GUIDE TO THE
CARE & MAINTENANCE
OF YOUR NEW HOME
anhwp.com
The coverage
you need.
The partner
you trust.
This document is provided for information purposes only and is not intended as legal, technical or
professional advice.
copyright © June 2015. All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic or
mechanical including photocopying, recording or through the use of any information storage and retrieval
system without written permission of The Alberta New Home Warranty Program.
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A new home is a large investment—the largest investment many people will ever
make. The Alberta New Home Warranty Program (“the Program”) knows just
how important that investment is to you and has developed this guide to help
you protect your investment. Like a vehicle, a home requires maintenance to
keep it in good working order. We encourage you to protect your investment and
safeguard your warranties by following the advice in this guide.
Homes have always reflected the technology of the day as manufacturers and
builders strive to improve their product. Tried and true materials and systems
often change slowly but custom materials and new systems are always coming
on the market. Though newer models/products often prove more robust than
previous generations, maintenance of some sort is still usually required.
Most of us take care of minor maintenance problems as they arise but many
repairs would not be necessary if our focus shifted to preventative maintenance.
There are many easy things a homeowner can do to prevent a minor
maintenance project from becoming an expensive repair. We have included a
list of maintenance tasks for each month of the year to help you stay on top of
your home’s maintenance needs.
In addition to avoiding expensive repairs, regular maintenance is often required
to preserve warranty protection. Products should be used for their intended
purpose and serviced accordingly.
The warranty protection the Program provides is detailed in the Home Warranty
Insurance Policy available on the Homeowner Portal.
Throughout this guide, the term ‘home’ is used. While single-family homes may
immediately come to mind, ‘home’ is also intended to represent multiplexes,
townhomes and units in multi-family buildings.
I N T RO D U C T I O N | PROT E C T YO U R I N V E S TM E N T
PROTECT YOUR INVESTMENT
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I N T RO D U C T I O N | G U I D E L I M I TAT I O N S & AC K N OW L E D G E M E N T S
GUIDE LIMITATIONS
This guide addresses common maintenance requirements for homes and
highlights potential solutions. It does not include all situations or all potential
solutions. You must also assess your own capabilities to successfully complete
maintenance or hire professionals where necessary.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This guide could not have been produced without substantial contributions
from suppliers, manufacturers and industry partners.
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INTRODUCTION
Protect Your Investment
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Guide Limitations
ii
Acknowledgements
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CHAPTER 1: EXTERIOR ELEMENTS
7
Property Boundaries & Access
8
Water Management Strategies
10
Eavestroughs & Downspouts
12
Landscaping
13
Exterior Plumbing
17
Fencing
18
Wood Decking & Handrails
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CHAPTER 2: CONCRETE
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Concrete Walks & Driveways
24
Basements
26
Floor Drains
28
Garage Floors
28
CHAPTER : THE HOUSE FRAME
29
Shrinking Wood
30
Main Support Beams & Telepost Adjustments
31
Windows
32
Attic Ventilation
36
TA B L E O F CO N T E N T S
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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TA B L E O F CO N T E N T S
CHAPTER 4: COUNTERTOPS
39
Laminate Countertops
40
Tile Countertops
42
Natural Stone Countertops
43
Quartz Surfaces & Other Engineered Stone Countertops
44
Concrete Countertops
44
Metal Countertops
44
CHAPTER 5: CABINETS & DOORS
45
Cabinets
46
Exterior Entry Doors
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Exterior Hinged Screen Doors
48
Exterior Sliding Screen Doors
48
Interior Passage Doors
48
Bi-Fold Doors
49
Garage Doors
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CHAPTER 6: EXTERIOR FINISHES
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Vinyl Siding
52
Masonry
52
Wood or Composite Wood Sidings & Trims
54
Cement Board Sidings
55
Stucco
55
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57
Paint
58
Clear Finishes
58
Sealants & Caulking
59
Grout
60
Gypsum Wallboard
61
CHAPTER 8: FLOORING
63
Resilient Flooring
64
Hardwood Flooring
66
Laminate Flooring
69
Carpet & Area Rugs
70
CHAPTER 9: ROOFING
73
Asphalt shingles
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Eavestroughs & Downspouts
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CHAPTER 10: FIREPLACES
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Curing or ‘Burning In’ a New Fireplace
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Natural Gas or Propane Fireplaces
79
Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances
80
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
81
Smoke & Fire Detectors
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TA B L E O F CO N T E N T S
CHAPTER 7: INTERIOR FINISHING
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TA B L E O F CO N T E N T S
CHAPTER 11: PLUMBING
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Private Sewage Treatment Systems
86
Plumbing Drains
87
Plumbing Supply Lines
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Gravity Flow Toilets
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Pressure-Assisted Toilets
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Faucets
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Sinks, Toilets, Tubs & Showers
93
Hot Water Tank
94
Gas Appliance Safety
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Water Softeners
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CHAPTER 12: ELECTRICAL
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Circuit Breakers
100
Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters
101
Ground Fault Interrupters
102
CHAPTER 13: INTERIOR CLIMATE CONTROL
105
Heating/Cooling
106
Air Leakage
108
Ventilation
110
Range Hoods
111
Humidifiers
112
HOME MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE
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The coverage you need.
The partner you trust.
CHAPTER 1
EXTERIOR ELEMENTS
• Property Boundaries & Access
• Exterior Plumbing
• Water Management Strategies
• Fencing
• Eavestroughs & Downspouts
• Wood Decking & Handrails
• Landscaping
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C H A P T E R 1 - E X T E R I O R E L E M E N T S | PRO PE R T Y B O U N DA R I E S & ACC E S S
PROPERTY BOUNDARIES & ACCESS
WHAT ARE SURVEY PLANS AND WHAT DO I DO IF I FIND A SURVEY PIN?
A survey plan establishes legal boundaries and defines the extent of a person’s
ownership or other land rights. Survey plans also include information about
rights-of-way for utilities such as gas lines. Alberta Land Surveyors will mark
each lot in a new subdivision with iron pins. These pins provide the legal
boundaries of a property and a point of measure for future improvements such
as a garage, an addition or a fence.
New homeowners may find a pin and think it’s simply debris and throw it away.
However, it’s illegal to remove or tamper with an official boundary marker. For
example, if the survey pin is right where you want a fence post, you must move
the fence. Do not remove the pin. The cost of replacing a survey marker could
be as much as the cost of the fence, driveway or landscaping.
You should also ask Alberta Land Surveyors to identify boundaries, so you know
exactly where your property lines are located prior to a construction project.
Sometimes pins are destroyed during construction or moved from their original
position. Also, pins may not relate to your property at all but simply mark rightsof-way or other land-related measurements.
Get more information about surveying from Alberta Land Surveyors’ Association
People frequently assume certain improvements (e.g. shed or fence) and physical
features (e.g. a swale or power/telephone installation) indicate property lines.
However, these physical features are not evidence of boundary lines and should
not be used to determine your boundary lines.
HOW DO EASEMENTS AND UTILITY CORRIDORS IMPACT MY PROPERTY?
An easement provides another party access to a defined section of your
property. For example, access is granted to service water/drainage systems,
power/telephone cable routes or even a driveway route to an adjacent property.
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or sold the easements remain attached to that land in the sale. Easements are
noted on the Real Property Report or on the Certificate of Title.
BEFORE DIGGING ANYTHING—FROM A NEW
FLOWERBED TO A DECK PILE—MAKE SURE YOU
KNOW THE LOCATIONS OF ALL UNDERGROUND
SERVICES. WITHIN ALBERTA, UTILITY SERVICES CAN
BE LOCATED FREE OF CHARGE WITH THE “CALL
BEFORE YOU DIG” SERVICE.
If you plan to build or landscape next to an easement (such as a power box, a
drainage swale, property line or roadway), contact the planning department in
your jurisdiction regarding buffer zones. Make sure you are aware of what you
can and cannot do near utility poles, electrical boxes or meters installed on your
property.
Before digging anything—from a new flowerbed to a deck pile—make sure you
know the locations of all underground services. Within Alberta, utility services
can be located free of charge with the “Call Before You Dig” service. Schedule
an appointment online or call 1 800 242 3447.
OTHER PROPERTY CONSIDERATIONS
• Before paving or installing a concrete driveway, look for a survey pin or
metal cover that indicates a water shut-off valve (sometimes called a ‘cc
valve’) is in the area. Access to that valve must be brought to the top of
the driveway. Do not cover the valve with concrete or asphalt
• When watering your lawn, avoid getting water on electrical boxes
• Do not surround gas meters with any enclosures. Enclosures could
concentrate gas that would normally be vented.
C H A P T E R 1 - E X T E R I O R E L E M E N T S | PRO PE R T Y B O U N DA R I E S & ACC E S S
Easements deal with the lot itself, not the homeowners, so when land is bought
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C H A P T E R 1 - E X T E R I O R E L E M E N T S | WAT E R M A N AG E M E N T S T R AT E G I E S
WATER MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES
Water can cause significant damage to your home. A surface water management
plan will remind you what actions must be taken to help keep water away from
your home.
• Fill areas that have settled next to the foundation with clay—not topsoil—
with a positive slope away from the foundation
(10 per cent is recommended)
• Use downspout extensions to move water farther from the foundation
and keep them extended year-round
• Ensure eavestroughs and downspouts are clear of debris
• Ensure window wells are clear of debris so water can flow to the weeping
tile system. The top of a window well should be a minimum of two inches
(50 mm) above finished grade. Do not plant flowers in window wells
• Sprinkler heads should not direct water against the foundation or
cladding and should not be placed within the backfill area near the
foundation
• Ensure your sump systems are in working order. Install a discharge hose
if necessary to move water collected in your sump pit farther away from
your home.
For more detailed water management strategies, check out our
Surface Water Management brochure.
HOW IS MY LOT DESIGNED TO DRAIN WATER?
In Alberta, most individual lots are graded according to a municipally-approved
grading plan. Grading slopes the clay sub-soil away from the home. A second
grading may take place to fine-tune the grade before topsoil is applied. In
some jurisdictions, the homeowner is responsible for the second (final) grading
of the lot. If you are unsure, contact your local authority (e.g. City of Calgary,
Strathcona County) for lot grading requirements.
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(storm water collection points) or holding ponds designed to control and assist
in overall surface drainage.
Standing water near a home’s foundation can find its way into the basement. For
this reason, it’s critical to drain pools of water as soon as possible. Homeowners
are responsible to maintain drainage systems/strategies that move water
away from their homes and away from neighbours’ properties. This can be
accomplished by filling areas that have settled.
A lot is graded for drainage during normal rainfall but heavy or prolonged rain
may result in standing water. Areas excavated during construction (e.g. utility
trenches or basement areas) are more susceptible because they often settle over
time, forming areas where water can collect and cause leakage problems.
To fill these settled areas (also called depressions), remove the topsoil and fill
the depression with compacted clay—not topsoil. Topsoil absorbs water like a
sponge and the water will simply drain through it and collect again when it
reaches the clay layer located just below the topsoil.
OTHER DRAINAGE CONSIDERATIONS
• Do not alter the general drainage pattern of your lot without
consulting your municipal authority
• Do not divert water from your property onto a neighbour’s property
• Clear ice and snow from drains each spring and provide a drainage
pathway to move water away from your home.
C H A P T E R 1 - E X T E R I O R E L E M E N T S | WAT E R M A N AG E M E N T S T R AT E G I E S
The lot may have drainage systems such as swales (shallow valleys), catch basins
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C H A P T E R 1 - E X T E R I O R E L E M E N T S | E AV E S T RO U G H S & D OW N S P O U T S
EAVESTROUGHS & DOWNSPOUTS
Efficient rooftop drainage will help you keep your basement dry. Eavestroughs
move water to downspouts and away from your home. During heavy rainfall,
this drainage system can move hundreds of gallons of water in a single day so
it’s important that eavestroughs are sloped towards the downspouts and are
clear of debris. Surface particles from asphalt shingles are often washed away
by rain and settle in the eavestroughs, reducing their efficiency. Clean your
eavestroughs at least once a year to prevent this.
Downspouts ending on sod usually feature an extension to move water farther
from the perimeter of the home. Always return downspout extensions to their
lowered positions after cutting the lawn.
Surface drainage is far more efficient than weeping tile at keeping water away
from your foundation. Weeping tile is a piping system that collects and channels
subsurface water away from the foundation. Surface water (e.g. rainwater)
should be directed away from the perimeter of the home to reduce demand on
a weeping tile system.
For more detailed water management strategies, check out our
Surface Water Management brochure.
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Landscaping is not usually included in the contractual agreement between a
builder and a homeowner. However, landscaping decisions and implementation
can cause significant damage to a home so it’s important to plan landscaping
carefully and hire a professional if necessary.
HOW DOES LANDSCAPING IMPACT WATER DRAINAGE?
Between May and October, a 40’ x 100’ lot in Alberta receives an average 14
inches or 31,900 gallons (144,800 litres) of rain so it’s important to consider the
drainage plan for your lot when planning your landscape design. Here are some
things to consider before landscaping:
• Grassed areas generally require steeper drainage slopes compared to
hard surfaces like concrete or asphalt
• Planting beds should also be graded away from your foundation walls
• Some species of trees (such as poplar) have invasive root systems that
can enter utility corridors and weeping tile systems. Tree roots have been
known to rupture water and sewer lines and can exert enough force to
crack concrete basement walls. Plant trees away from the perimeter of
the home
• An established lawn prevents soil erosion. To avoid erosion, establish a
lawn or implement your landscape design as soon as possible after the
rough and final grades have been completed.
HOW DO I TAKE CARE OF MY NEW LANDSCAPING?
Newly planted lawns, shrubs or trees require special care and attention in the
first few years to ensure proper root establishment.
SOD
Grass grows better in some areas than in others depending on exposure to sun,
wind, rain and other factors such as drainage, soil type and maintenance. When
establishing new sod, the first two weeks are critical. You should avoid walking
on newly laid sod and should saturate the sod with water as soon as it’s laid.
C H A P T E R 1 - E X T E R I O R E L E M E N T S | L A N D SC A PI N G
LANDSCAPING
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C H A P T E R 1 - E X T E R I O R E L E M E N T S | L A N D SC A PI N G
Keep the grass moist for the next few days and in the second week, reduce
watering to every other day. Once the grass has ‘taken,’ a weekly watering is
usually adequate. Water evenly and slowly so the water penetrates the soil
without running off.
Your lawn needs about 25mm (1 inch) of water a week—including rain—when it’s
actively growing in the summer. You can track this with a rain gauge. Shallow
watering results in a shallow root system, leaving the lawn susceptible to damage.
Deep watering establishes a strong, healthy root system. Hot, sunny areas may
need more water and shady areas may require less water. It’s important to avoid
overwatering because saturated soil prevents air from reaching the root zone
where it’s needed.
Proper mowing keeps grass healthy. Grass cut too short is susceptible to sun
damage. Landscapers recommend grass should be approximately 50 mm (2
inches) long and also suggest you never cut more than 3 cms (1.18 inches) of grass
blade height at one time. Sharp mower blades will also prevent ragged, brown
tips on the grass. If you mow frequently, fine clippings will decompose and help
maintain the lawn. Heavy clippings must be removed from the lawn.
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for products and application techniques. Finally, to give your lawn a healthy
start in the spring, remove snow from shaded areas to avoid ‘winter kill.’
TREES AND SHRUBS
Building and repairing root systems and ensuring plants have adequate water
are the most important elements when establishing newly transplanted trees
and shrubs.
TREES AND SHRUBS REQUIRE ABOUT ONE GALLON
OF WATER PER FOOT OF GROWTH AT EACH
WATERING (INCLUDES RAIN).
Trees and shrubs should be watered immediately after being transplanted with
quality drinking water that includes a root starter fertilizer. Do not use water high
in sodium such as water from water softeners or from sloughs. Also, use well water
with caution as some wells contain water with high salt content.
Water shrubs and trees at least once per week for the first year. In the first year,
fertilize with a root grow fertilizer each time you water between May 15 to June
30. Use a balanced fertilizer with each watering from July 1 to August 1. Do not
fertilize trees and shrubs after August 1. The resulting new growth will not have
time to harden off before winter and may die. Contact your local garden centre
for advice on suitable fertilizers. Trees should also be watered thoroughly in
early fall to ensure there is adequate moisture at the root zone during the winter.
Evergreens may require watering in late winter or early spring to keep the root
ball frozen, especially in areas that experience chinooks.
Trees and shrubs require about one gallon of water per foot of growth at each
watering (includes rain). If 12.7 mm (0.5 inch) of rain falls in a week, you may not
need to water. However, maintain the fertilizing schedule and use some water
when you do so. Water slowly all around the plant from the centre to the outer
circle of the leaves. For evergreens, spray the leaves or needles on hot days in
the morning and the evening.
C H A P T E R 1 - E X T E R I O R E L E M E N T S | L A N D SC A PI N G
Fertilizing for weed control also protects your lawn. Consult your garden centre
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C H A P T E R 1 - E X T E R I O R E L E M E N T S | L A N D SC A PI N G
Evergreens exposed to wind need extra protection in the winter to avoid drying
and browning of the leaves. A young tree exposed to high winds should be
staked until it’s well established. Make sure you use the correct stakes and ties
for your type of tree. Contact your local garden centre for specific advice on
how to prepare your plants for winter.
When you plant a tree, it’s important to consider how large the tree will be in 15
to 20 years because a plant in the wrong place is simply a weed. For example, a
full-grown tree may block windows, impede upon walkways or encroach upon a
deck and a mature evergreen can create so much shade that lawn will not grow
beneath it.
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HOW DO I PREPARE MY OUTDOOR HOSE CONNECTIONS FOR WINTER?
Most exterior water valves on newer homes are ‘frost-free’ types. This type of
valve is connected by a shaft (12 inches or more in length) to the shut-off valve
located inside the wall towards the warm interior of the home. When the handle
of the tap is turned to the off position, it closes the valve in the wall. Any water
contained in the shaft between the valve and tap will drain out when closing
and protect the tap from freezing. Frost-free lines will not protect outside water
supply lines from freezing if the exterior hoses have not been disconnected
from the threaded connection. The hose must be disconnected from the tap for
the automatic drain-down function of the frost-free valves to work.
If a hose is attached to the outside tap, the tap may not drain down and the
trapped water will freeze in cold weather. This frozen water can split the pipe
that extends into the home, resulting in a leak in the wall each time the tap is
turned on. It’s important to disconnect a hose from the tap if temperatures are
expected to dip below freezing.
IF A HOSE IS ATTACHED TO THE OUTSIDE TAP, THE
TAP MAY NOT DRAIN DOWN AND THE TRAPPED
WATER WILL FREEZE IN COLD WEATHER. THIS
FROZEN WATER CAN SPLIT THE PIPE THAT EXTENDS
INTO THE HOME, RESULTING IN A LEAK IN THE
WALL EACH TIME THE TAP IS TURNED ON.
Older taps have a shut-off valve with a drainage port inside the home (usually
located in the mechanical room) that you must drain the water in the line before
cold weather comes to protect the system from freezing.
C H A P T E R 1 - E X T E R I O R E L E M E N T S | E X T E R I O R PLU M B I N G
EXTERIOR PLUMBING
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CHAPTER 1 - EXTERIOR ELEMENTS | FENCING
HOW DO I USE AND MAINTAIN MY IRRIGATION SYSTEM?
Irrigation systems save time and reduce labour but caution is required when
installing, using and maintaining them. An irrigation system should not direct
water towards the home’s foundation. It must also be checked regularly for
leakage to prevent the accumulation of unnecessary water underground. Finally,
a soil moisture sensor will ensure the irrigation system only delivers the amount
of water needed.
FENCING
There are three factors to consider before building a fence: personal safety,
location and design.
WHAT SHOULD I DO BEFORE DIGGING POSTS FOR MY FENCE?
Within Alberta, utility services can be located free of charge with the “Call
Before You Dig” service. Schedule an appointment online or call 1 800 242 3447.
HOW DO I DETERMINE WHERE TO PLACE MY FENCE?
The survey line denotes the edge of your property line—not a fence centerline.
Every portion of your fence must be placed on your property—not on the line.
This includes the concrete anchoring the posts.
Check with your municipality regarding where you can and cannot place a
fence. Usually, a homeowner is not allowed to build a fence that would encroach
upon an easement or utility corridor. Fences are also subject to height and
location restrictions.
ARE THERE RULES ABOUT FENCE DESIGN?
Many municipalities have by-laws restricting fence location and/or height.
Some neighbourhoods also have architectural guidelines to provide aesthetic
consistency or to create a theme for the area. The neighbourhood developer
can tell you if any architectural guidelines are in place for your community.
These guidelines may define the range of fence styles and possibly even the
colour of the fence.
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idea to discuss details of the fence with them. Neighbours will often share the
construction cost of a new fence.
WOOD DECKING & HANDRAILS
Sundecks, verandas and raised patios are subjected to unrelenting sun, rain and
snow. Decks installed by homeowners are outside the coverage of new home
warranties. Even with seasonal care, a conventional wood deck will not match
the lifespan of the home and will ultimately need replacement. Because of this
expected deterioration, it’s important to check the integrity of all stairs, handrails
and platforms and repair or replace any components that are not firmly fastened.
ARE THERE RULES ABOUT WHERE I CAN BUILD A DECK?
Check with your municipality for where you can and cannot place a deck.
Usually a homeowner is not allowed to build a deck that would encroach upon
an easement or utility corridor.
ARE THERE RULES ABOUT DECK DESIGN AND THE MATERIALS I CAN USE?
Before you build a deck, make sure you understand all local and Alberta
Building Codes regarding deck construction. The 2006 Alberta Building Code
C H A P T E R 1 - E X T E R I O R E L E M E N T S | WO O D D E C K I N G & H A N D R A I L S
If you have a neighbour on the other side of the property line, it’s always a good
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C H A P T E R 1 - E X T E R I O R E L E M E N T S | WO O D D E C K I N G & H A N D R A I L S
changed rules for required bracing and anchorage to the foundation, the type
of fasteners used and foundation depth. Make sure you are familiar with these
rules before designing and building a deck.
For example, wood I joists can only be used in interior applications protected
from rain or moisture and railings are required on decks more than two-feet
above grade. In Alberta, handrails are also required on exterior steps with more
than three risers.
Many alternatives to wood, such as vinyl or wood/plastic composites are
now commonly used for deck construction. Although more expensive, these
alternatives require less maintenance and may have a longer lifespan than
wood. Follow manufacturers’ instructions to maintain these materials.
YOU CAN MINIMIZE SLIVERS BY APPLYING A
PROTECTIVE COATING SUCH AS PAINT, STAIN
OR A WATER REPELLENT THAT MINIMIZES WATER
PENETRATION INTO THE WOOD AND PROTECTS
THE WOOD FROM THE SUN.
HOW DO SLIVERS FORM AND HOW DO I GET RID OF THEM?
Wood is a natural material and reacts to weather changes. Horizontal surfaces,
such as decks and the top of handrails, are subject to significant traffic and will
sliver more readily than vertical surfaces.
Wood slivers form when the wood surface is subject to repeated wet/dry cycles
which cause the wood fibres to bend and twist. The fibres want to return to their
natural shape and in trying to do so, may rise above the original surface. Over
time, this movement will form a sliver.
While the forming of slivers cannot be stopped, you can minimize slivers by
applying a protective coating such as paint, stain or a water repellent that
minimizes water penetration into the wood and protects the wood from the sun.
If the wood has been exposed to the weather for more than two weeks, sand it
21
protective coating to remove weathered fibres. This will allow for better coating
adhesion.
HOW DO I MAINTAIN MY STAINED DECK?
Exposure to the elements and foot traffic cause deck surfaces to fade. Horizontal
areas such as deck surfaces and handrails wear much faster than vertical
deck elements such as spindles. Regular maintenance will help maintain the
appearance of your deck and also preserve the wood.
A wood stain is used to protect and colour exterior wood surfaces. There are two
types of stains: film forming (solid stains) and penetrating stains (transparent
and semi-transparent). Stain colour varies because of characteristics in the
wood and how the wood is treated prior to staining. Wood characteristics such
as density and grain vary from tree to tree and even in boards cut from the
same tree. For example, a portion of board that is dense will not accept stain as
well as a portion of board that has a more open grain. Wood that is rough sawn,
unprimed or very dry may absorb stain more quickly than wood that is smooth
cut, damp or treated with a sealer.
When a wood surface needs to be re-coated, it should be repaired, sanded
C H A P T E R 1 - E X T E R I O R E L E M E N T S | WO O D D E C K I N G & H A N D R A I L S
with medium grit, garnet sandpaper (80-100 grit sand paper) before applying a
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C H A P T E R 1 - E X T E R I O R E L E M E N T S | WO O D D E C K I N G & H A N D R A I L S
and cleaned so the new stain can fully penetrate the surface of the wood for
maximum durability of the finish.
After the wood is prepared, new stain can be applied. This coating will help
protect the wood from sun damage. Paint on the other hand, will completely
block the sun but it can also trap moisture which encourages faster decay of the
wood.
It’s important to use the correct type of applicator and the correct application
technique to ensure the coating is evenly distributed and provides maximum
protection for the wood. For example, a roller-applied stain must first be worked
into the wood with a brush to give a more uniform colour and deeper stain
penetration.
IT’S IMPORTANT TO USE THE CORRECT TYPE OF
APPLICATOR AND THE CORRECT APPLICATION
TECHNIQUE TO ENSURE THE COATING IS
EVENLY DISTRIBUTED AND PROVIDES MAXIMUM
PROTECTION FOR THE WOOD.
Most stain manufacturers provide detailed brochures that discuss stain product
options, surface preparation and application tools and techniques.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
Behr: “Wood Stains and Finishes How-To”
Fine Homebuilding: “Why Exterior Finishes Fail”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture: “The Finish Line: Practical Facts on
Wood Finishing”
The coverage you need.
The partner you trust.
CHAPTER 2
CONCRETE
• Concrete Walks & Driveways
• Floor Drains
• Basements
• Garage Floors
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C H A P T E R 2 - CO N C R E T E | CO N C R E T E WA L K S & D R I V E WAYS
CONCRETE WALKS & DRIVEWAYS
Seasonal temperatures and varying precipitation may cause cracking in your
sidewalks and driveway. Frost penetration can also cause heaving or settlement
and change the direction of surface drainage. Sometimes, damaged areas return
to their original position in warm weather. In most cases, these issues are beyond
the control of the builder.
Your driveway was constructed for use by light vehicles—not for heavy trucks
or equipment, even for a short period of time. Seal your concrete annually to
increase its longevity.
WHY IS MY CONCRETE DAMAGED?
Concrete is a mixture of stone and sand called ‘aggregate’ combined with water
and cementing materials. As concrete is placed and finished, the aggregate
settles into the paste, causing a thin layer of paste to rise above the aggregate.
The paste layer can separate from the main body of the concrete. When the
fine, top layer of the paste peels away, the concrete is said to be ‘mortar flaking.’
When the separation occurs as circular/oval pieces across several sections of
aggregate, it’s called ‘spalling.’ When the separation occurs as small holes above
a piece of aggregate, it’s called ‘pitting.’
SURFACE IMPACT, WEATHERING AND FREEZE/
THAW CYCLES ARE THE MOST COMMON CAUSES
OF FLAKING, SPALLING AND PITTING.
Surface impact, weathering and freeze/thaw cycles are the most common
causes of flaking, spalling and pitting. Salts and de-icers can also cause spalling
and pitting. In some cases, improperly-cured concrete or the corrosion of rebar
can also cause separation. In rare cases, the aggregate can be contaminated by
materials that expand when wet or heated (e.g. ironstone or organic matter) and
cause pitting. Sometimes, the contaminated material can also pop out and leave
a hole or raised spot in the concrete.
25
likelihood of these defects and are in the hands of the builder. The following
measures will increase your chances of a successful concrete installation:
• Use air-entrained concrete mixes with a low water-to-cement mix ratio
• Delay finishing until the water sheen on the concrete surface is gone
• Edge the concrete near forms
• Use isolation joints and construction joints where appropriate
• Do not power-trowel concrete subject to freeze-thaw cycles
and de-icing chemicals.
HOW CAN I PROTECT MY CONCRETE?
The application of a breathable surface sealer can reduce damage caused by
de-icing and road salts. Silane and siloxane are the two most common sealers.
These sealers can penetrate concrete as deep as three millimeters while still
allowing the concrete to breath. This prevents vapour pressure from building
up between the concrete and sealer. Because the sealer is embedded within
the concrete, it’s more durable to abrasive forces and ultraviolet deterioration,
providing longer-lasting protection.
Treatment and re-treatment should be carried out according to
manufacturers’ directions but some guidelines apply to all sealers:
• Wait at least 28 days before applying sealer to new concrete
• Sealer should only be applied to clean concrete left to dry for at
least 24 hours at temperatures above 16°C
• Penetrating sealers cannot fill surface voids that are filled with water
• Concrete should be clean
• Concrete placed in late fall should not be sealed until spring
because the sealer may cause the concrete to retain water and
increase the likelihood for freeze-thaw damage.
C H A P T E R 2 - CO N C R E T E | CO N C R E T E WA L K S & D R I V E WAYS
Quality mix and proper installation and curing will significantly reduce the
26
C H A P T E R 2 - CO N C R E T E | BA S E M E N T S
BASEMENTS
Basement walls are subjected to many stresses. For example, the base of the
wall (below grade) maintains a fairly uniform temperature but the portion
above grade is exposed to seasonal temperature variations. These temperature
changes can cause the wall to shift or crack.
HOW CAN I KEEP WATER FROM PENETRATING MY CONCRETE FOUNDATION WALLS OR FLOOR?
Moisture is always present in soil. The amount of moisture will increase in the
spring when snow begins to melt and during heavy or prolonged rains. Builders
take measures to ensure water does not accumulate against the foundation walls
or under the basement slab. Moving surface water away from the foundation is
the best way to protect your home from water penetration. Click here for more
surface water management strategies.
MOVING SURFACE WATER AWAY FROM THE
FOUNDATION IS THE BEST WAY TO PROTECT YOUR
HOME FROM WATER PENETRATION.
Unless there is an unusual amount of water accumulating against the foundation
(such as in a severe rainstorm or from poorly maintained grade around the
foundation), large amounts of water should not flow into the basement.
However, concrete is a porous material and any coatings applied to the walls to
repel water do not go under the footing the wall rests on. In this space, small
amounts of water may be transferred through the concrete and show up as
dampness on the inside of the concrete wall.
Make sure you are prepared to manage water if it does enter the basement.
Check your sump pit and pump in the spring and fall to ensure the pump is
operational, the power cord is in good shape, the pipes are connected and the
pump turns on when the float is lifted.
27
builder are maintained and working as intended to prevent unnecessary water
damage to your property. Click here for reminders of what you can do to reduce
the risk of water damage to your home.
WHY IS MY BASEMENT FLOOR DAMP AND HOW DO I REDUCE THE MOISTURE?
Concrete basement floors sometimes feel damp to the touch. This damp feel is
due to one of two factors: First, the amount of water present in new concrete.
After being poured, concrete contains an amount of water that will evaporate
to the inside of the basement and possibly create a damp floor. Avoid placing
materials such as carpet or boxes directly on the floor for the first year after a
basement floor is poured.
Second, there may be small voids in the concrete that act like tiny straws,
drawing small amounts of water from the soil into the basement slab. The rate of
this movement depends on the amount of moisture under the slab, the relative
humidity of the basement and the porosity of the concrete. If the basement is
very dry and the ground is very wet, the flow of water will be quicker.
You can stop this flow of water by breaking the connection between the source
of moisture under the slab and the slab itself. Builders use measures such
as granular fill, polyethylene membrane or foam insulation underneath the
basement floor slab to create this break.
If the dampness persists, consider installing a de-humidifier or increasing
the amount of ventilation in the area. Moving surface water away from your
foundation will also reduce opportunities for water penetration.
Before you apply any finish over a concrete floor (paint, carpet, solid flooring),
make sure the concrete is dry.
C H A P T E R 2 - CO N C R E T E | BA S E M E N T S
As a homeowner, you are responsible to make sure systems put in place by your
28
C H A P T E R 2 - CO N C R E T E | F LO O R D R A I N S & GA R AG E F LO O R S
FLOOR DRAINS
Floor drains are usually located next to the furnace to help remove water spilled
on the basement floor and, in some cases, for the drainage of water condensation
from the chimney of a high efficiency furnace.
TO PREVENT SEWER GAS FROM ENTERING YOUR
HOME THROUGH FLOOR DRAINS, MAKE SURE
WATER IS ALWAYS PRESENT IN THE DRAINS.
To prevent sewer gas from entering your home through floor drains, make sure
water is always present in the drains. To test if your drains have water in them,
pour a little water into the drain and listen. You should hear if the water hits
more water or if it hits the bottom of the trap. Every few months or if you smell
sewer gas, pour a bucket of water down the drain to re-establish the water seal.
GARAGE FLOORS
Some cracking in a garage slab is common and will not impact the floor’s
performance. Contractors may cut control joints to provide a line for the
cracking to follow.
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CHAPTER 3
THE HOUSE FRAME
•
Shrinking Wood
• Main Support Beams &
Telepost Adjustments
• Windows
• Attic Ventilation
30
C H A P T E R 3 - T H E H O U S E F R A M E | S H R I N K I N G WO O D
SHRINKING WOOD
Lumber used for framing a home must not contain more than 19 per
cent moisture. During the first heating season, shrinkage caused by the
continued natural drying of the wood may cause the following issues:
•
Thin cracks may appear in exposed wood structural members
(e.g. joists and beams)
• Small gaps may appear between countertops, cabinets, vanities
and the wall and minor joints may open in door and window trims,
baseboards etc.
•
Fireplace mantels may shrink slightly and separate from the wall or
at joints
•
Gaps may appear between individual wood floor pieces or
between the floor and the baseboard, door jambs or stair treads
• Squeaks may develop in floor underlay, wood flooring and stair treads.
Wood expands and shrinks when the humidity level changes. Minor shrinkage
is inherent to wood construction and does not impact the structural integrity of
your home. In many cases, gaps from shrinkage can be attributed to temperature
extremes between the interior and exterior walls in the winter months (thermal
bowing, truss uplift etc.). These gaps and cracks may become less noticeable
when more temperate weather returns.
31
Adjustable steel posts or ‘teleposts’ are used to support main beams in the
basement and transfer loads to the foundation. The bearing plate at the top of
the telepost should rest snugly beneath the beam.
UNEVEN PRESSURE ON A BEAM CAN CAUSE ISSUES
DOWN THE ROAD, SO YOU SHOULD CHECK THE
LEVEL OF THE BEAM WITH A FOUR-FOOT LEVEL TO
ENSURE EVERYTHING IS PROPERLY POSITIONED.
On a regular basis, homeowners should check that the supporting post is truly
supporting the beam. Uneven pressure on a beam can cause issues down the
road, so you should check the level of the beam with a four-foot level to ensure
everything is properly positioned. If adjustments are necessary, hire a contractor
specializing in this type of structural work.
If you are finishing the basement, consider a design that gives you easy access
to adjust the teleposts and the beams above the teleposts. Moisture beneath
the concrete basement floor slab can cause the earth beneath the slab to swell
and, consequently, lift the telepost. A downward adjustment of the telepost is
required to bring the beam back to level. Settlement of the soil beneath the
basement concrete slab would require an upward adjustment to level the beam.
If drywall is cracking or doors are starting to stick on the upper levels of your
home, a telepost adjustment is likely required. Allowing for expansion and
contraction along the main support beam will also reduce drywall cracking in
the finished basement.
C H A P T E R 3 - T H E H O U S E F R A M E | M A I N S U PP O R T B E A M S & T E L E P O S T A DJ U S TM E N T S
MAIN SUPPORT BEAMS & TELEPOST ADJUSTMENTS
32
C H A P T E R 3 - T H E H O U S E F R A M E | W I N D OW S
WINDOWS
Windows are typically composed of a vinyl frame or a wood frame covered by a
metal skin on the exterior. The frames of vinyl windows and the exterior metal
on a metal-clad window are virtually maintenance free. Interior wood finishes
should be maintained as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Weatherstripping
between the fixed and opening parts of a window should be checked regularly
and replaced when necessary.
WHAT IS WEATHERSTRIPPING AND HOW DO I MAINTAIN IT?
Weatherstripping provides a flexible seal around windows to prevent unwanted
air from moving in or out of your home.
On windows that open outwards with a crank (casement or awning windows),
the weatherstripping is usually a compressible, moulded strip of foam or rubber
set against the frame towards the outside. The opening part of the window rests
against the weatherstripping when the door or window is closed, forming an air
and water seal.
On sliding windows, the weatherstripping is usually a flexible v-strip or a
brush/bristle type and is placed between the track and the moveable window
and at the point where the fixed and the sliding window meet.
Felt-type weatherstripping should be avoided as it can gather at one edge of
the window over time and create an air gap. Weatherstripping that has lost its
resiliency will not provide an effective seal and should be replaced. Check your
windows each fall and reposition or replace this weatherstripping as required.
Weatherstripping will lose its flexibility if painted.
WHY IS MY WINDOW LEAKING?
Water movement from the outside of the home to the inside through windows
can occur if a window is not properly closed or if the weatherstripping around
a window opening is damaged or worn. Windows can also leak if the window’s
drain ports, designed to drain water out from an opening portion of a window,
33
unattended, will stain the finishes or cause water damage.
Some opening and sliding windows provide a small drainage port on the
outside-face of the bottom sill of the window. This round or oblong opening is
often capped and drains any water that finds its way behind the weatherstripping
or window/frame seal to the outside of the window. This opening must be clear
of debris (e.g. fluff, insect webs etc.) so water can flow out.
The seal between the window glass and the window frame is designed to
withstand a certain level of wind-driven rain. Should a major storm occur, it may
produce leakage in windows that normally would not leak.
Water leakage should not be confused with condensation. Condensation occurs
when water vapour in the air condenses on a cold interior window surface. If
there is enough water vapour, it can condense and form ice on the window.
When this ice melts, it will flow onto the sill and stain the finish or cause water
damage.
WHY IS MY WINDOW COVERED IN CONDENSATION?
Condensation of moisture on interior windows occurs naturally when interior
air with sufficient moisture comes into contact with a cold window surface.
C H A P T E R 3 - T H E H O U S E F R A M E | W I N D OW S
are plugged. Water leakage can pool on the interior casings and sill and, if left
34
C H A P T E R 3 - T H E H O U S E F R A M E | W I N D OW S
Air can only hold a limited amount of water vapour at any given temperature. As
warm room air comes in contact with a cool window surface, the air cools and
loses the ability to hold water. If the moisture in the air is high enough or if the
surface of the glass is cool enough, the water in the air will deposit on the glass
surface. This is called condensation.
Condensation typically appears on windows before any other surface because
windows usually have the least insulation value of anything on an exterior wall
and react the quickest to changes in outdoor temperature.
When outdoor temperatures drop, you can reduce condensation in your home
by limiting the amount of moisture in the indoor air. Routine activities such as
cooking, showering and laundry add moisture to indoor air. Plants, fish tanks
and humidifiers are also examples of common household items that contribute
to indoor moisture.
HOW CAN I REDUCE CONDENSATION ON MY WINDOW?
You can reduce moisture by venting moisture-laden air to the outside and by
bringing fresh, dry air from the outside into the home. Ventilation is accomplished
in many ways.
Exhaust fans placed near high sources of humidity, such as bathrooms and
kitchens, are used to reduce localized humidity. Some new homes may also have
a whole-home ventilation system. In its simplest form, this system consists of a
central exhaust fan and a fresh air intake connected to the heating system. The
system may be operated by a timer or by a switch located in a central position
in the home. A more advanced ventilation system will recapture heat lost in
the ventilated air and will have dedicated ventilation ducts in various locations
throughout the home.
Opening window coverings, even partially, during cold weather is an easy way
to reduce condensation. Drapes can restrict air movement near the window
which will cause the glass surface to cool, creating the perfect environment for
condensation.
35
Heat outlets placed near windows wash the window surface with warm air. This
increases the temperature of the window surface and reduces the potential for
condensation. Do not deflect the movement of air away from windows or cover
outlets with rugs or furniture. Finally, during periods of extreme cold, keep the
furnace fan running to maintain a more even heat in the home.
Wood flooring manufacturers may recommend a certain humidity level be
maintained to prevent warping, cracking and separating of wood flooring
components. However, this floor maintenance must be balanced with the need
to control window condensation in cold weather.
MY WINDOW HAS CONDENSATION BETWEEN THE PANES OF GLASS. DO I HAVE TO
REPLACE THE WINDOW?
Heat moves through a dense material such as glass easily and quickly. But, heat
does not easily move through still air. By separating the pieces of glass in a
window frame with an air space, the transfer of heat through a window to the
outside is reduced. To work effectively, this separation must be airtight.
Window glass spacers are made from materials such as silicone foam, butyl
rubber, metal or combinations of these materials. The spacer is bonded to
the glass to form an airtight seal. This is achieved with adhesives, and in some
cases, an additional layer of sealant. The spacer will contain a small amount of
desiccant (a drying agent) that absorbs any moisture in the air trapped when the
unit’s sealed. The seal will also keep insulating gases such as argon between the
window panes.
The panes of glass expand and contract when exposed to changing temperatures
and amounts of sunlight. This occurs on a daily basis. Windows experience high
temperatures when the sun shines through them. The temperature of the inside
C H A P T E R 3 - T H E H O U S E F R A M E | W I N D OW S
OPENING WINDOW COVERINGS, EVEN PARTIALLY,
DURING COLD WEATHER IS AN EASY WAY TO
REDUCE CONDENSATION.
36
C H A P T E R 3 - T H E H O U S E F R A M E | AT T I C V E N T I L AT I O N
and outside panes of a window is rarely the same. These continuous changes in
temperature place stress on the bonds of the adhesive between the edge spacer
and the glass panes.
Over time, the seal between the spacer and the window glass will let go. When
this happens, fresh air containing moisture will enter between the window panes.
The desiccant drying agent will not be able to absorb all this moisture and air
will begin to condense on one of the glass surfaces above the edge spacer. This
is referred to as ‘fog between the glass.’ When this occurs, the sealed unit has
failed. When the seal fails, the glass unit in the frame should be replaced. To
repair/replace, contact the window manufacturer or a company that specializes
in window repair/replacement.
FURTHER RESOURCES:
The City of Edmonton – “Condensation Concerns Booklet”
ATTIC VENTILATION
Attic ventilation serves two important purposes. First, it removes moisture that
travels into the attic from the living space below through openings such as plumbing
stacks, bathroom fans and attic hatches. Second, attic ventilation removes heat from
the attic that can reduce the life of roof shingles. Attic ventilation is separate from
ventilation used in the living space (e.g. bathroom exhaust fan).
Natural (passive) air flow is used to provide attic ventilation. With this method,
air flows into the roof space through perforated soffits at the eaves and exits
through passive (non-powered) vents located near the peak of the roof. A
continuous strip vent located along the peak or ‘ridge’ of the roof is called a
ridge vent. A vent with a rotating top section on a round vent is called a rotating
vent and a vent placed on the wall that encloses the attic at the end of the
trusses is called a gable vent. The number of vents, and their positioning on the
roof, is determined by the Alberta Building Code.
37
Passive roof vents function year-round and are generally maintenance-free. Do
not block these vents in the winter months. In some cases, where attic spaces
have complex roof designs, powered fans may be used. These units will require
occasional motor maintenance.
IS IT BAD IF THERE’S MOISTURE IN MY ATTIC?
In high winds, even a properly installed roof vent may allow some moisture
into the attic space. The moisture will usually evaporate without any staining or
leakage to the interior of your home. If leakage or staining does occur, inspect
the attic to identify the source of the moisture.
C H A P T E R 3 - T H E H O U S E F R A M E | AT T I C V E N T I L AT I O N
PASSIVE ROOF VENTS FUNCTION YEAR-ROUND
AND ARE GENERALLY MAINTENANCE-FREE. DO
NOT BLOCK THESE VENTS IN THE WINTER MONTHS.
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CHAPTER 4
COUNTERTOPS
• Tile Countertops
• Quartz Surfaces & Other
Engineered Stone Countertops
• Natural Stone Countertops
• Concrete Countertops
•
Laminate Countertops
• Metal Countertops
40
C H A P T E R 4 - CO U N T E R TO P S | L A M I N AT E CO U N T E R TO P S
Countertops are made from a variety of materials such as laminate, ceramic
tile, natural stone, engineered stone, concrete and metal. With proper care, all
countertops are durable. However, they are not indestructible and require a
certain level of care. You can protect the finish of your countertop by cleaning
with a soft cloth and using a mild soap. Avoid corrosive or abrasive cleaners or
cleaners that contain ammonia.
LAMINATE COUNTERTOPS
Laminate is made from many different materials combined with resin. In
laminates, the colour is a thin layer at the surface. Sheets of laminate are bonded
to a wood substrate and can be moulded around curves such as the edges of
countertops. It’s available in a wide variety of colours and in granular, low-sheen
or glossy finishes.
For everyday cleaning, simply use a damp, soapy cloth. Do not use cleaners that
contain strong acids or abrasives such as those for ceramic stovetops or toilet
bowls. For stubborn stains or spills such as nail polish, contact the manufacturer
for special cleaning instructions.
A wood edge on a laminate countertop is a common finishing option. These
41
is visible, you will need to sand and refinish the edges. Refinishing can be done
with spray-on lacquer or brush-on urethanes. These products are available at
most home improvement centres.
WHY DID MY LAMINATE COUNTERTOP BUBBLE?
Prolonged or extreme heat (e.g. from hot pans) can cause the contact cement,
used to attach the laminate to the substrate layer, to become soft and release.
This could result in the formation of a bubble in the laminate surface. The bond
may be re-established by applying localized pressure to the area of the bubble.
In other cases, additional adhesive must be applied to permanently re-establish
the bond. A professional should be called to repair a bubble.
PROLONGED OR EXTREME HEAT (E.G. FROM HOT
PANS) CAN CAUSE THE CONTACT CEMENT, USED
TO ATTACH THE LAMINATE TO THE SUBSTRATE
LAYER, TO BECOME SOFT AND RELEASE.
A trivet (a three-legged stand placed under a hot serving dish) should be used under
all heated appliances such as electric frying pans, coffee pots, hot pots, etc.
WHY DID MY LAMINATE COUNTERTOP SWELL?
Laminates are bonded to a substrate made of wood products. When water gets
under laminate, it’s absorbed by the wood and the wood swells. Even after the wood
dries, the substrate will not lie as flat as the original product. For this reason, it’s
important to keep laminate countertops free of standing water at joints and where
the counter joins the backsplash. You should also mend a chipped edge before
water seeps into the particleboard base and loosens even more laminate.
WHY DID MY LAMINATE COUNTERTOP DELAMINATE?
Delamination, the lifting of laminate from the wood substrate, can happen for
several reasons: insufficient adhesive applied during construction, too much
C H A P T E R 4 - CO U N T E R TO P S | L A M I N AT E CO U N T E R TO P S
wood edges do require some maintenance. Every couple of years or when wear
42
C H A P T E R 4 - CO U N T E R TO P S | T I L E CO U N T E R TO P S
heat applied to the surface or water penetration. Delamination due to a lack of
adhesive usually occurs near the corners on vertical edges. To reattach corners,
simply apply more adhesive. If the detached piece is broken, the procedure
is much more complex. Make sure broken edges are taped down to avoid any
further delamination or fracturing of the laminate until a repair can be done by
a professional.
CAN I FIX THE SCRATCHES AND CHIPS IN MY LAMINATE COUNTERTOP?
In general, gloss finishes show scratches and chips more readily than granular
or low-sheen finishes. No matter the finish, do not use your countertop as a
cutting board. Even abrasive cleaners and steel wool can etch your laminate
countertop. You cannot remove scratches completely from plastic laminates.
However, you can hide small scratches with seam filler. Deep gouges or chips
cannot be repaired.
TILE COUNTERTOPS
Tiles can be made from ceramic, porcelain or natural stone. Ceramic tiles are
made from pressed clay. They come in matte, metallic or glazed finishes. Glazed
finishes are more susceptible to scratches. Porcelain tiles, also made from
43
ceramic tiles because the colour goes through the full thickness of the tile. To
reduce staining of the grout on your tile countertop or backsplash, apply grout
sealer every other year.
NATURAL STONE COUNTERTOPS
Stone countertops require at least the same degree of care as laminate
countertops. Natural quarry stone may be as hard as granite or relatively soft
and porous like marble. Slate, travertine and limestone can also be used for
countertops. They each have varying degrees of porosity and resistance to
scratching and chipping.
GRANITE IS HIGHLY RESISTANT TO CHIPS AND
SCRATCHES BUT IS POROUS AND SHOULD BE
TREATED EVERY SIX MONTHS WITH A SEALER TO
PREVENT STAINING.
Granite is highly resistant to chips and scratches but is porous and should be
treated every six months with a sealer to prevent staining. Marble is softer and
more porous than granite and sealer should be applied more frequently. Slate
is durable, heat-resistant and doesn’t stain easily. For extra protection of slate
surfaces, you can apply a sealer as well. Limestone is not recommended for busy
cooks, as it stains easily.
Acid from citrus fruits can etch some natural stone surfaces and may require
professional services to restore. To clean any of these countertops, use a soft
cloth and a mild soap. Consult the manufacturer of your countertop for specific
care instructions.
C H A P T E R 4 - CO U N T E R TO P S | N AT U R A L S TO N E CO U N T E R TO P S
clay, are baked at high temperatures and hide scratches and chips better than
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C H A P T E R 4 - CO U N T E R TO P S | Q UA R T Z S U R FAC E S & OT H E R E N G I N E E R E D S TO N E CO U N T E R TO P S , CO N C R E T E CO U N T E R TO P S, M E TA L CO U N T E R TO P S
QUARTZ SURFACES & OTHER ENGINEERED STONE
COUNTERTOPS
Engineered stones are composed of natural minerals such as granite, marble
and quartz. Particles of stone aggregate are combined with resin and colour
pigments. They do not have the veining or cracks that appear in natural stone,
making them more robust. Engineered stone countertops vary in their resistance
to scratches and stains. For most countertops, regular application of sealer is
required.
CONCRETE COUNTERTOPS
Concrete is composed of stone, silica-based cement and water. In its natural
state, concrete is porous and will stain. Concrete countertops must have
sealers applied for water and stain resistance. Staining can occur if the sealer is
compromised by hot pans, cutting or acidic fruits, vinegars or alcohol. Consult
the countertop manufacturer for advice on how frequently you should seal your
concrete countertop.
METAL COUNTERTOPS
Stainless steel is an iron, chrome and nickel alloy and is susceptible to scratching.
Nicks and scratches are less visible on low-sheen or sanded metal surfaces.
Stainless countertops can be polished with a damp cloth and baking soda.
Copper takes on a golden-brown colour with age. Because it’s a soft, smooth
metal, copper is more susceptible to scratching and should be sealed with
beeswax or butcher’s wax.
The coverage you need.
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CHAPTER 5
CABINETS & DOORS
• Cabinets
• Interior Passage Doors
• Exterior Entry Doors
• Bi-Fold Doors
• Exterior Hinged Screen Doors
• Garage Doors
• Exterior Sliding Screen Doors
46
CHAPTER 5 - CABINE TS & DOORS | CABINE TS
CABINETS
Most cabinet bodies are made from medium density fibreboard (MDF) or
melamine particleboard. The doors are often made of fine woods such as birch,
cherry, oak, maple, alder or mahogany.
Cabinet door panels float inside a perimeter frame to reduce stress and
protect the panel from cracking. These floating panels can shrink and expand
in response to changing environmental elements common in Alberta. This
movement is normal.
FLOATING PANELS CAN SHRINK AND EXPAND
IN RESPONSE TO CHANGING ENVIRONMENTAL
ELEMENTS COMMON IN ALBERTA. THIS MOVEMENT
IS NORMAL.
Follow your cabinet manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning and
maintenance products. Most manufacturers do not recommend wax-based
furniture polishes because they tend to build-up on the surface of the wood.
Ammonia-based cleaners should also be avoided as they can prematurely
yellow the wood finish. Most fine cabinetry uses melamine on shelves
and internal surfaces. Care for melamine is similar to laminate surfaces.
See page 40 for laminate care instructions.
Over time, cabinet and drawer hardware may loosen and require tightening.
This is considered normal maintenance. New hardware now incorporates nylon
wear components that do not require lubrication.
WHY ARE MY CABINET DOORS NOT LINING UP WITH EACH OTHER?
Cabinet doors can move out of alignment with normal use. This shifting can
cause the doors to bind or rub. After the first year (in Alberta), the homeowner
is responsible for making adjustments. Most new hardware is fully adjustable
and user-friendly.
47
Woods such as oak, birch and mahogany are sensitive to extreme changes in
the moisture content of the air. They can deform and warp if they come into
contact with water or steam. In cold weather, a humidifier should be used to
maintain some moisture in the air and water spills and kitchen splatters should
be cleaned up immediately. Warping due to environmental conditions in the
home would not be considered a warranty issue.
EXTERIOR ENTRY DOORS
Most entry doors are made of steel or fibreglass with a glued piece of foam core
or injected foam core sandwiched between the door faces.
WHY IS MY EXTERIOR DOOR ASSEMBLY NOT SEALING?
Weatherstripping provides a flexible seal around doors to prevent unwanted
air from moving in or out of your home.
Doors generally have two types of weatherstripping. The first is a compressible,
moulded strip of foam or rubber set against the frame towards the outside. The
opening part of the door rests against the weatherstripping when the door is
closed, forming an air and water seal. The second type located at the bottom of
the door is called a ‘sweep’ or a ‘threshold’ and is typically a metal or vinyl piece
that holds a flexible fin or a row of thin fins that sweep across the door’s sill as
the door closes. Door sweeps can be purchased in a variety of types and depths.
WEATHERSTRIPPING WILL WEAR OUT WITH
TIME. EACH FALL, YOU SHOULD CHECK
WEATHERSTRIPPING AND SWEEPS AROUND THE
PERIMETER OF EXTERIOR DOORS AND REPLACE
IF NECESSARY.
Weatherstripping will wear out with time. Each fall, you should check
weatherstripping and sweeps around the perimeter of exterior doors and replace
C H A P T E R 5 - C A B I N E T S & D O O R S | C A B I N E T S & E X T E R I O R E N T RY D O O R S
WHY DID MY CABINET DOOR WARP?
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C H A P T E R 5 - C A B I N E T S & D O O R S | E X T E R I O R H I N G E D SC R E E N D O O R S, E X T E R I O R S L I D I N G SC R E E N D O O R S & I N T E R I O R PA S SAG E D O O R S
if necessary. Exterior door sills usually feature a series of adjustment screws so the
level of the sill can be raised to the door sweep to provide an effective seal.
The door between the garage and the home should be carefully weatherstripped to prevent garage fumes from entering the home.
EXTERIOR HINGED SCREEN DOORS
Exterior storm doors were traditionally used to protect wood doors from the
elements. In most new homes, exterior doors are steel-clad with an insulated foam
core, making aluminum storm doors unnecessary. However, storm doors do provide
a great source of increased ventilation when the weather is warm.
Most screen doors are composed of anodized or enamelled aluminum or steel and
only require an occasional cleaning and lubrication of hinges and sliding components.
EXTERIOR SLIDING SCREEN DOORS
Normal wear can cause rollers or slides to deteriorate, causing latches to
become misaligned. Dirt in a threshold track can also interfere with the glide
of a sliding door.
WHY IS MY DOOR NOT STAYING ON THE TRACK OR SLIDING SMOOTHLY?
To maintain a sliding door, clean the tracks and hardware and lubricate both
periodically. If a screen door is loose on the track, check to see if it has been
warped by impact and adjust or replace if necessary. If the door slides on wheels,
it may have an adjustment screw in the frame of the screen.
INTERIOR PASSAGE DOORS
Wood and wood composite doors are made of natural wood fibre veneers or
wood composite panels over a frame. They are not as durable as exterior doors.
Interior doors do not require weatherstripping. There is usually a generous gap
below each interior door to facilitate air movement from room to room when a
door is closed. Remember to re-establish this gap should you decide to install a
thicker floor finish. Consider hiring a carpenter for this adjustment.
49
A home with very low or very high humidity may cause the veneer on an interior
door to shrink or expand, causing the veneer to delaminate from the supporting
frame or shrink and split. Once this happens, you will most likely have to replace
the door.
BI-FOLD DOORS
Bi-fold doors are anchored by a pin that fits into a bracket attached at the floor
to the closet frame. They also have a bracket at the top that moves in a track. As
the sliding bracket wears, the door may start to stick and bind. Catching a coat
sleeve between the doors as they close or merely bumping the doors, can loosen
the top bracket or move the anchor pin in the bottom bracket. The top bracket
comes with a screw to allow for adjustments. If the bracket’s slide or pin wears
out, the bracket can be replaced.
C H A P T E R 5 - C A B I N E T S & D O O R S | I N T E R I O R PA S SAG E & B I - F O L D D O O R S
WHY HAS MY DOOR PANEL SPLIT?
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C H A P T E R 5 - C A B I N E T S & D O O R S | GA R AG E D O O R S
WHAT DO I DO IF MY BI-FOLD/SLIDING DOORS COME OFF THE TRACKS?
If the door height is not properly adjusted to raise the door firmly into the top
track, the door may come off the track. Using a pair of pliers, unscrew the pin
in the bottom bracket to push the door up and firmly anchor it into the track.
The bottom pin can also be adjusted (both back and forth or up and down) to
re-align the door gap.
GARAGE DOORS
Most garage doors are made with a polyurethane foam core wrapped with a
steel or aluminum skin that is often painted. These door surfaces require only a
light cleaning to maintain them.
Every few years, the hinges on your garage door should be lubricated. Perimeter
weatherstripping should also be examined each fall and replaced if necessary.
Most overhead garage doors feature automatic door openers. These units require
periodic maintenance specific to the make and model. Familiarize yourself with
the functional and safety features of your unit.
In the event of a power outage, you must know how to disconnect the overhead door
from the track. On most models, there is a red handle on a short rope that, when
pulled, will dislodge a pin and allow manual opening and closing of the overhead
door. Your service manual will detail exactly how to re-establish the connection. It’s
a good idea to review this procedure before a power outage occurs.
Overhead garage doors often use weight compensation springs to offset the weight
of the door. These springs store considerable force and can easily inflict critical
injuries. Only an experienced installer should repair/install these springs.
If your garage is attached to your home, the interior door leading to the garage
must be a fire-rated steel door with an automatic closer. Do not replace this
door with a conventional interior wood door and do not disable the automatic
door closer. Doing so will violate building code and increase the risk of Carbon
Monoxide (CO) entering your home.
The coverage you need.
The partner you trust.
CHAPTER 6
EXTERIOR FINISHES
• Vinyl Siding
• Cement Board Sidings
• Masonry
• Stucco
• Wood or Composite
Wood Sidings & Trims
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C H A P T E R 6 - E X T E R I O R F I N I S H E S | V I N Y L S I D I N G & M A SO N RY
VINYL SIDING
Vinyl siding is generally a maintenance-free exterior finish, but you can wash it
occasionally with a mild detergent and a garden hose to remove dust. Do not use a
power-washer as you can force water behind the siding and cause water damage.
MASONRY
Masonry refers to the stacking of bricks or stones bound together by mortar
to create a wall. Clay bricks, concrete bricks, natural stone or many types of
manufactured stone available on the market are used in masonry. Masonry
veneer walls, a non-structural brick/stone wall laid in front of a structural wall,
are made of brick or stone laid in a mortar bed and anchored by metal ties to
the wood frame of the home.
The masonry limits the inward movement of moisture. An air space located
behind the masonry prevents further absorption of moisture and allows air
circulation for drying. Any moisture that does pass through the veneer is drained
downward to the wall base where it’s redirected back to the exterior.
53
especially automatic sprinkler systems, should never be directed against the
wall surface. The volume of water a sprinkler projects against a wall, in even a
short period of time, is significantly more than that of the most severe rainstorm.
You may notice empty vertical joints (no mortar in the seam) between adjacent
bricks or stone units along the bottom row of masonry on a wall. Empty joints
are not a builder oversight. Rather, they are called ‘weep holes,’ intentionally
placed during construction to drain moisture from behind the masonry veneer
to the exterior. Weep holes also help circulate air to evaporate moisture. Do not
fill or block them. Planting beds should not cover masonry weep holes.
EMPTY JOINTS ARE NOT A BUILDER OVERSIGHT.
RATHER, THEY ARE CALLED ‘WEEP HOLES’.
Hairline cracks between bricks or stones and mortar have little impact on a
wall’s ability to manage water. However, loose bricks or stones and missing
mortar should be repaired or replaced.
WHAT ARE THOSE WHITE STREAKS ON MY HOME’S MASONRY?
Efflorescence is a mineral salt deposit, usually white in colour, which may
develop on the surface of masonry. All masonry materials are susceptible
to efflorescence. As water moves through the body of these materials, it will
dissolve any available mineral salts. As the moisture evaporates at the surface,
it will deposit these salts on the surface. The degree of efflorescence varies with
the age of the finished surface, the type and colour of the cement materials,
weather conditions and the availability of water and salt sources.
There are several potential sources of mineral salts. The most common source
is the salt naturally present in cement-based construction materials that are not
yet bonded by chemical reaction with the cement particles. The water used to
mix cement-based materials may also contain salt. Tap water is usually low in
dissolved salts but well-water can contain high concentrations.
C H A P T E R 6 - E X T E R I O R F I N I S H E S | M A SO N RY
Do not allow snow to accumulate against a masonry surface. Sprinklers,
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C H A P T E R 6 - E X T E R I O R F I N I S H E S | WO O D O R CO M P O S I T E WO O D S I D I N G S & T R I M S
To limit a significant salt source, avoid the use of de-icing salts adjacent to
any masonry. Soil also provides a continuous supply of moisture and salts for
absorption so avoid placing planting beds up to masonry.
Unless there is a source such as soil or de-icing salts present, efflorescence tends
to lessen with the passage of time (1-2 years after construction) as the cement
materials ‘purge’ themselves of salts.
WOOD OR COMPOSITE WOOD SIDINGS & TRIMS
Wood siding and wood composite sidings and trims may require new primer
and paint every few years. In Alberta, south and west facing exterior exposures
will weather the most due to prolonged sun exposure.
Sealant is often applied where wood siding pieces join or where they butt
up against a trim (e.g. at a window). Once a year, exterior sealant should be
examined for voids and shrinkage that could allow wind-driven moisture into
the wall cavity. Remove any defective caulking and replace it with a bead of
high-quality sealant. Some silicone blends will accept paint. Read sealant tube
labels carefully and follow directions.
BEFORE YOU REPAINT WOOD SIDING OR TRIM,
EXAMINE THE OLD PAINT FOR ANY PATTERNS OR
DISCOLOURATION THAT COULD INDICATE AN
UNDERLYING PROBLEM YOU SHOULD ADDRESS
PRIOR TO PAINTING.
Before you repaint wood siding or trim, examine the old paint for any patterns
or discolouration that could indicate an underlying problem you should address
prior to painting. Follow the advice of a reputable paint store for preparing and
refinishing the siding or trim.
As a final note, when watering lawns, avoid excessive overspray on any type of
exterior cladding.
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Cement board sidings are made from a mixture of cement and wood fibres and
come in planks, shingles and panels. Because this siding has a painted finish,
you will need to repaint at some point. The life of your paint will depend on the
colour, sun exposure and driving wind and rain. Consult the siding manufacturer
before selecting a paint product.
STUCCO
If the exterior of your new home is finished with stucco, hairline cracks may appear in
the finish coat. Minor cracking (hairline cracking) is expected with stucco surfaces and
is most noticeable on smooth finish coats.
Do not wash your stucco with a high pressure spray or let your lawn sprinkler saturate
the wall, especially within the first year of it being applied. Stucco is a porous material
and water will eventually make its way behind it, accumulate and leak into the wall.
When exposed to water, especially a new stucco surface, the water may bring out salts
contained in the stucco that have not yet had a chance to bond in the material. Like
masonry, discussed on page 52, the salt appears as white streaks or spots on the wall.
The salt can usually be removed with a brush.
C H A P T E R 6 - E X T E R I O R F I N I S H E S | C E M E N T B OA R D S I D I N G S & S T U CCO
CEMENT BOARD SIDINGS
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The partner you trust.
CHAPTER 7
INTERIOR FINISHING
• Paint
• Grout
• Clear Finishes
• Gypsum Wallboard
• Sealants & Caulking
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C H A P T E R 7 - I N T E R I O R F I N I S H I N G | PA I N T & C L E A R F I N I S H E S
PAINT
Paint surfaces become scuffed, marked and chipped with normal use.
Paint colours will also fade with exposure to cleaners, dirt and strong light.
Before you clean any painted surface, look for the manufacturer’s cleaning
recommendations. Abrasive scrub pads used to remove scuff marks will dull or
scratch your painted surfaces.
CLEAR FINISHES
The use of inappropriate household cleaners, abrasives, soaps and wood
conditioners may discolour a clear finish and cause it to deteriorate quickly.
Clear finishes on fine woods are influenced by the wood substrate and the
moisture balance in the wood. Extreme humidity (too low or too high) can
cause a finish to deteriorate prematurely. Maintaining proper humidity is a
homeowner’s responsibility.
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Sealant is usually a clear, white or light-coloured flexible material placed where
two hard surfaces come together. It’s often seen at the joint between a countertop
and a backsplash or where a tile wall meets the top of a bathtub. This ‘bead’ of
sealant prevents water from finding its way behind water-resistant materials to
less resistant materials behind the joint. This bead of sealant should be applied
in a continuous, unbroken line.
With cleaning, and the natural expansion and contraction of the materials
bonded by the sealant, the sealant may crack or separate from one or both
sides of a joint. Sealant joints should be checked on a regular basis and repaired
immediately if deteriorating. After your home’s warranty period expires, the
maintenance and repair of sealant is the responsibility of the homeowner.
WATER HAS GONE BEHIND MY SEALANT. HOW DO I REPAIR THIS?
If water has penetrated behind a sealant joint:
• Check for damage of the materials underneath the joint. This
damage could be a discolouration or a softening of the material.
From the source of penetration, continue to look for damage on
the floor below because water often runs behind cabinets or down
drywall towards the floor
• Replace or dry and repair the damaged area
• Remove all or parts of the old sealant bead and clean and dry the area
• Re-apply an appropriate type of sealant. Various types of sealants
are specially formulated for kitchens, bathrooms etc. The sealant
tube will provide information on the properties of the sealant and
application instructions.
C H A P T E R 7 - I N T E R I O R F I N I S H I N G | S E A L A N T S & C AU L K I N G
SEALANTS & CAULKING
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C H A P T E R 7 - I N T E R I O R F I N I S H I N G | G RO U T
THERE’S WATER BEHIND MY CERAMIC BATHTUB/SHOWER ENCLOSURE. HOW DO I REPAIR THIS?
Grout joints or caulk joints between ceramic tiles and adjacent surfaces may
deteriorate over time and should be inspected routinely. If a water leak is allowed
to develop behind a tub or shower, the leak can cause the substrate behind the tile
wall to soften or swell. This can cause the tiles to break loose, creating more areas for
water to penetrate. Small amounts of water may also run behind the tub or shower,
soaking wood components and creating ideal conditions for mould growth and rot.
SMALL AMOUNTS OF WATER MAY ALSO
RUN BEHIND THE TUB OR SHOWER, SOAKING
WOOD COMPONENTS AND CREATING IDEAL
CONDITIONS FOR MOULD GROWTH AND ROT.
If the grout is cracked, repair it and re-seal it. If the caulking fails, remove the
damaged caulking and reapply. If there is no apparent break in the grout or the
caulk, clean the tiles and the grout lines and re-apply a grout sealer. Also, check for
leaks from water pipes or drains.
GROUT
Grout is a mixture of fine sand and cement (a thin mortar) used to fill the joints
between wall or floor tiles. All grout is porous and can stain. Sealing grout and
maintaining that seal will greatly reduce discolouration.
Make sure you choose a sealer compatible with your tile and know how to properly
apply the sealer. A sealer can enhance the colour of grout, minimize any minor
issues with the grout application and help protect the grout from staining.
Grout discolours easily, especially lighter shades. Even something as simple as
washing a tile floor can discolour grout over time. A variety of cleaners and
sealers are available on the market to restore and maintain your grout.
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A wood-framed, two-story home can shrink vertically and place substantial
forces on rigid building components such as gypsum wallboard (drywall). These
forces can cause drywall to crack. Minor cracks can be filled and primed before
a room is repainted.
Though drywall nails have been replaced by drywall screws (which hold better
than nails), nails are still used to initially hold the wallboard in place until it can
be screwed down. Nails are susceptible to ‘nail pops’ which happen when wood
shrinks and expands, forcing nails holding the gypsum to work their way through
the wallboard. This results in a bump in the drywall as the nail forces its way through
the drywall. These nail pops typically appear at the upper edge of a wall or at a truss
line on a ceiling.
To repair nail pops, cut away the damaged wallboard. Then, pull the nail out
with a pair of needle-nosed pliers, nail it farther into the wall with a punch tool
or replace the nail with a screw. Finally, fill the hole with joint compound, prime
and re-paint the area.
C H A P T E R 7 - I N T E R I O R F I N I S H I N G | GY P S U M WA L L B OA R D
GYPSUM WALLBOARD
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The partner you trust.
CHAPTER 8
FLOORING
• Resilient Flooring
• Laminate Flooring
• Hardwood Flooring
• Carpet & Area Rugs
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C H A P T E R 8 - F LO O R I N G | R E S I L I E N T F LO O R I N G
RESILIENT FLOORING
Resilient flooring refers to a family of plastic flooring that offers a measure of
impact absorption, making floors more comfortable to walk on. It’s commonly
available in sheet format as well as 12” x 12” flexible tiles.
HOW DO I CLEAN/MAINTAIN MY RESILIENT FLOORING?
Vinyl flooring can be scratched by sand and other abrasives and should only
be cleaned with lukewarm water and a mild detergent. Harsh cleaners can
cause fading, discolouration and, in some cases, cause vinyl to become hard and
brittle. Stubborn scuff marks can usually be removed with a damp cloth and
some effort.
Use water sparingly on resilient tile floors. Excessive water may seep between
tiles, flooring joints and where the flooring meets baseboards and other trim.
USE WATER SPARINGLY ON RESILIENT TILE FLOORS.
EXCESSIVE WATER MAY SEEP BETWEEN TILES,
FLOORING JOINTS AND WHERE THE FLOORING
MEETS BASEBOARDS AND OTHER TRIM.
Any uplifted edge or corner should be repaired immediately to prevent water
intrusion and further lifting. The repair may require contact cement and the
area should be weighed down to give the adhesive time to bond.
Although some resilient flooring may present itself as a ‘No Wax’ floor, you may
find wax (or an acrylic product) is the best way to restore a high lustre to your
floor. Waxes with solvents, varnish, shellac or any plastic finishing material can
cause material breakdown or buckling. Contact the floor manufacturer before
selecting a wax for your floor.
65
Heavy furniture can dent resilient flooring. Typically, the floor will return to its
original condition when the furniture is moved. Placing a coaster under the legs
of heavy furniture will distribute the weight and reduce the likelihood of dents.
Occasionally, a piece of material can become trapped beneath the floor during
installation and cause a ‘ridge’ on the flooring. The visibility of a ridge depends
on a number of factors, including the floor’s material, pattern and colour, texture
and the lighting in the room. To repair a ridge, you may have to remove a section
of flooring and the repair may be less appealing to the eye than the defect. If you
do undertake such a repair, consider hiring a professional.
WHY IS MY RESILIENT FLOORING FADED/DISCOLOURED?
Like other floor coverings, resilient flooring will fade if exposed to constant and
direct sunlight. Closing window coverings during the day will help prevent fading.
Some materials can react with resilient flooring materials and cause a yellow
discolouration. Items such as latex-backed carpets (e.g. kitchen/bath mat), oven
cleaners, hair sprays and foods such as mustard can cause this discolouration
which cannot be removed by cleaners. Using bleach-based chemicals to
clean the discolouration can actually aggravate the situation. Sometimes, the
discolouration will fade with time.
C H A P T E R 8 - F LO O R I N G | R E S I L I E N T F LO O R I N G
HOW DID MY RESILIENT FLOORING GET RIDGES/DEPRESSIONS?
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C H A P T E R 8 - F LO O R I N G | H A R DWO O D F LO O R I N G
HARDWOOD FLOORING
Hardwood flooring describes flooring products made from broadleaf trees
as opposed to softwoods harvested from trees with needle-like leaves (e.g.
evergreens). The term ‘hardwood’ does not necessarily relate to the impact
resistance of the wood. New materials such as bamboo are also included in this
flooring category.
Engineered hardwoods often use a 1/8” thick hardwood on top of a plywood
substrate. The plywood substrate adds dimensional stability and resistance to
shrinkage. Both types of hardwood floors use real wood on the cosmetic surface
of the floor.
It’s important to remember each plank of hardwood floor is unique.
Grain structure, knots and dark/light patches add to the warmth and charm of
hardwood flooring. Even expensive hardwood flooring will have these variations.
HOW SHOULD I MANAGE MY HOME’S HUMIDITY LEVELS TO PROTECT MY
HARDWOOD FLOOR?
Hardwood flooring is highly susceptible to changes in indoor humidity. The first
two years are especially critical for fine woods as they normalize to climatic
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between 40-50 per cent year-round to minimize cupping and crowning. This is
unrealistic in a cold northern climate during the winter. Maintaining such a high
humidity would compromise external components of your home. Windows for
example would be covered in condensation in the cold weather.
Humidity in your home must be balanced to provide human comfort, minimize
condensation and maintain your wood floor. Excess humidity must be controlled
through ventilation and excessively dry conditions must be addressed by
humidification. Adjust your home’s humidity throughout the year to maintain a
desired level.
WHY ARE CRACKS DEVELOPING BETWEEN STRIPS OF MY HARDWOOD FLOORING?
Cracks can develop between strips of hardwood if the wood loses moisture
because the humidity in the home is too low. Adjust your humidity, especially
in the winter. Areas around heat registers and areas exposed to concentrated
sunlight are more susceptible to shrinkage.
Wood flooring applied over a floor with radiant heating is also more susceptible
to cracks developing between the strips of wood. Radiant heating systems
should be engineered for wood flooring with correct heat source temperatures
and thermostatic controls.
RADIANT HEATING SYSTEMS SHOULD BE
ENGINEERED FOR WOOD FLOORING WITH
CORRECT HEAT SOURCE TEMPERATURES AND
THERMOSTATIC CONTROLS.
An engineered wood floor, where the hardwood is attached to wooden sleepers,
is a better choice for radiant-heated floors.
WHY ARE MY HARDWOOD FLOORS CUPPING/CROWNING OR SHRINKING?
When wood absorbs moisture in the air or loses moisture to the air, the wood
fibres stretch and shrink. This stretching and shrinking happens faster at the
C H A P T E R 8 - F LO O R I N G | H A R DWO O D F LO O R I N G
conditions. Hardwood floor manufacturers suggest keeping your home’s humidity
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C H A P T E R 8 - F LO O R I N G | H A R DWO O D F LO O R I N G
edges of the wood. This can cause separation between the pieces of wood in
two ways: ‘cupping’ (where the long edges of the wood units are higher than the
centre) or ‘crowning’ (where the edges shrink, causing the middle of a piece of
wood to rise).
Cupping and crowning is largely attributed to water reaching the unfinished side of
a hardwood board. Moisture may accumulate from excessive wet mopping or from
humidity rising from a lower level of the home (e.g. a basement laundry area). If the
water is removed and/or proper humidity levels are restored, the flooring may return
to its original condition without further remediation. If you have any concerns with
the condition of your floor, consult a hardwood flooring installer.
WHY ARE MY HARDWOOD FLOORS MAKING A POPPING/CRACKING SOUNDS?
A parquet or laminated wood block floor can make ‘crack’ or ‘pop’ sounds as
it expands and contracts. These sounds are usually infrequent and should not
be cause for alarm. Exotic woods with extreme hardness and stability will also
make these noises as the wood adjusts to its new environment.
HOW DURABLE IS MY HARDWOOD FLOOR?
Today, most hardwood manufacturers add chips of aluminum oxide to the
ultraviolet-cured urethane finish of their hardwood flooring to greatly increase
its lifespan. These coatings are extremely durable—but not indestructible. For
example, a 100-pound woman wearing high heels can exert over 400 pounds
per square inch at the heel of her shoe and, in some instances, can actually dent
a hardwood floor. High-heeled shoes should not be worn on hardwood floors.
The durability of a wood floor finish also depends on how well you protect it from
abrasives such as dirt and sand. A protective runner in hallways and in front of
the kitchen sink can also slow wear patterns from forming. If you are renovating,
consider installing an alternate material, like tile, at entry points to reduce the
opportunity for abrasives to come in contact with your hardwood floor.
Use a soft head attachment for vacuuming your hardwood floors—not a power
head (beater bar) and, when mopping, remember that no amount of standing
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CORROSIVE SOLUTIONS, CHLORINE CLEANERS
OR ABRASIVES WILL SLOWLY DULL THE FINISH OF
A HARDWOOD FLOOR. TO AVOID THIS, ONLY USE
CLEANERS RECOMMENDED BY THE FLOORING
MANUFACTURER.
Corrosive solutions, chlorine cleaners or abrasives will slowly dull the finish of
a hardwood floor. To avoid this, only use cleaners recommended by the flooring
manufacturer. Though commonly available cleaners, soaps, oils, waxes or
polishes will not typically damage the floor, they can leave a residue on the floor.
We are not aware of any hardwood floor cleaners universally recommended by
all hardwood manufacturers. Direct sunlight can fade hardwood floor colouring.
Closing curtains to filter the light will reduce fading.
For more information on hardwood flooring, visit the National Wood
Flooring Association’s website.
LAMINATE FLOORING
Laminate flooring provides another hard surface option for homeowners
in locations where solid hardwood is not recommended. Although it’s often
designed to look like hardwood flooring, it’s also available in finishes that
resemble ceramic tile or resilient flooring (see page 64).
Laminate is composed of a wear layer, a pattern layer and one or two rigid layers
that provide impact resistance and connection for the flooring system. These
layers are made from an engineered wood product. As such, laminate flooring is
susceptible to swelling when moisture is present but it’s also considered more
stable than solid hardwood. Most new laminates include some type of moisture
sealant to protect against moisture penetration.
C H A P T E R 8 - F LO O R I N G | H A R DWO O D & L A M I N AT E F LO O R I N G
water should be left on the surface of a hardwood floor.
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C H A P T E R 8 - F LO O R I N G | C A R PE T & A R E A R U G S
Though strong, laminate flooring can be chipped. Unlike hardwood, it cannot be
sanded and refinished. Do not wax, polish or lacquer a laminate floor.
Laminate floors are relatively maintenance free. Do not use abrasive or harsh
cleaners or scouring pads for cleaning. Sweep, vacuum or damp mop with water
and a cleaner approved for the specific floor. Never use a steam cleaner on a
laminate floor and remove any standing water immediately to avoid swelling of
the laminate. Contact the manufacturer for instructions on how to remove stains
caused by paint, adhesive, asphalt, oil, etc.
CARPET & AREA RUGS
The performance of carpet is determined by the height of the cut, the density
of the construction, the backing and the type of fibre used to make the carpet.
Carpet fibres are made from nylon, olefin and wool.
Dirt and sand are the major causes of carpet wear. With each compression of the
carpet, a particle of sand is given another opportunity to cut at the carpet fibre.
A clean carpet will last years longer than a dirty carpet. Use a vacuum with a
beater bar. Vacuuming will not wear out your carpets.
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Remove spots and spills immediately to prevent them from setting. Routine food
spills can typically be removed with water. Pretest any spot removal cleaner in
an inconspicuous area to make certain the solution will not damage the carpet’s
fibres or lift the dye. Apply a small amount of the selected cleaning solution to a
white cloth and blot—do not scrub! Work from the edges of the spill to the centre
to prevent the spill from spreading and rinse the area thoroughly with clean
water after the stain is removed. Finally, blot the area with a dry cloth until most
of the water has been absorbed. Never use bleach on a carpet stain. While, you
may remove the stain, you will likely remove the carpet’s colour as well.
For oil-based stains such as ink, grease, nail polish, tar or wax, consult a cleaning
professional. Fine area carpets should also be professionally cleaned as they
can be damaged by water and conventional carpet care products. Consult a
professional for the best cleaning option available to suit your particular carpet.
Seasonal carpet cleaning will remove oils and imbedded dirt and renew your
carpets. Some carpet cleaning products contain anti-allergens.
For more information about carpeting, check out the Carpet and Rug
Institute’s website.
CAN MY LOOSE/STRETCHED CARPET BE REPAIRED?
Carpet can stretch in high heat or humid conditions and may lift along a room
perimeter if the tack strip holding the carpet fails. In most cases, the carpet can
be re-stretched and re-attached. A ripple in the middle of the carpet can occur
after heavy furniture has been moved across a carpet that’s still wet from carpet
cleaning. A professional carpet installer can correct both of these issues.
C H A P T E R 8 - F LO O R I N G | C A R PE T & A R E A R U G S
HOW SHOULD I CLEAN MY CARPETS?
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C H A P T E R 8 - F LO O R I N G | C A R PE T & A R E A R U G S
WHY ARE THERE DARK STAINS AROUND MY HEATING REGISTERS AND THE
PERIMETER OF MY ROOM?
Filtration soiling may appear as dark or grayish lines on carpet adjacent to walls
or stairways, around vents and under doors. It’s caused by airflow over and through
the carpet that allows fine, airborne particles to settle on the carpet surface. This
type of soiling, while sometimes permanent, requires special treatments for effective
removal. Contact a carpet cleaning professional for assistance.
Frequent candle lighting, smoking, fireplace smoke or vehicle emissions from an
attached garage add considerable particles to the air. These dark particles can
stain as they settle on the carpet surface. Because these particles move through
a home’s heating system, staining is commonly found around heating registers.
The coverage you need.
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CHAPTER 9
ROOFING
• Asphalt Shingles
• Eavestroughs & Downspouts
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C H A P T E R 9 - RO O F I N G | A S PH A LT S H I N G L E S
ASPHALT SHINGLES
Your home’s roof should give you many years of service. Asphalt shingles are the
most common type of roofing material but alternatives such as tile, concrete,
wood, rubber and metal are becoming more popular.
Following heavy windstorms, homeowners are encouraged to check for loose,
broken or missing shingles. Builders are not responsible for repairing stormrelated damage. A damaged roof should be repaired as soon as possible to
prevent leakage into the interior of your home.
A DAMAGED ROOF SHOULD BE REPAIRED AS
SOON AS POSSIBLE TO PREVENT LEAKAGE INTO
THE INTERIOR OF YOUR HOME.
Roofs can also be damaged when items such as a satellite dish are installed.
Use care during these installations to avoid damaging the shingles and ensure
hold-down devices (e.g. screws) are properly sealed to prevent leaks. Asphalt
shingles are soft on warm days and can easily be damaged if you walk on them. If
you must be on the roof, it’s best to do so early in the morning when the shingles
are still cool to the touch.
Slight differences in colour are inherent to the manufacturing process of asphalt
shingles, even within the same factory run. This is unavoidable and does not
affect durability.
WHY ARE MY ASPHALT SHINGLE EDGES CURLED/CUPPED?
As shingles age, they will shrink and curl slightly. New shingles may curl or cup
if exposed to cool temperatures. The surface of a shingle cools when frost forms.
At the same time, the underside of the shingle receives passive heat from the
attic. This temperature difference can cause the shingle to lift or curl slightly.
Shingle age and type, attic ventilation, roof pitch, humidity, climate, colour, etc.
will determine the visibility of any lifting or curling. This movement will not
affect the performance of the shingles.
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WHY DO MY EAVESTROUGHS OVERFLOW DURING NORMAL RAIN CONDITIONS?
The volume of rain an eavestrough can handle is altered when the eavestrough
is clogged with obstructions such as leaves or surface particles from asphalt
shingles. Dented or bent downspouts will also slow the flow of water. Remove
debris from your eavestroughs each spring, so water can move efficiently from
the roof and away from your home’s foundation.
WHY IS ICE DAMMING ON THE ROOF? WHY DOES MY ROOF OR FLASHING LEAK?
Regions that experience snow with above freezing temperatures during the day
and below freezing temperatures at night are more prone to ice dams. An ice
dam forms when snow on a roof melts and runs down the roof towards the eaves.
Because the eave is cooler than other areas of a roof, the water will freeze at the
edge. As this ice accumulates, it will act as a dam, preventing water from flowing
off the roof and into the eavestroughs. This water will accumulate on the roof
and can move under the shingles, possibly causing leaks into the attic and even
into the interior of your home.
An ice dam can also occasionally form near a chimney or roof vent when there is
a heavy accumulation of snow. This may cause water to move under the flashing.
C H A P T E R 9 - RO O F I N G | E AV E S T RO U G H S & D OW N S P O U T S
EAVESTROUGHS & DOWNSPOUTS
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C H A P T E R 9 - RO O F I N G | E AV E S T RO U G H S & D OW N S P O U T S
To avoid this, do not allow snow to accumulate near flashed areas and roof eaves.
To reduce the likelihood of ice dams, clear snow off the roof, particularly at the
eaves and around attic, bathroom and kitchen vents. You can also remove ice
formations from the eaves and at the end of the valley formed when two roofs
join. Take care not to damage the roofing and use safe work practices.
Chronic ice damming may indicate a need for improved insulation in the attic.
Sometimes, insulation has been displaced, and you can simply return it to its
proper position. Insulation should be positioned up to the exterior perimeter
of the wall but should not interfere with the exchange of air in the attic and
the free flow of air to the soffits. A cardboard batten is usually installed to
maintain the necessary two-inch space between the top of the insulation and
the underside of the roof sheathing. If you add insulation to the attic, do not
block air circulation to the soffits. Attics require circulation to properly expel
moisture and heat.
Click here for more surface water management tips (including more
details about eavestroughs and downspouts).
The coverage you need.
The partner you trust.
CHAPTER 10
FIREPLACES
• Curing or ‘Burning In’ a New
Fireplace
• Natural Gas or Propane Fireplaces
• Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances
• Carbon Monoxide Detectors
• Smoke & Fire Detectors
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C H A P T E R 10 - F I R E PL AC E S | CU R I N G O R ‘ B U R N I N G I N’ A N E W F I R E PL AC E
Fireplaces generally operate on natural gas or solid fuel (wood, manufactured
logs, pellets, etc.).
CURING OR ‘BURNING IN’ A NEW FIREPLACE
When a new fireplace is lit for the first time, materials found on the external
surfaces, such as paint, sealants, lubricating oils and gasket adhesives, can
produce odours and a small amount of Carbon Monoxide (CO), a dangerous gas
that can cause asphyxiation. This is called ‘curing’ or ‘burning in,’ a process that
can take up to 24 hours of run time. During this curing, the fireplace should burn
for no less than five to six hours at a time with a high flame.
DURING CURING, THE FIREPLACE SHOULD BURN
FOR NO LESS THAN FIVE TO SIX HOURS AT A TIME
WITH A HIGH FLAME.
If the fireplace is equipped with a fan, do not run it during the curing period.
The fan cools the surfaces and will inhibit the curing process. Ensure your home
is well ventilated during the curing process. If your home has a CO detector, it
may detect CO and sound an alarm.
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Natural gas fireplaces have eclipsed the popularity of solid fuel-burning
appliances in most municipalities. Generally, gas fireplaces operate in much the
same manner as natural gas furnaces and should command an equal amount
of caution and operational awareness. Read your owner’s manual carefully.
Fireplaces and other open flame appliances should never be left unattended
when lit.
Most natural gas fireplaces pull combustion air from the outside through an inlet
vent. Do not obstruct this vent. Conventional gas fireplaces have their own air
intake and exhaust paths, so there is no damper to open and close as there is in
wood burning fireplaces.
After several years, it’s not uncommon for a sensor (called a thermocouple) to fail.
When the sensor fails, the fireplace will mysteriously shut down and extinguish
the pilot light. Because the thermocouple can be serviced without disturbing
the natural gas line, a homeowner can safely replace the sensor on his/her own.
If you are not comfortable making this repair, call a service technician.
C H A P T E R 10 - F I R E PL AC E S | N AT U R A L GA S O R PRO PA N E F I R E PL AC E S
NATURAL GAS OR PROPANE FIREPLACES
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C H A P T E R 10 - F I R E PL AC E S | SO L I D F U E L- B U R N I N G A PPL I A N C E S
SOLID FUEL-BURNING APPLIANCES
The efficiency of solid fuel-burning appliances has increased greatly since the
late 1990s. Today, most new appliances have positive closures on their doors to
eliminate the drafts that can move down the chimney and cool the room. Higher
quality models bring air directly to the firebox from the outside to ensure the
appliance does not draw air from the home.
Make sure the chimney flue is open to prevent generating a large amount of
smoke when you initially start a fire. You should also preheat the chimney. To do
so, build a small, hot fire with paper and small slivers of wood. You can also use
a hair dryer. You may want to open a window slightly to provide replacement air
to the room before lighting a fire.
MAKE SURE THE CHIMNEY FLUE IS OPEN TO
PREVENT GENERATING A LARGE AMOUNT OF
SMOKE WHEN YOU INITIALLY START A FIRE. YOU
SHOULD ALSO PREHEAT THE CHIMNEY.
As gas or solid fuel burns, it releases heat, moisture and combustion gases.
These gases include CO. Smouldering embers do not generate enough heat to
maintain the chimney draft and gases can accumulate in the firebox. Because
these gases are heavier than air, they can flow out of the firebox. To prevent this,
do not leave appliance doors open and do not close the chimney damper until
all ashes are cold to the touch. If any smoke or gas is being emitted, a closed
damper could cause gases to divert into the living space of your home with tragic
consequences. A CO detector should be placed near a wood burning appliance
in accordance with the Alberta Building Code and/or the manufacturer’s
recommendation. Smoke detectors are not the same as CO detectors.
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CO is a colourless, odourless gas. You can’t see, taste or smell it. CO is a
common by-product of the burning of natural gas, gasoline and solid fuels (wood,
pellets, etc.). Fireplaces that are properly installed, maintained and operated will
produce little CO. However, if anything disrupts the venting process (such as a
bird’s nest in a chimney) or restricts the oxygen to a gas burner, CO production
can quickly rise.
Gasoline engines produce CO, especially when a cold engine starts. CO can
accumulate if you start and idle your vehicle or gas mower in the garage. CO
can enter a home through connecting walls or doorways and quickly rise to
dangerous levels. Doors leading from the garage to your home should be
regularly checked to ensure they are properly sealed.
CHANGES TO THE 2006 ALBERTA BUILDING CODE
MADE IT MANDATORY FOR CO DETECTORS TO BE
PLACED IN ANY ROOM THAT SHARES A FLOOR,
WALL OR CEILING WITH A GARAGE.
C H A P T E R 10 - F I R E PL AC E S | C A R B O N M O N OX I D E D E T E C TO R S
CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS
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C H A P T E R 10 - F I R E PL AC E S | C A R B O N M O N OX I D E D E T E C TO R S
Changes to the 2006 Alberta Building Code made it mandatory for CO detectors
to be placed in any room that shares a floor, wall or ceiling with a garage. Rooms
with solid fuel-burning appliances must also have a CO detector.
Make sure you read the owner’s manual for your CO detector, so you know what
level of CO your model is capable of sensing. You should also know what your
CO detector alarm sounds like.
Before you install your detector:
•
Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before installing a
CO detector
•
Do not place the detector within five feet of household chemicals
•
Do not place your detector directly on top of or directly across
from, a fuel-burning appliance. These appliances will emit some
CO when initially lit.
Testing your detector is important:
•
If your CO detector is wired directly into your home’s electrical
system, you should test it monthly. For an added level of protection,
install a battery operated detector as well in case of a power failure
•
If your CO detector is battery operated, test the detector regularly.
Change the batteries every spring (along with any smoke detectors)
or more regularly if recommended by the manufacturer.
Click here for more information about CO and CO detectors.
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Smoke detectors are not the same as CO detectors. Smoke detectors are
required by code and are available as 120-volt, wired-in models and as nine-volt
battery models. Experts encourage homeowners to have both power options in
the home. The 120-volt detectors do not need a battery and battery-operated
models will protect your family in the event of a power outage.
• Test your smoke detectors monthly by pressing the ‘test’ button.
An American study found that when a home smoke detector fails,
it tends to fail totally as opposed to a creeping failure (e.g. loss of
sensitivity over time). Regular testing will find a faulty detector
quickly and ensure your family is protected
• Replace the batteries in your smoke detector as soon as it chirps
to warn you the battery is low. You can also schedule battery
replacements for the same day you change your clocks from
daylight savings time to standard time in the fall
• Do not borrow a battery from a smoke detector
• Do not disable smoke detectors—even temporarily. If your smoke
detector is sounding ‘nuisance alarms,’ try relocating it farther from
kitchens or bathrooms where cooking fumes and steam can trigger
an alarm
• Vacuum or dust your smoke detectors regularly (follow
manufacturer’s instructions)
• Consider installing smoke detectors with ‘long-life’ batteries
• Do not paint a smoke detector
• Smoke detectors have a lifespan and better technology is always
coming onto the market. Consider replacing smoke detectors in
your home every 10 years or less.
C H A P T E R 10 - F I R E PL AC E S | S M O K E & F I R E D E T E C TO R S
SMOKE & FIRE DETECTORS
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CHAPTER 11
PLUMBING
• Private Sewage Treatment
Systems
• Faucets
• Plumbing Drains
• Hot Water Tank
• Plumbing Supply Lines
• Gas Appliance Safety
• Gravity Flow Toilets
• Water Softeners
• Pressure-Assisted Toilets
• Sinks, Toilets, Tubs & Showers
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C H A P T E R 11 - PLU M B I N G | PR I VAT E S E WAG E T R E ATM E N T SYS T E M S
The plumbing system in a home consists of plastic drain piping, copper or
plastic water delivery piping and the fixtures that connect to these piping
systems (such as toilets, bathtubs and faucets). If you are finishing a basement,
take note of the plumbing routes and make sure you leave access to meters,
valves, drains and cleanouts.
Many plumbing components such as faucets and toilets are mechanical devices
and as such require periodic maintenance or the replacement of parts.
PRIVATE SEWAGE TREATMENT SYSTEMS
Outside of municipalities, the home’s drainage system may carry sewage to a
private, on-site sewage treatment system. If you have such a system, you must
learn how to use it and maintain it properly. In Alberta, the “Private Sewage
Systems Standard of Practice” requires installers to give system owners a
manual. Make sure you receive this manual from your builder and are familiar
with how to operate the system. Faulty systems create health hazards and
contaminate the environment. A private sewage treatment system may require
regular service by a professional.
Most systems are located some distance from the home and may have restrictions
on what is placed or grown above or around them. Also, keep heavy construction
equipment away from the septic tank and disposal system and keep all traffic off
the system during the winter months.
KEEP HEAVY CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT AWAY
FROM THE SEPTIC TANK AND DISPOSAL SYSTEM
AND KEEP ALL TRAFFIC OFF THE SYSTEM DURING
THE WINTER MONTHS.
Certain chemicals and products can alter the balance of bacteria and microbes
that breakdown waste and should not enter your sewage treatment system.
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Virtually all draining fixtures feature a water-filled ‘P’ trap. This trap holds a few
cups of water to prevent sewer gases from entering your home. If a sink, bathtub
or floor drain has not been used for an extended time, the water in the trap can
evaporate. To re-establish a seal and keep sewer gases from entering your home,
simply pour a few cups of water down the drain.
A blocked drain is the most common plumbing issue and can lead to a sewage
back-up. If you experience a back-up from the main sewer line in the basement
during a heavy rain, contact your builder, your insurer and your municipality.
The issue may involve the municipal sewage system and will be beyond the
control of your builder.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY SEWERS, DRAINS OR FIXTURES ARE BLOCKED?
To avoid the majority of drain blockage problems, do not pour fat, oil, wax, grease
or any type of sediments (e.g. egg shells) into your home’s plumbing system.
Also, do not dispose of flammable, noxious or dangerous materials through the
plumbing system.
When a plumbing trap is blocked, the trap can usually be separated from the
plumbing and the obstruction removed. Otherwise, your home’s plumbing will
include several cleanouts. Specific plumbing tools can use these cleanouts to
remove a blockage.
Extreme caution should be used if acid or corrosive drain cleaners have
been poured into the plumbing system. Tell your plumber if you have
utilized any chemical drain cleaners because these cleaners can cause
chemical burns on exposed skin.
C H A P T E R 11 - PLU M B I N G | PLU M B I N G D R A I N S
PLUMBING DRAINS
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C H A P T E R 11 - PLU M B I N G | PLU M B I N G S U PPLY L I N E S
PLUMBING SUPPLY LINES
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY WATER PIPES ARE LEAKING OR HAVE FROZEN AND BURST?
HOW DO I PREVENT THIS FROM HAPPENING AGAIN?
If a leak is detected in a water supply line, the water supply to the home or
affected area should be turned off immediately, and your builder and insurer
should be contacted.
When colder weather approaches, disconnect exterior hoses, close exterior
valves and allow the line to the exterior hose bibs to drain. ‘Frost-free’ lines will
not protect outside water supply lines from freezing if the exterior hoses have
not been disconnected from the threaded connection.
WHEN
COLDER
WEATHER
APPROACHES,
DISCONNECT EXTERIOR HOSES, CLOSE EXTERIOR
VALVES AND ALLOW THE LINE TO THE EXTERIOR
HOSE BIBS TO DRAIN.
See page 17 for more information about preparing outside water supply lines
for winter.
WHY IS THERE CONDENSATION ON MY WATER SUPPLY LINES AND TOILETS?
When pipes or toilet tanks are cooled by the movement of cold water into or
through them—and sufficient humidity is present—moisture in the air can condense
on the cold surface of the piping or toilet tank. This is similar to the condensation
that occurs on a cold glass of water on a humid summer day. Toilet condensation
is most common after showers or baths and just after the toilet tank has filled. To
remove the condensation, ventilate the area by opening a window or turning on the
bathroom fan to remove excess humidity from the room.
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There are several common reasons why water supply to a toilet or sink may
seem inadequate. Sometimes, shut-off valves on the water lines that feed a sink
or toilet may be partially closed, limiting the volume of water coming through
the line. These valves are not designed to meter water flow and can affect the
performance of fixtures and toilets if not fully open.
Another reason water supply may seem limited is the common use of faucet
aerators in new homes to restrict water flow. This conserves water and is not
a defect. However, water flow can be inappropriately reduced if an aerator
becomes clogged by minerals in the water that accumulate over time. To improve
flow, replace the aerator or clean it.
ANOTHER REASON WATER SUPPLY MAY SEEM
LIMITED IS THE COMMON USE OF FAUCET
AERATORS IN NEW HOMES TO RESTRICT
WATER FLOW.
Within a city or town, water pressure is regulated by the municipality and is not
usually adjusted. Variations may occur during peak periods of demand.
On private water systems (e.g. wells, cisterns), a pressure regulator valve is
usually located on the outlet of the pressure tank. This valve should be set
between 40 and 80 pounds per square inch (PSI) of water pressure.
GRAVITY FLOW TOILETS
When the flush lever is pressed on a gravity flow toilet, water flows out through
the flush valve, into the toilet bowl and through the trap, taking waste with it.
The toilet’s flush lever is connected to a chain or wire that lifts a flapper or a tank
ball that controls the flow of water from the tank to the bowl. Water moving into
the bowl from the tank acts like a siphon, pulling waste and water from the bowl
into the drain line.
C H A P T E R 11 - PLU M B I N G | PLU M B I N G S U PPLY L I N E S & G R AV I T Y F LOW TO I L E T S
WHY DOES IT FEEL LIKE MY WATER SUPPLY IS INADEQUATE?
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C H A P T E R 11 - PLU M B I N G | PR E S S U R E - A S S I S T E D TO I L E T S
PRESSURE-ASSISTED TOILETS
These toilets use water coming into the tank to compress air in a chamber inside
the tank. The flush releases this air, pushing the water into the trap which starts
the siphoning action.
WHY DOES MY TOILET NEED MORE THAN ONE FLUSH TO EMPTY THE BOWL?
Low-volume toilets, widely installed in new homes today, use less water to flush
than older models. However, they are unable to handle the same amount of
waste as an older model and may require more water—a second flush—to handle
a greater load.
Gravity toilets regulate the amount of water released from the tank with a flush
handle. Holding the flush handle down will allow more water into the bowl from
the tank. Ensure the tank has completely filled before flushing a second time.
The length of the chain or the location of the float on the wire connected to the
flush valve can often be adjusted to keep the flapper valve open for longer. This
allows more water to flow into the bowl with each flush.
With power-assisted toilets, avoid pushing the flush button before the tank has
completely filled. Otherwise, the tank may not refill with enough water for the
next flush. To correct this, shut off the water supply to the toilet, drain the tank
completely and turn the water back on.
WITH POWER-ASSISTED TOILETS, AVOID PUSHING THE
FLUSH BUTTON BEFORE THE TANK HAS COMPLETELY
FILLED. OTHERWISE, THE TANK MAY NOT REFILL WITH
ENOUGH WATER FOR THE NEXT FLUSH.
Over time, mineral and bacteria deposits may also reduce the performance of
a toilet. Regular use of a toilet cleaner or vinegar may slow these deposits from
forming. A toilet usually drains poorly because of drain blockages rather than a
problem with the toilet itself.
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A running toilet is a common plumbing complaint. In a gravity flow toilet, this
usually means the flapper seal is worn and should be replaced. New flapper
seals are available at most hardware stores. Make sure you choose the right style
for your toilet.
If a pressure-assisted toilet is running between flushes, it may mean a poorly
adjusted flush button is keeping the flush-valve cartridge open. The button
can be re-adjusted but in some cases you may have to replace the pressure
regulating valve.
WHY DO I SMELL A SEWER GAS SMELL IN MY HOME?
A recurring sewer gas smell could indicate the wax seal between the base of the
drain and the underside of the toilet has failed. Wax seals are available at any
hardware store but do require some plumbing knowledge to install.
If you are adding a heated floor to your bathroom, do not run heating lines or
cables within one foot of the wax seal. The heat could liquefy the seal and cause
sewer gases to escape.
C H A P T E R 11 - PLU M B I N G | PR E S S U R E - A S S I S T E D TO I L E T S
WHY DOES MY TOILET RUN CONTINUOUSLY?
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C H A P T E R 11 - PLU M B I N G | FAU C E T S
FAUCETS
The smooth and glossy surfaces on plumbing fixtures are beautiful and durable
but they are not indestructible. Harsh, abrasive cleaners will, in time, wear
through the surface, making the finish dull and porous. Steel pads and strong
cleaners can also do irreparable damage. Use only mild, non-abrasive cleaners.
Most new faucets use cartridge assemblies. Cartridges utilize different
mechanisms to reduce dripping faucets and eliminate routine maintenance.
Repairs to these cartridges should only be attempted, if you have the necessary
tools, mechanical inclination and the patience to complete the job.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY FAUCET STARTS LEAKING?
Faucets or showerheads often develop leaks over time from wear or mineral
deposits. If this occurs, contact the manufacturer to find out if the fixture can
be cleaned or if a replacement part or cartridge exists for your particular brand
and model.
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Bathroom and kitchen sinks can be made from ceramic, glass, metal, enamelled
metal, stone composite or real stone. Tubs and showers can be made from
enamel over steel, moulded acrylic, fibreglass or from an acrylic base with tile
on the surrounding walls. See page 42 for information on tile maintenance.
WHAT DO I DO IF THERE ARE CRACKS, CHIPS OR SCRATCHES ON MY BATHROOM
FIXTURES?
The likelihood of scratches, chips, stains and fading of bathroom fixtures
depends on the material used to make the fixtures. Always follow the
manufacturer’s cleaning and maintenance recommendations and never use
abrasive cleaners. Also, when selecting accessories such as a soap dispenser,
recognize that glass or ceramic items falling onto a bathroom fixture will
likely chip or dent the fixture.
ALWAYS FOLLOW THE MANUFACTURER’S
CLEANING AND MAINTENANCE RECOMMENDATIONS AND NEVER USE ABRASIVE CLEANERS.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY BATHTUB/SHOWER ENCLOSURE DOOR IS LEAKING?
Sealants are used in many areas near a bathtub or shower. Sealant may be used
between the tub and the tile, where the bathtub and tile surround meet and to
seal the doorframe of a tub or shower stall. Rubber or vinyl seals are used where
swinging or sliding doors come in contact with the doorframe.
Over time, with cleaning and movement, seals and sealants may need replacing.
To repair, you must remove the old sealant, clean the substrate and add new,
mildew-resistant sealant. To replace a door seal, contact your tub/shower
manufacturer to confirm the correct type and size of seal needed.
C H A P T E R 11 - PLU M B I N G | S I N K S , TO I L E T S , T U B S & S H OW E R S
SINKS, TOILETS, TUBS & SHOWERS
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C H A P T E R 11 - PLU M B I N G | H OT WAT E R TA N K
HOT WATER TANK
A storage gas-fired water heater is the most common type of appliance used to
heat water in Alberta homes. These water heaters typically have a burner at the
base and a glass or metal-lined tank. Controls at the base allow you to adjust the
temperature and shut down or start up your tank. Most tanks have pilot lights (a
small flame that burns continuously) that light the burner when the tank calls for
heat. Some tanks have an electronic ignition.
To select a temperature, choose the lowest temperature setting on the thermostat
that will still provide you with an adequate supply of hot water. Consider turning
the tank thermostat down to the lowest setting before going on holidays.
Most electric tanks have a top and bottom element. Usually the reset buttons
and adjustable temperature settings can be found under the cover plate. When
making adjustments, do not make contact with the adjacent wire ends on terminals
located near the temperature setting screw. Doing so could cause electric shock. If
your tank stops working, check the fuse or breaker panel before calling a plumber
or an electrician.
Sediment that accumulates at the bottom of the tank (especially with immersion-type
elements) can cause the heaters to operate longer than necessary. This increases your
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manufacturer’s directions.
Every hot water storage tank is equipped with a pressure relief valve at the top of the
tank. This is a safety device designed to open and relieve pressure should the water
pressure in the tank exceed its rated working pressure. Do not tamper with this valve.
EVEN SLIGHTLY LOWER HOT WATER SETTINGS
CAN PREVENT TRAGIC BURN ACCIDENTS.
Each year, many children and seniors are scalded by hot tap water. Even slightly
lower hot water settings can prevent tragic burn accidents.
GAS APPLIANCE SAFETY
Inspect your home for uncapped gas lines. Occasionally, gas appliances are
removed without proper termination of old lines. Any steel line not connected
to an appliance should end with a valve and a black steel cap. Only a qualified
gasfitter should install, repair or remove natural gas appliances. Gas appliances
such as your furnace, water heater, stove, fireplace, etc. should be checked
annually by a qualified professional.
C H A P T E R 11 - PLU M B I N G | GA S A PPL I A N C E SA F E T Y
energy consumption. The tank should be flushed regularly in accordance with the
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C H A P T E R 11 - PLU M B I N G | WAT E R SO F T E N E R S
IF YOU DETECT A GAS ODOUR, IMMEDIATELY
VACATE THE PREMISES WITHOUT ACTIVATING
ANY ELECTRICAL SWITCHES
If you detect a gas odour, immediately vacate the premises without activating
any electrical switches (e.g. light switch) and leave the door open behind you.
Immediately call your natural gas supplier for assistance.
WATER SOFTENERS
Water softeners improve the quality of water by removing excessive minerals
(usually calcium and magnesium). Mineral-laden water is often referred to as
‘hard water.’
SOAPS
AND
DETERGENTS
LOSE
SOME
EFFECTIVENESS IN HARD WATER. INSTEAD OF
DISSOLVING COMPLETELY, SOAP COMBINES
WITH THE MINERALS IN THE WATER TO FORM A
COAGULATED SOAP CURD.
Soaps and detergents lose some effectiveness in hard water. Instead of dissolving
completely, soap combines with the minerals in the water to form a coagulated
soap curd. Also, because less soap dissolves in the water, you will need to use
more soap to clean. Hard water also reduces the efficiency of hot water tanks,
toilets, humidifiers, dishwashers and virtually any devise or appliance that uses
water. If your home has hard water, you will need to follow a de-scaling regime.
A water softener has two tanks—a mineral tank (where the water softening
actually takes place) and a brine or salt tank (that flushes and cleans the mineral
tank). In some systems the two tanks are placed in one enclosure.
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backwashing, recharging and rinsing. The regeneration cycle can take several
hours and homeowners usually schedule this to happen at night when water
demand is low.
Before selecting the size of a water softener, consider how hard your water is
and how much water you consume on a daily basis. A unit that is too small will
not soften the water enough and a unit that is too large will cause unnecessary
regeneration, which wastes salt and water. Your owner’s manual will provide you
with suggested settings for optimal results.
C H A P T E R 11 - PLU M B I N G | WAT E R SO F T E N E R S
Water softeners cycle/regenerate once every three or four days with a cycle of
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CHAPTER 12
ELECTRICAL
•
Circuit Breakers
• Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters
• Ground Fault Interrupters
• Appliances
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C H A P T E R 12 - E L E C T R I C A L | C I RCU I T B R E A K E R S
The heart of your electrical system is the main electrical panel that contains an
array of circuit breakers. Circuit breakers protect the wiring in your home. Arc
Fault Circuit Interrupters prevent fires caused by loose or broken wires. Ground
Fault Interrupters protect people from electric shock.
CIRCUIT BREAKERS
Circuit breakers are the modern day version of the fuse. Circuit breakers
automatically turn off the flow of electricity at the electrical panel when too
much current is drawn through them. Circuit breakers operate either by reacting
to excessive heat build-up (via a bimetal strip) or by electromagnets that sense
a dramatic surge in power that could cause a short circuit. In either case, once
the electrical fault is corrected, the breaker can be reset and power restored.
You should be familiar with the electrical panel and know which breaker
controls each electrical area of your home. Most electrical panels feature a chart
for the electrician who installed the system to record where each breaker has
been assigned (e.g. Breaker #1 – Kitchen). Keep a flashlight near the electrical
panel, so you can read this chart during a power failure.
YOU SHOULD BE FAMILIAR WITH THE ELECTRICAL
PANEL AND KNOW WHICH BREAKER CONTROLS
EACH ELECTRICAL AREA OF YOUR HOME.
Usually, electrical problems are the fault of an electrical appliance, and your
home’s electrical system is simply responding to a potential circuit overload by
shutting off the electrical power. Frequent tripping of the circuit breakers may
indicate the circuit’s overloaded or a breaker is faulty. Some appliances have
special power requirements and may draw more electricity than the average
appliance. If the power outage is the result of a short circuit, as opposed to an
appliance overload, the panel should be repaired by an electrician.
Many fires occur each year from misuse of electrical equipment. Contact an
electrician or a recognized appliance service agent to make these repairs.
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Traditional circuit breakers are designed to protect just the wires behind the
walls and the switches and outlets they are connected to. Circuit breakers will
trip when a massive amount of electricity passes through the circuit and causes
heat to build-up within the breaker.
Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCI) are designed to detect electrical arcs caused
by broken or cut wires. Arcs occur in electrical cords when the insulation becomes
brittle or cracks. Loose wire connections on switches and outlets and wires that
have been nicked by nails or pinched by fasteners can also cause arcs.
BEDROOMS ARE MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO THESE
TYPES OF ELECTRICAL PROBLEMS BECAUSE OF
THE COMMON USE OF EXTENSION CORDS AND
INCONSISTENT POWER DEMAND.
Bedrooms are more susceptible to these types of electrical problems because
of the common use of extension cords and inconsistent power demand (use lots
of power in the morning when you’re getting ready and then require little power
during the day). To address this, the Alberta Electrical Code mandates the use
of AFCI’s in bedroom circuits. These breakers will replace the normal circuit
breakers in your electrical panel. If the AFCI breaker trips, first check any
extension cords for breakage and confirm they’re plugged in and then consult
your builder and/or an electrician before resetting the AFCI breaker.
C H A P T E R 12 - E L E C T R I C A L | A RC FAU LT C I RCU I T I N T E R R U P T E R S
ARC FAULT CIRCUIT INTERRUPTERS
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C H A P T E R 12 - E L E C T R I C A L | G RO U N D FAU LT I N T E R R U P T E R S
GROUND FAULT INTERRUPTERS
A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFI) protects people from electric shock.
You can recognize a GFI outlet by the ‘Test’ and ‘Reset’ buttons located between
the plug receptacles of the outlet. One GFI can be wired to protect several
electrical outlets on the same circuit.
GFI’s are installed wherever there is the potential for contact between a person,
an electrical appliance and water. For example, GFIs would be located on
outlets placed near swimming pools, kitchen sinks, bathrooms or exterior plugs.
A GFI-protection circuit can also be integrated into a breaker at the main
electrical panel. A GFI breaker will have a separate ground wire connection.
A reset button sets it apart from regular circuit breakers. A GFI breaker serves
a dual purpose. Not only will this breaker shut off electricity in the event of a
‘ground-fault’ but it will also trip when a short circuit or an overload occurs,
protecting anything downstream (outlets, lamps, heaters, etc.) connected to the
GFI breaker.
A GFI should be tested once a month. To test, plug a light into the outlet with
the light on and push the ‘Test’ button. The power should cut immediately and
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button. Power should be immediately restored.
WHY DOES MY GFI TRIP? WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN IT TRIPS?
A GFI circuit senses the difference between electrical current entering an
appliance and electrical current exiting an appliance. If the current exiting the
appliance is different from the current that entered the appliance, the GFI will
identify the change in current as a power ‘leak’ from the appliance—a leak that
is probably going through a person’s body. The GFI will shut down the flow of
electrical current in a fraction of a second.
If you have lost power at a regular-looking outlet, it may be due to a tripped
GFI outlet further up the circuit line. To confirm this, check if the cord plugged
into the outlet works if plugged into another outlet in the home. If they do, then
check the GFI outlet in the ensuite bathroom to see if it has tripped. If it hasn’t
tripped, check the breaker itself on the electrical panel. You can also check
that electrical appliances plugged into a GFI outlet, or appliances on a circuit
protected by a GFI circuit breaker, are working.
If you have reoccurring problems, contact the electrical contractor who wired
the home.
APPLIANCES
Before you move in, your builder should ensure all appliances included with
the home are in working order. Electrical appliances come with manuals and
warranty papers. Review these documents carefully, particularly the operating/
maintenance instructions. You should also file warranty cards with the appliance
manufacturers, so you are informed of any recalls. Local service technicians can
help if you encounter any operational problems or have questions regarding an
appliance.
C H A P T E R 12 - E L E C T R I C A L | G RO U N D FAU LT I N T E R R U P T E R S
the ‘Reset’ button should pop out. To reset the circuit, simply push the ‘Reset’
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C H A P T E R 12 - E L E C T R I C A L | G RO U N D FAU LT I N T E R R U P T E R S
ELECTRICAL APPLIANCES COME WITH MANUALS
AND WARRANTY PAPERS. REVIEW THESE
DOCUMENTS CAREFULLY, PARTICULARLY THE
OPERATING/MAINTENANCE INSTRUCTIONS.
Placing all your manuals in a binder is a great way to keep information together
and will be a great resource for a buyer should you ever sell your home.
The coverage you need.
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CHAPTER 13
INTERIOR CLIMATE CONTROL
• Heating/Cooling
• Range Hoods
• Air Leakage
• Humidifiers
• Ventilation
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C H A P T E R 13 - I N T E R I O R C L I M AT E CO N T RO L | H E AT I N G/CO O L I N G
Interior climate control refers to the management of the heating, cooling,
ventilation and humidity required to keep your home comfortable.
HEATING/COOLING
Today’s heating and cooling systems are reliable and require little maintenance.
Most heating systems are forced air systems that heat the air and distribute it
throughout a home with a furnace and a ducting system.
In some cases, a hydronic heating system is used. With this system, water is
heated and circulated to either a radiator placed in forced-air ducting to
radiators located on walls or through water piping placed in or under the floors.
Cooling systems work like a refrigerator. Cold liquid is circulated through pipes.
The pipes become cool and air is blown across them. This air also becomes cool
and is then distributed through your home, usually through the same ducting
that supplies heat.
WHY DOES MY HEATING OR COOLING SYSTEM FEEL INADEQUATE?
When the heating/cooling system of your home was selected, the rated capacity
was checked to ensure your home could be heated or cooled to a comfortable
temperature. This calculation takes the climatic conditions of your region into
account. It’s rare that a system is not sized correctly for a home. An obstruction
in the vent or an imbalance of the heat flow from the heat registers throughout
your home are more common causes of inadequate heating or cooling.
To check for obstructions, remove the floor register and look down the throat of
the duct with a flashlight. Remove anything that may obstruct air flow. Caution:
Sheet metal screws can protrude from the joints in the ductwork. Use gloves
when reaching into the duct.
IF AN AREA OF YOUR HOME IS TOO COOL OR
TOO WARM, YOU CAN ADJUST THE DAMPERS TO
REDUCE OR INCREASE AIRFLOW INTO THE AREA.
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too warm, you can adjust the dampers to reduce or increase airflow into the area.
This is known as balancing your system and is especially important for registers
located near your home’s thermostat.
A dirty or plugged air filter can also limit air flow from the furnace to the ducts.
Inspect and clean or replace the furnace air filter at the beginning of the heating
season and on a regular basis throughout the winter.
Dirt or debris on the heat exchanger for the cooling unit can also limit the efficiency of
a cooling system. The manual for your cooling system will provide cleaning instructions.
HOW CAN I STOP MY CEILING-MOUNTED FAN FROM VIBRATING AND CAN I MAKE
IT OPERATE MORE QUIETLY?
• Ensure the blades have not come loose from the body of the fan. If
they are loose, tighten the connection between the blades and the
fan body
• Ensure the blades are not bent or cracked. If a blade is damaged,
contact the manufacturer for a replacement
• Remove any debris (e.g. dust) from the fan. Debris on the blades can
cause the fan to become unbalanced over time
• Ensure the fan is securely anchored to eliminate wobbles and
vibration. The screws that secure the ceiling fan box to the ceiling must
be snug. To tighten these screws, you may have to remove the trim
around the electrical box. Caution: Ensure the electrical breaker that
supplies power to the fan is turned off before the trim is removed.
C H A P T E R 13 - I N T E R I O R C L I M AT E CO N T RO L | H E AT I N G/CO O L I N G
Each heat register in your home has a damper. If an area of your home is too cool or
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C H A P T E R 13 - I N T E R I O R C L I M AT E CO N T RO L | A I R L E A K AG E
WHY DOES IT FEEL LIKE THE TEMPERATURE IS DIFFERENT FROM ONE ROOM TO THE NEXT?
Uniformly heating or cooling a home throughout the year is a challenge because
of the great variation in day, night and seasonal temperatures. The balance of
heat in a home can also be affected by the number or size of windows in a room,
the amount of sunlight that comes through the windows and the number of
exterior walls in a room. For example, rooms situated over unheated areas such
as a garage or an exterior cantilever are often cooler.
In most cases, a central furnace heats the home with a shared set of ductwork
and relies on one thermostat, centrally located in the home, to sense when
heat is needed. This general heating method may provide too much heat or
not enough heat for a room. Windows and services (e.g. light switches) create
openings through the walls and ceiling, providing paths for air movement
between the interior and exterior of the home. Drapes and furnishings can also
influence the heat balance in a room.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY CONDENSATE LINE IS BLOCKED?
Some furnaces have the air conditioning coil placed in the same cabinet as the
furnace. When an air conditioning unit is on, water present in the air condenses
on the coils and runs off. This water is collected and sent to a floor drain near
the unit through a metal or plastic drain line. Dirt, dust and the occasional ice
crystal can plug this drain line. Inspect and clean the drain on a regular basis.
AIR LEAKAGE
HOW DO I MAINTAIN MY WEATHERSTRIPPING?
Weatherstripping provides a flexible seal around doors, windows and other
openings to block unwanted air from moving in or out of your home. Doors also
have weatherstripping along their top and sides and a ‘sweep’ along the bottom
edge. Sweeps can be adjusted to narrow the clearances and eliminate drafts
from the bottoms of doors. Weatherstripping should not be painted.
Drafts emanating from electrical boxes on exterior walls can be reduced by
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foams can reduce drafts around pipes and flues.
WHAT CAN I DO TO STOP AIR FROM COMING IN AROUND WINDOWS AND
EXTERIOR DOORS?
Weatherstripping will eventually break down and should be checked each fall
and replaced if necessary.
Before the onset of cold weather, it’s a good idea to make sure windows that
open are functioning well (can close tightly). Debris in a window track for
example, can prevent a window from fully closing, causing a significant source
of air leakage.
Windows that are properly fitted, glazed and sealed will still lose heat. A doubleglazed window typically has only 10 per cent of the R-value (insulation value) of
the same size section of an insulated wall.
AIR LEAKAGE, UNDER AVERAGE WIND/WEATHER
CONDITIONS, AND WHEN WINDOWS/DOORS
ARE PROPERLY CLOSED, IS RARELY THE SOURCE
OF A DRAFT.
Air leakage, under average wind/weather conditions, and when windows/doors
are properly closed, is rarely the source of a draft. A more likely cause of a draft
at a window or door is air movement along and across the interior face of the
window or door.
When warm air from the room comes in contact with the cooler surface of a
window, the air cools, becomes denser and moves down towards the bottom of
the window. More warm air moves into the void left by the cooling air and the
cycle repeats. This downward movement of air is often mistaken for air leakage.
To prevent this cycle, warm the surface of the window by ensuring a heat duct
is located underneath it. Do not block or divert heat from these heat registers.
C H A P T E R 13 - I N T E R I O R C L I M AT E CO N T RO L | A I R L E A K AG E
placing a piece of foam under the switch or outlet cover. Caulk and expanding
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C H A P T E R 13 - I N T E R I O R C L I M AT E CO N T RO L | V E N T I L AT I O N
VENTILATION
Ventilation in the home serves three purposes. The first purpose is to ensure fresh
air enters the home. The second purpose is to remove odours, excess humidity
and pollutants from the air in the home. The third purpose is to balance air
being exhausted out of the home by drawing an equal amount of clean air into
the home. This balance ensures moisture generated in the home is not forced
into the walls or that gases moving out of exhaust vents or chimneys are not
pulled back into the home. Attic ventilation is separate from home ventilation.
Windows are the simplest ventilation system in a home. For example, windows
near a source of moisture, such as a bathroom, can open to vent out excess
moisture and odours. This, however, does not work well in the winter as windows
tend to ice over. With a forced-air heating system (furnace with ducting), fresh
air is brought into the home from an intake vent (located near the ground at one
side of the home) every time the furnace fan runs.
Kitchen and bath fans draw humidity and odours from cooking and bathing out
of the home before the vapour can circulate. In some cases, the furnace fan
and one or more of the exhaust fans are interconnected. This is an attempt to
balance air coming into the home with air being exhausted out of the home.
Remember, exhaust fans are only effective when they are switched on.
Exhaust fans, and exhaust fan ventilation systems for the furnace, require little
maintenance. To keep your ventilation systems operating efficiently, clean or
replace filters as necessary and keep outdoor intake vents clear of obstructions.
Some new homes have whole-home balanced ventilation systems to ensure a
balanced intake and exhaust of air, airborne pollutants and moisture. These
are usually box-like units which contain filters, a heat exchanger, a motor and
supply and exhaust ducting. Balanced ventilation systems warm incoming air
with some of the heat that would otherwise be lost to exhaust air, increasing a
home’s efficiency.
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Kitchen range hoods are an important part of your home’s ventilation system.
They remove odours and improve indoor air quality. Cooking also generates
significant airborne moisture which can cause window condensation and mould.
A range hood helps draw this moisture out of the home.
Filters in the throat of the hood must be kept clean to keep your fan running
efficiently and quietly. Some range hood fans are interconnected with the
operation of the furnace fan. To ensure this feature continues to work, you
must keep the sensor located in the throat of the hood clean. Maintenance
or replacement of filters should be in accordance with the manufacturer’s
recommendations. Most kitchen exhaust fans have sealed bearings and do not
require lubrication.
C H A P T E R 13 - I N T E R I O R C L I M AT E CO N T RO L | R A N G E H O O D S
RANGE HOODS
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C H A P T E R 13 - I N T E R I O R C L I M AT E CO N T RO L | H U M I D I F I E R S
HOW DO I MAINTAIN MY KITCHEN/BATH FANS AND CAN I STOP COLD AIR
INFILTRATION FROM THESE VENTS?
Ventilation fans are indirectly open to outside air. They contain a damper to limit
the back-flow of cold air. The damper is balanced to allow exhaust air to escape
freely and fall back to a closed position when the fan is turned off. By design, they
are not completely effective at eliminating cold air infiltration. During gusty winds,
the damper may flutter as it adjusts to fluctuating air pressure. This is normal.
EXHAUST FANS WILL ACCUMULATE DUST AND
AIRBORNE DEBRIS OVER TIME THAT CAN IMPAIR
FAN EFFICIENCY, OBSTRUCT THE DAMPER AND
CREATE EXCESS NOISE.
Exhaust fans will accumulate dust and airborne debris over time that can
impair fan efficiency, obstruct the damper and create excess noise. The fan is
connected to ductwork that ends with a screen at an outside vent hood. Clean
the fan housing and the screen of the hood vent regularly.
HUMIDIFIERS
Due to our dry winter weather, we use humidifiers to maintain our health and
the appearance of hardwood floors. Most homes have a drum-type or drip-type
humidifier mounted on the side of the furnace. It usually has an automatic water
feed from a small line connected to a nearby water line.
Over time, the repeated evaporation of water will leave mineral deposits in
the humidifier. Dust circulating through the furnace will also deposit in the
humidifier. This debris can create a breeding ground for various types of mould
and bacteria so it’s important to clean the humidifier on a monthly basis. A
number of anti-scale products can simplify the cleaning process. If the unit has
a float valve, make sure it opens and shuts down the flow of water to maintain
the desired water level (unit will have a water line indicator).
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During the spring and fall, relative humidity levels can be set around 40 per cent but
should be adjusted to 20 per cent during the coldest winter days. If ice or excessive
condensation appears on your windows, reduce the humidity even more.
C H A P T E R 13 - I N T E R I O R C L I M AT E CO N T RO L | H U M I D I F I E R S
DURING THE SPRING AND FALL, RELATIVE
HUMIDITY LEVELS CAN BE SET AROUND 40 PER
CENT BUT SHOULD BE ADJUSTED TO 20 PER CENT
DURING THE COLDEST WINTER DAYS.
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SUGGESTED HOME
MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE
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S U G G E S T E D H O M E M A I N T E N A N C E SC H E D U L E | JA N UA RY, F E B R UA RY, M A RC H
JANUARY
• Clean humidifier
• Check CO and smoke detector batteries and test
• Clean range hood filters
• Apply grout sealer to all grout in home (every other year)
• Seal all granite countertops
FEBRUARY
• Check roof for ice dams
• Check CO and smoke detector batteries and test
• Clean range hood filters
• Pour bucket of water into floor drain in basement
MARCH
• Clean humidifier
• Check sump pump (if installed)
• Check CO and smoke detector batteries and test
• Clean range hood filters
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• Check eavestroughs and downspouts
• Inspect basement for water issues
• Inspect roof shingles
• Check for soil settlement at foundation
• Inspect driveways and walkways for cracking
• Clean filters on central ventilation systems (HRVs)
• Clean intake vent screens
• Check CO and smoke detector batteries and test
• Clean range hood filters
• Change humidity level on humidifier to around 40 per cent when
warmer weather arrives. (Each home is different – adjust accordingly)
MAY
• Clean humidifier
• Inspect fences and decks
• Check caulking and weatherstripping
• Check windows and screens
• Check adjustable steel posts in the basement
• Inspect private sewage system (if applicable)
• Check CO and smoke detector batteries and test
• Clean range hood filters
S U G G E S T E D H O M E M A I N T E N A N C E SC H E D U L E | A PR I L , M AY
APRIL
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S U G G E S T E D H O M E M A I N T E N A N C E SC H E D U L E | J U N E , J U LY, AU G U S T
JUNE
• Inspect air conditioning system (if applicable)
• Fertilize the lawn
• Clean intake vent screens
• Check CO and smoke detector batteries and test
• Clean range hood filters
• Check for soil settlement at the foundation
• Seal all granite countertops (2x/year)
JULY
• Clean intake vent screens
• Inspect condensate line of air conditioner
• Check CO and smoke detector batteries and test
• Clean range hood filters
AUGUST
• Clean intake vent screens
• Check sealants and caulking
• Check CO and smoke detector batteries and test
• Clean range hood filters
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• Clean solid fuel fireplace chimney
• Check door and window weatherstripping
• Clean and service humidifier
• Drain exterior water lines
• Drain sediment on hot water tank
• Fertilize lawn
• Winterize landscaping
• Check CO and smoke detector batteries and test
• Clean range hood filters
• Check for soil settlement at the foundation
OCTOBER
• Water trees and shrubs
• Inspect eavestroughs and downspouts
• Check adjustable steel posts in the basement
• Inspect floor drains
• Check furnace and ventilation system filters
• Check CO and smoke detector batteries and test
• Clean range hood filters
• Change humidity setting on humidifier to around 20 per cent (each home is
different) – adjust as needed if condensation appears on windows
S U G G E S T E D H O M E M A I N T E N A N C E SC H E D U L E | S E P T E M B E R, O C TO B E R
SEPTEMBER
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S U G G E S T E D H O M E M A I N T E N A N C E SC H E D U L E | N OV E M B E R, D E C E M B E R
NOVEMBER
• Clean range hood filter
• Check CO and smoke detector batteries and test
• Check for condensation and humidity
• Clean humidifier
DECEMBER
• Balance air flow at heating ducts
• Clean furnace filter
• Clean range hood filter