Clearing Away Cobwebs from Your Cottage Windows & Siding

Many of us dread hearing the word “spider”, but these eight-legged creepy crawlies are a reality during the summer season, especially for cottage owners. Whether they’re leaving cobwebs in your windows, doors, and siding or making their way into your home, spiders and their webs can be a real nuisance for Muskoka cottage owners. Spiderwebs can make cleaning your house a much more difficult task, making your cottage look like a Halloween horror house all summer long. If you struggle with cobwebs and spiders during the summer season, there are a few things you can do to minimize the problem.

Why do spiders gravitate to windows, doors, and siding?
Spiders are an important part of keeping other bugs away from and out of your home, but can be a nuisance to homeowners, especially if you’re particularly squeamish. Spiders can be found in and around just about every home in the country, meaning that millions of home and cottage owners deal with the problem each and every year. They tend to build webs in your cottage windows, doorways, and siding, making an unsightly mess that needs to be cleaned up on a regular basis.

Spiders gravitate towards windows and doors for the same reasons that other insects do – light. The light emanating from windows and doors in the evening and night attracts a wide range of bugs, which can become a pretty attractive home for hungry spiders looking for an easy and reliable meal. They often make their way onto your siding because it provides them with a safe home where they’ll be able to catch bugs that have made their way onto your property. Spiderwebs on your siding often collect dust and debris, leaving a scary sight that can be a real pain to clear away.

Clearing spiders off your siding
When clearing spiders off siding, it’s important to be careful not to damage your home’s exterior. This can be done by using a broom to clear away any low-lying cobwebs, and then using a garden hose to spray away anything that might be out of your reach. A steady stream of water from a garden hose will work to quickly and effectively remove webs, and doesn’t run the risk of damaging your siding like a pressure washer might. 

If you’re looking for a solution that will keep spiders away from siding, you can spray insecticide around your home once all the cobwebs have been removed, and work to ensure that grass, shrubs, and plants near your foundation and siding are kept trimmed all season long.

Keeping spiders away from your windows and doors
The biggest reason for spiders gravitating towards windows and doors is the light emanating from them. If you enjoy using lights in the evening and at night, the best way to keep spiders away is to simply draw the curtains whenever possible. 

This will cause spiders to search for food elsewhere, keeping your windows and doorways mostly free of our eight-legged foes. If you’re looking for ways to keep spiders away from windows, you can apply a vinegar wash (about ¼ white vinegar, ¾ water) on and around your windows to deter them from building their webs. Remember not to wash off too much of the solution, as this will counteract the entire point of the vinegar wash and remove the deterrent entirely.

How to keep spiders out of your cottage
Sometimes, no matter what you seem to do, spiders will make their way through closed windows and into your cottage. This can be a horrifying revelation for cottage owners, so it’s important to take proactive steps in order to keep them out. The main cause of spiders getting through closed windows is cracks in and around your windows, or windows that are simply showing their age.

Filling in cracks with caulk can keep spiders at bay, but might not do the trick if your windows are getting on in age. In this case, the best solution would be to professionally replace your aging windows to ensure that no cracks or openings in and around your windows exist, and that pests stay outside where they belong. Not only will your pest problem be a thing of the past, but your cottage will be more comfortable year-round.

The showroom at Muskoka Window & Door Centre features many high performance window and door products that will keep pests out of your cottage, and keep your home more comfortable all year long. For more information on the products and services offered by the team at Muskoka Window & Door Centre, get in touch with us today.

Get Your Cottage Heating System Ready for Fall

Whether you use your cottage year-round or just as a refuge during the beautiful summer months, it’s always a good idea to do an inspection of your heating source when you aren’t using it. That way, if any maintenance is required it can be taken care of before the crisp fall temperatures descend. 

Here are a few simple tips for getting your heat source ready to warm your cottage once the weather gets cooler. 

Maintaining Your Wood Stove
It is always best to burn only seasoned wood in your stove for more heat and less creosote buildup. Debris and residue from creosote can be dangerous and cause chimney fires. You can fight buildup by adding creosote sweeping logs to your stove, but it’s always best to do a complete inspection once a year.

Look for indications that you may have had a chimney fire such as: “Puffy” or “honey combed” creosote, any warping of the metal damper and chimney pipe, cracked or damaged flue tiles, damage to the exterior roof, or a damaged, discolored chimney cap. 

Tap on the flue and listen for the sound of debris falling. If you hear any, you will need to have the flue cleaned before lighting another fire.

It’s recommended to hire a professional to clean your chimney once per year but if you prefer to do the work yourself, you can use the rod and brush system to clean the chimney from the bottom up. This method is safer than cleaning from the top down but you should lay out drop cloths to help contain any falling dust and creosote. Remember to wear safety glasses and a mask for protection.

What to do With Propane Furnaces and Stoves
If your propane tank is located outside, start by inspecting your tank for leaks. If you hear hissing from the gas line, notice a “rotten egg” sulphur smell, or see dead plants around the tank, call a professional immediately. Since all propane heaters and appliances need to vent outside, check all exterior vents to make sure they are clean and free of debris like leaves, overgrowth and fallen branches.

Before the temperature starts to fall, check your tank level. Filling your tank during the summer months can be more cost-effective since fuel prices tend to be less expensive at this time of year. Consider making your tank easier to find in the winter snow by marking it with a tall flag or marker.

Turn on your heaters to ensure they are running properly, especially if they haven’t been used in a while. Check the battery in your carbon monoxide detector and change it if necessary. 

Caring for Your Central Heating System
Whether you heat with oil or natural gas it’s always a good idea to inspect your furnace and have the air filters replaced annually. Dirty, clogged filters can reduce the efficiency of forced-air heating systems and cause failure over time.

Consider adding a dehumidifier if your furnace is located in a crawlspace, so that any potential must or mould doesn’t travel through the cottage when you turn it on. If this isn’t an option, because of lack of space or time, you can do a simple “burn-in” to clear your ducts by turning on the furnace at the lowest heat setting and opening all of your windows. 

If you still have any concerns about dust or mould in your ducts, consider having them professionally cleaned. Or if you prefer, you can always do it yourself with the help of a shop-vac and a few simple tools.

Finally check that all of the windows and doors are properly caulked and that any weather stripping that is cracked or missing is replaced. This will help the warmth in and the cold weather out. Old windows are one of the biggest culprits for significant heat loss. If you will be using your cottage more during the winter, consider replacing them with higher-efficiency windows that will save you money long-term and keep you nice and toasty. 

If it’s time to replace your cottage windows or doors Muskoka Window and Door Centre has experts in to help you keep your cottage or home warm all winter long. Contact us today! 

The Anatomy of a Window – And Why You Should Care

Buying new windows for your home is a huge investment but one that is definitely worth it. New windows can increase the energy efficiency of your home by helping to keep it warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Additionally, those new windows can completely update and change your space, making every room brighter, not to mention the value they will add to your property.

Before you go shopping for windows, here are some terms to familiarize yourself with. 

Sash
The movable part of the window that holds the glass in place. It consists of the rails that run along the top and bottom and the stiles on the sides.

Stiles
The major vertical supports of the window sash, located on the sides.

Rails
The horizontal parts of a sash that connect the stiles, located at the top and bottom.

Muntins (or Grille) 
The grid of the window, also referred to as the grille. Muntins can be purely decorative and just snap into place over the glass or they can help hold the glass in place, dividing the glass into sections often referred to as lites. They can be mounted between the panes of glass, especially on thermal-insulated windows. Windows with inside-mounted muntins are easier to clean than windows with muntins on the outside of the glass. 

Grilles for double-hung windows are named according to the number of squares they form (for example: four over four). Note: Muntins should not be confused with mullions which are the vertical or horizontal pieces between adjoining window units. 

Glazing
The glass in the window frame. Glazing can be single, double or triple glazed with air spaces in between. Triple glazed is the most energy efficient. Also referred to as the lite.

Apron
The horizontal piece of trim attached to the wall under the window sill. 

Sill
The shelf-like piece that runs along the base of the window frame into the interior of the house. Also known as the stool.

Casing
The horizontal and vertical molding that surrounds the window. It covers the space between the window and the wall to provide a finished look. It can be installed inside or outside the house and can be decorative or plain.

Jambs
The pieces that form the window frame and support the sash and glazing. 

Operator
The crank that allows you to open and close casement and awning windows. Newer windows often have a crank that folds in for a cleaner look.

Scissor Arm or Extension Arm
The arm attached to the window frame either at the rails or the stiles that is extended or contracted by cranking the operator handle to open or close the window.

Latch or Lock
The locking mechanism on the window. The latch not only locks the window, but also helps seal the window closed for better energy efficiency. There are even upgrades available like magnetic locks that lock windows automatically when closed.

Being familiar with the correct terminology before you go shopping or have an in-home consultation will help you understand exactly what you want. If you want to have Muskoka Window and Door Centre experts in to help you decide on the best style for your home or cottage, contact us today! 

Thinking About Winterizing Your Cottage For the First Time?

This year, like many cottagers, you may be thinking about remaining at your cottage longer than usual, perhaps even spending the winter there. A more rural environment can feel safer than the city during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If that’s the case, you may need to ensure that your cottage is ready to weather the colder temperatures and snow, especially if you’ve never spent anything more than a week there in the winter there before.

Winterization can happen in a matter of degrees, and turning your cottage into a year-round retreat can be a big investment if you go in for full winterization. If you aren’t planning on spending every winter there you may just want to make smaller improvements to ensure you remain warm and comfortable.  

Take the practical steps you can, especially if you aren’t planning to stay at the cottage every winter. If you feel like you might want a winter getaway every year, or you are considering retiring to your cottage, then a larger renovation may be in order. 

Staying warm with the proper insulation

Some older cottages may lack insulation or the right insulation, especially if they’ve never been used in the winter.  Depending on your plans and budget, reinsulating your cottage walls may require tearing down your drywall to the studs and installing proper insulation.  To truly winterize a cottage, you may also need to install a vapour barrier to prevent moisture and mould build-up.

Another place where a cottage can benefit from added insulation is in the crawlspace. Adding spray foam insulation to outside walls here will save heat loss through the floor, keeping your feet warm and toasty and preventing heat loss. If you are currently losing lots of air in the crawl space, insulating and sealing it off properly will also increase the efficiency of your home’s heating system.

The average home loses up to 30% of its heating and cooling energy through air leaks around windows and doors. You will need to ensure all of your windows and window frames are properly sealed and caulked to prevent drafts and heat-loss. You should replace any cracked or missing weather-stripping and re-caulk where needed.

Depending on the type and age of your windows, you may need to consider installing new energy-efficient, double-pane windows. This also applies to your doors and door frames. Installing new year-round alternatives will definitely keep you cozier and save you money in the long run.

Think about your plumbing and heating systems

Plumbing is the one thing that must be winterized if you are planning on using your water at all during the winter. Insulating all of your pipes and plumbing lines and adding heat tape or a heat trace system will keep them from freezing and bursting once the cold weather hits. 

Installation of a heat trace system varies depending on the type of pipes you have and the manufacturer of the system, so it’s a good idea to talk to the supplier to understand the correct process. Alternatively, having your system professionally installed usually offers the security of a warranty which can be reassuring. You may also want to consider having your septic system pumped (especially if it has been a while) to ensure that it can take you through until spring.

Preparing and maintaining your heating system is also a consideration. If you heat with oil or propane, filling your tank now may be more cost-effective since fuel costs tend to be lower during the summer and early fall months. If you heat with a wood stove, ordering enough seasoned wood now will ensure that you’re ready when the temperatures drop. 

Some other factors to consider

It’s a good idea to confirm with your insurance company that you are covered by all-season homeowners insurance and make changes if necessary.

You should also check in with your road or lake association. You may have to pay extra for snow plowing or you may need to find a contractor to take care of it if they don’t cover it.

If you’ve had problems with cell coverage at your cottage, consider getting a cell phone booster to enable working from home. While reduced cell coverage at a cottage can be caused by the increased numbers of cottagers using a cell tower’s signal, this is only part of the story and a cell phone booster will ensure uninterrupted service. You may also need to upgrade your Internet service to a better package if you want to work from home, do home schooling or stream movies.

There are a lot of considerations when thinking about winterizing your cottage but the investment may well be worth it. It will let you take advantage of your seasonal property all year and enjoy those snowy days in front of the fire, safely and warmly.If it’s time to replace your cottage windows or doors Muskoka Window and Door Centre has the experts available to help you keep your cottage warm and comfortable all winter. Contact us today!

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