x 64 mm (3/4 in. x 2 1/2 in.)
or 38 mm x 38 mm (1 1/2 in. x
1 1/2 in.) can also be used.
Joist
1. Lightly glue a shim and tap it into
the gap between the joist and the
subfloor. Be careful not to drive it
in so hard that the subfloor rises.
Note: When metal bracing or heating
ducts come into contact with copper
plumbing pipes, an electrochemical
reaction can occur that will cause the
metals to corrode prematurely. To avoid
this reaction, do not allow the two
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
29
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
From above
Block
Finished floor
Joist
Subfloor
Joist
2. Alternatively, screw a lightly glued
19 mm (3/4 in.) or 38 mm
(1 1/2 in.) strap or block to the
side of the joist, tight to the
underside of the subfloor.
1. In hardwood floors, drill a suitably
2.
If there seems to be a squeak
between the subfloor and a buckled
wood finished floor.
Finished floor
Wood
screw
Subfloor
Joist
1. Hold the finished floor down with
a weight (if possible).
2. Drill pilot holes through the
3.
30
subfloor and into the finished floor
from underneath. Use a piece of
tape on the drill bit as a depth
indicator, to make sure that you
don’t drill through the finished
floor.
Screw the subfloor and finished
floor together using screws that are
long enough to secure them both.
Washers under the screw heads
will prevent them from being drawn
too far into the subfloor.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
3.
sized, angled pilot hole through the
finished flooring over a joist.
Drive a finishing nail through the
flooring into the joist.
Use a nail set to sink the nail below
the floor surface. Use a suitable
putty or wax to fill the hole.
It is very difficult to fix floor
squeaks in non-wood flooring types
from above without causing visible
damage. It may be possible to drive and
sink finishing nails through some carpets.
The chance of success in stopping
squeaks is limited. Removing the carpet
first is recommended.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
WALLS AND
CEILINGS
Special considerations
Walls and ceilings make up the
largest areas inside your home. Keeping
them in good shape makes them easy to
clean and helps to avoid bigger repairs.
• Use water-based paint for interior
painting. These products have
minimal affects on the indoor air
quality in your home, can be cleaned
up with water and cause few
disposal problems.
The most common wall and ceiling
problems are:
• holes and nail head pops
• cracks in the wall surface
• drywall taping pulling away from
the surface
• cracks around the bathtub or
shower
• loose or damaged ceramic tiles
• items such as handrails, curtain rods
that have pulled away from the wall
• gaps around electrical boxes and
plumbing breather vents that
penetrate into attic
Maintenance includes:
• interior painting.
Prevention tips
• When preparing to paint, take the
time to check and repair minor
damage that could lead to bigger
repair problems.
Repair tips
• Wallboard or drywall is easier for
a non-professional to repair than
plaster. If your home needs major
plaster repairs, consider whether it’s
within your abilities and can be done
within a reasonable period. Plaster
repairs involve special techniques
and can be messy. It’s often
worthwhile calling a professional.
• The largest selection of ceramic tiles
will typically be found at a store that
specializes in tiles and other flooring
products.
• Specialty tools such as manual or
electric tile cutters, nippers and
trowels can be rented.
• Use care when estimating the
amount of paint you will need for a
job. Leftover paint will spoil so it can
be stored only for short periods.
Store cans upside down.
Popped nail
Healthy Housing™
Cordless
screwdriver
Drywall screw
Safety
• If your home is more than 40 years
old, you should assume that the
paint in your home contains lead.
Lead-based paint is not dangerous
if it is in good condition, but if it is
peeling and flaking then the paint
presents a potentially harmful
situation. Sanding and scraping leadbased paint can also produce large
amounts of dust that contains lead.
• Those especially at risk from leadbased paints are infants, young
children, pregnant women and the
fetus. Paint samples can be tested
with a home test kit or through
laboratory analysis. Current federal
and provincial laws restrict the
amount of lead that can be
contained in commercial products.
Popped nail
wallboard
knife
Popped nail
Tasks
Patch small holes
Holes in drywall are usually caused
by minor damage such as moving a
picture or popped nails used to install
the drywall. Popped nails occur because
the framing lumber under the wallboard
does not dry enough during installation.
As the lumber dries, it shrinks causing
the nails to pop through the wallboard,
creating a hole.
1. Press wallboard against the wall
2.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: premixed drywall compound,
drywall screws, paper or glass fibre
drywall tape, paint
Tools: straightedge or square, drywall
saw, glue gun, wallboard knives or
scrapers, medium grit (80-100)
sandpaper, small block of wood or
sanding block, old cloth or paintbrush,
utility knife, screwdriver
3.
4.
stud and fasten a screw about
50 mm (2 in.) from the popped nail.
Hammer the popped nail into the
wall. Fill dents with drywall
compound. If drywall screws were
used, countersink the screw (so
that it rests slightly below the
surface) using a star type (Phillips)
screwdriver. In order for the nail or
screw to hold, the head should not
break the surface of the wallboard
paper.
When the compound is dry, sand
lightly, paint with a primer coat,
then paint to match the wall.
Other small holes can be filled with
compound, sanded lightly, then
painted.
Note: To reduce the amount of sanding
needed, lightly wipe over the compound
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
31
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
5. Cover the glass fibre or paper tape
you applied with a damp sponge.
Repair a large, damaged
area or hole
1. Use a straightedge or square to
50 mm
(2 in.)
tape
Tape overlap
100 mm (4 in.)
taping knife
Studs 400 mm (16 in.) on
center
100 mm
(4 in.)
minimum
4. Cut pieces of glass fibre drywall
tape and apply over the edges of
the patch. Alternatively, apply a thin
layer of joint compound over the
edges and embed paper tape into
the compound.
outline the damaged area.
2. Use a utility knife or drywall saw to
cut around the outlined area and
remove the damaged section. Avoid
damaging the air and vapour barrier
if the wall is an exterior wall. Cut
one or more pieces of 12 mm
(1/2 in.) plywood to slide into the
hole, partly behind the edges of the
surrounding drywall. Screw through
the surrounding drywall to hold the
plywood in place. The plywood
creates a backing, where required,
for the patch.
Joint
compound
150 mm
(6 in.)
taping knife
250 mm
(10 in.)
taping knife
Joint
compound
100 mm
(4 in.)
taping
knife
3. Cut a wallboard patch to fit the
hole. Screw the patch to the
installed backing or studs.
32
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Sanding block
with a layer of wallboard
compound, using a drywall trowel.
When the compound is dry, apply a
second coat over a larger area and
feather the edges (compound layers
gradually get thinner at the edges).
After the compound dries, sand the
area lightly until smooth. Repaint
the area to match the wall.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
Fill and finish surface
cracks
Narrow cracks can occur in walls
and ceilings due to normal movement
of the building from settling and changes
in temperature and humidity.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: premixed wallboard
compound, paint
Tools: wallboard knives or scrapers,
medium grit (80-100) sandpaper, small
block of wood or sanding block, old
cloth or paintbrush
Repair drywall taping that
has pulled away from the
wall
Caulk and fill cracks
around the bathtub or
shower
Drywall tape sometimes pulls away
from the wall and needs to be repaired.
This is usually caused by improper initial
installation.
Loose grout or sealant usually causes
cracks around the bathtub, shower or
bathroom tile joints. If these cracks are
not quickly cleaned out and filled, they
can let water in that will damage your
walls and the framing behind them,
providing a perfect environment for mold
growth inside your walls. Cracks also
catch dust and grow mold. Dust and
mold are increasingly being recognized as
sources for health and indoor air quality
problems.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: premixed wallboard
compound, paper or glass fibre mesh
tape, paint
Tools: utility knife, wallboard knives
or scrapers, medium grit (80-100)
sandpaper, small block of wood or
sanding block, old cloth or paintbrush
1. Strip out any detached tape. With a
2.
3.
1. Fill cracks with wallboard
compound.
4.
utility knife, cut the tape where the
detached portion ends.
Clean any loose joint compound
from the affected area.
Apply a thin coat of premixed
wallboard compound over the
affected area. Embed a new strip of
paper tape. Alternatively, apply glass
fibre mesh tape directly over the
affected area before applying any
joint compound.
Cover the glass fibre or paper tape
with a layer of wallboard
compound, using a wallboard
trowel. When the compound is dry,
apply a second coat over a larger
area and feather the edges
(compound layers gradually getting
thinner at the edges). After the
compound dries, sand the area
lightly until smooth. Repaint the
area to match the wall.
New grout should be installed in
joints between tiles. Since tubs expand
and contract slightly due to temperature
differences, grout is not suitable between
the tub and the tile walls. Silicone
sealant is required in that location.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: masking tape, waterproof
grout or bath and tub silicone sealant
Note: Grout comes in pre-mixed or
powder form that you mix with water.
Grout is harder to work with than
silicone sealant, but is less expensive.
Silicone sealant comes in either
squeezable plastic tubes or in larger
cylindrical tubes designed for use in
caulking guns. Be sure to follow the
directions on the label before using
either product.
Tools: cold chisel or slotted
screwdriver, putty knife, bowl or caulking
gun, rubber gloves
2. When the compound is dry, sand
3.
lightly, paint with a primer coat,
then paint to match the wall.
For larger cracks, remove any loose
material and smooth the edges of
the crack with a utility knife. Apply
glass fibre mesh tape or paper tape
and finish as described above.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
33
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Replace ceramic tiles
1. Scrape the old grout or sealant
from the crack, using the edge of a
chisel or an old slotted screwdriver.
Protect the finish on the bathtub by
putting masking tape on the edge of
the tub, close to where you will be
working and a drop cloth to cover
the remainder.
If you notice a loose or missing
ceramic wall tile, it should be repaired or
replaced as soon as possible to prevent
further damage. Choose a solvent-free
adhesive. The label on the product
should say solvent-free or non-toxic.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: grout , tile adhesive, tile
3. To use silicone, let the crack dry
2. Thoroughly clean the crack to
remove any soap, grease, or dirt. To
use grout, keep the crack damp and
follow the mixing directions on the
package. Work the mixture into the
crack to fill it completely, using the
putty knife. Smooth the surface. Wipe
away any excess grout with a damp
cloth before it gets hard. Allow the
remaining grout to dry completely
(usually 24 hours) before using the
tub or shower. Do a finishing polish
to remove any grout residue.
Note: Grout is very tough to
remove once it has hardened. Don’t
wash leftover grout down the sink,
as it may harden there and block the
drain! Dispose of it in your regular
garbage instead, and wash all traces
of grout off the bowl and putty knife
before putting them away.
completely first. Then cut the end of
the nozzle on the sealant tube at an
angle so the opening will match the
width of the crack. Apply a strip of
masking tape along each edge of the
crack to create the desired width of
caulking bead. Puncture the seal at
the bottom of the nozzle and mount
the tube in a caulking gun if
required. Hold the nozzle at a
45-degree angle in contact with both
edges of the work. Force a steady
bead of sealant into the crack. Try to
gauge the amount of sealant
required to create a smooth bead. If
necessary, remove any excess sealant
with a dry paper towel. Smooth the
surface by wetting your gloved index
finger and running it along the filled
crack. You have to act fast, as silicone
“skins” or surface dries in only five
to seven minutes. Complete drying
usually takes at least a day.
Tools: pencil or non-permanent marker,
chisel, mixing bowl, utility knife, nailset,
combination square or straight edge,
pliers, measuring tape, scrap piece of
wood to trim tiles on, tile adhesive
applicator, rubber gloves, eye protection,
nippers, tile cutters.
Nailset
Note: Silicone sealant, before it fully
dries, can be irritating to skin and eyes,
and must be used with the closest
window open for ventilation.
Old
adhesive
Chisel
Adhesive
Putty
knife
34
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
1. To remove an old tile first scrap
2.
out grout with the edge of a cold
chisel or old slot screwdriver, then
remove tile or if necessary, break
the tile into small pieces with a
hammer. Wear protective eyewear
to protect your eyes from flying
tile. Scrape the old adhesive and
other loose material off the wall. If
the wall where the new tile will be
installed is damaged from pulling off
the old tile, level and seal it with a
thin layer of adhesive. Allow to dry.
All used tiles that will be reinstalled
should be as clean as possible on
the back side.
If you are using a new tile, you may
have to cut it to fit. Mark the cut line
or lines on the top (glossy) surface
of the tile using a pencil or nonpermanent marker. Make straight
cuts by lining up a straightedge or
square with the marked lines and
scoring (a cut on the tile that just
cuts through the top surface) the
surface with a glass cutter or sharp
utility knife.You must press down
heavily enough to cut through the
tile glaze, so keep your fingers clear
of the blade. Afterwards, place the
scored line over the edge of a table
top, press the tile down firmly with
the palm of one hand, and snap the
overlapping edge off with the other
hand. The tile should break cleanly off
at the line. If you’ve never done this
before, try a practice piece first. Or, if
possible, rent and use a tile cutter.
4. Test fit the tile, then spread ceramic
tile adhesive on the space to be
filled. Press the tile or tiles firmly in
place, in line with the existing tile
edges.
Grout
5. Once the tile has set firmly, (refer
6.
7.
8.
to the manufacturer’s instructions
for the tile adhesive) fill the joints
with grout. Mix only as much as you
need, adding water to the powder
to form a paste. Press the mixture
into the joints with a putty knife
and finish tooling the joints with a
wet, gloved finger.
Let grout dry for about an hour.
Wipe excess grout from tiles and
other surfaces. Wash grout off tools
in a shallow pail of water.
Dispose of leftover grout in your
garbage, not down your sinks!
Keep the newly grouted joints dry
overnight. Do a final polish to
remove any grout residue.
Reattach items such as
towel bars, handrails,
curtain rods that have
pulled away from the wall
Sometimes towel bars, handrails or
curtain rods pull away from the wall,
especially if they were not well fastened
originally. If the screws through the
attachment brackets penetrated into a
stud, it may be possible to use a larger
screw in the same location. However,
when using a longer screw, there is always
the danger of puncturing hidden wires or
pipes. It is often better to move the
bracket a little to fasten into solid wood.
The same is true when fastening
through drywall alone. The original
attachment location is probably damaged
and unsuitable for reattaching the
bracket.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: toggle bolt or other hollow
wall fastener
Tools: drill, screwdriver, measuring tape,
stud finder
1. Remove the loose bracket, if
necessary.
2. Examine the original fastener
3.
4.
3. Cut curved or round lines as a
series of short interlocking straight
scores made just inside the area
perimeter. Score the enclosed area
with hatches, then carefully nip out
the enclosed, hatched area with
pliers. Rough edges can be ground
to shape with an inexpensive
grinding bit mounted on a power
drill. Nippers are available to make
this task much easier.
5.
6.
7.
8.
anchor or use a nail to probe into
the original anchor hole to try to
determine if fastening was done to
a stud or hollow wall.
A longer fastener may be enough to
reattach the object securely. If not,
determine another suitable location
for the bracket. Hold the bracket in
the planned location and mark the
screw holes. Use a finish nail to
lightly probe the new location to
determine whether you will be
fastening into a stud or hollow wall
(stud is preferred).
Patch the damaged location
following the appropriate wall
patching procedure Patching holes.
Drill the correct size holes in the
new locations for the screws or
hollow wall anchors.
Insert the wall anchors if required.
Screw through the brackets into
the stud or wall anchors.
Reattach the handrail or curtain rod.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
35
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Seal gaps around plumbing
vents that penetrate into
attic or through exterior
walls
To operate properly, all plumbing
drain lines must be vented. The vent
stacks run typically from the plumbing
drain lines up through the ceiling and
house roof, allowing outside air to
replace water being flushed or drained
away. Sometimes, plumbing traps from
kitchen or bath sinks are vented
vertically through an exterior wall cavity
to connect to a main vent. Without
vents, the draining action would create a
vacuum and pull water and air through
plumbing traps. Without the traps, sewer
gases could back up into the house.
Usually, there is at least one large
diameter, 76 mm (3 in.) vent stack for
each toilet and smaller vents that run
from other plumbing fixtures and
connect to one of the larger stacks. In
many houses, the holes through the
ceiling or walls for the plumbing vents
are not sealed properly. Any attic
penetrations may allow leakage of warm,
moist house air into the attic, which is a
major cause of attic moisture. Improperly
sealed penetrations through the interior
air/vapour barrier of exterior walls may
allow air and moisture leakage that can
be uncomfortable and cause damage to
the walls. All ceiling and wall penetrations
should be tightly sealed.
Attic
hatch
Plumbing
stacks
and
chimneys
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: rubber gasket material or
vent stack roof flashing (“roof boot”),
non-hardening acoustical sealant, low
expansion closed cell polyurethane
foam, contractor’s sheathing tape,
roofing nails
Tools: utility knife, caulking gun,
hammer, dust mask, goggles
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Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Seal slits with sealant
Above
partition walls
Recessed electrical boxes
Sheet rubber gasket
caulked and stapled
to wall finish
1. Enter the attic and locate the
2.
3.
4.
Because the ABS plastic vent stacks
(or even the older cast-iron stacks) are
subject to warm moist air as well as
cold air from outside, they may expand
or contract slightly along their length.
A flexible seal works best. Since most
vent stacks are routed inside frame
walls, access to the stack is usually
easiest from the attic.
gasket. Follow the manufacturer’s
installation instructions.
10. Replace the ceiling insulation.
Attic penetration
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
plumbing vent stack where it comes
up through the ceiling. Be careful
where you step when you are in
the attic. Walk only on trusses or
joists so that you do not fall
through the ceiling below.
Move insulation away from the
stack to allow room to work. Be
careful to wear respiratory and eye
protection when disturbing
insulation.
If installing a flexible seal is possible,
prepare a piece of sheet rubber
gasket about 300 mm (12 in.)
square with a round hole in the
centre to accommodate the pipe
and a slit from the edge to the hole
(or, for the right size pipe, use a
rubber roof boot with a slit).
Fit the rubber gasket around the
pipe.
Run a bead of acoustical sealant
under the edge of the gasket
against the top of the polyethylene
air/vapour barrier or the ceiling
material if there is no polyethylene
sheeting.
Use roofing nails to fasten the
rubber sheet to the top of the wall
plate, if possible.
Tape the edge of the rubber gasket
to the top of the polyethylene
air/vapour barrier or ceiling
material.
Run a bead of acoustical sealant
along the slit in the gasket from the
edge to the centre.
In the rare situations where
expansion is not expected, it is
possible to seal the ceiling
penetration around the vent stack
with low expansion polyurethane
foam instead of using a flexible
Exterior wall penetration
1. If installing a flexible seal is possible,
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
prepare a piece of sheet rubber
gasket about 150-200 mm (6-8 in.)
square with a round hole in the
centre to accommodate the pipe,
and a slit from the edge to the hole.
Fit the rubber gasket around the
pipe.
Run a bead of acoustical sealant
under the edge of the gasket
against the polyethylene air/vapour
barrier or the wall finish.
Tape the edge of the rubber gasket
to the polyethylene air/vapour
barrier or wall finish.
Use staples and thin wood strips to
fasten the rubber sheet to the wall,
if possible.
Run a bead of acoustical sealant
along the slit from the edge to the
centre.
Alternatively, instead of using a
rubber gasket, seal the penetration
around the vent with low expansion
polyurethane foam or caulking.
Follow the manufacturer’s
installation instructions.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
Seal wall and ceiling
electrical boxes and wires
1. Enter the attic and move sections
Seal joints and wiring penetrations in metal box
of insulation one at a time to locate
any ceiling penetrations. There will
be plumbing vent stacks (described
above), ceiling electrical boxes and
wires that penetrate the top plates
of walls. Wear respiratory and eye
protection when disturbing
insulation.
Seal any wiring passing through
wall finish with caulking
Low density closed cell foam
gasket with adhesive backing
In many houses, there is only
insulation, not a sealed air/vapour
barrier above metal ceiling electrical
boxes or behind wall boxes. Holes for
the passage of wires through wall top
plates are often not sealed at all.
Insulation does little to prevent air
leakage. Since there may be a number of
these penetrations, a lot of warm, moist
house air may leak into the exterior
walls or attic causing not only heat loss
but also moisture damage.
Air leakage occurs through holes,
not directly through finished wall or
ceiling materials like drywall or plaster.
All wall or ceiling penetrations should
be tightly sealed.
Seal all joints
with caulking
Rated recessed
light fixture
Caution: Insulation should not be
placed around recessed ceiling light
fixtures, unless the fixture is specifically
designed to accommodate the insulation.
Overheating and a fire hazard may
result. If recessed lighting fixtures are
CSA rated to be covered by insulation
and are accepted by the local electrical
inspector, then any holes in the metal
box may be sealed with aluminum foil
duct tape and insulation placed over
the box. If the recessed fixture is not
appropriate for direct insulation cover,
follow the manufacturer’s instructions
and building code requirements
regarding clearance around it. A
manufactured plastic box or a site-built
plywood box that provides the correct
clearance may be used to air seal around
the fixture.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
2. Using polyethylene sheeting, place
3.
4.
Materials: polyethylene air/vapour
barrier, acoustical sealant, contractor’s
sheathing tape, receptacle box gaskets
5.
Tools: utility knife, caulking gun
6.
a patch about 300 mm square
(12 in.), over any unsealed electrical
box.
Tape the patch to the top of the
ceiling air/vapour barrier or ceiling
finish. (Before taping, make sure that
the surface is clean so that the tape
will stick well.)
Use tape or acoustical sealant as
required to seal the patch to the
ceiling and to seal any wires to
the patch.
Use tape or acoustical sealant to
seal any holes around wires that
penetrate the top plates of walls.
Finally, install manufactured foam
gaskets behind the cover plates of
all exterior wall receptacles.
Standard
recessed light
fixture
Caulk wiring
at penetration
Plywood or drywall box
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
37
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Painting the interior
Tools: rollers and tray, extension handle
for the roller (if you are painting ceilings
or high walls), paintbrushes 50 mm
(2 in.) to 100 mm (4 in.) wide, preferably
with chisel edges, an angular sash brush
(good if you are painting window frames,
mouldings or other narrow surfaces),
detergent, sponges or cleaning cloths,
masking tape, drop cloths, stepladder,
paint bucket, mixing paddles, protective
clothing
• Scrub moldy areas with a mild
unscented detergent solution. Rinse
with clean water and let dry. Refer
to Clean up visible mold in the
Foundations and Basements section.
• Sand glossy areas lightly so that the
fresh paint can adhere.
• Wash away loose, powdery, flaking
or peeling paint with unscented
detergent and warm water. Loose,
flaking or peeling paint must be
scraped off and the depression filled
and sanded smooth. Spot prime with
the paint you have chosen.
• Remove old wallpaper and paste by
soaking with warm water or special
mixtures made for the job before
scraping them off. Wash away excess
glue before painting.
• Unpainted plaster, drywall, concrete
and cement blocks should all be
thoroughly dry and aged or cured
before painting. They should be
primed with a sealer coat first.
• Seal knots in unpainted wood with
an enamel undercoat.
Prepare to Paint
How Much Paint to Buy
• Consider whether the old paint may
have lead in it. Refer to the Safety
tips earlier in this section.
• Before you paint or repaint, check
the surface carefully and repair any
defects such as crayon marks and
nail holes.
• Use drop cloths or plastic sheets to
protect your floors and furniture
against paint splatters.
• Remove curtains, pictures, electrical
switch plates and outlet plates.
Cover the switches and receptacles
with masking tape. If other fixtures
cannot be removed, edge them with
masking tape. Be careful not to get
wet paint into electrical openings.
• Remove small pieces of furniture.
Larger pieces may be pushed into the
middle of the room and covered with
newspapers or a plastic drop sheet.
• Exposed nail heads should be
hammered in and countersunk,
then filled with patching compound,
sanded smooth, and wiped clean
before painting.
• Fix popped nails and cracks in
wallboard. Fix cracks and holes in
plaster. Refer to Patch small holes
earlier in this section.
• Clean dirt, smoke and grime off
walls and ceilings.
The quantity of paint required
depends on the surface being painted
and the type of paint used. A safe
estimate would be to allow 1 L (about
1 quart) of paint to cover approximately
8 m2 (about 86 ft2) of wall surface for
each coat. Several coats may be required
depending on the quality of the paint
and the colour being covered.
Painting your house regularly not
only makes it look fresh and clean, it
prevents damage that could later cost
money. Peeling paint or surfaces that
have never been protected with paint
can lead to rotted and unsightly
woodwork. Prevention is cheaper than
repairing the damage after it is done.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: paint
38
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Painting Sequence
Ceiling: Start with the ceiling if you are
painting both walls and ceiling. Begin in
a corner and work in small areas as far
as your arm can comfortably reach.
Paint across the shorter measure of
the ceiling.
Walls: Work in small convenient areas,
painting from top to bottom. With a
50 mm (2 in.) trim brush, “cut in” the
ceiling and wall edges, then use a roller
to fill in.
Sash
Window
frame
Apply the Paint
Assemble all the tools that you
need. Work in comfortable clothes at a
comfortable room temperature—20°C
to 22°C (68°F to 72°F) is ideal—and
work at a comfortable speed. Provide
ventilation, preferably by opening the
windows before you paint. Always allow
the full drying time between coats and
remember that temperature and
humidity can affect drying times. Follow
the instructions on the paint can.
Windows: These need only patience
and a steady hand. A 50 mm (2 in.)
angular sash brush lets you apply the
proper amount of paint. Paint the
window sash top, front and muntin bars
(the narrow bars between the frames)
first. Finish by painting the window
frame, top, sides and bottom.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
1
2
3
Doors: Paint door panels first, then
horizontal strips, followed by vertical
strips. If the door opens into the room
being painted, paint the latch edge. If
the door does not open into the room,
paint the hinge edge. Note: You can help
to prevent sticking and dragging by
sanding door edges before painting.
This will keep paint from building up and
causing the door to stick.
Baseboards: Coat the top of the
baseboard first, then the floor edge.
Use masking tape to protect varnished
or carpeted floors.
Cupboards: Remove all drawers and
hardware. Paint the inside of the
cupboards first. Paint moldings around
any trim panels. Paint the rest of the
frame, then the top. On the drawers,
paint only the exposed edges and the
front panels. Stack drawers, bottom
down, until thoroughly dry.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
39
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
PLUMBING
Plumbing systems usually work well
if they are maintained regularly, small
problems are fixed promptly and simple
measures are taken to prevent
problems. Most plumbing problems that
do occur involve leaks or clogs in
fixtures or pipes.
The most common plumbing
problems are:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
leaking faucets
clogged drains
overflowing toilets
toilets that run constantly
toilet flushing problems
condensation on tanks
leaking toilets at the base
leaking shower stalls and tub
surrounds
plumbing leaks in all types of pipes
plumbing noises
frozen pipes
problems with water pumps and
pressure tanks
Maintenance includes:
• Hot water heaters—flushing the
tank and testing relief valves
• Septic system—periodic pumping,
practices to avoid overload or
damage to the system
• Water treatment equipment—
changing filters and adding chemicals
• Sump pumps—checking to ensure
the pump and discharge lines
operate.
Prevention tips
• Prevent clogged drains. Dispose of
grease, hair or food in the garbage,
not down the drain. Use a strainer
basket in your sink to catch food
bits and pieces.
• Use a homemade drain cleaner once
a month to clean out kitchen and
bathroom drains. Do not use
chemical drain cleaners.
40
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Homemade drain cleaner
Once a month or so, it’s a good
idea to clean out the kitchen and
bathroom drains. Use a homemade
cleaner, which is economical and will
not damage your plumbing and
septic system.
Ingredients (Buy these at the
grocery store)
250 ml (1 cup) baking soda
250 ml (1 cup) table salt
65 ml (1/4 cup) cream of tartar
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Store
it safely out of children’s reach, in an
empty jar or tin and label clearly.
To use
Put about a 65 ml (1/4 cup) of the
mixture into the drain and add one
cup of water. The mixture will fizz
and bubble. When the bubbling stops,
run clear water through the drain.
• Prevent clogged toilets. Throw
disposable diapers, sanitary napkins,
wads of tissue and cigarette butts
in the garbage, not in the toilet.
• Improve water flow by keeping the
screens cleaned in faucets.
• Do not store things on or against the
hot water tank, particularly near the
exhaust hood or pilot light in the
case of a gas or oil heater. Do not
store in this area any items that may
give off combustible fumes and could
cause an explosion, including gasoline,
paints and cleaning products.
• Do not let anything fall against the
hot water tank. Any blow or sudden
jolt could crack the glass lining
inside.
• Insulate your hot water tank with a
hot water tank blanket, available at
your hardware or plumbing store.
These special insulating covers help
hold the heat in the tank and
conserve energy. When insulating
any fuel-fired hot water tanks, it is
very important not to insulate over
any controls or to obstruct
combustion air openings or vent
connections. The insulation should
not come in contact with the vent
connection. Before insulating, check
with your local installer or gas utility
to ensure that you will not
compromise the safety or operation
of the water heater.
• Ensure that all occupants know
where the main water supply shutoff valve is located. Shut-off valves
for the main water supply and
fixtures should be closed and
opened periodically to ensure that
they are not stuck in the open
position. Both the main valve and
fixtures valves must be operable so
that water can be turned off in an
emergency or when plumbing
repairs are necessary.
Repair tips
• Before starting any plumbing repairs,
shut off the water as close to the
repair area as possible. Depending
on the repair, you may also need to
first drain the pipes.
• Protect chrome taps with masking
tape, painter’s tape or a piece of
rubber tubing (that is, bicycle inner
tube) to avoid damage.
• Even though a name and model
number may be all you need so that
you ask for the right replacement
part, it’s always best to take the
parts that have to be replaced with
you to the store. This way, you’ll get
exactly what you need.
• Always follow the manufacturer’s
instructions for the specific fixture
that you’re installing.
• Rent specialty tools such as a toilet
auger if you need it.
Special considerations
Healthy Housing™
• Leaking faucets, toilets, and pipes
waste water. One drip per second
from a leaking hot water tap or
shower head sends about 800 L
(about 200 gal.) of hot water down
the drain every month. That’s not
only water going down the drain—
it’s money, whether it’s for your
water bill, hot water bill or more
frequent pumping needed for a
septic system. The leaking water also
keeps surrounding areas moist,
which can cause iron stains and lead
to mold growth.
• Installing aerators in your faucets is
an easy and very inexpensive
maintenance task that can reduce the
amount of water you use by half or
more. If a faucet, shower head or
toilet needs to be replaced, choose
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
low flow fixtures that will reduce the
amount of water you use in your
home. During a six-minute shower,
using a low-flow shower head, you
could save as much as 108 L (23 gal.).
• If your toilet is old and needs
repairs, it may be better to replace it
with a low flush toilet with an
insulated tank. These toilets use only
6 L (1.3 gal.) of water per flush
instead of older toilets that use 20 L
(4.3 gal.) or more. The insulated tank
will prevent “tank sweating” that can
cause mold growth on the drywall
behind the tank or on surfaces
where the moisture drips.
Ball faucet
Compression faucet
Skill level rating: 3 - Skilled
homeowner
Materials: assorted plumbing washers,
packing wicking, waterproof grease
Tools: adjustable wrench or pliers,
screwdriver, utility knife.
Materials: repair kit for your particular
faucet
Tools: adjustable wrench or pliers,
screwdriver, utility knife
Handle
Setscrew
Decorative cap
Screw
Adjusting
ring
Handle
Packing nut
Packing washer
Cap
Repair
kit
tool (or
Allen
wrench
Stem
Cam
Cam washer
Seat washer
Screw
• Chemical drain cleaners are
dangerous to use and pose serious
hazards to the environment.
Spout
Ball
Valve seal
Spring
O-rings
Safety
1. Note whether the water is leaking
• Protect yourself from serious health
risks due to lead exposure. Use
lead-free solder when soldering
copper pipes.
• Regular water testing for bacteria is
recommended for households that
depend upon well water. For a
drilled well, test the water twice a
year—in the spring and fall. If the
water is from a dug well, test the
water three times a year—in the
spring after the snow melts, midsummer and fall. Contact your local
health unit or health department to
find out where test bottles are
available. In many areas, testing is
free and the sample bottles are
available at the health unit.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Tasks
Repair leaky faucets
There are two general types of
faucets—faucets that have washers
(compression faucets) and washerless
faucets (ball, ceramic disc or cartridge).
Faucets may look different, but they
usually leak because they have worn or
cracked washers, seals, O-rings or
cartridges. Replacement parts are
available at hardware or building supply
stores.
from the tap spout or under the
handle of the faucet. Turn off the
water at the nearest shut-off valve.
Next, turn on the tap and wait until
the water stops running.
Unscrew and remove the handle.
The screw to remove the handle
may be underneath the cap on the
top of the faucet.
If you suspect that water was leaking
around the packing or cartridge nut
under the handle, try tightening the
nut with a wrench. Test the tap and
if water still leaks, turn off the water
again and loosen the nut.
If this is not the cause of the leak
loosen the packing or cartridge nut
and pull out the tap’s valve unit or
cartridge.
Remove the screw holding the old
washer at the end of the stem and
replace with a washer of the same
size and type. Replace the washer
screw and any O-rings if they show
signs of wear. Coat new washers
and o-rings with grease.
Note: Very old fixtures may have wicking
or a packing washer instead of a rubber
washer. If your tap has packing, wrap the
spindle with packing wicking under
packing nut.
Faucet
body
1. Turn off the water at the nearest
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
shut-off valves. Turn on the tap and
wait until the water stops running.
Loosen the setscrew holding the
handle. Remove the handle and
inspect the adjusting ring for dirt
and wear.
Tighten the adjusting ring and test
to see if this has fixed the leak. If
not, turn off the water again, run
the water until it stops and
unscrew the cap to the faucet body.
Remove the cam, cam washer, and
rotating ball.
Gently remove the valve seals and
springs inside the faucet.
Remove the faucet spout by gently
pulling upward. Cut off O-rings and
replace with new ones from the
repair kit. Coat new washers and
O-rings with grease. Reinstall the
spout.
Replace springs, valve seats, ball,
cam washer and cam with new
parts from repair kit.
Reinstall faucet cap and faucet
handle.
Turn the water back on and test
for leaks.
6. Replace the valve unit and turn it
7.
to the open position with the
unattached handle. Tighten the
packing nut, then close the valve
and reattach the handle.
Turn the water back on and test
for leaks.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
41
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Cartridge faucet
Ceramic disc faucet
Materials: replacement cartridge for
your particular faucet, waterproof
grease.
Materials: replacement cartridge for
your particular tap
Tools: adjustable wrench or pliers,
needle-nose pliers, screwdriver, utility
knife.
fix this problem yourself. Call the
plumber.
Tools: adjustable wrench or pliers,
needle-nose pliers, screwdriver
Handle
Cap
Set Screw
You can clear a single clogged
drain by:
•
•
•
•
•
cleaning the strainer
cleaning the stopper
using a plunger
cleaning out the trap
using a drain auger.
Screw
Escutcheon Cap
Handle
Mounting Screws
Cartridge
Spout
Neoprene Seals
Skill level rating: 4 - Qualified
tradesperson/contractor (plumber) will
be needed if the mechanical methods
don’t work.
Materials: water
Cartridge
Tools: screwdriver, plunger, wrench,
groove-joint pliers, needle-nose pliers,
funnel, drain auger, coat hanger, small
container to catch water
Faucet body
O-rings
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Retainer clip
1. Turn off the water at the nearest
1. Turn off the water at the nearest
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
42
shut-off valves. Turn on the faucet
and wait until the water stops
running. Remove cover cap and
unscrew handle screw. Raise lever
to allow it to release from the stem
and lift off.
Remove the retaining nut from
the faucet stem.
Pull out the retaining clip from
the top of the cartridge.
Pull the cartridge straight up using
pliers.
Replace the cartridge with a new
cartridge of the same size and type.
Re-insert the retaining clip.
While the faucet is apart, you may
want to replace the O-rings for the
spout. Pull the spout up and off to
expose the tap stem. Remove the
old O-rings and replace with new
rings of the same size and type.
Coat new O-rings with grease.
Replace the spout.
Replace the retaining nut, collar,
handle, handle screw and cap.
Turn the water back on and test
for leaks.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
2.
3.
4.
5.
shut-off valves. Turn on the faucet
and wait until the water stops
running. Remove cover cap and
unscrew handle screw. Remove
handle.
Continue to disassemble parts and
carefully place them in sequence
to make it easy to re-assemble.
Remove the cap, and cartridge
assembly.
Replace any worn inlet seals and
the cartridge.
Reassemble the parts in sequence
or referring to manufacturer’s
instructions.
Turn the water back on and test for
leaks.
Clear clogged sink or tub
drain
When a drain clogs, you must find
out whether the clog is in the one drain
only or in the main drain. By running
water through the drain in another part
of your home, you can soon find out.
Don’t flush a toilet to try to locate the
stoppage. Flushing the toilet releases too
much water and may cause an overflow.
Instead, half fill a sink in another part of
the house. Pull the plug. If the water
drains easily it means the clog is only in
the drain under the stopped-up sink or
tub. If the water does not run out, it
means the main drain that connects all
your sinks and tub is plugged. You can’t
Strainer
Clean the sink or tub strainer
1. If your sink or tub has a removable
2.
3.
4.
strainer, remove the screw from
the strainer to a safe place.
Lift the strainer up and out of the
sink.
Clean the strainer and the sink
opening below (tailpiece) as far as
you can reach. Needle-nose pliers
are handy for removing hair in the
drain. A coat hanger can also be
used to reach down further.
Run water through the sink to see
if it drains properly. If so, replace
the strainer and screw it down.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
Stopper
Plunger
Trap
Trap
Moulded
Plunger
Plug
Install Remove
Stopper
Use a plunger
Pipe
Rod
There are two types of plungers—
moulded and plain suction cup. Use a
moulded plunger to clear a drain.
1. Remove the stopper or strainer.
2. Place the plunger over the drain. It
Screw
Nut
Clean the sink or tub stopper
1. If your sink or tub has a stopper,
2.
3.
4.
5.
try to remove it by turning it
counter-clockwise and lifting.
If the stopper cannot be removed
by turning, unscrew and remove the
rod holding it back. To do this, place
a container under the sink, loosen
the screw and remove the nut from
the pipe. You should be able to lift
the stopper out.
Clean the stopper and the drain
opening as far as you can reach.
Needle-nose pliers are handy for
removing hair in the drain. A coat
hanger can also be used to reach
down further.
Place the stopper back in the
opening and reattach the rod, nut
and screw, if necessary, or simply
turn the stopper clockwise to lock
it back in place.
Remove the container and turn on
the tap. If the drain is still clogged,
the next step is to use a plunger.
3.
4.
5.
works better if you plug the
overflow drain (the hole in your
sink or tub just under the taps or
at front of the sink) with a cloth or
piece of duct tape. This increases
the suction effect of the plunger.
Turn on the water until there is
about 50 mm (2 in.) of water in
the sink or tub.
Move the plunger up and down
several times. Be patient; it may take
repeated attempts to clear the clog.
If you are successful, the water in
the basin will drain away once the
plunger is removed. When this
happens, turn on the tap water.
If the water drains properly, replace
the stopper or strainers. If the drain
is still clogged, try cleaning out the
trap.
Cleaning out the trap
Trap with a plug
1. Place a container under the trap.
2. If the trap has a plug, remove it with
3.
4.
5.
a wrench or groove-joint pliers by
turning it counter-clockwise. Let all
the water drain out.
Cut the hook end off a wire coat
hanger. Bend one end of the hanger
into a small hook.
Push the hook into the trap, push
and pull with it until the clog is
cleared. Clean the trap opening
with a brush or rag.
Reinstall the plug and turn on the
water. Check for proper drainage.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
43
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Use a drain auger
Through the sink opening
(tailpiece)
Install
Install Remove
Remove
1. Remove the stopper or strainer.
2. Push the auger into the sink drain
Washers
Slip nuts
Trap
3.
Trap without a plug
1. Loosen the two slip nuts with a
2.
3.
4.
5.
wrench or groove-joint pliers.
Note: Protect chrome pipes and
fixtures with a cloth or with layers
of tape before using a wrench on
them.
Remove the trap and clear out any
obstruction with a piece of wire.
Clean the trap with a brush or rag.
Check to see that the two washers
that fit between the trap and the
nuts are not damaged. If they are,
take them to your hardware store
and buy matching replacements.
Reattach the trap by holding it
firmly in position and tightening
the two slip nuts.
Turn on the tap and check for leaks
and proper drainage.
4.
opening until it stops. When you
feel resistance, start turning the
handle in one direction only. Exert
some pressure, but do not force
the auger.
Exert pressure and turn the auger
handle so it moves further down
the drain. Continue doing this until
the auger moves freely in the pipe.
Free movement means that you
removed the clog.
Remove the auger and clean it.
Replace the stopper or strainer
and pour hot water into the sink.
Check to see if the drain is working
properly.
Through the sink trap
1. Remove the plug or trap.
2. Push the drain auger into the pipe
3.
4.
5.
until it stops. Exert moderate
pressure and turn the handle in
one direction only. The auger
should move further into the pipe.
Continue until the auger moves
freely.
Remove the auger and clean it.
Replace the plug or trap and pour
hot water into the sink.
Check to see that the drain is
working.
Note: In the unlikely event that
your drain is still not clear after trying
all these methods, call a plumber.
Toilet Repairs
Handle
Diagnose toilet problems
Auger
Problem
Solutions
Overflowing toilet
1. Use a plunger to clear the toilet.
2. If plunger doesn’t work, use a toilet auger.
If auger doesn’t work, call a plumber.
Stopper
Drain
Running toilet
Water is more than 25 mm
(1 in.) below top of overflow
tube
Water doesn’t shut off
Toilet flushing
Refill tube fallen out of
overflow tube
44
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
1. Repair flush ball. Or
2. Clean the valve seat. Or
3. Adjust float ball guide.
1. Repair or replace the float ball.
2. Repair or replace inlet valve.
1. Reattach refill tube so it stays inside
overflow tube.
Loose handle
1. Tighten handle nut.
Loose or unscrewed lift chain
1. Tighten flush ball or replace.
2. Shorten chain so that the flush ball or
flapper seals tightly.
Condensation on toilet tank
1. Insulate tank
2. Replace tank with an insulated tank
Leaking toilet seal
1. Replace toilet seal.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
You can easily fix minor toilet
problems. Most flush toilets are similar.
Some toilets may have parts that look
different than the one pictured, but all
toilets work and are generally repaired
in the same way. Newer toilets usually
have a flapper instead of a tank ball to
close the tank valve.
Overflowing toilets are generally
caused by something that is caught in
the toilet trap. You have to try to
dislodge this object, either with a
plunger or a toilet auger.
Handle
Float Ball
Flush Ball
Valve Seat
Materials: water
Tools: screwdriver, plunger, wrench,
groove-joint pliers, needle-nose pliers,
funnel, drain auger
4.
5.
Toilet augers are thicker than drain
augers and have a long handle that
protects the bowl from scratches.
1. Turn the handle and apply pressure
Rim
Bowl
Suction cup
1. Depressing the handle causes the
3.
Use a toilet auger
Push the end of the auger into
the toilet bowl drain opening.
Plunger
Before trying to repair a toilet, learn
how the system works. The mechanism
inside the tank is designed to produce
enough water to flush the bowl
completely. It works like this:
flapper (or flush ball) to rise, releasing
water from the tank through the
valve opening into the bowl.
The float ball drops with the level
of the water in the tank.
As the tank empties, the flapper
(or flush ball) sinks slowly back into
place on the valve, shutting off the
water flow to the bowl.
As the float ball drops, it lifts the
inlet valve in the ballcock assembly
unit that controls the flow of water
into the tank.
Fresh water flows through the
ballcock assembly into the tank. This
causes the float ball to rise with the
water level. As it rises, it depresses
the inlet valve and shuts off the
water flow as the tank fills.
Trap
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Toilet Bowl
2.
Auger
Bowl
Note: The only things that should be
flushed down the toilet are human
waste and toilet paper.
Tank
Ballcock
Clear an overflowing toilet
2.
Trap
Toilet
Opening
Use a plunger
1. If necessary, pour water into the
2.
3.
toilet bowl until the bowl is half full.
Do not flush the toilet. This action
may release too much water and
overflow the bowl.
Place the suction cup of the plunger
over the toilet drain opening. A
moulded plunger usually works best
in toilets.
Move the plunger up and down
until the water drains from the
toilet upon removal of the plunger.
Clean out the drain by flushing the
toilet several times. If the toilet
does not clear after using the
plunger, use an auger.
until the auger is down as far as it
will go. This action should clear the
clog.
Remove the auger and pour a pail
of water into the toilet bowl. If it
drains away freely, the clog is gone.
Flush the toilet several times to
clear the drain completely. Clean
the auger and put it away.
Note: If this method does not
work, the clog may be in the main drain.
In this case, call a plumber.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
45
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Fix running toilets
Repair the flush ball
To find out where the problem is
located, first remove the top of the
tank and place it where it will not be
damaged. Check the water level in the
tank. If it is more than 25 mm (1 in.)
below the top the overflow tube, the
flapper (or flush ball) needs correcting.
You will either have to repair it, clean
the valve seat, or adjust the float ball
guide.
1. Turn off the shut-off valve. If you
If water is running into the top of
the overflow tube, the float ball needs
correcting. You will have to repair or
replace it. If the problem is neither the
flush ball nor the float ball, the inlet
valve may be causing the problem.
Replace the tank top when you are
finished with your repairs.
2.
3.
4.
Skill level rating: 3 - Skilled
homeowner
5.
Materials: will depend on the problem
6.
Tools: coat hanger
7.
Tank
Coat Hanger
Float Ball Arm
Hook
Handle
8.
Flush
Ball
Guide
Lift Wire
Flush Ball
Valve Seat
do not have a shut-off valve, bend
a coat hanger over the top of the
tank. Place the hook around the
float ball arm and bend the hook to
keep the arm in its highest position.
Unless there is something wrong
with the inlet valve, the hook will
keep the tank from filling while you
fix the toilet.
Note: If there is something wrong
with the inlet valve, you may have
to shut off the main water supply
while you first repair the flush ball.
Flush the toilet to empty the tank.
Check the flush ball to see that the
lift chain is firmly attached, and
whether there are signs of damage
or wear. If the chain is loose, damaged
or worn, replace the flush ball.
If the flush ball seems okay, the ball
seat may need cleaning or the flush
ball guide may need repair.
Remove the flush ball by holding
the lift chain up and turning the
ball clockwise.
Install a new flush ball of the same
size and type on the lift chain by
turning it counter-clockwise.
Alternatively, you can replace the
flush ball with a flapper.
To replace the flush ball with a
flapper, remove the flush ball, lift
chain and guide rod. Slide the collar
for the flapper over and down to
the base of the overflow tube.
Position the new flapper over the
valve seat.
Bowl-refill Tube
Shut-off Valve
Lift wires
Trip
Lever
Overflow
Tube
Guide Rod
and Collar
Flush
Ball
Thumbscrew
46
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Overflow
Tube
Flapper
Collar
Valve Seat
Bowl-refill
Tube
Trip Lever
Overflow
Tube
Lift Chain
Flapper
9. Adjust the lift chain and attach to
the lift arm. There should be about
12 mm (1/2 in.) slack.
10. Depress and release the handle
several times. Check to be sure the
new flush ball or flapper sits evenly
on the ball seat. Turn on the water
or remove the coat hanger.
11. Check that the toilet is shutting off
properly and that the water level
rises to about 25 mm (1in.) from
the top of the overflow pipe.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
Clean the valve seat
Top
Lift Wires
Overflow Tube
Guide Rod
Lift Wire
Tank
Arm
Float Ball
Flush
Ball
Flush Ball
Valve Seat
Valve Seat
Adjust the flush ball guide
Repair or replace the float ball
1. Turn off the water to the toilet.
2. Loosen the screw in the guide.
3. Move the guide left and right, and
1. Gently lift the float ball arm. If the
Steel Wool
4.
5.
Rim
Valve Seat
1. Shut off the water and flush the
toilet.
2. Raise the flapper or flush ball and
3.
clean the rim and inner surface of
the valve seat with steel wool.
Turn on the water.
up and down until the flush ball sits
evenly on the ball seat. Hold the
guide in this position and tighten
the screw.
Turn on the water to the toilet.
Flush the toilet and check to see
that it flushes correctly. Some
toilets have a flapper operated by
a chain instead of a float ball and
guide. To adjust, change the length
of the chain until the flapper sits
evenly on the ball seat.
2.
3.
4.
5.
water does not shut off, the inlet
valve needs repair. If the water does
shut off, the problem is in the float
ball arm or the float ball itself.
Observe the float and the arm
during a flush. If either touch the
sides of the tank, bend the arm
enough to correct the problem.
If the problem continues, remove
the float ball by turning it counterclockwise. If it contains water,
replace it.
Attach a new float ball to the arm.
Adjust the arm until the new float
ball is about 12 mm (1/2 in.) lower
than the overflow tube. Flush the
toilet and check whether the water
shuts off when it is about 25 mm
(1 in.) below the overflow tube.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
47
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Fix toilet flushing problems
If the toilet will not flush at all or
flushes very slowly, locate the problem
and repair the lift or connecting wires,
or the chain.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: none
Tools: none
1. Check to see whether the refill
Shut-off Valve
Screws
Entire
Valve
Assembly
Bracket
Fix the inlet valve
1. Turn off the water to the toilet.
2. Remove the screw in the linkage
3.
4.
5.
6.
arm and lift out the inlet valve.
Check the washers for damage.
Install new washers of the same
size and type and place the inlet
valve on the linkage arm. Place the
arm in position on the bracket and
secure it with the screws.
Turn on the water to the toilet.
Flush the toilet to see if the inlet
valve is working properly. Sealed
inlet valves must be replaced.
If you are still having problems,
replace the entire assembly with a
modern inlet-float assembly. Your
hardware store can give you instructions,
or you can have a plumber install it.
2.
3.
4.
tube has fallen out of the overflow
tube. If it has, reattach the refill
tube so it stays inside the overflow
tube.
Check the handle to see if it is
loose. If it is, hold the handle and
tighten the nut on the inside of the
tank with a wrench, but not too
much because it can crack the tank.
Check the lift wire to see if it is
loose or has come unscrewed from
the flush ball. Tighten the flush ball
onto the wire or replace it.
If your toilet has a flapper
supported by a chain, disconnect
the chain and shorten or lengthen
it until it reaches from the arm to
the flapper with about 12 mm
(1/2 in.) of slack. Re-connect the
chain to the trip arm.
Insulate or replace toilet
tanks
When warm humid air comes in
contact with a cold surface, the air
becomes cooler and water vapour in
it condenses into drops of water. This
situation often occurs in a bathroom
where the air is warm and humid and
the toilet tank is cold. To minimize
condensation on an uninsulated toilet
tank, raise the surface temperature of
the tank by insulating it or lower the
relative humidity in the bathroom
through ventilation or dehumidification.
Another option is to replace the toilet
tank with a new insulated tank. If the
tank is already insulated, but still prone
to condensation, you will need to lower
the relative humidity in the bathroom.
Use the bathroom fan regularly to
exhaust warm, moist air. Use a portable
dehumidifier in the bathroom in hot,
humid weather, if needed.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: toilet tank insulation kit or
12.5 mm (1/2 in.) polystyrene insulation,
silicone sealant
Tools: caulking gun, utility knife, rag
1. Close the shut-off valve on the
toilet water supply line.
2. Flush the toilet twice to empty the
tank.
3. Wipe or sponge inside of the
empty tank to dry it well.
4. Line the tank sides and bottom
5.
6.
7.
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Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
with polystyrene from a kit or cut
pieces of polystyrene to fit.
Seal the insulation in place with
silicone sealant.
Allow the sealant to dry for
24 hours.
Open the shut-off valve to refill
the tank.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
Replace wax toilet seal
Porcelain Cap
Water on the floor around the
toilet or a sewer gas smell may indicate
that the seal at the base of the toilet has
failed. Sometimes a toilet may not be
firmly seated due to an uneven floor,
loose flange where the toilet connects
to the drain or loose bolts holding the
toilet to the flange. Eventually this
movement can cause the seal between
the toilet and the floor flange to fail.
You can often fix the problem and
reinstall the toilet. However, this
problem may also be considered an
opportunity to replace an older toilet
that has an uninsulated tank with a new
low-flush water usage toilet, 6 L/flush
(1.3 gal.) with an insulated tank. The
new toilet will use much less water and
the insulated tank is less prone to
condensation. These points are good
to bring up with a landlord or property
manager if they must make the decision.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner, lifting the toilet may require
two people
Materials: wax seal, toilet bolts, silicone
caulking
Rag
14. Carefully turn the toilet bowl over,
6. Disconnect the tank from the bowl
by removing the tank bolts, if
necessary.
7. Pry off or unscrew the caps at the
base of the bowl that cover the
toilet bolts.
8. Remove the nuts and washers
from the toilet bolts.
9. Rock the toilet slightly to break the
seal between the toilet and the flange.
10. Pull the toilet straight up. Try to
catch any leftover water in a pail.
11. Temporarily plug the toilet
drainpipe in the floor with a rag to
prevent any debris from falling in
or sewer gas from coming out.
Closet Bolt
Water
Supply Line
Flange
Flexible Tubing
Shut-off Vale
1. Turn off the shut-off valve on the
water supply line to the toilet.
2. Flush the toilet twice.
3. Remove the lid on the toilet tank
4.
5.
and set it aside carefully. Note:
porcelain toilets are easily damaged.
Use a sponge to remove the
remaining water from the tank and
bowl. You may not be able to get all
the water out.
Disconnect the water supply line at
the tank.
Horn
Washer
Tools: wrenches, level, sponge,
screwdriver, pail, putty knife, caulking gun
Compression
Nut
Wax Gasket
Nut
12. Scrape the floor flange for the
toilet to remove any old wax or
debris. Ensure that the flange is
secure and at least 6 mm (1/4 in.)
above the floor. If the flange is too
low, you may be able to use a
special gasket with a plastic sleeve
that fits into the flange. If the flange
is cracked, it will have to be
replaced. This may require
professional help.
13. Slide the old bolts out of the slots
in the flange and replace with new
bolts, if necessary. Align the bolts in
the previous position and parallel
to the wall.
remove the old wax seal, clean the
discharge opening and press the
new wax gasket in place.
15. Remove the temporary rag in the
floor drain pipe.
Level
Nut
Shim
16. Turn the bowl upright and lower it
carefully in place over the bolts
and flange. Press and jiggle slightly
until the toilet base is firmly seated
on the floor. Replace the nuts and
washers finger-tight on the bolts.
17. Ensure that the tank (reattach if
necessary) is parallel to the wall.
Carefully tighten the toilet bolts
alternately. Note: over-tightening
may crack the porcelain bowl. Snap
the plastic caps back onto the
toilet flange nuts and washers.
18. Re-connect the water supply line.
Flush the toilet several times.
Replace the tank lid. Check for
leaks at the base of the tank and
base of the toilet a few times over
the next 24 hours.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
49
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Repair leaking shower
stalls and tub surrounds
19. Caulk around the base of the toilet
with mold-resistant silicone to ensure
that any water on the bathroom
floor doesn’t get under the toilet
where it may damage the floor.
Shower stalls or tub surrounds may
have finished walls of ceramic tile, fibrereinforced plastic or acrylic resin. Water
that gets behind any of these finished
surfaces may cause damage to the
supporting wall surface, framing or
insulation and allow mold to grow.
Water may leak behind the finish
because of damage to the finished wall
surface, deteriorated caulking or
plumbing leaks.
3.
4.
Skill level rating: 3 - Skilled
homeowner
Materials: mold resistant silicone
caulking
Tools: caulking gun, putty knife, rags,
detergent, water, rubber gloves, pail,
masking tape
5.
Deteriorating
Floor
Assess and repair the tub surround
or shower enclosure
1. Gently push against the walls
2.
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Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
above the tub. If the wall is soft or
flexible, there may be damage or
mold growth in the underlying
drywall, insulation or framing.
This will likely become a major
renovation where professional help
is required. Have a professional
investigate further.
In particular, check around any
window that may be above the tub.
Because these windows are often
the coldest surface in a warm, moist
room, condensation may occur on
them. If condensation is severe,
water may run down the wall
behind the tub surround. If
condensation is a problem, clean
up any mold (if there is any) as
6.
described in Foundations and
Basements and consider better
bathroom ventilation (see Ventilation).
Look for mold growth on any
surfaces, particularly in the bead of
caulking between the tub and tub
surround. Clean up small areas of
mold according to the mold
cleanup instructions in Foundations
and Basements.
Look for missing caulking between
the tub and tub surround or around
penetrations in ceramic tile walls
such as soap dishes and faucets. If
necessary, remove damaged or moldy
caulking by scraping gently with a
putty knife. When re-caulking, use
two rows of masking tape to define
the edges of the caulking bead. Cut
the end of the caulking tube at a
45 degree angle and far enough back
to produce a bead that will fill the
joint. Apply kitchen and bathroom
silicone caulking. Using a wet finger,
quickly shape the bead. Strip off the
masking tape to leave the bead of
caulking with uniform edges.
Look for any damaged surfaces
such as loose acrylic resin panels
or damaged ceramic tiles. Make
sure that the back of any loose
acrylic resin panel is dry and that
the wall behind the panel is in good
condition before fastening the panel
in place using a compatible adhesive
(refer to the installation
instructions or the caulking label to
see if the adhesive can be used with
the type of panel you are repairing).
Caulk as noted above.
If you suspect water leaking behind
fixtures, remove the wall cover
(escutcheon) plates around the
showerhead and taps. Unscrew the
tub faucet. Each of these should
have an upside down horseshoe
shape of caulking behind the plate
that prevents water from leaking in
the top or sides but allows water
to drain out the bottom. Scrape
and remove old caulking, as
required. Re-caulk with a kitchenand bath-type silicone caulking
before replacing wall cover plates.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
Fix leaks in ABS drain pipes
Even slight water leaks that go
unchecked can cause serious mold and
rot problems. All water leaks should be
repaired promptly. Investigate any
suspicious water stains or slight drips
before they cause damage. Metal drain
fittings from sinks fit into ABS plastic
drainpipes through connections that
have tapered plastic compression
washers. As the fitting is tightened (by
hand), the washer seals around the
metal pipe. Below that are traps that
should always hold enough water to
prevent sewer gases from coming back
up through the drains. Many traps have
a small clean-out port on the bottom
with a screw type plug and washer. All
plumbing drain lines, other than traps,
should be sloped down appropriately
and supported sufficiently to prevent
sags in the pipe. All water must drain
freely and all solids must be carried out.
1. Examine all compression fittings and
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
trap clean-out plugs. If there are any
signs of leaks, tighten gently. If leaks
persist, disassemble the fitting; clean
thoroughly; install a new
compression washer; re-assemble
and tighten gently. Check for leaks.
Examine accessible pipes (usually in
the basement or crawl space) for
leaks or sags.
If there is a leak at a fitting, it is
usually best to cut the fitting out
and replace it.
Ensure that the drain will not be in
use during repair.
Cut the pipe a few inches to each
side of the fitting.
Use two straight connectors
(sleeves), two short lengths of pipe
and a new fitting to replace the old
one.
Carefully cut the short lengths of
pipe to the right lengths.
Occasionally ABS plastic pipe joints
may leak because the connection was
never properly cemented.
Skill level rating: 3 - Skilled
homeowner or may be
Skill level rating: 4 - Qualified
tradesperson/contractor. Check local
requirements.
Materials: required ABS pipe, fittings
and straight connectors, ABS solvent
cement, compression washers, pipe
strapping, wood screws
Tools: hacksaw, mitre box, tape
measure, pencil or marker, utility knife,
cement brush
Incomplete
Bead
Proper
Bead
8. With a utility knife, smooth the
inside of the cut and bevel the
outside edge.
10. Do each connection in a sequence
9. Dry fit all pieces together before
using any cement.
that will allow you to fit the final
connection in position. Apply a
liberal amount of solvent cement
to both mating surfaces. Slide the
pipe fully into the fitting and twist
it into final alignment. Remember
that cement sets in less than a
minute so work quickly. Look for a
small continuous bead of cement
all the way around the joint to
ensure a complete seal. Hold the
two pieces in the proper alignment
for at least 30 seconds.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
51
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
11. After a few minutes, repeat this
procedure on the next connection
until the complete drain line has
been successfully re-assembled.
12. Add additional straps to support
any sags in long horizontal runs
of pipe.
13. Wait 12 hours before running
water through the pipe.
14. Check for leaks.
Secure noisy pipes
Resilient
Pad
Plumbing noises may be caused by
water supplies or by drainpipes. Water
hammer is a banging noise when a faucet
is turned off. This occurs because water
is travelling under pressure in a supply
pipe and it has suddenly been stopped.
The sudden stoppage shakes the pipe.
Securing the pipe may stop the noise or
you may need to install a water hammer
arrestor, or air chamber, at the fixture.
The chamber provides a cushion of air
for the water pressure. Drainpipes may
also bang if they are not sufficiently
secured.
Resilient
Pad
Gurgling noises or poor drainage
may indicate an obstructed, poorly
installed or missing vent system. Check
for obvious obstructions where the vent
exits the roof. If there are none, have a
plumber inspect the system.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: Copper pipe clamps and
nails (for copper pipe); steel strapping
and wood screws (for plastic pipe); any
rubber cushioning material
Resilient
Pad
Tools: hammer, screwdriver
1. Check for pipe hangers that are
2.
too loose or too tight. If pipes are
accessible (usually in a basement
or crawl space), gently try to jiggle
them. If they rattle, you’ve found
a place that needs better support.
Turn on the hot water. The heat
causes cold pipes to expand. If you
listen along the hot water supply
line and hear a ticking sound, the
pipe is secured too tightly and
cannot expand along its length.
3. Adjust copper pipe straps as
Resilient
Pad
4.
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Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
necessary ensuring that they are
neither too loose nor too tight.
Add a piece of rubber between the
pipe and the strap for a cushion.
Use only copper straps and nails
with copper pipe to avoid
corrosion caused by a reaction
between dissimilar metals. Add
more straps as required.
Adjust or add steel straps and
rubber cushions to the drainpipes
as required. Make sure there are no
sags in long horizontal runs.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
Thaw frozen pipes
Repair problems with
water pumps and pressure
tank
If water lines freeze outside your
home, call your local works department.
Don’t repair them yourself! If lines
freeze inside your home, you can try to
solve the problem yourself or call a
plumber.
Tip
• If the pipes in your home freeze
from time to time, insulate them or
install a heater cable. Special pipe
insulation and pipe heating cables
are available from your local
hardware or building supply store.
Work from open faucet
towards frozen area
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: epoxy paste, rubber pad,
hose clamp, joint tape, cloths
Tools: heater cable or pad or vacuum
cleaner or hair dryer or heat gun,
rubber gloves
Thaw frozen lines inside
1. Turn off the water and try to find
2.
out exactly where the pipes are
frozen. Look in places where the
pipes are likely to get cold, such as
in a crawlspace, an unheated cellar
or under a mobile home behind the
skirting.
Inspect visible areas of frozen lines
for splits or cracks. If you find any,
you can usually repair them
temporarily until a plumber comes.
Wrap tape around small leaks and
use an epoxy paste on joint leaks.
Make sure the pipes are dry first.
Another option is to use a rubber
pad, held in place by a hose clamp.
Larger cracks can be temporarily
sealed with a rubber or vinyl pad,
held in place by a bolted pipe clamp.
3. If no splits or cracks are visible, use
4.
gentle heat to thaw the frozen area.
Here are some methods that you
can use:
a. Wrap cloths around the frozen
pipe and wet them with hot
water. OR
b. Wrap an electric heater cable or
heating pad around the frozen
section. OR
c. Blow air on the frozen section
using your vacuum cleaner
wand, attached to the exhaust of
your vacuum cleaner. OR
d. Blow air on the frozen section
using a hair dryer or heat gun
but do not hold it too close.
Wear rubber gloves to prevent
an electric shock.
Open all taps that are connected to
the frozen lines so melting ice can
run out of them. Always proceed
with caution. Never heat pipes to a
temperature higher than your hand
can stand. Never use a torch. It
makes intense, not gentle heat. Work
from an open tap toward the frozen
area to prevent steam from being
trapped behind the ice and bursting
the pipe. When the pipe begins to
thaw, water will drip from the tap.
A waterlogged tank or a faulty
pressure switch may cause problems
with a water pump that either will not
start, or starts and stops too frequently.
A pressure tank should be filled partly
with air and partly with water. Some
tanks have an air valve so that after the
tank is drained down, the tank can be
slightly pressurized (usually 15 psi or
less) using any type of small air pump.
Newer water tanks have a diaphragm
that separates the air cushion from the
water and is less prone to problems.
Either way, the air compresses and
provides water pressure in the supply
lines without the pump turning on until
pressure has diminished to a level set
at the pressure switch.
A unique problem in Alberta is
natural gas seeping into drilled water
wells, which can also cause air blasts,
in which case a degasifier may be
required. In some cases, the problem
is so extreme that when a lighter is
turned on next to the faucet just
after the air blasts occur, the flame
will keep burning at the tap for a
second or two. Call a plumber to fix
this problem.
If, after following the instructions
below, the tank seems to be
operating properly but the pump still
doesn’t run well, the pressure switch
may be defective. Consult a plumber.
Skill level rating: 3 - Skilled
homeowner
Materials: none
Tools: hose or pail
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
53
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Float-type
Air Volume
Control
Pressure
Gauge
Relief
Valve
Pressure
Electrical
Tank
Disconnect Box
Controls Power
to Pump
Air
Water
Drain
Valve
Shut-off Valve
Shut-off Valve
Fix a waterlogged tank
If there is no air pressure in the
tank, it is referred to as being
“waterlogged” and the pump will start
and stop every time water is used.
1. Shut off power to the pump.
2. Attach a hose to the drain valve at
the bottom of the tank.
3. Open the drain valve and a faucet
4.
5.
in the house. Drain all the water
out of the tank.
Turn off the faucet, close the drain
valve and remove the hose.
Turn the power on to the pump.
Fix an airlock
If air blasts out of the faucets
occasionally, the pressure tank may
have an air lock.
Maintain hot water heaters
Adjust temperature
Water heating typically accounts for
20 per cent of the total energy used in a
home, so it pays to keep your hot water
tank in good repair. Hot water tanks
can be purchased either from hardware
or building supply stores or often from
your local utility company. Rental
programs are also usually available from
your local hydro or gas company.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: none
Always have a qualified person
install and maintain the water heater.
His expertise is especially important
if you have a gas or oil water heater
with a pilot light and burner. Gas and oil
water heaters burn fuel when they heat
the water. In any situation where burning
or combustion occurs, it’s important
that the fuel is totally consumed for the
system to operate safely and efficiently.
When improper combustion occurs,
gases are given off that can harm you.
A qualified contractor or installer from
the utility will ensure that your gas hot
water tank is operating safely.
Electric water heaters have elements
that sometimes burn out and need to be
replaced. This happens more often in areas
with hard water because the elements
become coated with minerals, overheat
and burn out. Call your local electric utility
or plumbing contractor if your water
heater is not operating properly.
Tools: screwdriver
1. Adjust the water temperature to as
low a point as practical for your
household. Electric water heaters
usually have two elements, one at
the top and one at the bottom.
Both of these elements have
adjustable thermostats.
Note: Keep the thermostat at 60°C
(140°F). A lower setting can allow
legionella bacteria to grow that can
be a serious health risk.
2. To adjust the thermostats, remove
the panels near the top and at the
bottom of the tank.
3. Turn the small setscrew to a lower
setting. The factory settings are
usually at 65°C (about 145°F.). Your
electric utility company can advise
you about adjustments or repairs.
Gas and oil water heaters have one
adjustment control, on the outside of
the tank, at the bottom. Your gas or oil
utility can advise you about adjustments
or repairs.
1. Shut off power to the pump.
2. Attach a hose to the drain valve at
the bottom of the tank.
3. Open the drain valve. Leave it open
4.
5.
6.
7.
until there is no more pressure in
the tank.
Close the drain valve and remove
the hose.
Turn the power on to the pump.
If the tank has a diaphragm, the air
lock may have been caused by a
leak in the pipe between the well
and the tank. Check all fittings.
Consult a plumber if there are
further problems.
Check for leaks.
Thermostat
Control
Thermostat
Control
Gas
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Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Access
Panel
Drain
Valve
Electric
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
Prevent sediment accumulation
Sediment will build up in a hot
water heater, especially in homes that
have high mineral levels in the water.
Draining part of the water that is stored
in the tank will help to prevent sediment
from accumulating and will extend the
life of the tank. This should be done
every six months.
CAUTION: The water coming from
the tank is hot. Be extremely careful
so no one gets burned.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: none
Tools: garden hose, bucket
Testing the temperature and
pressure relief valve
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
The sacrificial anode is a rod that
is screwed into the top of the tank and
prevents the tank from rusting. The rod
is made of magnesium or aluminum,
which is wrapped around a steel core
wire. The rod needs to be replaced
usually every five years to prolong the
lifespan of the water heater. It should
be replaced sooner if a 150 mm (6 in.)
section of the steel wire is exposed or
if the rod has a hard calcium coating.
Skill level rating: 4 - Qualified
tradesperson/contractor (plumber)
if valve has to be replaced.
Skill level rating: 3 - Skilled
homeowner
Test the temperature and pressure
relief valve on your hot water heater
once a year. The relief valve prevents too
much pressure building up in your tank.
If not tested regularly, minerals in the
water can prevent this valve from
functioning properly.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Materials: replacement anode to fit the
make and model of your hot water tank,
if there isn’t much overhead clearance,
you may need to use a segmented rod
so that you can get it into the tank
Materials: none
Tools: bucket
1. Attach the hose to the water
heater drain at the bottom of the
tank.
Run the other end of the hose into
a floor drain, to a sink or outdoors
if an option.
Open the drain valve in the tank
to let the water flow.
Allow the tank to drain until the
water looks clear.
Close the drain valve. Remove the
hose.
Note: If the water doesn’t run clear,
you may need to shut off water
supply and then empty and refill the
water heater and repeat the
flushing process.
Replace the sacrificial anode
Pressure Relief
Valve
Tools: wrenches to fit the anode screw
Water
Supply
Valve
Water
Supply
Valve
Sacrificial
Anode
The relief valve is usually on the
top or the side of the water heater and
should have an overflow pipe attached.
CAUTION: Testing the relief valve
may release steam or hot water that
can cause burns.
1. Shut off electricity to the water
2.
3.
4.
heater. For an oil or gas water
heater, turn down the thermostat
so the heater does not start up.
Place the bucket under the
overflow pipe.
Lift or depress the pressure relief
valve handle. Water should drain
out of the overflow pipe.
Turn electricity back on or adjust
the thermostat to its original
setting (oil or gas).
Electric
Gas
1. Shut off the water supply and
2.
3.
4.
electricity to the heater. For an oil
or gas water heater, turn down the
thermostat so the heater does not
start up.
Unscrew the rod and remove it.
Insert the replacement rod and
tighten it into the top of the tank.
Turn water and electricity back on
or adjust thermostat to original
setting (oil or gas).
If water doesn’t drain out or leaks
after you’ve tested it, the valve is not
working properly. Try opening and
closing it a few times to get it to seal
properly. If the valve continues to leak,
call a plumber to replace the valve.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
55
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Maintain septic system
Maintaining your septic tank
properly will keep it operating better
and help prevent expensive repair or
replacement costs.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Skill level rating: 5 - Specialist/Expert
to pump the septic system
Materials: none
Tools: measuring stick
1. Have the tank inspected every year
2.
3.
4.
to measure sludge (settled solids)
and scum levels (floating sewage).
Tanks should be cleaned when the
scum level is within 75 mm (3 in.)
of the bottom of the outlet device
or if the sludge depth exceeds
600 mm (24 in.). Tanks generally
need to be pumped out every two
to three years. Consult the yellow
pages in your phone book to find
a septic pumping service. A properly
installed and maintained system
lasts about 25 years.
Septic tanks use bacterial action
to decompose the wastes. Use
cleaning products that are
biodegradable and do not harm
the bacteria in your tank. Large
amounts of bleach, lye, acids or
disinfectants will kill the bacteria
and stop your septic tank from
functioning properly.
Try to keep your water
consumption steady. Your septic
system will be overloaded by a
sudden increase in water.
Septic systems need to “breathe”
in order to function well. Tree
roots, pavement and driving cars on
or near the system can stop your
system from working well.
Open discharge septic systems
are still widely used and meet
(PSDS) Private Sewage Disposal
Systems codes in Alberta. Rocks
should be piled up around the
ejector line. A fence should always
be installed around the ejector line
and lagoon area to keep pets and
children out of the main shoot-out
area. The lagoons have proven to be
a deadly “attraction” for children. It
is important to educate children
about the hazards.
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Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
1. Direct roof water, storm water,
2.
3.
surface water and foundation
drainage water away from the tank
disposal field.
Put paper towels, newspaper,
disposable diapers and sanitary
napkins in the garbage, not into
your toilet. These items often clog
pipes and septic systems.
If you suspect a leak in your septic
system, have it checked
immediately. A leaky system can
contaminate the ground water and
make people sick.
Maintain water treatment
equipment
Change a filter cartridge
1. Most filter units have a built-in
2.
3.
4.
Water softeners and particle filters
are the most common types of water
treatment equipment. The chemicals in
water softeners need to be replaced
periodically. Follow the manufacturer’s
instructions.
5.
Simple particle filters are installed
in a horizontal section of the water
supply pipe. Filters must be changed
periodically.
7.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: replacement filter cartridge
Tools: rag
Filter Housing
Filter
Cartridge
6.
shut-off valve with the ON and
OFF positions marked on the unit.
Usually, turn a knob on the top of
the unit 1/8 turn to the OFF
position.
Grasp the filter housing with two
hands and turn counter-clockwise
about 1/8 turn to release the
housing and filter cartridge from
the unit.
Lower the filter housing from the
unit. Be careful—it will be full of
water.
Empty the water from the housing.
Note which end of the filter is up.
Discard the old filter. Wipe out the
housing with a clean rag.
Insert a new filter into the housing
with the correct end up.
Slide the filter housing up into
place and secure by turning
clockwise until it locks into
position (usually 1/8 turn or less).
Turn the knob on the unit back to
the ON position.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
Maintain sump pumps
Discharge Line
When the drainage tile around the
outside of the house cannot disperse
water from around a foundation, sump
pits and pumps are used to relieve
the water before it rises above the
basement floor. Sometimes perimeter
drainage tiles cannot be drained
elsewhere and so they are routed into
the sump pit where the water can be
pumped out. In other cases, the sump
pit just accepts water from weeping tile
or a gravel drainage layer under the
basement floor and drains to the sewer
system or a dry well.
Sump pumps may be either
submersible or pedestal types. When
water in the pit reaches a certain height,
a float-activated switch turns on the
pump. When the float lowers far enough
as the water subsides, the pump shuts
off. Water is pumped out through a
discharge line that dumps outside and
away from the house.
Check Level
of Float Switch
Sump Pit
Check weeping tiles for sediment,
obstructions or root growth
4. Use a hose or bucket to pour
6.
7.
8.
Skill level rating: 3 - Skilled
homeowner
Materials: contractors sheathing tape,
bucket or hose with water
Tools: hose, dust mask, goggles
1. Open the sump pit cover. The pit
2.
3.
may contain mold. Wear goggles and
dust mask as a basic safety
precaution.
Inspect the pit and inlet lines.
Remove any debris or obstructions.
Check the inlet screen at the pump
base to ensure that it is clear.
Check the breaker and electrical
connection to ensure that the
pump should be operational.
Check for a
secure tight
fitting cover
over sump pit
Inlet
5.
Sump pump systems that are
inspected and maintained regularly are
less likely to fail during an emergency.
Sump pumps fail for a number of
reasons. Inlet pipes from perimeter
drain tiles or from under the floor may
become obstructed. Pump motors may
burn out. Pump switches may fail to
activate the pump. Power outages may
eliminate power to the pump. Discharge
lines may become disconnected; they
may freeze outside; or they may dump
water too close to the house so that
it just runs back in. An unsealed or
non-existent pump lid may allow
moisture, mold spores or soil gasses
into the house.
Sump
Pump
9.
water into the pit. Make sure that
the float switch starts and stops the
pump at an appropriate water level.
If the start and stop water levels
are not appropriate, adjust the float
level and try the test again.
If the pump does not work at all,
re-check the electrical connection.
If that seems fine, the pump switch
or pump may need replacement.
Check the discharge line for leaks.
Ensure that any hose clamps are
tight and fittings are secure.
Check where the end of the
discharge line empties outside the
house. If the line is not sloped so
that it drains quickly, it may freeze
and be inoperable when needed
most. Adjust slope as required. If
the line terminates just outside the
wall of the house, make sure that
splash blocks direct water away
from the foundation.
Replace the sump pit cover. Make
sure that it fits tightly to prevent
entry of moisture, mold spores and
soil gases into the house. Tape slots
or holes in the cover, as required. If
necessary, make a new cover from
plywood sealed in heavy
polyethylene.
If power failure during emergencies
is a concern, consider purchasing a
sump pump system with battery
back-up.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
57
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
ELECTRICAL
Electrical power comes to your
home from your hydro company. It flows
through the meter, which records how
much electricity you use. It then passes
in to the main power control switch
located near your fuse or circuit breaker
box. From there, it travels to all
electrical fixtures and outlets throughout
your home.
The most common electrical
problems are:
•
•
•
•
•
•
blown fuses and tripped breakers
broken wall outlets
broken wall switches
damaged cord plugs
burned out light bulbs
broken light fixtures
Maintenance includes:
• checking for any damaged switches,
outlets, cords and plugs.
Prevention tips
CAUTION: Never forget that
electricity can seriously injure or even
kill you.
• Always follow the instructions that
come with electrical appliances and
never attempt difficult repairs.
• When changing or replacing fuses,
switches and outlets always make
sure the main switch is shut OFF.
If possible, also lock the main switch
OFF so you or someone else cannot
accidentally turn it on. An easy way
to jam the switch OFF so it can’t be
accidentally tripped to ON is to
insert a screwdriver through the
lock hole in the handle. If the ground
is damp near the box, place dry
boards over the damp areas and
stand on them. Wear rubber-soled
shoes to help protect you against an
electric shock.
• Use common sense and always think
about possible shock hazards before
acting. Do not use appliances if they,
you, or the area you are standing in,
is damp or wet.
• Know where to find the main power
switch and circuit box so you can
act quickly in an emergency. Usually
it is located inside your house,
close to where the electrical meter
is located (now usually outside).
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Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
• Do not use extension cords if you
can avoid it. In a new home,
extension cords should be
unnecessary. Outlets are placed
throughout new houses at
convenient locations and should not
be more than two metres (six feet)
from where you want to place your
appliance. Do not put more than
two plugs into any one outlet. That’s
what the outlet is designed to hold.
Do not take risks.
• Do not overload electric outlets.
Heaters, electric kettles, toasters and
older refrigerators use a lot of
electricity. Stoves and dryers each
need to have a heavy-duty, specialty
outlet. In a new house, outlets
specially designed for heavy loads
are usually found in the kitchen, just
above the kitchen counter.
• Only a qualified, licensed electrician
should install extra electrical outlets.
This point is very important.
Note: Your electrical system was
inspected when the house was built.
If an electrical fire occurs, any
improper changes or additions could
result in loss of coverage by your
insurance company. Also, in some
locations, you may not be permitted
to do electrical repairs. Check with
your local utility company.
• A circuit tester is a handy diagnostic
tool that allows you to check
whether outlets are grounded and
whether current is flowing. Testers
are available at your local hardware
store and may save you from a
careless mistake.
• Plug grounded (three-prong) plugs
only into grounded (three-prong)
outlets. Do not alter the plug to fit
into the outlet.
• Check to see whether the light bulb
is screwed in properly or burned
out before replacing the fixture.
Repair tips
• If you have a fuse box or an
electrical stove, it’s a good idea to
keep a few spare fuses of various
ratings around in case you have a
problem when stores are closed.
If the cartridge fuses in your switch
box keep blowing, it’s time to call
an electrician.
• Choose a new fixture that is rated
the same as the old one.
Special considerations
Healthy Housing™
• Use energy-efficient lighting such as
compact fluorescent bulbs.
• If an appliance needs to be repaired,
consider whether buying a new
appliance may be a better, costeffective solution. New appliances
use less energy than older or
re-conditioned units. They may cost
more to buy, but will provide
significant savings on electricity
costs. When selecting a new
appliance, compare the EnerGuide
ratings to help you estimate the
energy savings you will gain. Choose
the model with the most favorable
ratings to help reduce your
household energy consumption.
Safety
• Check your appliances for labels or
stickers indicating they are approved
either by the Canadian Standards
Association (CSA) or by
Underwriters’ Laboratories of
Canada (ULC). Do not use
unapproved appliances.
• Keep electrical appliances in good
working order. Examine them for
frayed cords, bare wires, and loose
connections at plugs and outlets.
Make repairs promptly.
• Do not use light bulbs that have a
higher wattage than the rating of
the electrical fixture.
• Protect children by installing
childproof wall outlet covers on
wall outlets.
• Ensure that ground fault circuit
interrupter (GFCI) outlets are
installed in locations where moisture
increases the risk of shock, such as
in a bathroom or outside. When you
try to plug an appliance into the
outlet and the conditions are too
damp, the GFCI shuts off. You’ll need
to push the reset button to make
the outlet function. Test the GFCI
monthly by pushing the test button.
This action should cause the reset
button to pop up. Push the reset
button down so that the outlet
functions.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
Tasks
Replace fuses and reset
breakers
If a light or plug will not work, you
may have blown a fuse or tripped a
breaker. You have to either replace the
fuse or reset the breaker. Follow one of
the methods discussed below.
Skill level rating: 1 - Simple
maintenance
Materials: new fuses of the same type
and rating
Tools: screwdriver, rubber-soled shoes,
dry boards to stand on, flashlight
Cartridge Fuses
5.
Plug Fuse
Ferrule
6.
7.
Knife-Blade
Single-Pole Circuit Breaker
Top View
Good
Blown
Replace plug fuses
8.
1. Turn the main switch to OFF and
2.
3.
4.
put the shank of a screwdriver
through the lock hole in the handle
so the switch cannot accidentally
be tripped to ON.
Open the fuse box cover. Look to
see if the glass window on one of
the fuses is blackened. If it is, a
short-circuit has probably caused the
fuse to blow. If the window is not
blackened, look for a melted wire
or loose spring end inside the glass
window. This blown fuse “signature”
means usually that the circuit is
overloaded or has shorted out.
Check the circuit sketch or label
inside the fuse box cover to see which
outlets the blown fuse controls. If the
fuse window is not blackened, move
one or more high amperage
appliances to an outlet on another
circuit.Too many appliances drawing a
lot of energy, such as toasters, air
conditioners and refrigerators,
probably caused the overload.
If the fuse is blackened, chances are
that one of the devices operating
off this circuit or the circuit itself
has a short. In this case, switch all
wall switches on the circuit to OFF
and remove all electrical plugs from
outlets on the circuit. Inspect the
cords and plugs on all appliances
that were running off this circuit
for damage such as frays, bare wires
or blackened plugs. Appliances in
this condition must not be used
again until they are repaired. If the
appliances appear fine, there may
be a short in the circuit.
Remove the blown fuse by turning it
counter-clockwise. The number on
the end of each fuse indicates its
amperage rating. CAUTION: When
replacing blown fuses, you must use
a new fuse with the proper amperage
for the circuit. Using a fuse with a
larger number may lead to a fire.
Install a new fuse in the socket and
turn it clockwise to tighten it.
Close the fuse box cover and turn
the main switch to ON. If the fuse
blows again immediately, leave it in
the fuse box and call an electrician.
Otherwise, plug in each visibly
undamaged appliance one by one
in a different circuit and turn it on
briefly. If the new fuse blows when
you turn on an appliance, remove
that appliance and have it repaired.
Turn on each wall switch in similar
fashion. If the fuse blows as you turn
on a particular switch, the light or
other device the switch controls is
probably at fault.Tape the switch in the
OFF position so it cannot accidentally
be turned on before replacing the fuse
again. Call an electrician to find and
correct the problem.
Reset circuit breakers
1. Circuit breakers trip to one side or
2.
3.
pop out to break the circuit. Check
the labels in the circuit box to see
which outlets the tripped breaker
controls. It is not necessary to turn
the main switch off.
Move one or more high-amperage
appliances to another circuit, if you
suspect the circuit is overloaded.
Flip the circuit breaker to the
other side.
If the circuit breaker trips again,
switch all the wall switches on the
circuit to OFF and remove all
electrical plugs from outlets on the
circuit. Reset the breaker and reinsert the plugs back into the outlets.
4. Now turn on each appliance briefly,
one at a time, and check the breaker
each time you add an appliance.
Then turn the wall switches to ON,
one at a time, checking the breaker.
If it trips, then the appliance you
have just plugged in or the device
controlled by the switch you have
just turned on is defective and must
be repaired or replaced. If a switch
is the problem, tape it in the OFF
position so it cannot accidentally be
turned on. Reset the breaker and
call an electrician to find and correct
the problem.
Replace cartridge fuses
Skill level rating: 4 - Qualified
tradesperson/contractor
Cartridge fuses are used in the
main switch box to control all electricity
coming into your home. They may have
round or knife-shaped end caps.
If cartridge fuses are blowing
frequently in your home, you will either
have to use fewer electrical devices or
call an electrician to upgrade or correct
your service. Replacing cartridge fuses
can be very dangerous and is not a job
for a homeowner.
Replace a wall outlet
Replace an outlet when it will no
longer hold a plug securely, if it’s not
working properly or if you want to
install a childproof outlet.
Skill level rating: 3 - Skilled
homeowner
Materials: new outlet, new faceplate
if required, masking tape
Tools: screwdriver, needle-nose pliers,
flashlight
Box
Screw
Outlet
Wires
Screw
Face
Plate
Mounting Screw
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
59
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
1. Turn off the circuit breaker or
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
remove the fuse that controls the
power to the outlet you are
repairing before proceeding. Better
still, turn the main switch to OFF
and lock it OFF until your work is
through.
Remove the faceplate screws and
faceplate.
Remove the mounting screws.
Gently pull the outlet from the box.
Attach a piece of masking tape to
each wire and label it to help you
to remember the terminal to which
it connects.
Loosen the terminal screws and
remove the wires.
Note: Some outlets have terminal
inserts in place of screws. These
inserts have a release bar that you
press with a screwdriver to release
the wires.
Remove the old outlet. Reattach
each wire around the proper
terminal screw on the new outlet.
The black wire attaches to the
brass terminal. The white attaches
to the silver. The end of the wire
must face in the same direction that
screws will turn when tightened.
Tighten screws.
Note: If the outlet has terminal
inserts, just push the wires firmly
into the inserts instead. Remove the
labels.
Gently push the outlet back in the
box. Install it with the mounting
screws provided, complete with the
isolating gasket. Modern outlets
have ground or bare wires between
the box and the outlet. These wires
have to be attached to the proper
terminal (green). Older systems
may not have ground wires.
Replace the faceplate or install a
new one.
Turn the power back on and plug in
an appliance or lamp to test the
new outlet.
Replace a wall switch
Replace a cord plug
If a wall switch fails to work, it
should be replaced. The switch faceplate
may also need replacing.
Cord plugs need to be repaired
when their wires come loose or are
damaged. Don’t use an appliance with
a damaged plug.
Skill level rating: 3 - Skilled
homeowner
Materials: new switch, new faceplate if
required, masking tape
Tools: screwdriver, needle-nose pliers,
flashlight.
Bare wire to
ground post
Wires
Screws
Face
Plate
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
8.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Materials: new plug of the same type
Tools: screwdriver, knife, scissors or
pliers
There are two main types of
household cord plugs—flat and round.
Flat-cord plugs have two prongs, are for
light duty equipment and are the most
common. Round-cord plugs have two
and often three prongs and are for
heavier equipment that requires
grounding.
Tip: Always replace a plug with a plug
that is similar in size and type.
Flat Cord
Shell
1. Turn off the circuit breaker or
7.
60
Box
Skill level rating: 3 - Skilled
homeowner
remove the fuse that controls the
power to the outlet you are
repairing before proceeding. Better
still turn the main switch to OFF
and lock it OFF until your work is
through.
Remove the faceplate screws and
faceplate.
Remove the two switch mounting
screws.
Gently pull the switch from the
box. Attach a piece of masking tape
to each wire and label it to help
you remember the terminal the
wire connects to.
Loosen the terminal screws and
remove the wires. Remove the
switch.
Reattach each wire around the
proper terminal screw on the new
switch. The end of each wire should
face in the same direction that
screws turn when tightened.
Tighten the screws firmly and
remove the labels.
Gently push the switch into the
box and secure it with the screws
provided. Replace the old faceplate
or use a new one.
Turn the power back on and trip
the new switch to ON and OFF a
few times to check its operation.
Core
Metal Tooth
Pierce Cord
Prong
Replace a flat-cord plug—clampstyle
1. Cut the old plug from the cord.
2. Pull plug core from new plug.
Spread prongs.
3. Insert end of cord through plug
4.
5.
hole and into the core. If the plug is
polarized, the neutral side will have
to connect with the wide prong.
The neutral side is ridged.
Squeeze prongs together, which
will pierce the cord and establish
a contact.
Slide core securely back into the
plug case.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
4. Strip the insulation underneath
Lever
(the second layer) back 20 mm
(about 3/4 in.) from the end of each
wire to expose the bare wire
underneath. Twist each bare wire
end between your thumb and
forefinger to hold the strands
together.
Replace a simple light
fixture
Skill level rating: 3 - Skilled
homeowner
Materials: new fixture, marrettes
Tools: screwdriver, utility knife, wire
strippers, needle-nose pliers, flashlight
Flat Cord
Strap
Marrette
Replace a flat-cord plug—snap-style
1. Cut the old plug from the cord.
Spread the wires apart slightly.
2. Lift the lever on the plug.
3. Insert the wire into the plug casing.
4. Close the lever to establish the
Diffuser
Setscrew
contact.
Plug Body
Cord Jacket
5. Tie an Underwriter’s knot in the
6.
Shell
Cord Clamp
7.
wires so they cannot be pulled
loose. Pull the cord from the back
of the plug until it stops. If the plug
has three prongs, the bare or green
wire (ground) must be attached to
the green screw.
Place each wire around the correct
terminal screw (white to silver
screw; black to brass screw) so its
end faces in the same direction that
the screw will tighten when it is
turned.
Tighten the screws and reinstall the
plug core into the case.
Fixture
Mounting Screw
1. Turn off the circuit breaker or
2.
Plug Body
Grounding
Screw
3.
4.
5.
6.
Replace a round-cord plug
1. Cut the old plug from the cord.
2. Pull the new plug core out of the
plug case.
3. Push the cord through the centre
7.
8.
remove the fuse that controls the
power to the fixture you are
repairing before proceeding. Better
still, turn the main switch to OFF
and lock it OFF until your work is
through.
Loosen the screw holding the
fixture globe and remove the globe.
Remove the light bulb. Free the
fixture by either removing the
mounting screws or turning and
removing the fixture (bayonet
fitting).
Twist off the marrettes, holding
the wires together.
Untwist wires and completely
remove the fixture.
Install the replacement fixture.
The new fixture may have special
installation instructions that should
be followed. If not, pull wires
through the new fixture and reconnect the wires using the
marrettes.
Mount the fixture using the
mounting screws or special
mounting fitting.
Install the light bulb and globe, then
tighten the screws to hold it in
place.
Turn the power back on.
hole in the new plug case. Carefully
remove 30 mm (about 1 1/4 in. of
the outside (the first layer)
insulation from the end of the cable.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
61
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
HEATING AND
COOLING EQUIPMENT
Maintaining heating and cooling
equipment saves you money on energy
costs, improves comfort, helps preserve
the energy efficiency and durability of your
house and protects your family’s safety.
The most common heating and
cooling equipment problems are:
• poor air flow through central forced
air heating and cooling system ducts
• noisy or poor circulation in hot
water heating systems
• poor thermostat operation
• burning dust odours from electric
baseboard heaters
• combustion spillage
• chimney obstructions
• fires
• inoperable smoke alarms or CO
(carbon monoxide) detectors
• clogged furnace filters
• dirty or moldy central furnacemounted humidifiers
• dirty or moldy air conditioning coils
or drip pans
• unsafe wood stove or fireplace
conditions
Maintenance includes:
• Forced air systems—removing
obstructions from registers and
accessible portions of ducts and
ensuring that all ducts are attached.
• Hot water systems—checking for
any leaks.
• Electric (baseboard systems)—
cleaning and checking attachment.
• Furnace maintenance and safety—
filter replacement, cleaning
humidifiers and air conditioning coils.
• Fire safety—checking periodically for
combustion safety, dealing with fires,
checking and maintaining smoke
alarms and CO detectors.
• Wood stoves and fireplaces—regular
chimney cleaning, ash removal,
keeping surrounding areas away from
combustible materials
You can do many of the periodic
heating, and cooling equipment
maintenance tasks. However, it is
essential to have any combustion
equipment (using any form of gas, oil or
wood) serviced once a year by a
qualified professional.
62
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Prevention tips
• Start with an annual maintenance
routine performed by a professional
serviceperson for all your
combustion appliances. The service
person should check for heat
exchanger leakage, evidence of startup spillage and chimney condition.
Annual maintenance should include
a tune-up because a properly tuned
combustion appliance rarely
produces carbon monoxide.
CMHC garbage bag
airflow test
Create a garbage bag tester
1. Using two hands, grasp the coat
hanger by the hook and by the base.
2. Pull apart enough to create a
rectangular wire hoop.
3. Tape the wire to the mouth of the
garbage bag or leaf collection bag
to keep it open.
Wire Coat Hanger
3 seconds
5–6 seconds
10–12 seconds
good
mediocre
poor
1. With the heat recovery ventilator
3.
4.
Skill level rating: 1 - Simple
maintenance
Materials: 1 wire coat hanger, 1 large
garbage bag, 1 large 1.2-m (4-ft.) long
leaf collection bag, tape
Airflow
Test a heat recovery ventilator
with a leaf collection bag
2.
• The CMHC garbage bag airflow test
is one simple test that the
homeowner can do to estimate
airflow out of registers or exhaust
fans.
Time to deflate
5.
(HRV) operating, go outside to
where your HRV ducts exit the
house.
Crush the bag flat and hold the
opening tightly over the exhaust
hood. The air flowing out of the
hood will inflate the bag.
Time the inflation. If the bag inflates
in less than eight seconds, turn the
HRV to a lower speed, then repeat
the test. Take note of the time.
Now swing the bag to inflate it and
hold the opening against the wall
around the HRV supply hood. The
air going into the HRV will deflate
the bag.
Time the deflation. If the HRV is
balanced, the inflation and deflation
times should be roughly equal. If, for
example, one time is twice as high
as the other, the HRV is unbalanced.
If so, check each of the maintenance
steps below and try again. If it still
seems unbalanced, call a service
person to test and adjust your HRV.
Repair tips
• If your oil furnace starts but stops
shortly after it starts, check to make
sure there is fuel in the tank before
calling the serviceperson.
Special considerations
Plastic Garbage
Bag
Test a bathroom fan with the large
household garbage bag:
1. Turn the fan on.
2. Swing the bag to inflate it and hold
3.
the opening tightly to the fan
opening. The exhaust flow will
deflate the bag.
Time how long it takes to deflate.
Healthy Housing™
• Furnaces typically last 15 to 20 years,
whereas boilers may last up to
40 years if maintained properly. New
heating and cooling equipment is
much more energy efficient than the
older equipment that you may have
in your home.
• Upgrading insulation and
draftproofing your home may reduce
heating and cooling needs.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
Safety
• Clogged filters and flues are a fire
hazard.
• Incomplete combustion (burning) of
fuels, backdrafting (reversed air flow
through flues or combustion
appliances) of combustion gases or
cracked heat exchangers may allow
combustion gases into the home’s air.
CAUTION: This is a serious health
and safety risk to the occupants and
demands immediate attention.
• Ensure there are no drapes or
objects that could start a fire if they
come into contact with an electric
baseboard heater.
Tasks
Clear obstructed ducts
and registers
Forced air heating systems have
ducts that carry the air to and from the
rooms in your house. People are often
concerned about how to clean out dust
and debris from inside the ducts. Duct
cleaning research has indicated that
there is little or no difference in the
concentrations of house airborne
particles or in duct airflows following
professional duct cleaning. Regular,
professional duct cleaning is
unnecessary. However, in some
instances professional help makes sense:
• If you have a problem with moisture
or water in your ducts, you may
have mold in your ducts as well.
Cleaning and prevention of further
moisture or water entry is essential.
Replacing the affected duct section
might be necessary.
• If you are moving into a newly constructed or newly renovated house.
• If you are having a new furnace
installed that has a more powerful
fan than your current furnace fan.
It is important to keep the ducts
and registers clear from obstructions
so that the air flows smoothly to and
from the rooms in your home.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: possibly sheet metal screws
to secure duct sections, aluminum foil
duct tape or water-based duct sealer
Tools: screwdriver, household vacuum
cleaner, flashlight, small mirror, large
garbage bag taped to a coat hanger
hoop, possibly portable drill and small
brush.
Ventilation
Air Supply
Return
Air Grille
Air
Supply
Combustion
Air Supply
Furnace
Possible Filter Locations
Fix noise or poor
circulation in hot water
heating systems
Air is present in hot water heating
systems in the form of dissolved air,
entrained (trapped) air in the form of
tiny bubbles or actual larger bubbles.
Sometimes air in the system can cause
gurgling noises or interfere with water
circulation and heating capability.
Baseboard and cabinet convector
systems have automatic vent valves to
resolve this problem. Convectors are
“today’s radiator.” They can be
baseboards or cabinet style and have
copper or steel tubing, surrounded by
metal fins. This system is much more
efficient than the old, cast iron radiator.
1. Locate all air supply and return
registers. Move furniture or rugs
that may be obstructing airflow
from registers.
2. Remove the register at each outlet.
3. Discard any filters at the registers.
They don’t reduce breathable dust
and they can obstruct airflow.
4. Inspect the portion of the duct
that you can easily see from the
register. Use a flashlight and mirror
to get a better look.
5. Remove any large objects by hand.
6. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove
any small debris.
7. Check that the duct sections are
securely connected to the floor
framing under the register.
Wherever possible, check that
there are no loose joints between
the duct sections. If necessary and
where accessible, screw sections
together.
8. Seal all accessible duct joints with
tape or duct sealant.
9. Replace registers. Ensure that any
moveable register louvres are fully
open.
10. Use the CMHC garbage bag airflow
test to assess airflows to individual
rooms with room doors both open
and closed. If airflows are uniformly
low, in-duct dampers may need
adjustment or a professional may
need to assess the system capacity
and balance airflows to all rooms.
If airflows are substantially reduced
only when doors are closed,
undercutting doors to permit air
movement may be required.
Cabinet
Convector
Cast-Iron
Radiator
Baseboard
Convector
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
63
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Replace a thermostat
A thermostat switches your heating
and cooling system on and off, based
upon the temperatures you’ve set. It
should be installed on an inside wall in
a draft-free spot. If your thermostat is
old and not working properly, you may
need to replace it. Or, you may want to
upgrade to a more modern one that
has more features.
Vent
Keep automatic vents clean. If they
start to leak water, that is a signal for
replacement. However, some convectors,
as well as many of the older cast iron
radiator systems, may need manual
venting, particularly when systems have
been turned on for the first time in a
long while.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Skill level rating: 3 - Skilled
homeowner
Materials: replacement thermostat that
is compatible with your heating system
Tools: screwdriver, level, pencil, wire
strippers,
1. Turn off the power to your heating
system and thermostat.
3. Slip the wires through the new unit.
Position the unit straight on the
wall and mark the mounting holes.
You may want to check the
positioning with a level so that it
will be straight when you attach it
to the wall. Screw the unit into the
wall using your marks as a guide.
Materials: none required
Tools: a slot screwdriver and a cup or
other small container
If more than one radiator or
convector seems cool, start with one
on the lowest level of your house.
1. Find the vent valve. On a radiator,
2.
3.
4.
64
it is near the top, opposite the inlet
valve. On a convector, remove the
cover to find the valve.
Turn the screw on the top of the
valve counter-clockwise to open.
Leave it open until water spurts
out; be ready to catch the hot(!)
water in the cup.
Close the valve.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
2. Remove the cover of the old
thermostat. Unscrew the unit.
Disconnect the wires from the unit.
4. Strip 10 mm (3/8 in.) of insulation
from the end of the wires. Connect
the wires to the unit, following the
manufacturer’s instructions. Push
any excess wire through the hole
and into the wall.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
Clean electric baseboard
heaters
When electric baseboard heaters
are first turned on after a long while,
there may be a smell of burning dust.
Skill level rating: 1 - Simple
maintenance
Materials: none
5. Attach the front cover.
6. Turn the power back on. Program the
thermostat to your desired settings.
Attach loose electric
baseboard heaters
Sometimes electric baseboard
heaters can inadvertently become
detached from the wall.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: 1 1/2” flat head wood screws
Tools: Screwdriver
1. Make sure that the thermostat is
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
turned right down.
CAUTION: It is a good idea to
turn off the power to the heater
at the electrical panel.
Remove the front heater cover to
expose the metal fin convectors.
Do not tamper with the covers or
electrical connections at either end
of the heater.
Most baseboard heaters have a
series of attachment holes through
the back of the housing. Tighten
the existing screws through these
attachment holes, if possible.
If necessary, insert new screws
through other attachment holes
and into the wall studs. Attach the
heater at least an inch off the floor.
On most walls, you are likely to find
studs about 400 mm (16 in.) away
from the original screw placements.
Check to make sure that the heater
is firmly attached.
Replace the cover by hooking it on
the top hooks and pushing gently
to engage the bottom hooks.
Turn on the power to the heater at
the panel. Turn the thermostat to
the desired setting.
Tools: typical home vacuum cleaner
with small nozzle attachment
1. Before turning on the electric heat
2.
3.
4.
every year, clean every heater. Make
sure the thermostat is turned right
down.
Remove the front heater cover to
expose the metal fin convectors.
Do not tamper with the covers or
electrical connections at either end
of the heater.
Gently vacuum the metal fins.
Replace the cover by hooking it on
the top hooks and pushing gently to
engage the bottom hooks.
Inspect furnace for signs
of inefficient combustion
Make sure that you have a
homeowner’s manual for every
combustion appliance in your home. Read
and follow the manufacturer’s safety and
maintenance instructions. Most manuals
will include a homeowner’s
recommended maintenance schedule.
Many manufacturers recommend
a monthly visual inspection of the
combustion appliance and venting,
looking for soot accumulation on or
near the flue pipe or dampers, unusual
moisture, corrosion or paint
discoloration. Any of these signs may
indicate that the by-products of
combustion (which may include deadly
carbon monoxide (CO)) are spilling
back
into the home instead of going out
the chimney or vent. If you have any
concerns, call your serviceperson.
Manufacturers often suggest monthly
inspection of the main burner flame in
a natural gas furnace. This could require
opening an inspection port. Check the
flame making sure it is blue with orange
streaks. A bright yellow flame indicates
incomplete combustion. Call your service
person if the flame is yellow.
Skill level rating: 1 - Simple
maintenance
Materials: none
Tools: manufacturer’s maintenance
checklist
Identify and prevent
combustion spillage
Any fuel-burning device produces
combustion gases that can include toxic
elements such as carbon monoxide.
Most natural gas, oil and propane
equipment produces little carbon
monoxide if properly installed and
maintained. Burning wood, kerosene,
coal or charcoal produces carbon
monoxide. Even at low levels of
exposure, carbon monoxide can cause
serious health problems. Normally,
combustion gases are vented to the
outdoors through a chimney or vent
pipe. However, due to chimney
problems, equipment problems or air
pressure problems, combustion gases
may escape into your home.
Combustion spillage is the term used
to describe the unwanted flow of
combustion gases into your home.
• Have a qualified service person inspect
and clean fuel burning appliances and
venting annually. The service person
should check for heat exchanger
leakage and evidence of start-up
spillage and should check the chimney.
Install detection devices to alert you if
spillage is occurring. There should be a
smoke alarm installed on the ceiling
near a fireplace or on the ceiling above
the damper of an oil furnace. There
should also be a CO detector installed
near any combustion appliance that is
vented using a chimney.
• Avoid operating several powerful
exhaust devices simultaneously.
These could cause combustion
appliances to backdraft.
• If you install a new range-top grill
with a powerful exhaust fan, get
expert advice on how to supply
sufficient air to the house while it
is operating.
• If your furnace or water heater is
enclosed in a small separate room,
allow air to move freely between
the furnace room and the rest of
the house (through louvred doors
for instance).
• If you have a forced air heating
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
65
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
system, be sure you are not drawing
return air from the immediate
vicinity of your combustion
appliances. Make sure the blower
door on your furnace is in place.
• If you have a gas range, be sure to
use a range hood that exhausts
to the outside while the range is
operating.
• Watch for warning signs of
combustion spillage:
• repeated headaches, skin and
throat irritations, and other low
grade illnesses
• combustion odours anywhere in
the house
• hot and muggy air around the
furnace
• soot stains around any combustion
appliance, or unusual rumbling
sounds when it is operating.
What to do if you smell gas
Safety
Fire or explosion may result
from improperly installed or
maintained natural gas appliances.
It is also important not to store
gasoline or other liquids with
flammable vapours near any
combustion appliance.
If you smell gas:
• Do not try to light any appliance.
• Do not touch any electrical
switch; do not use any telephone
in your building.
• Get everyone out of the house.
• Immediately call your gas supplier
from a neighbour’s telephone.
Follow the gas supplier’s
instructions.
• If you cannot reach your gas
supplier, call the fire department.
Install and maintain
carbon monoxide
detectors
The best way to protect against
health risks from carbon monoxide
(CO) is to eliminate sources of CO
in the home. Combustion appliances
are not the only possible sources of
CO in your home. Research on attached
garages has indicated that house/garage
connections may leak roughly as much
air as the rest of the house envelope.
Garage/house air exchange is significant
and can be an entry point for pollutants,
including CO, from the garage and
vehicles.
Carbon monoxide safety
in garages
• Never start a vehicle in a closed
garage; open the garage doors
first. Pull the car out immediately
onto the driveway, then close the
garage door to prevent the
exhaust fumes from being drawn
into the house.
• Do not use a remote automobile
starter when the car is in the
garage. Even if the garage doors
are open, CO may seep into the
house.
• Do not operate propane, natural
gas or charcoal barbecue grills
indoors or in an attached garage.
• Avoid using a kerosene space
heater indoors or in a garage.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: CO detector complete with
screws and mounting instructions
Most CO detectors are designed to
alarm when CO concentrations reach a
high level in a short time. However, longCanada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Deal with fires
Naturally, preventing fires is best.
Reduce stored items in the house or
garage, particularly flammable liquids like
gasoline and solvents. Eliminate clutter
so fire will have fewer places to start.
Check smoke alarms and CO detectors
regularly to ensure that they are in
working condition and that their
batteries have not worn out. Make sure
the whole family is aware of emergency
exit plans for fires in various locations
in the home. Make sure that any
renovations to create bedrooms,
particularly in basements, follow the local
building code regarding means of escape
from fires. Keep general-purpose ABC
fire extinguishers handy and serviced.
If a serious fire breaks out, make sure
that the fire doesn’t trap anyone from
reaching an exit. Leave quickly, closing
doors as you go to slow the fire’s spread.
Feel interior doors for heat before
opening them. If necessary, find another
way out. Smoke rises, so stay low.
Tools: screwdriver
Install a CO detector where you
will hear it while sleeping. A detector
can be placed at any height, in almost
any location, as long its alarm can be
heard. To avoid damage to the unit and
to reduce false alarms, do not install a
CO detector in unheated areas; in high
humidity areas; where it will be exposed
to chemical solvents; near vents, flues or
chimneys; or within two metres (six
feet) of heating and cooking appliances.
66
term, low-level exposures are also of
concern, especially for the unborn, young
children, the elderly and those with a
history of heart or respiratory problems.
Choose a CO detector that is listed with
ULC (Underwriters’ Laboratory of Canada)
to the CGA (Canadian Gas Association)
or CSA (Canadian Standards Association)
standard. If you want to monitor long-term,
low-level exposure and short-term, highlevel exposure, choose a unit with an
adjustable display and a memory. Batteryoperated units can be conveniently located
but require the user’s diligence in replacing
worn-out batteries. Plug-in units should
not be connected to an electrical outlet
controlled by a switch. Replace any
detector at least every five years.
Put out a small fire
Skill level rating: 1 - Simple
maintenance
Materials: none
Tools: ABC general-purpose
extinguisher, water, baking soda or salt
1. Remove the locking pin on the fire
extinguisher.
2. Aim at the base of the fire.
3. Pull the trigger on the fire
extinguisher.
4. Sweep back and forth until the fire
is out.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
5. If you don’t have an extinguisher,
6.
7.
use water to put out fires on most
household items like cloth, paper
or wood.
Either smother or sprinkle baking
soda or salt on grease fires.
Cut off the power to an electrical
fire and use an extinguisher that
contains a C rating.
2. For the exterior check, look for
3.
Chimney fires
Skill level rating: 1 - Simple
maintenance
Materials: none
Tools: none
1. Call the fire department.
2. Close off the air supply to the
3.
4.
5.
combustion appliance.
If there is a barometric damper on
the pipe connecting a furnace and
chimney, make sure that this
damper stays closed.
Do not try to pour water into the
chimney. The resulting steam can
be very dangerous and the shock
of the cold water hitting the hot
fire can destroy the chimney.
Have the chimney inspected
thoroughly after having a chimney fire.
Check for damaged and
unsecured chimneys
Damaged chimneys may contribute
to combustion spillage. Obstructions
such as birds’ nests, broken bricks or
flue liners, or ice can block air flow
through a chimney. Damaged or
unsecured chimneys, particularly those
made of brick or block, may collapse,
creating a severe hazard to a passer-by.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: none
Tools: checklist, mirror, flashlight or
emergency light and rope, binoculars,
ladder, personal safety equipment
1. As part of the seasonal inspection,
check the condition of the chimney.
If you have any doubts about the
condition of your chimney, arrange
for a professional inspection (which
should always be done as part of
your annual combustion appliance
service). Inspect the chimney from
the exterior and from the interior,
if possible.
4.
leaning, cracks, loose mortar or
dislodged brick in masonry
chimneys, and the presence and
condition of chimney caps.
Binoculars are often helpful.
A bright, sunny day that will make it
easier to see as you do the interior
check. Make sure the appliance is
not operating until the inspection is
complete. Remove the bottom cap
from factory-built chimneys or the
clean-out door from masonry
chimneys. Using a light and a mirror,
try to assess the interior chimney
condition. Look for any obstructions
or creosote build-up. Significant
debris in the clean out is a sign of
a deteriorating masonry chimney.
If the interior check is not possible,
you may need to access the top of
the chimney and lower a light down
on a rope. Be careful! Use
appropriate safety precautions and
gear such as a harness if you are
working on the roof.
Whether working up or down, any
stovepipes that connect the combustion
appliance to the chimney should be
carefully removed and cleaned (preferably
outside). Ensure that the stovepipes are in
good condition before they are securely
reinstalled after the chimney cleaning.
To work up:
1. The preferred approach is to work
2.
Clean chimneys
3.
Unburned components of the smoke
passing up a chimney can condense on
the inside of the lining and can cause
fires. If your chimney inspection reveals 6
mm (1/4 in.) or more of dusty or flaky
black residue, your chimney should be
cleaned. If the residue is very hard or has
a glazed look, professional cleaning might
be needed.
4.
5.
6.
7.
from the bottom up, if possible. Seal
any openings into the house such as
fireplaces, base tees or chimney
cleanouts.
To work up through a masonry
fireplace: open the damper; insert
the chimney brush and first section
of extension rod; pass the end of the
rod through a hole in a plastic sheet;
and tape the plastic sheet to the face
of the fireplace to contain the soot.
For a metal chimney with a base cap:
remove the base cap and insert the
brush and first extension rod. Use
the plastic sheeting to shield
surrounding areas.
Use the brush to scrub the flue,
adding extension rods as needed.
Remove the plastic sheet and
unseal the openings.
Carefully gather the soot with the
brush, scoop and pail.
Vacuum the remaining soot.
Inspect the chimney. It should be
clean and undamaged.
Chimney cleaning is a messy job,
so be prepared. Masonry chimneys in
particular may need to be cleaned from
the top down.
CAUTION: Any work involving ladders
and roofs is dangerous. Be careful!
Extension
Rod
Harness
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner or
Skill level rating: 4 - Qualified
tradesperson/contractor (WETT
certified professional)
Brush
Materials: none
Tools: a chimney brush to match the
chimney type and size; chimney brush
extension rods; goggles; dust mask; old
clothes or throwaway coveralls; gloves;
plastic sheeting to protect area at the
base of the chimney; perhaps a ladder;
safety equipment; mirror and light for
inspection; small brush, scoop and pail;
shop vacuum.
To work down:
1. Seal any openings into the house
2.
such as fireplaces, base tees or
chimney cleanouts.
Using proper safety precautions and
safety gear, carefully access the top
of the chimney.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
67
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
3. Remove the chimney cap if required.
4. Use the brush to scrub the flue
5.
from the top down, adding
extension rods as needed.
When you are finished, remove the
interior covers; gather the soot;
vacuum as required.
Ultimately, your decision to change
to a different type filter may depend
upon whether the new filter will fit into
the existing slot in your duct system or
whether you wish to have the return air
trunk professionally adapted to accommodate the type of filter that you prefer.
There are many different types of
furnace filters. Some are permanent and
can be cleaned by removing, vacuuming
or washing with hot water and
detergent and replacing them. Other
filters are periodically discarded and
replaced.
Research indicates that the 25 mm
(1 in.) premium pleated filter provides
good filtration and cost effectiveness for
the amount of clean air delivered in
comparison to other filters that will fit
into the same slot. Overall, ESP filters
seem to be most effective in terms of
clean air delivered and cost per amount
of filtered air. However, they produce
small amounts of ozone and other
respiratory irritants.
Some filters are electronic or are
in the same compartment as operating
blowers.
Cleaning or replacing 25 mm (1 in.)
furnace filter located in return
duct slot
CAUTION: Be careful to follow the
manufacturer’s instructions before
opening any filter compartment or
case, to avoid electrical shock or other
hazards.
Skill level rating: 1 - Simple
maintenance
Clean or replace furnace
filters
Materials: unscented dish soap and
warm water for cleanable filter;
replacement filter for throw-aways
Healthy Housing™
Tools: none
Traditionally, furnace filters were
designed to protect the furnace and
fans. Some filters are now being installed
to reduce exposure to particles that can
affect your health. Research indicates
that people’s exposure to airborne
particles appears to be directly linked to
their activities at home. The furnace
filter appears to have only a moderate
effect on the exposure of an individual
to respirable particles in the home.
However, it can do a good job of
keeping the air clean in the ducts.
1. Turn the thermostat right down
so the furnace won’t start.
2. Find the furnace filter. It is often in a
3.
4.
5.
To upgrade from the typical 25 mm
(1 in.) glass fibre furnace filter, your
choices include:
• 25 mm (1 in.) pleated filter
• 25 mm (1 in.) premium pleated filter
(with electrostatic charge)
• charged media electronic filter
• 100 mm (4 in.) pleated media filter
• one of the high-efficiency bypass
filters such as HEPA (high efficiency
particulate air)
• an electronic plate and wire (ESP—
electrostatic precipitator) type
68
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
6.
slot in the return air duct just before
it enters the side of the furnace.
Grasp the edge of the filter and
slide it out.
If it is a metal or heavy
polypropylene mesh filter, it will
usually have some indication that it
is washable. If so, wash it in warm
soapy water, rinse and allow it to
dry.
If it is a throw-away type, discard it
and replace it with the same size
filter from the available types.
Set the thermostat back to the
desired temperature.
Cleaning or replacing a washable
filter located in the blower cabinet
1. Turn off the power to the furnace.
2. Open the blower cabinet by
3.
4.
5.
following the manufacturer’s
instructions. Many furnaces have a
panel on the front at the bottom
that slides up and out or is fixed
with a couple of screws.
Locate the filter. Remove, clean and
reinstall. If the filter can’t be
cleaned, replace it with a new filter.
Close the blower cabinet.
Restore power to the furnace.
Humidity in houses
In newer homes that are more
tightly sealed, daily living usually
provides enough humidity to be
comfortable. Too much humidity can
often lead to problems such as
water condensing on cold surfaces
or molds growing inside the house.
In older homes, homes with fewer
occupants or homes in drier
regions, sometimes the relative
humidity level is too low for
comfort. Before adding moisture to
the air, it is a good idea to measure
the relative humidity with a simple
hygrometer that can be purchased
at a hardware store. The sensation
of dry air may be due to poor air
quality and not low relative
humidity.
Control humidity and eliminate
mold to breathe easier. Do not
humidify without measuring the
relative humidity level first to
determine if the house is too dry.
Many houses do not need extra
moisture. A relative humidity of 30
per cent in the winter should be
sufficient to avoid breathing or
mold problems. Relative humidity
above 50 per cent next to cold
surfaces can lead to mold growth.
(Note: the relative humidity next to
cold surfaces is higher than that in
the middle of the room)
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
Clean central furnacemounted humidifiers
Clean and service air
conditioner
Humidifiers can be useful for
increasing moisture in the air. However,
humidifiers need to be kept clean so
they don’t clog up with minerals from
the water or have mold growing in
them. Evaporative humidifiers are
common. Typically, some of the air
passing through the duct system is
diverted through a humidifier mounted
on the side of the furnace. The
humidifier often consists of some type
of wick or rotating sponge that picks up
water from a pan or nozzle. Although
this section deals with furnace-mounted
humidifiers, you should also clean standalone room humidifiers frequently—
possibly each time you fill them—but
do so according to the manufacturer’s
instructions.
Have a professional service the air
conditioner compressor, do a refrigerant
check and clean the air conditioning
coils and the drain.
Skill level rating: 1 - Simple
maintenance
Materials: replacement sponge or wick
Tools: screwdriver, small scrub brush,
unscented household cleaner
1. Shut off the water supply to the
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
humidifier. Usually there is a small
shut-off on the water supply line to
the unit.
Follow the manufacturer’s
instructions, if available.
Most furnace-mounted humidifiers
have a cover attached with one or
two hand-screws. Lift or remove
the cover.
Slide out the water reservoir pan.
Clean with detergent and water.
To replace the wicks or drum
sponge, slide the old one out and
slide the new one in.
Replace the pan.
Replace the cover.
Turn on the water supply.
Woodstove maintenance
Skill level rating: 1 - Simple
maintenance
Materials: replacement firebricks
Tools: ash scoop, metal bucket, glass
cleaner
Maintain wood stoves and
fireplaces
Wood-burning appliances can heat
a home. Fireplaces and wood stoves can
be aesthetically pleasing. New designs
can burn wood more efficiently. New
standards and installer training programs
allow you to get safe installations and
dependable service.
New appliances should carry either
a CSA, ULC or Warnock Hersey label
certifying that the unit has been tested
to established safety standards. The label
will also advise you how far to keep
combustibles away from the appliance.
Installation and service professionals
should carry certification from the
Wood Energy Technical Training (WETT)
Program.
Safety is a prime consideration with
any combustion appliance. Hire a
professional for an annual inspection and
service program. Burning wet wood or
reducing air supply to keep only
smouldering fires can cause creosote
to build up in the chimney, which could
cause a chimney fire. Too much air
supply and too much fuel in the firebox
can overheat the appliance and chimney,
creating an unsafe condition. Good
burning techniques, dry wood, a clean
wood-burning system and no
combustibles near the appliance are
the keys to safe, efficient operation.
Fire bricks
1. Make sure that the fire is out and
the unit is cool.
2. Regularly scoop ashes out into a
3.
4.
metal bucket. Remove the bucket
to a safe place outside, well away
from the house or deck.
Check the condition of the
firebricks inside the unit. They
should be undamaged and in place.
Replace any damaged or missing
bricks.
Clean door glass with glass cleaner
and a rag or paper towel. Never
use glass cleaner or water on hot
surfaces.
Firewood storage
1. Stack firewood so that it doesn’t
2.
rest directly on the ground and is
covered by a roof or tarp. Leave the
sides open for better air circulation.
Never store large amounts of
firewood in the house. Drying
wood can contribute to excess
moisture and mold growth.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
69
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
VENTILATION
EQUIPMENT
We need to supply fresh air to our
homes and remove stale air, odours and
excess moisture. At some times of the
year, opening windows is a low-cost way
to reach these goals. But in Canada, that
is not always practical. Having mechanical
ventilation available can be effective and
convenient.
There are several options. Kitchen
and bathroom fans exhaust air from the
places of highest odour and humidity,
but they do not supply fresh air to the
house. Centrally located supply and
exhaust fans with branch ducts to
various rooms are another choice.
The best alternative is usually a
whole house heat recovery ventilation
system. In this system, stale, humid air is
exhausted directly from the kitchen and
bathrooms through the heat recovery
ventilator (HRV). An equal amount of
fresh air is supplied through the heat
recovery ventilator, where it recovers
heat but does not mix with the stale air
being exhausted. The fresh pre-heated
air is then distributed throughout the
building using either a dedicated duct
system or the existing space heating
duct system. A small amount of
continuous ventilation can help to dilute
pollutants and control humidity.
Too little humidity may be
uncomfortable. This can sometimes
occur during the heating season in older,
drafty homes or in dry regions of the
country. However, too much humidity,
particularly in bathrooms, is a more
common problem. This can lead to
condensation on windows or other cold
surfaces, mold growth and a favourable
environment for dust mites. Mold and
dust mites are common symptoms of
poor indoor air quality and may cause
respiratory and other health problems.
Ideally, relative humidity levels
remain between 30 and 45 per cent.
When it is below minus 10° C outside,
surfaces will be colder and more prone
to condensation, so the 30 per cent level
(or lower, if necessary) is best in the
winter. In the summer, it is sometimes
difficult to keep relative humidity levels
below 45 per cent. When the air outside
is hot and humid, the best approach is to
70
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
maintain some ventilation as needed for
fresh air; keep basement windows closed
to prevent the outside humid air from
coming in and condensing on the cooler
surfaces; and use a dehumidifier.
Insufficient mechanical ventilation is
another cause of poor indoor air quality.
Sufficient mechanical ventilation is a
feature of housing that is healthy for the
occupants and helpful for the durability
of the building.
Measuring humidity
with a hygrometer
Skill level rating: 1 - Simple
maintenance
Materials: none
Tools: mechanical or electronic
hygrometer
The most common mechanical
ventilation problem is insufficient airflow
caused by:
• dirty filters and screens
• inefficient duct systems
Maintenance includes:
Bathroom and kitchen fans
• cleaning fans
• cleaning range hood filters
Heat Recovery Ventilator
• cleaning the supply air intake screen,
filter and core
• cleaning the condensate drain loop
and discharge
• air sealing air and vapour barriers
1. Following the manufacturer’s
2.
Prevention tips
• Check the airflow from registers and
exhausts using the CMHC garbage
bag airflow test (see page 62). If you
have kitchen and bathroom fans or
an HRV and the air in your home
still seems stale or damp, perhaps
you have insufficient airflow. Some
bathroom fans make a lot of noise
but don’t exhaust much air. HRVs
should be balanced, with the fresh
airflow matching the exhaust flow.
• Measure the relative humidity in your
home and confirm whether the level is
too high or too low. Use a mechanical
or an electronic hygrometer. These
are small, inexpensive and easy-to-use.
Electronics stores or hardware stores
commonly sell mechanical hygrometers for under $20 and electronic
hygrometers for about $35 to $65.
3.
4.
5.
instructions for use. Place the
hygrometer where the humidity
symptoms are most obvious,
usually in the room of greatest
concern or where the occupants
spend most of their time.
Try to place the hygrometer
where it will be unaffected by
direct heat, away from hot lights,
radiators, heat registers or
chimneys.
Leave the hygrometer long
enough, according to the
manufacturer’s literature, to
provide a stable reading.
Take readings in various rooms
and levels of the house to get a
sense of problem areas.
Use the information to decide
whether to try to raise or lower
humidity levels.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
Keep your hygrometer accurate
Hygrometers need to be checked
once a year for accuracy (calibrated)
and sometimes adjusted so that they
will make accurate readings. You cannot
adjust an electronic hygrometer, but
you can still calibrate it.
Skill level rating: 1 - Simple
maintenance
Materials: 125 ml (about 1/2 C) table
salt, 50 ml (about 1/4 C) tap water
Tools: mechanical or electronic hygrometer, coffee cup, large zip-lock plastic
bag or a well-sealed pressure cooker.
1. Place the tap water and the table
2.
3.
4.
5.
salt in the coffee cup and stir for
about a minute.
Put the coffee cup and your
hygrometer inside the plastic bag
or pressure cooker and seal tightly.
Note: Do not let your hygrometer
come into contact with the salty
water as it can damage your
hygrometer.
Put the bag or pressure cooker in
a draft-free place and out of direct
sunlight. Select a spot where the
room temperature is likely to
remain even.
After 8 to 12 hours, note your
hygrometer’s RH reading. Your
hygrometer should read about
75 per cent, the standard. If it does,
you do not need to adjust it. If it
does not read close to 75 per cent,
record the difference between your
hygrometer reading and 75 per cent.
If your hygrometer is adjustable,
locate the adjustment screw or
knob and immediately adjust the
reading to 75 per cent. If your
hygrometer is not adjustable, each
time you take a reading you will
need to subtract or add the
difference that you noted.
Repair tips
• Calibrate your hygrometer once
a year to ensure that the reading
is accurate.
Special considerations
Healthy Housing™
• Household air can contain pollutants
such as dust; combustion gases;
cigarette smoke; chemicals off-gassed
from building materials, furnishings,
cleansers or personal care products;
and excess moisture. The best way to
improve indoor air quality is to
reduce pollutants at their source.
Discourage smoking in the house,
clean up any mold, and inventory and
minimize chemicals that are stored
and used in the house. These are
only a few of the source reduction
methods. Ventilation is a good
secondary strategy that will help to
dilute the pollutants in the air.
• Although ventilation can help to
reduce humidity in the house during
much of the year, there are times
when it can actually make humidity
problems worse. When it’s hot and
humid outside, the air may be almost
saturated with water vapour.
Because hot air can hold more
moisture in suspension than cold air,
bringing in hot, humid air to a cooler
basement may result in drops of
water condensing on cold surfaces
such as basement floors and walls.
When the weather is hot and
humid, it’s best to keep basement
windows closed, ventilate only as
required for fresh air for the
occupants, and use a portable
dehumidifier.
Safety
• Anytime you’re working on electrical
ventilation equipment, make sure the
power supply to the unit is shut off.
Tasks
Clean bathroom and
kitchen fans
An ideal ventilation system uses an
HRV that continuously supplies fresh air
and exhausts stale air. However,
bathroom and kitchen fans can be an
effective option. For some homeowners,
particularly in isolated areas, the simplicity
of kitchen and bathroom fans can be an
asset. However, fans create static
electricity, which attracts dirt to the fan
and housing. For unimpeded airflow, you
should keep bathroom fans clean.
Skill level rating: 1 - Simple
maintenance
Materials: none
Tools: vacuum cleaner, rag, small brush
1. Pull down the grille. It’s usually
2.
3.
4.
5.
attached with two bent wire clips
that can be slid out of their holes.
Unplug and remove the fan module,
if possible.
Carefully brush, wipe or vacuum
the fan blades and housing.
Wipe or wash the plastic grille.
Allow it to dry thoroughly.
Re-assemble the fan and grill.
Clean range hood filters
There are two types of range
hoods—vented that exhausts directly
outside and unvented, that recirculate air
inside the home. To ventilate a house,
kitchen range hoods must vent air,
moisture and odours directly outside.
Recirculating range hoods depend on
filters to capture some odours and
grease. These filters are usually made of
carbon that must be replaced frequently
because of grease buildup. Both types of
range hoods also usually have washable,
aluminum mesh grease filters.
Skill level rating: 1 - Simple
maintenance
Materials: none
Tools: dishwashing detergent and water,
rag, vacuum cleaner
1. Follow manufacturer’s instructions,
if available. Remove the mesh filter.
2. Wash the mesh filter in a sink of
3.
4.
soapy water. Rinse and let dry.
(Note: Some filters can be cleaned
in a dishwasher—check
manufacturer’s instructions).
Wipe the range hood housing with
a damp rag.
Replace the filter.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
71
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Clean air intakes and
exhausts to ensure clear
airflow
Replace inefficient
bathroom fan and dryer
duct systems
Houses may have a fresh air supply
to the return air duct of the furnace or a
fresh air supply to an HRV. Exhaust fans
and dryer vents should have an outlet on
the exterior of the house. At the hood
where they enter the house, fresh air
supplies or stale air exhausts should have
a 6 mm (1/4 in.) mesh rodent screen, not
a fine bug screen. Dryer vents should
have a properly closing flapper with no
screen (lint will clog the screen too
quickly). Intake bug screens quickly get
clogged with dust and insects, making the
intake useless. Stale air exhaust screens
may become clogged with household lint
or dust. Rodent screens do not clog as
quickly but still need to be cleaned as
part of seasonal maintenance.
It is important to have air flowing
smoothly and easily through ducts. Air
will flow much more easily if the duct
length, bends, kinks and other
obstructions are minimized. Many
bathroom fans and dryers, in particular,
are installed with long flexible, plastic
ducts that have corrugations to provide
rigidity and bends or kinks where the
ducts are hung. This arrangement results
in poor airflow. Also, many dryers are
vented inside basements. This adds
excessive moisture to what are usually
already damp spaces. Chemicals in
detergents or fabric softeners also
escape into the air.
If you can’t find an exhaust hood for
each bathroom fan, try to trace where
each exhaust duct goes. Ducts that
terminate in ceiling cavities or attics may
contribute to mold and deterioration of
the building.
Skill level rating: 1 - Simple
maintenance
Materials: none
Tools: rag or brush
1. Locate the fresh air intake and
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
72
exhaust hoods on the exterior of
the house.
Remove leaves or any other
obstructions that may be blocking
the vents. During winter, clear any
snow or frost buildup.
Unclip the grille (if necessary) and
slide out the rodent screen.
Brush or wipe the screen. The
exhaust vents also have a damper
that may need to be cleaned so
that it opens and closes properly.
Replace the damper (if necessary)
and screen.
With the HRV, bathroom fan or
furnace fan operating, perform the
CMHC garbage bag airflow test
(see page 62) to ensure that there
is some airflow. There is no set
requirement for the fresh air supply
to a return air duct, but you do want
to know if there’s any flow at all.
At least once a year, remove the
grilles and vacuum inside the ducts,
as much as possible.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Bathroom fans are often vented into
ceiling spaces or attics. Again, this just
adds moisture, often resulting in water
condensing in those cool spaces. Adding
moisture to hidden ceiling, wall or attic
spaces can seriously harm the building.
The following instructions apply to
ducts that terminate in a hood on the
exterior of the building. For ducts that
terminate inside an attic or basement, an
appropriately sized hole must be created
to continue the duct to the exterior of
the house. This may require professional
assistance.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: metal duct sections and
fittings, self-tapping sheet metal screws,
aluminum foil duct tape, plastic or metal
duct straps
Tools: cordless drill, screwdriver
1. Inspect the dryer and bathroom
2.
3.
4.
fan ducts for duct material, kinks
and bends.
If a shorter, straighter route from
the appliance to termination on
the outside of the building is
possible, turn off and unplug the
appliance. Many bathroom fans
have a plug in the fan housing.
Remove the existing duct.
Plan the route for the new duct.
Install the new duct, keeping bends
to a minimum. A short section of
flexible duct may be required at
the dryer to enable it to be moved.
5. Make sure that the duct is hung
securely and that all sections
are screwed together with
three screws.
6. Tape the joints between duct
sections and where the duct
attaches to the appliance and the
exterior termination.
7. Make sure that the exterior hoods
are in good condition and that the
damper swings freely and closes
properly. Replace any hoods that
are in poor condition.
8. Make sure that any exhaust ducts
are insulated if they pass through
unconditioned space such as an attic.
The water vapour being exhausted
through dryer or bathroom
exhaust ducts may condense into
drops of water while travelling
through un-insulated ducts that
pass through a cold space. Liquid
water inside the duct may hamper
airflow or may flow back into the
house if the duct is not sloped to
the exterior. Exhaust ducts should
be insulated to not less than
RSI 0.5 (R3).
9. Restore power and turn on the
appliance.
10. Perform the CMHC garbage bag
airflow test (see page 62), either at
the bathroom fan or at the dryer
exhaust hood on the exterior of
the building to ensure that air
flows freely.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
Inspect and clean heat
recovery ventilators
Clean HRV filter, core and fans
Inside most HRVs are two air filters
and a heat recovery core. The air filters
are usually aluminum mesh while the
core is commonly polypropylene. The
following are generic instructions that
usually apply, but it is always best to
follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Skill level rating: 1 - Simple
maintenance
Materials: soap and water
Tools: vacuum, garden hose, small brush
Outdoor HRV Hood
Exterior Vent Line
Heat Exchange Core
Fan
Motor
Clean the HRV condensate drain
Seal HRV duct vapour barriers
In the HRV during the heating
season, warm, moist air being exhausted
from the house bypasses cold fresh air
being drawn in. As the exhausted air
cools, it cannot hold as much water
vapour in suspension. Drops of water
condense inside the HRV. The water
must be able to drain through the plastic
pipe or tube coming out of the bottom
of the HRV. Because this route is really
a plumbing drain, it must have a trap,
which is usually in the form of a loop
in the tube. Inspecting the condensate
drain is easiest when the filters and core
are removed for cleaning.
The fresh air supply duct and the
stale air exhaust duct that lead from the
HRV to the outside of the building are
both carrying cold air through the
warm house. Water vapour from the
house air may condense on any cold
surface. That’s why both of those ducts
must be insulated. That insulation must
be contained within a vapour barrier
that is sealed to the HRV and to the
wall where the ducts exit the building.
If water vapour penetrates the vapour
barrier, it may result in wet insulation
or even chunks of ice around the exits.
At the ports where the ducts are
attached, most HRVs have an inner ring
for the duct and an outer ring for the
vapour barrier.
Skill level rating: 1 - Simple
maintenance
Materials: 2 litres of warm, clean water
Tools: none
1. Turn off the HRV and unplug it.
2. Slowly pour about two litres
Filters
3.
Wall
Condensate
Drain Tube
Condensate
Drain Pipe
Ducting
1. Turn off the HRV and unplug it.
2. Slide out the filters and heat
4.
5.
(2 quarts) of warm, clean water
into the drain inside the HRV.
If there’s a backup, clean the drain
by picking out any dead insects or
other debris.
Make sure the tube is looped and
isn’t kinked or obstructed.
Repeat step 2 to ensure that the
drain is flowing freely.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: Aluminum foil duct tape
Tools: utility knife
1. Inspect the ducts leading from the
recovery core.
3. Vacuum the filters; then wash them
with mild soap and water.
4. Vacuum the heat recovery core.
5.
6.
Either wash it with mild soap and
water or spray it using a garden
hose.
While the core and filters are
removed, gently brush the fan
blades to remove the accumulated
dirt. Use a vacuum to remove the
dislodged dirt.
Re-assemble the unit.
2.
3.
4.
5.
HRV to the exterior of the house.
Look for sealed attachment to the
HRV and to the wall. Feel along the
length of the duct to ensure that
the insulation coverage is
complete. Look for tears or holes
in the vapour barrier along the
length of the duct. Look for spots
where water has dripped. In
winter, feel for chunks of ice in the
insulation inside the vapour barrier.
Seal any minor holes or tears with
aluminum foil duct tape.
If the insulation is dislodged at
each end, loosen the vapour
barrier and slide the insulation to
provide complete coverage.
Seal the vapour barrier at each end
(to the outer ring, if it exists) with
aluminum foil duct tape.
If there are major holes in the
vapour barrier or gaps in the
insulation, the duct may have to be
removed and reinstalled. You may
choose to do this yourself or seek
professional assistance.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
73
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
WINDOWS
AND DOORS
Special considerations
Windows and doors provide
ventilation, light, access and security to
your home. Repairs tend to fall into two
areas—poor operation and breakage. A
badly operating or broken window or
door can be dangerous in an emergency, be
an invitation to an intruder and cause heat
loss that will increase your energy costs.
• Regular maintenance for
weathersealing of windows and doors
helps to control the heating and
cooling efficiency in your home. This
sealing helps to keep your home
more comfortable and saves money
on your heating and cooling bills.
• Whenever possible, choose lowtoxicity, solvent-free caulking that
has less affect on indoor air quality
and your health.
The most common window and
door problems are:
• water leaks around windows, doors,
skylights or other penetrations
• damaged window and door
weatherstripping
• window condensation
• broken windowpanes
• damaged screens
• problem lock sets or interior
passage sets
• sticking doors (interior and exterior)
• self-closure devices
• garage overhead door malfunctions
Maintenance includes:
• regular inspection to spot problems
before they become serious
Healthy Housing™
Safety
• Protect your eyes and hands when
removing broken glass or installing
new glass in a frame. Wear protective
eyewear and gloves.
• Replace broken glass right away to
prevent someone from getting injured.
Tasks
Repair water leaks around
windows, doors, skylights
and other penetrations
Prevention tips
• Keep window tracks clean and
lubricated for easy operation.
• Repair minor problems promptly to
avoid bigger repairs. For example,
door stops that come loose or go
missing need to be reinstalled right
away to avoid damage to walls by the
doorknob, a bigger patching job.
Repair tips
• When repairing a broken pane of glass
in a storm door or window, the job
will be easier if you remove the door
or window and work on a flat surface.
• When replacing a screen, use a work
table or floor space big enough to
move around the job.
• A staple gun is easier to use when
attaching screen to the frame, but a
hammer and tacks will still do the job!
• Purchase replacement glass, screen and
screen replacement kits at your local
hardware or building supply store.
• A spline roller is the best tool to use
when replacing the spline in a metal
or vinyl frame screen. A screwdriver
can be used as a substitute, but you
may need a second person to help
keep the screen tight in the frame.
74
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Poor flashing or deteriorated caulking
can allow water to get into the walls
around window and door frames. Ideally,
drip caps would have been installed over
windows and doors that are not well
protected by a roof overhang. Flashing kits
around skylights are designed to prevent
water from penetrating with only minimal
use of caulking. Sealants do not last
forever and must be maintained.
Many different sealants are suitable
for repairing water leaks on the exterior
of the house. Siliconized acrylic sealant
combines the durability of silicone with
the ease of use and paintability of acrylics.
Read the label closely to make sure that
the caulking material is compatible with
the surfaces where you intend to apply
it and that it can be used inside. Provide
ventilation when caulking because many
compounds release potentially harmful
volatile organic compounds while curing.
Avoid using exterior products inside
where the strong odours will last for days
or weeks and may affect your health.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: metal or vinyl flashing,
siliconized acrylic or acrylic sealant,
contractor’s sheathing tape
Tools: caulking gun, water, hammer
Cladding
Sheathing
Paper
Flashing
Drip
Edge
Sealant
Sealant
Sheathing
Paper
Cladding
Window
Head
Window
Sill
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
1. Use a rag and putty knife to gently
remove any old caulking or dirt
from a gap to be caulked.
Replace window and door
weatherstripping
Weatherstripping is an important part
of the house that keeps heat in and wind
and water outside. Water leakage can
cause mold and damage to the structure
and interior finish of the house. Air leakage
can waste energy and cause uncomfortable
drafts. As part of your seasonal home
maintenance inspection, check the
condition of all window and door
weatherstripping. Because windows and
doors are subject to many openings and
closings, weatherstripping can wear out.
2. Cut the nozzle of the caulking tube
on a slight angle. The size of the cut
opening, the pressure you apply to
the gun and the speed at which you
lay out the bead, will determine the
width and depth of the caulking
bead.
There are a number of different types
of weatherstripping and door sweeps.
Many are designed to be compressed in
an opening to provide a seal. In some
windows or doors, compression strips
may be designed to lock into a groove
or kerf, avoiding the need for surface
fastening. Low-cost metal spring type and
foam weatherstripping may not prove to
be very durable. Metal clad doors may
also have a magnetic weatherstrip system
that is attracted to the metal surface of
the door. Modern windows and doors
often have two lines of weatherstripping
of slightly different types.
Tubular Gasket
Spring Metal Strip
V-Strip
Adhesive-backed Foam
Foam-edged
Wood Strip
Astragal
Grooved Gasket
Magnetic
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: Weatherstripping kit (similar
to the original weatherstrip if possible)
Tools: measuring tape, utility knife,
hacksaw, screwdriver, hammer
Door Sweep
Door Shoe
3. Apply the caulking by squeezing the
4.
trigger on the gun while moving the
nozzle slowly and smoothly along
the joint.
Quickly use a wet finger to smooth
the caulking before it skins over.
At Top
Rail
Top Rail
Threshold Gasket
Where
Sashes
Meet
Sash
At
Bottom
Rail
Garage Door Gasket
1. Remove the worn weatherstripping.
2. Measure the old weatherstripping
or the opening.
3. Cut the new weatherstripping to fit.
4. Install the new weatherstripping (as
appropriate for the type).
5. Check the window or door
6.
operation and tightness of the seal.
Adjust weatherstripping if required
(depending on type, it may have to
be removed and placed again
further from window or door).
Follow the same procedure for a
door sweep.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
75
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Fix problem windows
Adjust spring-loaded windows
Loose windows usually have broken
or improperly adjusted operating
mechanisms. Older windows use weights
attached to sash cords or chains to
operate. Newer windows use springs
and can be adjusted with a screwdriver.
Sticking windows commonly either have
dirty, unlubricated sliders or have been
painted shut.
1. Locate the adjustment screw on
Skill level rating: 3 - Skilled
homeowner
the window jamb.
2. Turn screw to adjust the window
3.
balance. Test the window for smooth
operation.
Continue to adjust the screw and
test the window until it works
smoothly.
Replace broken sash cords with
weights or chains
Materials: sash cord (depends on
window type), graphite- or siliconebased lubricant
5. Install new sash cord or chain.
Thread new cord or chain over
pulley in upper window frame and
drop into the channel for the weight.
Pull on new cord or chain at both
top and bottom to make sure it runs
smoothly over the pulley.
Note: To make it easier to thread the
new sash cord or chain over the
pulley and down through the weight
channel, attach a string with a nail to
the end of the sash cord. Thread the
nail and string over the pulley and let
it drop down into the channel,
carrying the sash cord. Grab the sash
cord or chain, remove the string and
nail, and continue.
Tools: utility knife, pliers, screwdriver,
hammer, small pry bar (optional),
toothbrush or small brush, cloth
Fix sticking window
1. Check to see if the window has been
2.
3.
painted shut. If it has, use a utility
knife to cut the paint seal or place a
small block of wood against the
window sash and tap gently with a
hammer to free the window.
Clean any debris or dirt from the
window tracks using a brush and cloth.
Lubricate tracks using a graphite- or
silicone-based lubricant.
1. Pry away and remove window stops
2.
3.
from frame using a screwdriver or
pry bar. Remove moulding screws if
present.
Remove any weatherstripping or
moulding if present.
Gently remove lower window. Pull
sash cords or chains out of window
sashes.
Spring
6. Attach the new sash cord or chain
4. Pry away weight channel cover and
remove the weight from inside the
window frame. Detach old sash cord
from the weight.
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Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
7.
to the weight and place in the
channel. Pull on sash cord or chain
above the pulley until the weight is
against the pulley.
Sit window on sill. Holding sash cord
or chain against the window, cut the
cord or chain 75 mm (3 in.) longer
than the hole in the window sash.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
Replace broken
windowpanes
A broken glass pane should be
replaced immediately. It can injure
someone, let in rain and snow, cause
condensation and let precious heated air
escape in winter. The moisture can quickly
cause sill, floor, moulding and wall damage.
Cold drafts and loss of heat will soon
make the house uncomfortable. Broken
panes can also invite vandals and burglars
looking for an easy way to enter.
8. Tie a knot in the sash cord and
wedge it into the hole in the sash. If
using chain, attach the chain to the
weights with a wire. Snip off excess
chain. Attach chain to the sash with
a screw.
Windows with sealed glass units
cannot be repaired. Order replacements
from a manufacturer. If you have a
warranty, check to see if repairs are
covered. Use manufacturer’s
recommendations for replacement of
sealed units.
Older windows with wood or metal
frames can be repaired at home.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: putty, glazier’s points, masking
tape
Tools: gloves, eye protection, pliers,
replacement glass, putty knife, small chisel,
screwdriver, paintbrush
9. Replace the weight channel cover.
Slide the window into the frame.
Reattach stops and any moulding or
weatherstripping that had been
removed.
7. Secure the glass with new glazier
8.
9.
points placed at the corners and
every 100 to 150 mm (4 to 6 in.)
along the frame. To avoid breaking
the glass, gently push or tap the
points in with the side of the chisel
or a screwdriver. Do not be
tempted to use a hammer!
Fill the joint with putty or glazing
compound, pressing it firmly and
smoothly into place with your
fingers. Use a putty knife to cut
away any extra putty or compound.
After the putty has dried a few
days, paint it to match the rest of
the window. Clean the window
after the paint dries.
Metal and vinyl frame windows and
storm doors
Many modern windows, window
units and storm doors have metal or
vinyl frames. Although a window may
be an exterior slider or storm, it’s
frequently designed to be removed and
repaired from the inside of your home.
Repairs depend on the type of frame
and how it holds the glass in place. The
most common types of frames used in
residential construction are:
Wood frame windows and storm
doors
CAUTION: Wear gloves and eye
protection.
1. Wearing gloves and eye protection,
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
gently remove the pieces of the
broken pane.
Remove leftover pieces of glass
embedded in the frame by rocking
them back and forth while pulling
them away from the frame with
pliers.
Pull out the old glazier points (or
nails used for the purpose) with the
pliers.
Measure the height and width of the
cleaned frame. Subtract 5 mm
(3/16 in.) from each dimension and
have a new piece of glass cut to this
size at your local hardware, building
supply or glass replacement store.
Knead putty so it is uniform and
press a thin putty ribbon around
the inside edge of the frame.
Place the new glass in the frame
and press it against the putty firmly
and evenly.
• The sealed glazing unit fits against
the vinyl or wood sash like a picture
in a frame and is held on the interior
with vinyl or wood strips. A rubber
seal holds the glass in place.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
77
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
• For storm windows or doors, the
glass may rest in a channel in the
frame. Screws or metal keys hold the
frame together. Putty or some form
of rubber seal holds the glass in place.
Alternatively for storm windows
or doors, the glass may be sandwiched
between two separate frame halves
that are held together by rivets or
screws. A rubber or vinyl seal, attached
along each inside half of the frame,
makes the joint airtight.
Replace glass in two frame halves
Replace glass in channel frame
1. Remove the screws holding the two
1. Remove the glazing seal from the
2.
frame or sash with the tip of a
screwdriver and carefully remove
the damaged glass. Open one end
of the frame by gently knocking out
the metal keys or removing the
screws that hold it in place.
frame halves together; then remove
one of the frame halves. Carefully
remove the damaged glass.
Measure the inside height and
width of the frame opening and
subtract 3 mm (1/8 in.) from each
dimension to allow for irregularities
in the frame. Order the glass cut
to size at your local hardware or
building supply store.
Materials: EITHER masking tape, putty
or mastic compound, window glass cut
to fit the frame opening, rubber or vinyl
seal, matching paint, OR replacement
glass and sash unit
Tools: measuring tape, screwdriver,
hammer, wood chisel, pliers, putty knife,
paintbrush
2. If mastic has also been used to seal
Replace a sealed glazing unit
1. Check carefully along the edges
2.
3.
4.
5.
78
of the window to discover the
manufacturer’s name.
Measure the overall size of the
glazing unit and the frame or sash
in which it is contained. Contact a
building supply store or distributor
of that brand of windows and find
out the replacement procedure.
For operable windows,
manufacturers will often sell the
complete glazing unit and sash so
that replacement is just a matter
of unfastening the window from the
existing hardware and installing the
new window in its place.
Follow the manufacturer’s
instructions.
Replacing glass in larger fixed
windows will likely require
professional help.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
3. Place the new glass in the frame on
the seal.
4. Screw the two halves back together.
3.
4.
5.
the glass, thoroughly remove it from
both the frame and the glazing seal
with a cloth soaked in solvent.
CAUTION: Use solvent only in a
well-ventilated area.
Measure the inside height and width
of the frame opening and subtract 3
mm (1/8 in.) from each dimension to
allow for irregularities in the frame.
Order the glass cut to size at your
local hardware or building supply
store.
Using the putty knife, spread a layer
of new putty or mastic on the frame
where the glass is to rest. Place the
new glass in the opening and press it
firmly against the mastic. Apply a
3 mm (1/8 in.) thick layer of putty or
mastic along the edge of the glass
equal in width to the raised portion
of the glazing seal.
Replace the glazing seal. Examine its
edges to be sure the mastic is tight
between the glass and the bead.
Remove any excess mastic along
the edge of the bead with the putty
knife, then use a cloth and solvent
(with caution) to finish the cleaning.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
Fix or replace screens
Screens with holes or tears allow
insects to get into your house.You can
easily fix or patch small holes or tears. If
the tear is large or hard to patch, replace
the entire screen. Old windows or screen
doors often have metal screening. Newer
windows usually have glass fibre screening.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: screening or ready-cut screen
patches
Tools: old scissors, a ruler or small block
of wood with straight edges, sewing
needle and fine wire or nylon thread
Patch a hole or tear in glass fibre
screen
1. Trim the hole or tear with old
2.
3.
scissors to make a rectangle with
square edges.
Cut a similarly shaped rectangle from
your screening that is 25 mm (1 in.)
larger on all sides than the hole.
Pull “threads” from a piece of screen
and use them to sew the patch into
place.
3. Align the new screen over the
frame. Place the screen about
25 mm (1 in.) above the top of the
opening. Staple or tack the screen
every 50 mm (about 2 in.) across
the top of the frame.
Replace the entire screen
Wood frames
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: screen fabric, screen
moulding, finishing nails, staples or tacks
Patch a hole or tear in metal screen
Note: The patch should be put on from
the inside surface of the screen so that it
will look tidy from the inside when the
job is finished.
1. Trim the hole or tear with the
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
shears, cutters or old scissors to
make a rectangle with square edges.
Cut a similarly shaped rectangle from
your screening that is 25 mm (1 in.)
larger on all sides than the hole.
Remove the three outer wires on all
four sides of the patch.
Using the block of wood or ruler as
a frame, bend over the edges of the
wire.
Put the patch over the hole and push
the bent wires through the screen.
Hold the patch firmly in place, then
from the other side of the screen
bend the loose wire ends in toward
the hole.You may need someone’s
help to do this.
Tools: measuring tape, staple gun, utility
knife, screwdriver, hammer, crosscut saw
(if needed)
1. Measure the length and the width
of the screen opening. Cut
screening 150 mm (6 in.) longer
and 75 mm (3 in.) wider than the
opening.
4. Pull the screen tight over the frame
lengthwise. Tack or staple the
screen every 50 mm (about 2 in.)
across the bottom of the frame.
Note: To help pull the screen tight
you can tack or staple a board
along the bottom of the screen
overlapping the frame. Slip the
bottom edge of the frame over the
edge of your work surface. Place
pressure against the board until the
loose screen is tight against the
frame. Hold the board in this
position while you tack or staple
the screening to the frame.
2. Remove the door or window and
place it on a flat surface. Using the
screwdriver, gently pry up and
remove the moulding that holds
the screen in place. Remove the
old screen.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
79
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Metal and vinyl frames
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: screen fabric, spline
Tools: measuring tape, screwdriver, spline
roller
Replace problem lock sets
or interior passage sets
Locksets or passage sets (that have
no locking mechanism) are usually
durable as long as they are securely
fastened. Usually, there are machine
screws through the inside rose (hole
cover) that connect the inside and
outside knobs through the latch bolt
assembly. There are also two wood
screws through the latch plate on the
edge of the door. As part of seasonal
maintenance, make sure that these
screws are all secure. At the same time,
ensure that hinge screws are secure.
With the door closed, use a hammer and
nail set to strike the hinge pins up, one at
a time. Lubricate each pin with silicone
lubricant and tap back into place.
Eventually, locksets or passage sets
may wear out and need to be replaced.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
5. Staple or tack the screen every
Materials: replacement lockset
50 mm (about 2 in.) down the
centre rail, if any. Pull the screen
tight at the sides and attach to the
frame. Cut away the excess screen
and reattach the moulding using
finishing nails.
Tools: screwdriver, hammer, chisel
Hole to Release Lock
1. Measure the length and width of
2.
3.
4.
5.
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Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
the screened opening. Cut the
screening 150 mm (about 6 in.)
longer and 75 mm (about 3 in.)
wider than the opening.
Remove the window or door and
place it on a flat work surface.
Remove the old screen. It is usually
held in place by a vinyl spline,
forced into a groove in the frame.
Pry out the spline using a
screwdriver.
Carefully align the new screen over
the frame. Keep the screen tight
and use a spline roller to work the
spline back into the grooves.
Cut away the excess screen with
the utility knife.
Outside Knob
Rose
Spindle
Inside Knob
Latch Bolt Assembly
Latch Plate
1. Measure the distance from the edge
of the door to the centre of the
base of the doorknob. This distance
is the backset. For a more accurate
measurement, temporarily remove
the doorknobs and latch bolt
assembly. Remove the two machine
screws on the inside rose that hold
the two doorknobs in place. (Some
knobs have a release tab at their
base; press a nail into the tab to
release.) Remove the rose. Slide out
the doorknobs and connecting
spindle. Remove the two screws in
the latch plate. Slide out the latch
plate and latch bolt assembly.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Measure the distance from the latch
plate to the centre of the spindle
hole in the latch bolt assembly.
Choose a new lockset or passage
set that has the same backset and
will fit the holes in the door.
Insert the new latch bolt assembly
and secure it with the two screws
through the latch plate into the
door. If necessary, use a chisel to
make any minor adjustments to the
mortise in the edge of the door.
Insert the spindle on the inside
knob through the spindle hole in
the latch bolt assembly.
Position the outside knob on the
spindle and line up the screw holes.
Secure the knobs in place with the
machine screws.
Make sure that the door closes and
that the latch fits into the strike
plate. If necessary, adjust the
position of the strike plate and
strike plate recess on the door
frame.
Adjust sticking doors
(interior and exterior)
Doors may have a number of
problems. They squeak, stick, drag and
may not close properly because they
keep striking the frame or because
the lock catch and strike plate are
misaligned. Doorknobs may rattle and
hinges may be loose. Patio door tracks
can become dirty or misaligned.
These problems are irritating but
are usually fixed quite easily.
Fix sticking or dragging doors
Swinging doors
1. Check for loose screws in the
2.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: graphite or silicone spray
lubricant, oil, sandpaper, small dowels
or toothpicks, putty
Tools: screwdrivers, hammer, plane,
pliers
Fix noisy doors
1. You can easily stop a door from
2.
3.
squeaking. Put a few drops of oil or
silicone spray lubricant at the top of
each hinge. Move the door back
and forth to work the oil down
into the hinge. If the squeaking does
not stop, raise the pin and add
more oil.
Lubricate noisy or squeaking locks
with graphite or silicone spray
lubricant, available at your hardware
store.
To stop an older doorknob from
rattling, loosen the set screw on the
knob. Remove the knob and put a
small piece of putty inside it. Push
the knob back as far as possible and
tighten the screw. New doorknobs
may not be able to be tightened
and will have to be replaced.
3.
4.
hinges, and tighten them as
necessary. If the screws won’t hold,
replace them one at a time with
longer screws of the same gauge or
insert a small dowel or toothpicks in
the hole, break off the exposed ends,
and put the original screw back.
If the door still sticks or drags, look
for a shiny spot on its edge where
the paint or finish is marked.
Pinpoint the spot by opening and
closing the door slowly several
times. Sand the spot down until the
door closes smoothly. Don’t sand
too much, or the door will not fit
tightly as it should.
If the door frame is badly out of
shape, you may have to remove the
door and plane down the edges
that drag.
If necessary, paint the frame to
match.
Sliding patio doors
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner or (if track is badly
damaged)
Skill level rating: 4 - Qualified
tradesperson/contractor
Materials: silicone spray lubricant
Tools: vacuum, hammer
1. Clean out any dirt or debris in the
tracks. A vacuum is handy for this
job.
2. Once tracks are clean, lubricate with
a silicone lubricant.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
81
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
3. If the track is slightly damaged, try
4.
inserting a block of wood and
hammering the damaged track flat.
If the damage is severe, you will need
to replace the track. This job is often
one for a qualified patio door
installer. If you decide to do it
yourself, order a track replacement
kit from the door manufacturer.
Follow the manufacturer’s
instructions to replace the track.
Replace door hinges
Door hinges can wear out, rust and
become loose, causing the door to be
out of alignment. Doors that are
exposed to the weather are more likely
to have damaged or badly rusted hinges
that need to be replaced. There are two
main types of door hinges—loose-pin
and fixed-pin. Loose-pin butt hinges are
the most common. They have a
removable pin that allows you to
remove the door without unscrewing
the hinge leaves. Fixed-pin hinges must
have the hinge leaves unscrewed.
Remove loose-pin hinges
1. Remove the pins from the top and
2.
82
bottom hinges by tapping the pins
upward first with a hammer and
nail set through the bottom hole in
the barrel and then with a hammer
and screwdriver under the edge of
the head of the pin. If you are doing
this job yourself, it’s usually easier
and safer to remove the bottom
pin first.
Stand the door on its edge on the
floor and unscrew the hinge leaves
attached to it. Unscrew the hinge
leaves from the door frame.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Remove fixed-pin hinges
Adjust self-closure devices
1. Remove the door by first removing
A self-closure device is very
important on a door between the house
and an attached garage. It ensures that
the door stays closed. This closure
minimizes the chance that deadly carbon
monoxide from idling vehicles may enter
the house. Self-closure devices are also
used on screen doors to ensure that
they close without slamming.
2.
the screws that attach the hinge
leaves to the door. Undo the
bottom hinge first.
Stand the door on its edge on the
floor and unscrew the hinges from
the door frame.
Replace the hinges and reattach
the door
1. Pack any enlarged screw holes with
2.
3.
4.
5.
wood filler and let dry. Drill new
pilot holes for the hinge screws.
Attach the new hinges or
appropriate hinge leaves on the
door in the same position as the
old ones. Tighten the screws onehalf turn short of tight.
Screw the opposing leaves of loosepin hinges onto the door frame.
Use small pieces of wood under the
door or have a helper hold the
door high enough to position the
door so that the two halves of the
hinges mesh together. Insert the
hinge pins.
Tighten all screws and check the
door for close and fit. If it binds or
rubs, loosen the screws and slightly
shift one or more of the hinges.
Small pieces of cardboard cut from
the box that the hinges were
packaged in can be used to shim
the leaves of the hinges either on
the door edge or the door frame.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: none
Tools: screwdriver
1. Ensure that all self-closure device
2.
3.
4.
mounting screws are secure.
Tighten as required.
Open the door and allow it to
close. Ensure that it closes
completely but not with excessive
force.
If the door does not close properly,
check the fit of the door. Make any
necessary adjustments by shimming
out hinges or adjusting the lockset
strike plate.
Most self-closure devices have an
adjustment screw on the body of
the closer. Turn the screw until the
closing pressure is acceptable.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
Maintain garage overhead
doors
Sectional garage doors have many
moving parts that need semi-annual
lubrication. Springs may also need
adjustment or replacement.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: silicone lubricant
Tools: rag, screwdriver, wrenches
1. Check all hinges and brackets to
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
ensure that all screws and bolts are
secure.
Wipe the track clean with a rag.
Lubricate the track and rollers with
silicone lubricant.
Check that the door operates
smoothly and that all lock bars
move easily into the slots in the
track. Adjust lock bar brackets as
required.
Lubricate the door lock with a lock
lubricant or powdered graphite.
Check the balance of door. It
should not seem heavy to lift, nor
so light that it lifts on its’ own. If
either of these conditions exist, the
springs must be adjusted or
replaced.
Warning: Springs are under high
tension and should only be adjusted
or replaced by a qualified person.
Front Track
Brace
Safety
Cable
Clevis Pulley
Stud Pulley
Roller Hinge
Track
Bracket
Rear Track
Brace
Roller
Hinges
Lock
Bar
Door Lock
Cable
Anchor
Door Lock
Lock Bars
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
83
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
SIDING
The most common siding problems
are:
• poor appearance
• buckling or detachment
• deteriorated caulking or flashing that
may allow water penetration
Maintenance includes:
• cleaning, re-fastening and making
minor repairs on vinyl and aluminum
siding
• painting and staining wood siding
• minor re-pointing of masonry
• inspecting, reattaching and caulking
flashings and any gaps
Prevention tips
• Protect your investment. Conduct
regular (one to two times a year or
after a windstorm) inspections of
your home’s exterior to spot
trouble early and prevent severe
problems. Look for signs and
locations of potential moisture
problems including cracks, gaps,
leaks, obvious deterioration, staining,
material warping and efflorescence
on brick. Paint bubbling, cracking and
peeling can indicate an underlying
problem, such as moisture
movement from inside (air
leakage/condensation).
• Include in your regular inspections
soffits, fascia, eavestroughing,
downspouts and window and door
caulking. These elements are
important parts of the exterior
finish system.
• Maintain all elements of the exterior
siding, making general repairs and
applying paints, coatings or other
preventive measures as
recommended by the manufacturer.
• Keep soil at least 200 mm (8 in.)
below the exterior finish to prevent
moisture damage. It is acceptable to
allow soil to be only 150 mm (6 in.)
below brick, although 200 mm (8 in.)
is preferred.
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Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Repair tips
Tasks
• When preparing to paint, take the
time to check and repair minor
damage that could lead to bigger
repair problems.
• Most caulking is limited to bridging
about 60 mm (0.25 in.) between
solid materials. Fill large cavities and
holes with fiberglass, polystyrene
rope or spray foam. Cover with a
solid material such as wood or
aluminum flashing so that only small
gaps remain. Caulk remaining gaps.
• Rent and use scaffolding to provide
a safe, working platform.
Maintain vinyl and
aluminum siding
Special considerations
Healthy Housing™
• Effective air sealing will help reduce
energy consumption and moisture
and mold problems.
Safety
• Siding repairs and maintenance often
require climbing on ladders. Know
how to use a ladder safely. Consider
renting scaffolding and safety
equipment to do repairs.
• If your home is more than 40 years
old, you should assume that the
paint on your home contains lead.
This fact is not always a cause for
alarm. Lead-based paint is not
dangerous if it is in good condition,
but if it is peeling and flaking then
the paint presents a potentially
harmful situation. Sanding and
scraping lead-based paint can also
produce large amounts of dust that
contains lead.
• Those especially at risk from leadbased paints are infants, young
children, pregnant women and the
fetus. Paint samples can be tested
with a home test kit or through
laboratory analysis. Current federal
and provincial laws restrict the
amount of lead that can be
contained in commercial products.
New paints do not contain lead.
Vinyl and aluminum siding are
durable and low maintenance. Regular
maintenance includes inspecting to find
any damage, cleaning, caulking cracks or
holes, and ensuring that soil is kept
below the siding to prevent moisture
damage to the house. In unusual
situations where a piece of the siding
is severely damaged (large dents, holes,
cracks or breaks), the affected piece
may need to be replaced. Consult with
a qualified siding contractor.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: non-abrasive soap, water,
caulking
Tools: long handled brush, hose, caulking
gun, rake or shovel
1. Clean surface stains gently with
2.
3.
water and a non-detergent, nonabrasive soap. Start cleaning at the
bottom and work up to avoid
streaks. You can use a long handled
brush to clean the siding, then hose
gently (high pressure could force
water behind the siding and
flashings which are designed to
shed water coming down, not
upwards as from a pressure washer
spraying from the ground up).
Caulk any visible cracks and replace
old caulking to keep gaps well
sealed.
Keep soil 200 mm (8 in.) below the
lower edge of the siding to prevent
moisture damage to the house
structure. Be sure to maintain the
grade so that it slopes away from
the house.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
Maintain wood and woodbased siding
It’s important to keep any type of
wood or wood-based siding dry to
prevent deterioration and mold growth.
Regular maintenance includes inspecting
to find cracks or moisture problems,
repairing any damaged pieces, cleaning
and painting.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: non-abrasive soap, water,
caulking
Tools: long-handled brush, hose, caulking
gun, rake or shovel
1. Scrub wood siding lightly using a
2.
3.
4.
mild, non-abrasive and nondetergent soap and a long brush.
Rinse by hand or hose off the soap
(high pressure may force water
through the siding).
Premature deterioration such as
cracks or discoloration can be
caused by leaks. Check caulking and
replace where necessary. Replace
old, cracked caulking.
Check for water pooling as a result
of poor grading and drainage or
splashing from the eavestrough.
Prevent splashing by installing splash
blocks, available at a building supply
or hardware store.
A piece of damaged or deformed
siding can be removed and
replaced. Consult a renovator or
contractor for assistance.
Paint wood siding
Painting your exterior siding will
help protect your home from moisture
and weather damage. Painting should be
done when you begin to see signs that
the paint is wearing or peeling. As paint
wears, the primer begins to show
through the finish coats, the color of
the old paint dulls and the grain on
wood siding begins to show clearly.
Wait until you see these signs. If you
repaint too often you will end up with
a thick coating that’s likely to crack and
break away. The coating will be so thick
that won’t be able to expand and
contract with changes in the weather or
adjust to your home’s natural structural
shifts. If you wait too long, the paint
surface deteriorates making it hard to
restore. In that case, you may need to
sand down to the bare surface and begin
again. By regularly checking the condition
of the exterior paint, you will be able to
judge the right time to repaint.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: paint, paint primer for wood
Tools: wire brush or steel wool, rollers
and tray, paint brushes 50 mm (2 in.) to
100 mm (4 in.) wide, preferably with
chisel edges, an angular sash brush (good
if you are painting window frames,
mouldings or other narrow surfaces),
detergent, sponges or cleaning cloths,
drop cloths, paint bucket, mixing paddles,
protective clothing, safety equipment, an
extension ladder, step ladder, sander or
heat gun
Before you paint or repaint, check
the surface carefully and make repairs.
1. Replace decayed or damaged wood
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
around windows, steps, posts, eaves
and anywhere else.
Clean eavestroughs and
downspouts before painting.
Use a wire brush and steel wool to
clean rust from all metal surfaces.
Paint these surfaces with a metal
primer before applying the finish
coat.
Use drop cloths to protect foliage
and windows against paint splatters.
Scrape or rub away blistered or
flaking paint with a wire brush. You
can also use a sander or a heat gun
to remove tough paint.
Use steel wool to remove rust
from exposed nail heads.
Countersink the nails and fill the
hole with filler, then sand smooth
and wipe clean before painting.
Clean dirt and grime off walls.
Clean any moldy areas using the
clean-up procedure for molds
(see page 24).
Choose water-based paint to
provide easy clean-up and safer
disposal of paint supplies.
How much paint to buy
The quantity of paint you’ll need
depends on the surface being painted
and the type of paint used. A safe
estimate is to allow 1 L (about 1 quart)
of paint to cover about 8 m2 (about
86 ft2) of wall surface for each coat.
Several coats may be needed depending
on the quality of the paint and the depth
of colour being covered.
Apply the paint
Assemble all the tools that you
need. Paint only when rain or heavy
winds are not expected and when
temperatures are predicted to be
between 10°C (50°F) and 32°C (90° F).
Try to avoid painting in hot, direct
sunlight. Always allow the full drying time
between coats and remember that
temperature and humidity can affect
drying times. Follow the instructions on
the paint can.
Painting sequence
1. Make sure ladders are secure and
2.
3.
4.
5.
cannot slip before using them. Do
not place them at too steep an
angle. Never step on the top rungs
or on an adjacent window ledge.
Always try to keep one hand on
the ladder. Do not extend your
reach.
Guard against hazards below. Hang
your paint and an empty pail from
your ladder so they cannot fall.
Use the pail to accommodate rags,
brushes and scrapers so you do not
have to climb down as often. Keep
children and pets away from your
work area.
Paint the highest parts of your
home (for example, soffit boards)
first and work your way down.
Otherwise, you will get dirt,
scrapings and drips in your work.
Start painting circular objects like
downspouts with diagonal strokes,
then finish by painting downward
across the strokes. This finish will
help prevent the paint from
running.
Dispose of empty paint containers
and dirty rags daily. Put ladders and
other equipment away every time
you finish work for the day. Seal all
partially used paints and store them
out of reach of children.
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85
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Maintain stucco siding
Maintain masonry
Skill level rating: 3 - Skilled
homeowner
Masonry siding is applied as a veneer
and includes brick, stone and their
imitations. Masonry should be regularly
inspected to spot any problems such as
crumbled mortar, cracks or efflorescence.
Efflorescence is the formation of white
“dust” on masonry. This occurs when salts
in the wet mortar dissolve and migrate to
the surface. This “dust” is not harmful and
will disappear with weathering. Persistence
of efflorescence could indicate problems
that will need to be repaired including:
Materials: stucco cement, caulking
Tools: putty knife, small masonry trowel,
Stucco is a strong, durable,
economical exterior finish available in
a variety of colours. Stucco can be given
a new look with paint and holds paint
better than a lot of other siding
materials because it’s more stable at
different temperatures.
Maintenance includes gentle
cleaning, crack and caulking repair and
keeping soil away from the stucco.
1. Hose off stucco gently to remove
2.
3.
4.
dirt. Do not use high-pressure
washing equipment.
Fill and cover hairline cracks with
a top application of similarly
pigmented cement. Hairline cracks
can be caused by natural shrinkage
in newly completed stucco. Leave
these cracks alone for about two
years until shrinkage is finished.
Inspect and recaulk where needed
around all pipes, intakes and
exhaust hoods.
Keep soil at least 200 mm (8 in.)
below the lower edge of the stucco
to prevent water damage to the
wall finish, insulation and wall
framing.
•
•
•
•
water leakage through mortar
moisture migrating from inside
a damaged gutter
a badly positioned downspout
If you have to clean brick, scrub lightly
to avoid damaging the surface or mortar.
You can either use a brick cleaning solution
found in stores or hire a professional.
Commercial brick-cleaners can be caustic
(for example, acid), so follow the
manufacturer’s safety instructions.
Keep soil at least 150 mm (6 in.)
below the lower edge of the brick to
prevent moisture damage to the wall
finish, insulation and wall framing. Other
claddings require 200 mm (8 in.) of
clearance from the soil.
Skill level rating: 3 - Skilled
homeowner
Materials: mortar
Tools: putty knife, small masonry
trowel, cold chisel, ladder, smoothing
tool, joint tool
Fix masonry cracks
1. Plan the work when freezing
2.
3.
4.
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Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
temperatures are not expected. Use
a cold chisel to chip out any loose
mortar from cracks to be filled.
Mix a small batch of mortar
according to the directions on the
package. Use a pointed masonry
trowel to apply the mortar to joints.
Remove the excess and smooth the
mortar using a smoothing tool or
tool that will match the type of
joint in the surrounding area. A
copper tube or wooden dowel
produces a smooth, rounded joint.
Clean the brick face with a brush and
water. Most mortar mixes need to be
kept damp for two to three days.
Follow the directions on the package.
Maintain flashings and
caulking
Cracks around doors and windows
can let in dirt, moisture, insects and
other pests and add dollars to your
heating costs. Repair these cracks and
holes as soon as you notice them.
Steel wool is handy for stuffing in
larger holes such as service line
penetrations. The steel wool serves as
a barrier to small rodents and larger
insects such as the carpenter ant.
Provide an air and moisture seal by
inserting low-expansion polyurethane
foam into the gap over the steel wool.
The foam must be protected from
sunlight. Caulk up to a size that is
feasible or cover with a flashing material.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: caulking suited for the job,
steel wool, low-expansion polyurethane
foam, flashing material
Tools: caulking gun, putty knife, ladder,
utility knife, tin snips
1. Check for cracks, gaps and holes
that may need caulking.
2. Remove any loose or old material
and clean the area.
3. Choose a caulk, foam or flashing
that is suitable for the specific job.
4. Apply the steel wool, foam, flashing
5.
or caulk with the suitable tools as
described above.
Quickly smooth the surface of any
caulking with a wet finger before
the caulking skins over.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
ROOFS
Repair tips
The roof covering is essential in
protecting your home and its contents
from rain, wind, snow and sunlight.
Protect your investment through
preventive roof maintenance and speedy
repairs. Simple maintenance such as
trimming tree branches that are close
to or touching the roof will prevent
damage and discourage insects and moss
growth that may affect the durability of
your roof. Regular inspections will help
you spot any problems such as missing
and damaged roofing, popped nails, loose
and missing flashing, cracks and gaps in
the caulking, holes or rot. Consult
CMHC’s Homeowner’s Inspection
Checklist for complete inspection
suggestions.
• Purchase roof repair materials at
building supply and hardware stores.
• Working on a roof is dangerous.
Rent safety equipment from an
equipment rental store.
• If in doubt about your repair abilities
or if you do not have the proper
equipment, call a professional to
do the roof work.
The most common roofing
problems are leaks resulting from:
• damaged shingles or flashings
• ice dams
• standing water
Maintenance includes:
• inspecting flashings and caulking
• inspecting and correcting any
obstructions of vents in soffits and
roof
• inspecting and sealing around roof
penetrations such as plumbing vents
and chimneys
Prevention tips
• Protect your investment. Conduct
regular inspections of the roof (one
to two times a year and after a
windstorm) to spot trouble early
and prevent severe problems. Look
for damaged, broken or missing
shingles and flashings at the eaves
and valleys. Use binoculars to
conduct an inspection from the
safety of the ground, if possible.
• Regular inspections are also
opportunities to note any structural
problems such as sags or dips on the
roof. Structural problems will need
to be assessed by a professional
roofing contractor or qualified home
inspector.
• When installing Christmas lights,
use clips rather than nails to avoid
damage to the roof and fascia.
Special considerations
If you have either extensive leaks
or roofing that has deteriorated over
several areas, you should hire a
reputable roofing contractor. Ask for
evaluations and estimates from at least
three firms before choosing one for
the job.
Skill level rating: 3 - Skilled
homeowner
Materials: roof sealant
Healthy Housing™
• Leaking roofs can result in moisture
problems that could encourage
premature deterioration, mold
growth and possibly cause indoor
air quality problems.
• Sealing roof penetrations properly
helps to reduce heat loss and energy
consumption.
Safety
• Working on a roof is dangerous
and requires special equipment and
training. Consider hiring a
professional roofing contractor to
undertake any roofing repairs.
Tasks
Repair leaking roofs
Repair any roof leaks immediately.
Most roof leaks begin at the most
vulnerable spots—seals along flashing,
missing or damaged shingles or tiles,
valleys clogged with debris or where
standing water at eaves penetrates
the sheathing.
Tools: caulking gun, putty knife
1. Locate the source of the leak. Look
2.
for raised or loose corners on
shingles or flashing that may allow
water to get under the flashing.
Apply roof sealant under the raised
edge and press firmly down to seal.
When your roof leaks, you must
first try to locate the source of the leak.
Finding the source is sometimes hard
to do because water often travels
underneath roofing before it appears as
a noticeable leak. If the “leak” shows
up as a discolored area on a ceiling or
upper part of an outside wall in the
spring or during winter thaws, it may not
be a roof leak at all. Instead, it may be
caused by concealed moisture, which
indicates more complex problems in
the house.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
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HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Replace damaged asphalt
shingles
Maintain flashings and
caulking
Skill level rating: 3 - Skilled
homeowner
Aged or damaged metal flashings
can cause roof leaks. Flashings that are
worn, rust perforated or damaged will
probably need to be replaced. Replacing
flashing often involves additional repairs
to shingles, replacement of all the
shingles and, sometimes, repairs to the
roof structure itself. A roofing
contractor should do these jobs.
Materials: replacement roofing or
flashing, fibrated roof cement, roofing
nails
Tools: flashlight, hammer, pry bar, putty
knife, ladder, safety equipment
3. If the upper shingle can be bent
1. This job is best done when the
weather is cool. Gently insert a flat
pry bar under the upper shingle.
Carefully break the seal tab that
holds the shingles together. Lift the
upper shingle up an inch or two,
exposing the nails holding the
shingle to be replaced. Remove the
damaged shingle from the roof.
2. Insert a replacement shingle.
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Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
4.
enough without breaking, nail the
new shingle at the top of each tab
and at each side. Use galvanized
roofing nails. The overlapping
shingle should cover the nail heads.
If the upper shingle is in danger of
breaking, glue the replacement
shingle in place using fibrated roof
cement.
Apply a small amount of roof
cement over the nail heads and
press the upper shingle firmly in
place.
Prevent ice dams
Ice dams form in cold weather when
snow on the roof melts (often from lack
of sufficient insulation at the outside
walls or dormers along with warm air
leakage through the ceiling and poor
cold air circulation under the roof
sheathing). The meltwater then refreezes
at the lower edges of the roof. The ice
dams back up water, causing it to flow
up under the shingles, resulting in leaks
in the attic. The solution for ice dams is
to improve the insulation and air sealing
of the ceiling along with providing an air
passage—under the roof sheathing at
the eaves so that it stays cold. This job
needs to be done by a qualified
contractor who will assess your roof
and the insulation, airtightness and air
circulation conditions in your attic.
Skill level rating: 3 - Skilled
homeowner (repair small holes)
or
Skill level rating: 4 - Qualified
tradesperson/contractor (replace
flashings)
Materials: roofing cement
Tools: putty knife
1. During the annual roof inspection,
2.
note any small holes corrosion or
damage to flashings.
Fill any small holes with roofing
cement.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
Maintain vents in soffits
and roof
Building codes generally require a
1:300 venting ratio for attics. That is,
10 cm2 for every 30 m2 of attic floor
area (1 ft.2 for every 300 ft.2). The
requirement for low-slope roofs is
1:150. Ideally, that venting would be well
distributed, with about half in the soffits
and half up higher in the roof in the
form of roof spot vents, ridge vents or
gable end vents. If soffit vents are to be
effective, there needs to be a gap
between the underside of the roof deck
and the insulation on the ceiling at the
edges of the building. That space not
only allows the air from the soffits to
flow into the attic, it keeps the roof
deck cold. When the roof deck is cold,
snow melting, ice damming and water
leakage are minimized. Commercially
available insulation stops can be installed
to create that space above the insulation
at the eaves.
If you have properly air-sealed the
ceiling (see Walls and Ceilings section),
you should not need more attic
ventilation. Attic ventilation is often
overrated. In winter, the cold outside air
cannot hold much humidity or carry
moisture away from the attic. In summer,
attic temperatures are affected more by
the sun and shingle colour than by the
amount of ventilation. If you wish to
improve your attic venting, ensure that
it is as well distributed as possible. A
combination of soffit vents with either
gable end vents, ridge vents or roof spot
vents will be sufficient. Turbine vents or
other active vent systems won’t help and
may actually draw more moisture up
through a ceiling that is not sealed.
Vents should be screened to keep
out birds, animals and insects. Broken
or missing vents should be repaired as
soon as possible to keep out pigeons
and bats. There are serious health issues
associated with their droppings including
mites that are so small that they can
enter easily into the living spaces. For
homes that are heavily infested, call a
professional to rid the house of these
pests and clean up properly.
Bathroom exhaust fan ducts or
plumbing stacks may be improperly
vented into the attic. Warm, moist air
may cause serious moisture, mold or
rotting problems. Vent exhaust ducts and
plumbing stacks outside (see page 36 in
Walls and Ceilings).
Skill level rating: 3 - Skilled
homeowner
Materials: pre-made insulation stops
or rigid insulation, wood blocks, insect
screen, nails
Tools: staple gun, hammer, tape
measure, gloves, dust mask, goggles,
flashlight, trouble light
Roof vent
Insulation stop
Soffit vent
1. Look for soffit venting and other
2.
3.
4.
5.
Note: When repainting soffits, don’t paint
over the vents and block them.
6.
roof venting from the ground. Use
binoculars for a better look. Take
time to check for loose or missing
shingles or any chimney problems.
Enter the attic during the day to
inspect the venting. Turn off any
lights and look for light from the
soffit vents. If there isn’t light
between the insulation and roof
deck along the eaves, and you have
already confirmed that soffit vents
exist, then either the soffit venting
must be blocked or the insulation
is too tight to the roof deck.
Carefully work your way to the
eave by stepping only on structural
members. Pull back the insulation
along the eaves.
Install pre-made insulation stops
or site-made stops cut from sheets
of extruded polystyrene held back
from the roof deck by wood blocks
nailed to the sides of the rafters.
There should be at least a 63 mm
(2.5 in.) space between the
insulation stop and the roof deck.
Refit the insulation so that it covers
to the outside edge of the
perimeter wall.
Ensure that all gable end, ridge
vents or roof spot vents are secure
and screened.
7. Ensure that all louvred gable end
8.
vents are not bent so that they
would allow water entry.
On the roof, maintain the roofing
cement or caulking around roof
spot vents to prevent water leaks.
Maintain seals around roof
penetrations
Roof penetrations, such as
chimneys, skylights, plumbing vents,
exhaust fan vents and attic vents, are
likely places for leaks to occur. Leaks
usually develop when the flashing or
caulking around the penetration
deteriorates. Sometimes flashings were
not installed with adequate overlap or
were not correctly positioned. If there
are major flashing problems, you may
wish to consult with a professional.
Otherwise, it may be sufficient to patch
existing problems temporarily, maintain
the patches regularly and replace the
flashing completely when the whole roof
is next replaced.
Skill level rating: 3 - Skilled
homeowner
Materials: roofing cement (in a can or
caulking tube), clear acrylic sealant, foilbacked mastic adhesive tape
Tools: caulking gun, ladder, personal fall
protection equipment, putty knife, rag
Counter
flashing
Step
flashing
1. Inspect the whole roof, especially
2.
any penetrations. Also, check the
flashing around dormers or where
the roof meets a wall. Each of these
penetrations should be flashed.
Difficult spots or exposed fasteners
should be cemented or caulked.
Use roofing cement to dab any
exposed fasteners or cement down
any shingles as required above
flashings. Use roofing cement to
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HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
3.
4.
5.
90
maintain the seal around any vent
stacks, as required.
Use clear acrylic or siliconized
acrylic sealant to caulk the joint
where flashings are embedded into
brick chimneys (or anywhere else
that a clear seal is needed to
maintain a good appearance).
Temporarily patch any small holes
in metal flashings with roofing
cement or small pieces of foilbacked mastic adhesive tape.
If valley flashings allow water to
back up under the shingles, gently
pry up shingles beside the flashing
and insert a uniform strip of roofing
cement. Press the shingles down to
form a continuous seal for the
length of the valley flashing.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
EAVESTROUGHS
AND DOWNSPOUTS
Eavestroughs are designed to collect
water from your roof. Downspouts drain
the water away from your building. Splash
blocks are placed at the end of each
downspout to help disperse the water
onto your lawn. If eavestroughs are not
working properly, water spills off the
roof and down the walls. This runoff can
cause staining, water problems in the
basement and peeling paint on the walls.
If downspouts are unable to carry away
the water, it can cause flooding in the
basement and standing water around
the foundation and yard.
The most common problems with
eavestroughs and downspouts are:
• Built-up debris that prevents proper
drainage
• improper adjustment
• minor leaks
Maintenance includes:
• regular removal of debris.
Prevention tips
• Keep eavestroughs clean of debris
so they can work well.
• Adjust eavestroughs and
downspouts so they drain properly.
• Trim back branches and bushes from
the gutter and roof areas
Repair tips
Safety
• Inspecting and maintaining
eavestroughs and downspouts
involves working on a ladder. Be
extremely careful and follow proper
safety precautions (see page 13
Ladders in the Your tool kit section).
• There are automatic downspout
extensions on the market that lower
themselves with water flow. These
prevent the tripping hazard or
breakage from high traffic. Splash
blocks still need to be in place.
Tasks
Clean and adjust
eavestroughs and
downspouts
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: eavestrough straps or spikes
depending on your system, screws or
nails, silicone sealant, roof cement
Tools: ladder, hose, hammer, screwdriver,
plumber’s auger
1. Inspect and clean your eavestroughs
2.
3.
• Use metal screen to prevent leaves
and debris from filling and clogging
downspouts.
Special considerations
4.
Healthy Housing™
• Eavestroughs and downspouts play
an essential role in keeping moisture
away from your home. Excessive
indoor moisture can lead to mold
growth and create an environment
for dust mites to grow, potentially
causing health problems.
• Attach a rain barrel to the
downspouts to collect water for
outside watering. This action helps
to conserve water and saves on
your water bill.
5.
6.
and downspouts of leaves and
other debris every spring and fall.
Tighten up any loose joints.
Check the outlet where water
flows from the eavestroughs into
the downspouts. These outlets
should have either a leaf guard or
a leaf strainer. Clean out each leaf
guard or strainer and replace it.
Check all eavestrough hangers for
tightness. If the hanger is a strap
type and is loose, either tighten it
with a galvanized screw or replace
the nail with a galvanized nail.
Replace broken or damaged straps.
If the hanger is a sleeve-and-spike
type and is loose, nail it again with
a galvanized or aluminum spike.
Check each downspout for clogs
and leaks. If the downspout is
clogged, clean it at the eavestrough
outlet using a plumber’s auger.
Check eavestroughs for leaks and
proper drainage by pouring water
into each eavestrough using a hose
or pail. If water does not drain
properly, reposition one or more of
the hangers furthest away from the
outlet until it does. If the hanger is a
strap type, you may have to lift the
edge of the shingle or other roofing
material to expose the strap.
7. Remove the end of the strap from
the roof and unscrew or unsnap
the attached end of the strap from
the eavestrough.
8. Raise the strap to a higher position
and secure it again to the roof or
fascia board. The new nail or screw
hole should be at least 20 mm
(3/4 in.) away from the old one.
9. Raise the eavestrough into position
and fasten the remaining end of
the strap to the gutter.
10. If the hanger is a sleeve-and-spike
type, free the eavestrough by pulling
the spike out (use a block to support
the nail puller) or by cutting the
spike with a hacksaw blade.
11. Place another sleeve in another
location close by, but at least 20 mm
(3/4 in.) from the old location. Raise
the eavestrough and refasten it to
the fascia board by nailing a new
galvanized spike through the sleeve
into the board. Cover the nail
heads with a dab of roof sealant.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: silicone sealant, glass fibre
patch, roof cement
Tools: ladder, hammer, screwdriver, wire
brush, putty knife, caulking gun, cleaning rag
Fix small leaks in
eavestroughs and
downspouts
1. Locate the leak and remove all
debris from the area.
2. Vinyl eavestroughs or downspouts—
3.
4.
5.
leaks are usually caused by loose
joints or a damaged seal within the
joint. Try to tighten the joint. If this
doesn’t work, replace the part or
caulk the leak with silicone sealant.
Metal eavestroughs or
downspouts—leaks are caused by
cracks or holes. Use a wire brush
to clean off loose metal and rust.
For small leaks, wipe the area clean
and spread roof cement over it
with a putty knife.
Patch leaks larger than 5 mm
(3/16 in.) with a small piece of
glass fibre patch, 10 mm to 20 mm
larger (3/8 in. to 3/4 in.) than the
hole. Apply a thin layer of roofing
cement over the leak area, place
the patch over the cement and
press it down firmly. Cover the
patch with a heavy coat of cement.
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HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Skill level rating: 1 - Simple
maintenance
Materials: splash blocks
Tools: none
Eavestrough
Downspout
Sloped
Grade
Splash Block
Install splash blocks
1. Place a splash block on the ground
2.
92
under each downspout. The block
will direct water away from your
home instead of letting it splash on
the ground. For the best results, use
long splash blocks that will divert
the water about 1 m (3 ft.) away,
and grade the slope next to your
home so it drops about 300 mm
(1 ft.) in every 3 m (about 10 ft.).
Check the position of the splash
blocks each time you inspect and
clean out your eavestroughs and
downspouts. Splash blocks tend to
settle into the ground over time.
If you find that they have settled,
rebuild the ground underneath
them up to its original slope.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
STEPS, RAMPS, DECKS
AND PORCHES
Special considerations
Tasks
Healthy Housing™
Steps, ramps, decks and porches
require regular maintenance to keep
them in good shape and safe.
• Use cedar or redwood as the
replacement wood. It has natural
preservatives that help it last longer
and won’t need added chemical
preservatives.
• Use a non-toxic ice melter instead
of salt to melt ice on concrete walks
and steps. These products are easier
on the environment and will not
cause the concrete to deteriorate.
Repair or replace wood
steps
The most common step, ramp, deck
and porch problems are:
•
•
•
•
deterioration of wood
damaged boards
minor cracks or holes in concrete
broken concrete
Maintenance includes:
• painting and finishing wood
• inspecting regularly and repairing
concrete
• inspecting and tightening railings
Prevention tips
• Broken, chipped, loose or sagging
steps are dangerous and unsightly
Repair or replace them immediately
Repair tips
• Plan to do your concrete repair
when the weather is warm so the
concrete will cure properly.
• Use galvanized nails to eliminate rust
staining on wood decks.
Safety
• Prevent situations that could cause
trips and falls. Keep steps, ramps,
decks and porches uncluttered and
install railings.
• Repair unevenness or replace any
broken concrete sidewalk blocks by
lifting them off and levelling and
recompacting the base fill.
• Provide good lighting in areas where
there are steps. Lights help people
to see better and negotiate steps
safely.
• Choose nonskid finishes to avoid
slips and falls.
• Wheelchair ramps tend to get
slippery in winter or wet weather.
Install slats at joist locations
perpendicular to the ramp combined
with a nonslip surface paint and
embedded silica sand. Although it is
a little harder to keep clean it is
safer for people using wheelchairs.
Damaged or broken wood steps
need to be repaired right away.
Skill level rating: 3 - Skilled
homeowner
Materials: replacement wood,
galvanized nails, finishing nails, paint or
stain to match the existing steps
Tools: hammer, framing square, pry bar,
paintbrush, portable power circular or
crosscut hand saw
Open riser or plank steps
1. Strike the underside of the
2.
3.
4.
5.
damaged tread with the hammer
until it comes loose. When the nails
pop up, pry the tread loose and pull
out the nails with the claw of the
hammer. . Remove the tread and
pull any nails that remain sticking
out of the stringer.
If required, square one end of the
replacement board by aligning the
long leg of the square with one of
the long edges of the board and
marking the board along the short
leg of the square. Cut along this
line.
Measure the length of the tread to
be replaced and mark this distance
on the replacement board from the
squared end inward. Using the
square, mark a line at this point and
cut the new tread.
Put the new tread in place and nail
it down. Use at least three nails at
each end of the tread, one near
each edge of the tread and one
near the centre. Use nails that are
at least 38 mm (1 1/2 in.) longer
than the thickness of the tread.
Finish the new tread to match the
existing steps.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
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HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Closed risers
Riser
4. Remove the riser if it also has to
be replaced. Begin by partially
prying the riser loose from the
upper tread.
1. The steps may have a piece of trim
running along the upper portion of
the riser and under the nosing
(the part of the tread, if any, that
extends beyond the riser). If so,
remove it with a pry bar.
8. Position the new riser under the
nosing of the upper tread and up
against the cutout of the stringer.
Nosing
Tread
5. Once the nails are exposed, pull
them out or saw them off flush
with a hacksaw blade.
2. If the tread is fastened to the riser,
hit the underside of the tread
under the nosing to free the tread
from the riser below. Use the pry
bar to pry up the tread. The tread
will also be secured at its sides to
the stringers.
9. Face-nail the riser in place against
Stringer
the stringer. Nail the upper tread
down onto the riser.
6. Pry the riser away from the
7.
stringers. Pull out any nails that are
sticking out.
Measure and cut the replacement
tread and riser.
3. After the front and sides of the
tread are free, pull the tread
forward carefully and evenly to
free the back of the tread from the
riser above.
10. Shift the new tread into its final
position and face-nail it down onto
the stringer and riser below. Space
the nails the same as the old nail
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Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
spacing or about 150 mm (6 in.)
apart. Use at least three nails at
each end of the tread, one about
50 mm (2 in.) from each edge and
one near the centre.
11. If trim was removed, replace it
with small galvanized nails. Finish
the new tread and riser to match
the existing steps.
Repair minor cracks or
holes in concrete
Repairing minor cracks or holes in
concrete is easy to do and will help
prevent bigger problems. Problems can
include surface dusting or scaling, cracks
or broken pieces. Flaws in concrete
often result from poor original mixing,
placing or curing techniques.
Maintain wood with stains
and preservatives
Exterior wood steps, ramps, decks
and porches need ongoing protection
from the sun and weather to maintain
durability and an attractive appearance.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: stain or water-repellent
preservative
Tools: brush, rags, drop cloths to
protect plants, ladder, protective clothing
and eyewear
2.
Materials: latex bonding liquid,
powdered concrete patcher
3.
1. If the problem is that the concrete
2.
3.
4.
surface is dusting or scaling, sweep
the surface. Follow with further
cleaning and apply the concrete
sealer according to instructions
given by the sealer manufacturer.
CAUTION: sealers commonly
contain known carcinogens, so you
should use them only outside the
house in well-ventilated conditions.
To repair any cracks or damaged
patches, ensure that all loose
concrete is chiselled or scraped
out. When chiselling, try to make
cracks wider down below than at
the surface so patches will lock
into place. Clean the area
thoroughly.
Seal very narrow cracks with
sealant or crack filler applied with
a caulking gun. For wider cracks,
use a concrete patching
compound.
Specialized patching compounds
are also useful for areas where the
concrete surface has scaled off or
smaller chunks have broken out.
Follow the manufacturer’s
instructions.
Materials: decay-resistant lumber (such
as cedar) or compatible deck materials,
rust-resistant screws, paint or stain
Tools: measuring tape, saw, drill,
screwdriver, sandpaper, sanding block
or sander
1. Prepare the surface according to the
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Tools: wire brush, chisel, paintbrush,
masonry trowel, safety glasses or
goggles, breathing protection
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
manufacturer’s instructions for the
product you are applying. Usually, you
will need to clean and lightly sand the
surface before applying the product.
Use drop cloths to protect
surrounding foliage.
Apply the stain or preservative
following the manufacturer’s
instructions. Most surfaces require
two coats and have to be redone
every two to five years. If you can
reach it, coat the underside too.
Maintain railings
Although they are outside and often
added to a house sometime after the
original construction, decks, stairs, handrails
and guards must still comply with
applicable building code requirements
in force at the time of construction. In
addition, deck guards and stair railings
are exposed to the elements and are
subject to weather damage.
1. Inspect railings and guards to
2.
3.
4.
5.
ensure that they meet the
guidelines outlined above and that
components and fasteners are
secure and in good condition.
Upgrade any railings that do not
meet the guidelines. This work may
require professional assistance.
Replace any decayed components.
Tighten or replace any loose
fasteners.
Paint or stain wood regularly to
minimize its deterioration due to
weather.
Generally, every exterior porch,
deck or balcony should be protected by
guards on all open sides where the
difference in elevation between adjacent
levels exceeds 600 mm (24 in.). Guards
should be at least 900 mm (35 1/2 in.)
high if the deck height is less than
1,800 mm (6 ft.) above the adjacent level.
If the deck height is more than 1,800
mm (6 ft.), the guard height increases to
a minimum height of 1,070 mm (42 in.).
There should be no climbable pieces of
the guard between 100 mm (4 in.) and
900 mm (35 1/2 in.) above the deck or
balcony floor. Openings through a guard
should prevent the passage of a 100 mm
(4 in.) sphere. Handrails are required on
stairs with more than three risers.
Consult the applicable building code for
actual requirements.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
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HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
GRADING AND
DRAINAGE
Special considerations
The lots of most homes are only
roughly graded when built. The finished
grading and landscaping is usually the
responsibility of the owner. Many homes
develop flooding and moisture problems
because the ground settles, leading to
improper grading and poor drainage. The
ground surrounding your home should
slope away from the house so that surface
water is carried away from the foundation.
• Proper grading and drainage is
essential in preventing the entry of
moisture into your home. Moisture
can lead to premature deterioration
of building materials and mold
growth, which can have serious
health effects.
The most common grading and
drainage problems are:
• settlement or inadequate amounts
of fill
• poor drainage material
Healthy Housing™
Safety
• Undertaking major grading and
drainage work often requires heavy
equipment. Operating this type of
equipment requires training and
involves safety practices to prevent
accidents.
Tasks
1. The slope should drop away 300 mm
2.
Maintenance includes:
• ensuring proper grade adjacent to
the foundation
• preventing erosion
• cleaning and adjusting window wells
• sealing between sidewalks, driveways
and walls
Prevention tips
• Make regular inspections to help
spot minor problems before they
develop into bigger problems.
• Add eavestroughs, if not present on
all eaves, along with downspouts,
downspout extensions and splash
blocks to direct water away from
the building.
• Ensure that the grade adjacent to
the foundation does not “hold”
water as in a flower bed or garden,
but directs the surface water away.
Repair tips
• If the grade cannot be built up around
the foundation, consider covering the
ground with a clay layer. Another
option is to bury polyethylene
sheeting 150 mm (6 in.), sloped away
from the foundation. Either of these
methods will help to move water
away from the foundation.
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Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Maintain proper grade
adjacent to foundation
Extensive grade and drainage work
usually requires heavy equipment for
digging, spreading, smoothing and hauling
earth. It is best to hire a professional
contractor to do this work. However,
many grading problems are small
depressions against the foundation walls
where downspouts may direct water.
These can often be fixed with the
addition of suitable material using a
shovel, rake and wheelbarrow.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner for minor problems
or
Skill level rating: 4 - Qualified
tradesperson/contractor for major
problems
Materials: fill, drainage tile,
wheelbarrow, shovel, rake
Tools: heavy equipment for hauling and
spreading fill
3.
4.
(1 ft.) in every 3 m (about 10 ft.).
A steeper grade is even better.
If your house is on a lot that is level,
you should backfill against your
foundation as high as possible to
about 1.5 m (about 5 ft.) away from
the house. Grade down gradually to
a slight depression that rises again
at your property line. This slope will
shed surface water away from the
foundation.
If your house is on a lot that is lower
than the surrounding grade, you may
have to use extra fill to allow surface
drainage to be directed to street
level or to the back of your lot.
If the slope around the house is
inadequate to provide drainage, you
can install in-ground tile drainage
systems.You will probably need to
hire a contractor to do this job.
Another option is to place
polyethylene sheeting 150 mm (6 in.)
beneath the sod, sloped away from
the foundation.
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
Prevent erosion
Grading and drainage is an essential
element in controlling moisture around
the foundation. Usually, the backfill
placed in the excavation around the
foundation settles after the first winter,
creating a low spot next to the
foundation wall. This low spot allows
surface water and roof water to drain
down beside the wall where it can
possibly overload the perimeter footing
drains and leak into the foundation.
The grade around the house should
be no higher than 200 mm (8 in.) below
the siding. The grade should slope away
from the foundation for a distance of
about 3 m (10 ft.) at a slope of 1:10
(300 mm drop in 3 m).
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner for minor problems
or
Skill level rating: 4 - Qualified
tradesperson/contractor for major
problems
Materials: topsoil, grass seed, sod,
downspout extensions, splash blocks
Tools: shovel, garden rake, lawn rake,
wheelbarrow
3. Finish the grading with a layer of
4.
5.
top-soil or clay that will provide a
cap to reduce surface water
penetration next to the foundation.
Plant grass seed on the newly
graded slope. Using sod provides
more immediate erosion control at
a higher price.
If there aren’t eavestroughs along all
eaves, install eavestroughs along
with downspouts, downspout
extensions and splash blocks to
divert roof water away from the
foundation.
2.
foundation that is less than 200 mm
(8 in.) below the siding.
Slope the grade away from the
house with a 300 mm (1 ft.) vertical
drop in the 3 m (10 ft.) horizontal
distance. If the surrounding grade
does not permit this, slope the
surface away from the house as
much as possible. If necessary,
create a shallow swale at least 3 m
(10 ft.) from the house so that at
least the grade adjacent to the
house does not slope toward the
foundation. Ensure that surface runoff from nearby areas drains away
from the house along the swales.
Materials: crushed stone or gravel
Tools: shovel, level, tape measure, garden
rake, lawn rake
Window
Well
Clean and adjust window
wells
Windows or parts of windows that
are below grade should be protected by
window wells. The bottom of the well
should be 200 mm (8 in.) minimum
below the bottom edge of the window.
The bottom should consist of freedraining gravel to permit good drainage
toward the footing drain and to prevent
water pooling in the window well. If the
backfill doesn’t drain well, a column of
gravel can be used to connect the
bottom of the window well with the
perimeter drain tile if one exists.
The slope around a window well
should direct surface water away. Ensure
that all water, especially the spring melt
water from the roof, flows away from
the building and not into the window
well. If the water freezes in the window
well during the night, the next day’s melt
may flow over the ice, through the
window and into the basement.
1. Lower any grade adjacent to the
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
1. Periodically remove any leaves or
debris from window wells.
2. Ensure that the bottom of the
3.
window well is low enough below
the window and is free draining.
If the window well has been
displaced by frost action or settling,
remove it. Use a layer of gravel or
crushed stone to level the bottom.
Set the window well back in place
so that the top is level and at the
correct height. Replace the backfill.
Slope away from the house and
window well. Provide a clay cap on
the surrounding grade as described
above.
Walls of window wells are usually
made of corrugated metal or plastic.
Although they may be fastened to the
foundation wall, in some soils frost action
pushing up the window well may damage
the foundation wall. It is often better to
place the window well in position and
adjust it every few years to correct
displacement due to frost action.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
97
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Seal cracks between
sidewalks, driveways and
walls
Sidewalks and driveways that are
next to a foundation wall can provide
a good cap to direct surface water away
from the foundation. However, some
sidewalks and driveways may be either
flat or may actually slope toward the
wall due to settling of backfill. Consult
a contractor about correcting a severe
sloping problem.
If the sidewalk or driveway is level
or sloping away from the foundation, it
is still necessary to maintain a seal
between those surfaces and the
foundation wall to prevent water from
leaking into that crack.
Skill level rating: 2 - Handy
homeowner
Materials: polyurethane sealant (tubes),
driveway crack filler (tubes)
Tools: wire brush, caulking gun
1. Clean any loose debris or old
2.
3.
98
caulking out of the crack with a
wire brush.
Fill deep cracks to about 13 mm
(1/2 in.) below the surface with
sand.
Seal the crack with polyurethane
caulking for either sidewalks or
pavement, or with driveway crack
filler for paved surfaces.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Getting More Help
Getting More Help
Maintenance and repair jobs require
a variety of skills and training. Not every
homeowner has the time or skills to do
every job around the house. Luckily,
there are qualified professionals who can
give you the help that you need.
•
•
Tips for Hiring a
Professional
• Decide what type of professional
you need to hire. If you need
someone to inspect your home to
find the source of problems, you can
call a professional home inspector. If
you have a specific problem with a
part of your house, you’d need to
call a specialist in that field. For
example, a problem with your
furnace would require a qualified
furnace technician. If the problem is
related to poor indoor air quality,
you can call an indoor air quality
professional who has completed the
CMHC Residential IAQ Investigator
Program. (Your local CMHC office
•
•
keeps a listing of people in your area
who’ve completed the Residential
IAQ Investigator Program).
Get referrals from family, friends and
neighbours.
Choose someone with experience
and who is a member of a
professional association for their
industry. Depending upon the
industry and the province, the
professional may need to be licensed
or registered to legally carry out
their work.
Get estimates from at least three
contractors.
Get the estimate in writing. For any
work, getting a written agreement
that explains the details about the
job and everyone’s responsibilities
is essential. In many cases, such as
home inspections or indoor air
quality inspections, you should
expect a final written report. You’ll
need this important documentation
for reference as you proceed with
further repairs.
For a full checklist of all the steps
included in hiring a contractor or a
home inspector, refer to CMHC’s
About Your House factsheets, Hiring a
Contractor, 62277 and Hiring a Home
Inspector, 62839.
Learn More
CMHC has many publications that
can help you learn more about caring
for your home.
To order these publications and to
find out about other CMHC products,
contact:
Your local CMHC office
or
Canada Mortgage and Housing
Corporation
700 Montréal Road
Ottawa ON K1A 0P7
Phone: 1-800-668-2642
Fax: 1-800-245-9274
Visit our home page at
www.cmhc.gc.ca
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
101
HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Suggested Publications
Title
Before You Renovate Renovation Guide and Catalogue
61001
Building Materials for the Environmentally Hypersensitive
61089
Canadian Wood-Frame House Construction
61010
Clean up Procedures for Mold
61091
Glossary of Housing Terms
60939
Healthy Housing Renovation Planner
60957
Homeowner’s Inspection Checklist
62114
Homeowner’s Manual
61841
Household Guide to Water Efficiency
61924
Renovator’s Technical Guide
61946
The Clean Air Guide: How to Identify and Correct Indoor Air Problems in Your Home
61082
About Your House fact sheets—free
After the Flood
Attic Venting, Attic Moisture, and Ice Dams
Carbon Monoxide
Choosing a Dehumidifier
Combustion Gases in Your Home
Fighting Mold
Hiring a Contractor
Hiring a Home Inspector
Maintaining Your HRV
Measuring Humidity in Your Home
Removing Ice on Roofs
Sample Renovation Contract
Should You Get Your Heating Ducts Cleaned?
Testing Airflow
The Importance of Bathroom and Kitchen Fans
Your Furnace Filter
Your Septic System
Before You Start:
A New Addition
An Energy Efficient Retrofit—The Building Envelope
An Energy Efficient Retrofit—Mechanical Systems
Assessing the Comfort and Safety of Your Home’s Mechanical Systems
Assessing the Renovation Project
Renovating Your Bathroom
Renovating Your Basement—Moisture Problems
Renovating Your Basement—Structural Issues and Soil Conditions
Renovating Your Kitchen
Repairing and Replacing Materials—Exterior Walls
Window and Door Renovations
Repairing or Replacing Roof Finishes
102
CMHC
publication number
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
60515
62034
62046
62045
62028
60516
62277
62839
62043
62027
62036
62351
62044
62288
62037
62041
62795
62268
62264
62262
62266
62246
62254
62250
62248
62252
62260
62256
62258
Glossary
Glossary
ABS–(ABS) Acronym for acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene.
A type of rigid plastic used in plumbing pipes for drain, waste
and vent systems. Can also be used for potable water.
Cap flashing–Sheet metal or other material used above
a window or door to shed water.
Caulk–To make tight with a sealing material.
Air barrier–Material incorporated into the house envelope
to retard the movement of air. Called air-vapour barrier when
it retards air and moisture.
Caulking–Material with widely different chemical
compositions used to make a seam or joint air-tight or
watertight.
Air sealing–The application of weather stripping such as
caulking and expanding foam to close off small cracks and
spaces at windows and doors and on walls and ceilings to
reduce air leakage and consequent heat loss.
Ceramic tile–Decorative ceramic tiles of various shapes and
size, normally used where durability is important and excessive
exposure to moisture could occur.
Ampere–The unit of electrical current equivalent to the
steady current produced by one volt applied across a
resistance of one ohm.
Combustion appliance–A fuel-burning heating or cooking
appliance such as an oil or gas furnace, wood burning stove, oil
or gas space heater or a gas range.
Backdrafting (flow reversal)–The reverse flow of outdoor
air into a building through the barometric damper, draft hood
or burner unit as a result of chimney blockage or a pressure
differential greater than can be drawn by the chimney.
Backdrafting causes smell, smoke or toxic gases to escape
into the interior of a building. “Cold” backdrafting occurs
when the chimney is acting as an air inlet but there is no
burner operation or just a smouldering fire in a fireplace.
“Hot” backdrafting occurs when the hot flue gas products
are prevented from exhausting by flue reversal.
Condensation–The transformation of the vapour content
of the air into water on cold surfaces.
Barometric damper or barometric draft regulator–
A device which functions to maintain a desired draft in the
appliance by automatically reducing excess chimney draft to
the desired level.
Baseboard heater–A radiator shaped like a baseboard having
openings at top and bottom through which air circulates.
Brads–Thin nails with a small head, used for small finish panelmoulding and so on.
Bridging–A method used to resist twisting of joists and for
stiffening floor construction by fitting either crossed pieces
or solid blocks between the joists.
Convector–A heating device in which the air enters through
an opening near the floor, is heated as it passes through the
heating element and enters the room through an upper
opening.
Cross-bridging–Small wood planks or metal pegs that are
inserted diagonally between adjacent floor or roof joists.
Dampproofing–(1) The process of coating the outside of a
foundation wall with a special preparation to resist passage of
moisture through the wall. (2) Material used to resist the
passage of moisture through concrete floor slabs and from
masonry to wood.
Downspout–A pipe, which carries water from the
eavestrough to the ground or the storm drainage system.
Eave–The part of the roof that projects beyond the face of
the wall.
Eavestrough–A trough fixed to an eave to collect and carry
away the run-off from the roof. Also called gutter.
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HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Efflorescence–Formation of a white crystalline deposit on
the face of masonry walls.
Electrolysis–An electrochemical reaction between two
dissimilar metals, such as copper and galvanized steel, causing
corrosion of a joint where the two materials are in contact
with each other.
End nailing–Fastening two pieces of lumber together by
nailing through the surface of one piece and into the end grain
of the other. For example, solid floor framing blocking can be
end-nailed by nailing through the side of the joists and into
the end grain of the block.
IAQ–Acronym for Indoor Air Quality. A general term relating
to the presence of chemical and biological contaminants in the
air within a building, and their potential health effects.
Joist–One of a series of horizontal wood members, usually
50 mm (2 in.) nominal thickness, used for support in floors,
ceilings or roofs.
Kerf–A groove or cut.
Load-bearing–Subjected to or designed to carry loads in
addition to its own weight (as applying to a building element).
Entrained air–Trapped air bubbles.
Lockset–A doorknob assembly that includes knobs or lever
handles, a latch bolt assembly and trim.
Fascia–A finish board around the face of eaves and roof
projections.
Loose-pin hinge–A type of hinge in which the pin can be
pulled from the barrel so that the two hinge leaves separate.
Fixed-pin hinge–A type of hinge in which the hinge pin is
not removable.
Marrette–A type of twist-on wire connector used to secure
and protect the twisted ends of two joined wires.
Flashing–Sheet metal or other material used in roof and
wall construction to shed water.
Mastic–Any of various pasty materials used as a protective
coating.
Forced air–Air circulated through ductwork within a house
by means of a circulating fan located in the furnace housing.
Moisture barrier–Any material which is used to retard the
passage or flow of vapour or moisture into construction and
prevent condensation.
Fuse–A device capable of automatically opening an electric
circuit under predetermined overload or short-circuit
conditions by fusing or melting; an overcurrent device.
Mortise–The cut-out in a board or unit to receive a tenon
lock, hinge and so on.
Gable end vents–A sheet metal or plastic vent in the end
of a gable or dormer roof on a house.
Muntin–A horizontal member which divides panes of glass,
windows, or doors.
Glazing–A generic term for the transparent, or sometimes
translucent, material in a window or door. Often, but not
always, glass.
Nosing–The rounded and projecting edge of a stair tread,
window, sill and so on.
Ground fault circuit interrupter–A device designed to
interrupt, almost instantaneously, an accidental connection
between a live part of an electrical system and ground
(a short-circuit or a shock) when the current exceeds a
very small predetermined value. This device will react to a
dangerous situation before a fuse or circuit breaker, and before
a person can be harmed by the shock.
Grout–A thin mixture of cement mortar and additional water.
HRV–Acronym for Heat Recovery Ventilator. A ventilation
system that provides fresh outdoor air to the house while
extracting heat from the stale outgoing air. HRVs help keep
indoor humidity levels under control, improve indoor air
quality and may keep heating costs down.
Hydraulic cement patch–A cement material which will
harden under water. Quick setting, hydraulic cement patching
materials are used to quickly patch small water leaks in
concrete structures.
Hygrometer–An instrument designed to measure the relative
humidity of the atmosphere.
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Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Oriented strand board, or OSB–Structural wood panel
manufactured from wood strands that are oriented in the same
direction and bonded together with glue. It is a high strength
product made from low-grade (waste) material.
Parging–A coat of plaster or cement mortar applied to
masonry or concrete walls.
Passage set–Doorknobs or levers, latch bolt assembly and
trim that does not have any locking mechanism.
Pressure tank–A water supply holding tank in which the
incoming water pushes a cushion of air to the top of the tank
until it reaches a pre-set pressure, causing the pump to shut
off. The pressure in the tank allows water to be drawn off until
the pressure reaches a lower pre-set level and the pump
comes on. The pressure tank allows water to be used without
the pump coming on each time.
Radiator–That part of the system, exposed or concealed,
from which heat is radiated to a room or other space within
the building; heat transferring device.
GLOSSARY
Ridge vent–A special sheet metal or plastic vent which is
installed along the ridge of the roof.
Riser–(1) The vertical board under the tread in stairs. (2) In
plumbing, a supply pipe that extends through at least one full
storey to convey water.
Roof boot–A pre-formed rubber flashing that fits around
a plumbing vent stack to be integrated with the roofing to
provide a water-tight seal.
Stud finder–An electronic device used to detect changes in
wall density or a magnetic device used to locate hidden nails
or screws. Either way, structural support present in walls or
ceilings can be detected.
Subfloor–Boards or sheet material laid on joists to support
the finished floor.
Sump–A watertight tank that receives the discharge of
drainage water from a subdrain or a foundation drain and from
which the discharge is ejected into drainage piping by pumping.
Roof spot vent–A roof vent designed to be installed on the
surface of the roof and integrated with the roofing to provide
a water tight seal while allowing the passage of air.
Sump pump–A pump, usually electrically operated, to remove
water that collects in a sump.
Rose–The wide flat part of a doorknob that fits snugly against
the door.
Swale–A small landscaping channel that is usually grassed and
is wider than deep.
Sacrificial anode–A rod, made of magnesium or aluminum,
which is wrapped around a steel core wire that is screwed
into the top of a hot water heater tank to prevent the tank
from rusting.
Tread–The horizontal part of a step, as opposed to the
vertical riser.
Sash–A light frame of wood, metal, or plastic either fixed or
movable, which holds the glass in a window.
Sealant–A flexible material used on the inside (or outside)
of a building to seal gaps in the building envelope to prevent
uncontrolled air infiltration and exfiltration.
Turbine vent–A roof spot vent with a mushroom shaped top
composed of wind vanes that pull attic air up through the roof
(and possibly pull warm, moist air up into the attic from the
living space).
Self-closure device–A pneumatic or hydraulic door closing
device designed to close the door automatically.
VOC–Acronym for Volatile Organic Compound. One of a
group of organic chemicals that can be a gas or vapour at
indoor temperature. They are found in many common products
such as oil-based paints and varnishes, caulking, glues, synthetic
carpeting and vinyl flooring and so on. They contribute to poor
indoor air quality.
Shim–A thin piece of material (sometimes tapered) used
to fill in space between objects.
Water vapour–Water in a gaseous state and present in the
atmosphere in varying amounts.
Silicone sealant–A solvent-free silicone compound that is
highly durable and excellent for sealing large moving joints.
Ventilation is required during application and curing.
Waterproofing–Control of liquid water to prevent it from
entering a building. Regarding foundations, “dampproofing” is
designed to control soil moisture in the form of capillary water
or water vapour, whereas “waterproofing” is designed to resist
ground water in situations where the water table in the vicinity
of the foundation may rise higher than the foundation floor
with no guarantee that it will drain away successfully.
Soffits–The underside of elements of a building such as
staircases, roof overhangs, beams and so on.
Solder–A metallic compound that becomes liquid when
heated and is applied in the liquid state. Used to join copper
plumbing pipes and fittings.
Solvent–A substance, usually liquid, having the power of
dissolving the base material of a paint.
Spline–A rectangular strip of wood that is substituted for
the tongue fitted into the grooves of two adjoining members.
In window screens, it is the thin strip that holds the screen
into the frame
Stringer–(1) A long, heavy horizontal timber that connects
upright posts in a structure and supports a floor. (2) The
inclined member that supports the treads and risers of a stair
Stucco–Any cement-like material used as an exterior covering
for walls and the like; it is put on wet and dries hard and
durable.
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BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
Index
–A –
–C–
abrasive . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
adhesive. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
aerator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
agreement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101
air conditioner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
air exchange . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
air exhaust . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
air intake . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
air leak . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
air leakage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
air sealing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37, 88, 89
airflow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63, 65, 70, 72, 88
airlock . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
alarm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
allergy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
aluminum siding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
amperage. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
annual maintenance routine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
appliance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58, 59, 60
asbestos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
ashtray. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
asphalt shingle. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
asthma. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
attic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
attic penetration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
attic ventilation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
calcium . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
calibration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
Canadian Gas Association (CGA) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62, 66, 69
Canadian Standards Association (CSA) . . . . . . . . . . . . 2, 58, 66
carbon dioxide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
carbon monoxide (CO) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65, 66, 82
carbon monoxide (CO) detector . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65, 66
carbon monoxide safety . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
carcinogen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
cardboard box . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
carpet. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23, 26, 28
caulk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
caulking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50, 74, 84, 86, 88
caulking gun . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
cedar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
ceiling. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31, 38
ceiling space . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
cement block . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
central vacuum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
ceramic tile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27, 31, 34, 35
channel frame . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
check for moisture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
checklist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101
chimney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67, 69
chimney cleaning. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
chimney fire. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67, 69
chisel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11, 22
circuit box. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
circuit breaker. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58, 59
circuit tester . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
circular saw safety. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15, 16
class of fire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
clogged drain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40, 42, 43, 44
clogged toilet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
closed riser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94
clothing fire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
CMHC garbage bag airflow test . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62, 63, 70, 72
CMHC Residential IAQ Investigator Program . . . . . . . . . . 101
combustion gases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
combustion spillage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
concrete . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38, 95
concrete repair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
concrete surface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
condensate drain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
condensation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21, 48, 50, 71, 72, 73
contaminant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
convector . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
cooking fire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
cooling. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
copper plumbing pipes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
cord . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58, 59, 61
–B–
backdraft . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63, 65
backfill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97, 98
bacteria . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41, 56
barbecue grill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
baseboard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
basement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21, 22, 23, 57
bathroom fan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71, 72
bathroom fan ducts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
bathroom tile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
bathtub . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
biodegradable cleaning product . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
block . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
blower cabinet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
boiler. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
bracket . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
breaker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58, 59
brick . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
brick cleaning solution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
bridging . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
broken glass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
broken windowpane . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
building code . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66, 89, 95
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
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HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
cord and plugs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
cord plug . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58, 60
corrosion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29, 52, 65, 88
cracks. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21, 22, 23, 33, 49, 53, 63, 85, 86, 95, 98
crawl space . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
creosote . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67, 69
cupboard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
curtain rod . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
exhaust fan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
exhaust hood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
exhaust vents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
extension cord . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
exterior wall penetration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
exterior wood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
–D–
fact sheet. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101, 102
fan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23, 25, 62, 65, 70
fascia board . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91
fastener . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
faucet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40, 41, 42
filter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56, 63, 68, 71, 73
filter cartridge. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
fire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2, 59, 66
fire extinguisher . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2, 3, 66
fire hazard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
fire in ordinary combustibles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
fire safety . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2, 3, 66, 67
fire safety plan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
fire safety tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
firebrick. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
fireplace. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
firewood storage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
fixture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
flame . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
flammable liquid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
flashing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74, 86, 88
flashing problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
flooding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22, 96
floor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26, 27, 28, 29, 30
floor maintenance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
floor problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
floor squeak . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29, 30
floor tile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26, 27
flue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
forced air heating system . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
foundation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21, 23, 96, 97, 98
foundation and basement problems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
frost action . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
frozen pipe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
furnace. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62, 65
furnace filter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
furnace technician. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101
fuse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58, 59
fuse box . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
damper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67, 72
dampproofing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
decks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
degasifier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
dehumidifier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23, 25
dirt floor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
discoloration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65, 85, 87
door. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39, 66, 74
door hinge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
doorknob . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
downspout . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91, 96
drain auger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
drain cleaner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
drain line . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
drain tile system . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
drainage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56, 57, 85, 96, 97
drainage tiles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
drainpipe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44, 51, 52
drill bit. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
driveway . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
driveway crack filler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
dryer duct . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
dryer vent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
drying time . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38, 85
drywall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24, 25, 31, 38
drywall compound . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
drywall tape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
duct . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63, 72, 73
duct cleaning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
duct vapour barrier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
dust mites . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23, 70, 91
–E–
eavestrough . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21, 23, 85, 91, 96, 97
efflorescence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21, 86
electric baseboard heater. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
electrical. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58, 59, 60, 61, 65
electrical box . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
electrical fire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3, 67
electrical problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
electrochemical reaction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
electronic filter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
electrostatic filter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
emergency exit plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
EnerGuide rating . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
energy efficiency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
erosion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
estimates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87, 101
exhaust ducts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
110
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
–F–
–G–
garage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
garage door. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
gas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
gas range . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
gases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
glass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
glazier point . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
grade . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21, 92, 96, 97
grading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85, 96, 97
grading and drainage problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
grass fire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
grease fire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet . . . . . . . . . . . 58
ground wire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
grout. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27, 28, 33, 34, 35
–H–
hair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
hammer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
handrail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35, 95
hardwood floor. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
health and safety risk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1, 21, 26, 31, 41,
54, 58, 63, 66, 74, 84, 89, 95
Healthy Housing™ concept . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
heat exchanger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63, 65
heat gun . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
heat recovery ventilator (HRV) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62, 70, 72, 73
heater cable . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
heating. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
heating and cooling equipment problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
hidden wire or pipe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter . . . . . . . . . . . 24, 68
hinge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
hiring a professional . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101
hole. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23, 31, 32, 79, 84, 95
home assessment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
home inspector. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10, 101
home test kit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
homemade drain cleaner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
Homeowner’s Inspection Checklist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
hot water heater. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54, 55
hot water heating systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
hot water tank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
hot water tank blanket. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
house number. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
humidifier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
humidity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68, 70
hydraulic cement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
hygrometer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68, 70, 71
–I–
ice dam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
ice melter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
incomplete combustion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63, 65
indoor air quality (IAQ) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4, 10, 26, 71, 74
indoor air quality professional . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101
indoor air quality (IAQ) strategy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
inspection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9, 65, 67, 84, 87, 96
insulation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37, 72, 88, 89
insulation stop . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
–J–
jointer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
joist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
–K–
kerf . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
kitchen fan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
knife. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
knot. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
–L–
ladder. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13, 84, 85
ladder safety . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
lagoons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
landlord . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
latch. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
latch plate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
lead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31, 41
lead-based paint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31, 84
leak. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56, 65, 89, 91
leaking faucet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
leaking roof . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87, 88, 89, 90
leaves. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
leftover grout . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Legionella bacteria . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
level . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
light fixture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
lighting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58, 93
live electric equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
load-bearing wall. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
lockset. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
loose-pin hinge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
low flow fixture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
lubricant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17, 81
lubrication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
–M–
main power switch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
main switch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
maintenance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
maintenance checklist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9, 10
mallet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
masking tape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
masonry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
masonry cracks. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
mastic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
mitre box . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
moisture barrier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
moisture problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
mold . . . . . . . . 4, 22, 23, 24, 25, 50, 57, 68, 70, 75, 85, 87, 91, 96
mold problem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
mortar. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
motors, wiring. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
–N–
nail set. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
natural gas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53, 66
nippers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
noisy door. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
noisy pipe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52, 63
–O–
O-rings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41, 42
odour . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23, 24, 25, 65, 66
ordinary combustible . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
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HOME CARE: A GUIDE TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
overflowing toilet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
overhead door . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
–P–
paint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
painting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38, 85
painting sequence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38, 85
parging. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
particleboard. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
patch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23, 26, 28
patching a hole. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23, 31, 32, 35, 79
patching compound . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
peeling paint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
perimeter footing drain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
pilot light . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
plane rasp file . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
plaster . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31, 38
pliers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
plug . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58, 59, 61
plumber’s auger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91
plumbing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
plumbing drain line . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
plumbing noise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
plumbing problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
plumbing stack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
plumbing trap . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
plumbing vent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
plumbing vent stack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
plunger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43, 45
polyethylene sheeting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
polyurethane foam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
porch. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
power line. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
preservative . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
pressure relief valve . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
pressure tank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
priority . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Private Sewage Disposal Systems (PSDS) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
problems with eavestroughs and downspouts . . . . . . . . . . . 91
protective clothing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
pry bar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
publications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102
putty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77, 78
–Q–
quantity of paint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38, 85
–R–
radiator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
railing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
rain barrel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91
ramp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
range hood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
range hood filter. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
range-top grill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
recessed light fixture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
redwood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
register . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
relative humidity (RH). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4, 68, 70, 71
112
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
remote automobile starter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
remove an old tile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101
respirator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
return air duct . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
ripping guide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
ripping work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
riser. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94
risk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
roof . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87, 89
roof cement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
roof penetration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
roof sealant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87
roofing nail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
roofing problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87
running toilet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
rust. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55, 82, 85, 88, 93
–S–
sacrificial anode. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
safety check . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
safety equipment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
safety first . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
safety mask . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
salt. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
sash cord. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
saw . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
scraper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
screen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74, 79, 89, 91
screen door . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
screwdriver . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16, 31
scum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
seal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36, 37, 89, 98
sealant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33, 34
sealed glass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
sealed glazing unit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
sealer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38, 95
sediment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
self-closure device . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
septic system . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
settling. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
shim . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29, 49, 82
shock hazard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
shower . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
shower stall. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
shut-off valve . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40, 41, 42, 46
sidewalk. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
siding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84, 85
siding problems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
silicone sealant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33, 34
sink . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42, 43
skill level rating . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
skylight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
slope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92
sludge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
smell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
smoke . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
smoke alarm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2, 65
smoking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
snake . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44, 45, 91
soffit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
BASIC HOME REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
soil gas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21, 22, 57
solid blocking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
solvent. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
solvent cement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
soot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
space heater . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
spindle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
splash block . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57, 85, 91, 92
spline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
spline roller. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
spring. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76, 83
spring melt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
square tape measure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
stain. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
standing water . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
staple gun . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
static electricity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
steel wool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
step, ramp, deck and porch problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
steps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
sticking door . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
stone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
stopper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
storage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
storm door . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77, 78
storm window . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
stovepipe. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
structural safety . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
stucco siding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
subfloor. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
sump pump . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
swale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
sweating . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
–T –
tap . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40, 41
temperature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
thermostat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54, 64
tile cutter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
tile drainage system . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
toilet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41, 44
toilet auger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
toilet flushing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
toilet repair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50
toilet seal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
toilet tank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
tool kit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
torch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
towel bar. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
trained investigator. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
trap . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43, 44, 51
tread . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
tree branch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87
trowel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
TSP (trisodium phosphate) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
tub . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42, 43
tub surround. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
tune-up . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
–U–
undercoat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
Underwriter’s knot. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
Underwriters’ Laboratories of Canada (ULC). . . . 2, 58, 66, 69
–V –
vacuum cleaner. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
vacuum sander . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
valley flashing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90
vent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52, 64, 89
vent stack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
ventilation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4, 71
ventilation equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
venting ratio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
vinyl . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
vinyl floor covering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
vinyl siding. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
volatile organic compound . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
–W –
wall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31, 38
wall and ceiling problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
wall outlet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58, 59, 60
wall switch. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59, 60
wallboard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
wallboard knife . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
wallboard patch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
wallpaper. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
warning sign . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
Warnock Hersey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
washer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
water leak . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23, 50, 51, 74, 75
water problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91
water pump . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
water softener . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
water treatment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
water vapour . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
waterlogged tank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53, 54
wear and tear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
weather damage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
weatherstripping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74, 75
weeping tile. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
well . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
what to do if you smell gas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
wheelchair ramp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
window . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38, 74, 76
window and door problems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
window well . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
wiring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Wood Energy Technical Training (WETT)
professional. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67, 69
wood frame . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
wood or wood-based siding. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
wood step . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
wood stove . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
wood surface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
wrench . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
113
CMHC—Home to Canadians
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has
been Canada’s national housing agency for more than 60 years.
Together with other housing stakeholders, we help ensure
that Canada maintains one of the best housing systems in the
world. We are committed to helping Canadians access a wide
choice of quality, affordable homes, while making vibrant,
healthy communities and cities a reality across the country.
For more information, visit our website at www.cmhc.ca
You can also reach us by phone at 1-800-668-2642
or by fax at 1-800-245-9274.
Outside Canada call 613-748-2003 or fax to 613-748-2016.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation supports
the Government of Canada policy on access to
information for people with disabilities. If you wish to
obtain this publication in alternative formats,
call 1-800-668-2642.
Home care
A Guide to Repair and Maintenance
Your home is your biggest investment. It's where you spend most of your time, so keeping it
healthy, well tended and safe is worthwhile.
Home Care offers step-by-step instructions for keeping your home in peak condition. Doing regular inspections and basic maintenance is often easy and can prevent a small problem from growing
into a bigger one-one that could result in serious damage to your home and costing you a lot
more money.
Home Care from CMHC, is essential for anyone who wants to learn more about doing home
maintenance and repairs. CMHC has hundreds of information products to help you maintain
your home.
The Household Guide to Water Efficiency
Start saving on your monthly water bills by increasing your water efficiency. The Household Guide
to Water Efficiency offers the tips to do it.
$7.95
61924
Homeowner's Inspection Checklist
Homeowner's Inspection Checklist will help you identify the symptoms, track down the causes
and carry out simple cures for some of the most common household problems.
$19.99
62114
The Clean Air Guide
Canadians spend up to 90 per cent of their time indoors and many are affected by allergies—Find
out what you can do to make the air in your home healthier for you and your family.
$5.95
61019
61082
www.cmhc.ca
Home care: A guide to repair and maintenance
Revised Home Care from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)
Home care
A Guide to Repair and Maintenance
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