How to Deep Clean Your Cottage Windows

Part of the appeal of cottage living is enjoying bright, sunny days and beautiful lake views, no matter the season. However, you may not be making the most of the natural light inside of your cottage if you haven’t cleaned your windows in some time. 

If your windows are covered with dirt, dust, cobwebs, or water spots, cleaning your cottage windows is well worth the time especially if you are planning to use your cottage in the winter. Use these easy-to-follow tips to ensure that you get spotless panes of glass that will let the sunshine in all year long.

Choose a dry, cloudy day for outside washing if possible
Choose to start with either the interior or exterior of your windows. If you choose to start cleaning inside, work through one room at a time. This way if any streaks remain when the job is done, you will be able to determine if they are on the inside or outside of the windows.

If you are cleaning the outside of your windows, choose a dry, cloudy day so that your cleaning solution won’t dry on the windows before you have time to wipe it off. If it does, that will lead to streaking. If washing on a cloudy day is not possible, start on the shady side of the cottage and work your way around.

Depending on the style of  your windows, screens may be located on the inside or outside of your window frames. Remove them if possible, wash them with hot, soapy water and a soft brush, then rinse and let them dry thoroughly before putting them back into place. If it isn’t possible to remove your screens, scrub them with a sponge with hot, soapy water. 

Remove dust and dirt from the window and frame
Remove any dust and dirt from the window and frame with a dry cloth, broom or vacuum. This will prevent dirt from turning to mud when the cleaner is applied, and cuts down on the amount of rubbing you will need to do. You can also choose to rinse your exterior windows with a hose if you are sure they are properly sealed so that no water gets inside.

Don’t skimp when applying your cleaning product, especially if it’s been a while since the last time the windows were cleaned.  Whether you choose to use a commercial product or a simple solution of one part vinegar to two parts water in a spray bottle, a liberal application of cleaner helps dissolve the dirt so that it can be completely wiped away and ensures that your windows are streak-free when dry.  Wipe horizontally then vertically to ensure no spots are missed.

Use a microfiber cloth to dry your windows in a z-shaped pattern
Dry your windows using a Z-shaped pattern. Most people use newspaper or paper towels to dry their panes, but professional window cleaners recommend using microfiber cloths instead. They leave windows sparkling clean and lint-free. Since they are washable and reusable, they are an eco-friendly and cost-effective choice. 

If your windows are still showing dirt or streaks after drying, spray and dry again since very dirty windows typically require multiple rounds of spraying and drying to clean away any residue. Sometimes windows will be marked with mineral deposits, especially in areas that have hard water. If this is the case, a commercial cleaning product that removes calcium, lime, and rust stains may be your best choice. Just ensure that you follow the manufacturer’s directions when using, and wear the necessary recommended protective equipment.

Clean your large windows with professional tools
Large picture windows may benefit from the use of professional tools: a strip applicator, a squeegee, a bucket of warm, soapy water, a damp chamois, and microfiber cloths.

Use the strip applicator to apply the soapy water to the entire window then starting at the top left, pull the squeegee over the pane in a reverse-S pattern cleaning away any suds. Be sure to wipe the squeegee’s blade with a lint-free cloth at the end of every stroke. Finally, remove any water remaining on the glass with the chamois and dry the windowsill with a cloth.

Cleaning your windows now means you won’t have to worry about doing it when it gets too cold. It can also tick off a box on your “To Do List” when you reopen your cottage in the spring, leaving you more time to relax on opening weekend.

If thinking about cleaning your cottage windows has made you realize that it may be time to replace them, Muskoka Window and Door Centre has the experts available to ensure that your cottage is outfitted with the latest energy-efficient replacements. Contact us today to book an appointment. 

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!

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.

How to Deal with Rotting Wood Window Frames

Rotting wood window frames and sills mean that your window probably isn’t performing as well as it should be, and is very likely on its last legs. A rotting wood window frame or sill isn’t a problem that you can afford to ignore for very long. In addition to your windows causing drafts to enter your home, rotting window frames can be an eyesore and, if left untreated, will surely become a home for mold.

If ignored for long enough, rotting window frames and sills could spread all around the affected area, leading to potentially widespread damage to your home. If you’re waiting on a window repair professional to inspect the problem, there are a few things you can do to alleviate the problem.

How serious is rot?
For homeowners with exterior wood window frames, rot is always a fear. No matter what measures you take, rot will eventually set in and diminish the natural beauty of wood window frames. Rot is caused by moisture coming into contact with the wood exterior over extended periods of time, weakening the frame over time and destroying it from the inside out. While rot is usually an inevitable part of wood being exposed to the elements, it’s not usually a problem that can’t be solved by a professional.

Rot is a timely issue though – failure to address a rotting window exterior can cause irreparable damage to the window frame and lead to lessen performance and mold growth, both of which can significantly affect the interior of your home. All it takes for rot to set in is a small gap that hasn’t been adequately sealed against the weather – once that happens, your windows are at risk. With time working against you, it’s important that you take the correct measures to solve the problem as soon as possible.

How to deal with rotting wood windows
The first step you need to take is to examine the extent of the rotting, as this will help you determine the most appropriate next step. Make sure that the rot hasn’t made its way to the majority of the frame – if the damage is widespread, it’s recommended that you replace the window frame completely. If the damage is contained to a smaller area, you can work to reduce the damage done.

Remove the rot from your window frame or sill using a chisel or screwdriver to dislodge it, and then use a brush to remove debris and dust from the frame. Once this is done, drill a number of ¼ inch holes into the affected wood – these holes will be used to secure an epoxy filler to the frame. When the holes have been drilled into the wood, apply a liquid epoxy consolidant to the wood. Finally, apply and pack an epoxy filler or another wood filler to the frame and mold it accordingly using a putty knife or a paint stirring stick. Once the wood filler has dried, you can go to work on sanding it down until it’s smooth and flat, and then priming and painting it as soon as possible.

While this measure can save your window frames from needing to be replaced immediately, the wood filler solution is considered to be a temporary fix. Eventually, it’s likely that rot will once again set in, and at that point, it’s recommended that you enlist the services of a window replacement professional who will be able to restore your home’s windows to their former glory, and recommend low-maintenance windows materials like vinyl that are far less susceptible to problems like rot and mold.

The window products featured in the showroom at Muskoka Window & Door Centre are manufactured with high quality materials that are built to last. To get started on your window replacement, contact Muskoka Window & Door Centre today.

How to Fix a Window Temporarily

Many homeowners know the frustration of having a window suddenly break at the most inopportune moments. Whether a stray ball has shattered your window or you experience an extreme weather event, you’ll be left with a broken or cracked window that is now exposing the interior of your home to the outdoors.

Cracked and shattered glass or broken window frames should be fixed immediately to avoid damage to your home, but it’s not always feasible for a window installation expert to assess the damage right away. While you’re waiting for a window replacement or repair, there are a few temporary ways you can minimize the damage and keep weather and pests out of your home. It’s important to note that these fixes aren’t permanent, so you’ll need to contact an expert as soon as possible so the problem can be solved professionally.

First steps to take when your window has been shattered
Once you’ve noticed that your window has been shattered or severely damaged, it’s important to keep the safety of yourself and your family in mind. If the glass has been shattered, put on a pair of heavy duty work gloves and remove any shards of glass that have made their way into your home. If there are still glass shards in the window pane, you should very quickly work to cover the broken pane or panel with plastic sheeting, cardboard, or even a heavy duty trash bag – you can use strong packing tape or a staple gun to secure this in place.

A secure cover ensures that the glass will not be hazardous to anybody inside your home, and that the problem is isolated until the glass can be removed. If you’re worried about intruders using the broken window to enter your home, it’s recommended that you use boards to cover and secure any large openings that can’t be secured using plastic sheeting or other means.

How to temporarily repair a cracked window
Windows can be cracked by impact, stress, or pressure. If you notice that your window has been cracked, you can use household items to temporarily fix it until a window replacement professional can visit your home. The first thing you should do is don a pair of heavy duty gloves and gently press the glass to ensure that it won’t fall out. If the glass feels sturdy, you can work to remedy the problem using clear packing tape. Apply the tape over the crack in the glass, and if possible, on the opposite side as well. Make sure to smoothen out the tape to ensure that there are no bubbles.

If you notice that there are small holes in your window, these can be temporarily fixed using clear nail polish. Brush the nail polish over the small holes in the window, applying it in layers and letting each coat dry between layers. This will temporarily patch the holes in your window, but will not serve as a long term fix.

Once the shattered or cracked glass has been safely and effectively addressed, you should immediately contact a window installation expert to book a replacement or repair. If they can’t visit your home for a number of days, they may advise other ways to temporarily patch or secure your broken window until they can send a professional to assess the problem. Window replacements can be complex jobs, making it important that you contact a professional to solve the problem quickly and effective to ensure that it doesn’t cause problems down the line. If your windows have been cracked, shattered, or otherwise broken, contact the window installation experts at Muskoka Window and Door Centre for professional and transparent service.

When You Should Replace Your Cottage Septic System

Cottagers around the province are about to learn a hard lesson about their septic system. With COVID-19 keeping Canadians home and cottage bound for the foreseeable future, many cottage owners are going to be faced with the challenge of a failing septic system designed primarily to handle only weekend and vacation use. This means that due to the increased strain on your septic system, it may be time for a much needed upgrade – especially if you want to keep your property free of sewage backup.

It’s important to note that your septic system might simply need some TLC, rather than a complete replacement. Replacing your septic system can be an expensive affair, so it’s important for you to be able to make an informed decision so that your time and money is spent wisely. Before you panic and decide on a replacement septic system, here’s how you can know if it’s time to replace it.

How old is your septic system?
It’s not unheard of for a septic system to last more than 40 years with regular maintenance. Septic systems can be extremely resilient, and can last for decades without many problems. Older homes and cottages, however, may require a replacement septic system sooner rather than later. If your system is getting up there in age and you’ve noticed that you’re pumping it more often than you used to, or that you’re constantly experiencing issues with it, your septic may simply be on its last legs. Additionally, it may be possible to repair the septic bed rather than replacing the system entirely, which is far less costly. You really only want to replace it if your septic system professional says it is beyond repair and/or you have outgrown its size.

Have you outgrown your system?
If your cottage is seeing an uptick in use, you may have outgrown your septic system. Since septic systems have a limited capacity, a significant increase in its use can mean that it’s time to replace your system with something that better accommodates the use of your cottage. This also applies to cottages that have recently seen expansions or additions, causing your water usage to overwork your smaller septic tank. For example, if you had no dishwasher when you moved in, and added one, that could be enough to tip over the capacity of an older septic system. Replacing your system will prevent future headaches and let you enjoy your time at the cottage distraction-free.

Puddles in your yard and foul odors
If you’ve recently noticed standing water in your yard, it could be a sign that your septic system is failing – especially if it hasn’t rained or snowed recently. Puddles in your yard near where your septic tank is buried may mean that wastewater is backing up and flooding your property. It could also force raw sewage to backup into your home and around your property. Smelling a foul odor near your tank or drain field is another sure sign that your septic system is failing and that sewage is being backed up into your yard. An additional sign that your septic is starting to go (this usually happens before you see puddles and backups) is if you walk over your septic bed and the ground is soggy during the height of the summer. If you’re experiencing any of these problems, get a septic system professional to assess the situation to see if you need a repair or replacement.

Greener grass in your yard
One of the less discussed signs of a failing septic system is that you may suddenly notice that the grass around your septic tank or drain field is greener than the rest of your yard. This is usually caused by a failing system, causing excessive moisture levels to seep into the soil, which can cause greener grass. You may also notice that the grass around where your tank is buried is growing faster than the rest of your yard. This is usually caused by backed up sewage acting as a fertilizer, causing grass to grow quicker than normal.

Replacing your septic system is generally a worst case scenario measure – especially if your use hasn’t outgrown the capacity of your system. If you think that your septic system may be experiencing issues, it’s best to schedule an inspection by a professional, who will be able to properly diagnose your problems and recommend the best course of action.

For more about the products and services offered by our full team of window and door installation experts, contact Muskoka Window & Door Centre today.

What You Can Do to Make Your Cottage More Energy Efficient

The snow is finally melting and another gorgeous Muskoka spring season is quickly emerging. Now is the perfect time to get started on property improvements and free up your summer so you can soak up the sun and enjoy your retreat. Making your property more energy efficient is a project that will help you get the most out of your cottage by reducing energy bills and your carbon footprint. During these unique times, there are a number of easy, but effective, ways to make your cottage more energy efficient.

Check for inefficient old appliances
Home appliances account for a large amount of your energy bill – the more efficient your appliances, the lower your hydro bill will be. Old appliances like fridges and chest freezers often find new homes in cottages, but can be a major source of energy use. Upgrading to ENERGY STAR certified home appliances can make a huge difference in your energy consumption, using up to 10% less energy than standard or older appliances.

Take a look at your windows
Windows offer Muskoka cottage owners an unparalleled view of their beautiful surroundings, but can also account for a property losing up to a quarter of its heating and cooling if they are inefficient. This is especially true of older windows in need of maintenance or replacement. You can reduce energy loss through your windows by applying weatherstripping around window frames to prevent energy from escaping through the trim. Using window film during the winter months can be effective too, reducing air loss in older windows.

If your windows are more than 20 years old, have sustained damage, or are noticeably drafty, then it’s time to seriously consider replacing them with more energy efficient windows. Upgrading your windows can have a major effect on reducing your energy consumption, as they work to keep the heat during colder fall and winter months, and keep it out during the summer.

Take advantage of window treatments
Energy efficient window treatments like curtains, blinds and shades can have a major impact on reducing the amount of heat entering your home. This is especially useful during the summer months when your air conditioning or ceiling fans are working overtime. Using window treatments during the day will reduce the amount of energy used by your air conditioning unit, keeping unwanted heat out of your home and making you more comfortable on hot, sunny days.

Unplug to reduce phantom power
Your electronics and appliances draw power even when they’re off or otherwise not in use. According to Hydro One, the average Canadian household has up to 25 electronic devices using phantom power at any given time, accounting for about $150 in electricity costs each year. Phantom power can be easily avoided by unplugging electronics and charging devices when they’re not in use. It’s also recommended that homes use advanced power bars with timers to ensure that electronics and non-essential appliances are turned off while homeowners are at work or sleeping. Taking these simple steps will have a significant impact on your yearly energy costs.

Get smart about landscaping
In addition to adding character and curb appeal to your property, landscaping can be used to enhance energy efficiency and comfort. Planting deciduous trees on your property can provide shade during the summer months to reduce solar gain, and let sunlight in through your windows in the winter after the trees have lost their leaves. Planting trees to the south and southwest will be the most effective way to shade your property from the peak summer sun, and can go a long way in reducing heating and cooling costs, as well as property damage caused by ultraviolet rays over time. Shrubs, too, can be used effectively to insulate your home’s exterior and even to shade outdoor air conditioning and heat pump units, improving their efficiency by up to 10%.

Make the best of the COVID-19 quarantine by focusing on how you and your family can work to improve your cottage property. When it comes to energy efficiency, even the smallest upgrades will go a long way. To find out more about the energy efficient window and door products offered by Muskoka Window & Door Centre, contact us today.

Opening Your Cottage Early

Spring is finally here – the snow will soon begin to melt, and cottagers from all around the province will soon descend upon the Muskoka region to kick off cottage season. At this point in the season, it’s natural for you to be feeling a little antsy. You might be looking for an opportunity to get away from the city for a while, and as a result, might be considering heading to the cottage a little earlier than you normally would.

Opening your cottage early can have many benefits, allowing you to get ahead of the game so you can start soaking up the sun earlier than everybody else. Opening the cottage early can also present a number of challenges on top of the usual cottage opening checklist that you’ll have to deal with before you can kick back and relax at the cottage. Here’s what you need to know about opening your cottage early this year.

Make sure your road is accessible and you bring shovels and salt
The first thing you’ll need to do before heading out to your cottage is ensure that your road is actually accessible. Check in with your road association or neighbours (if applicable) before you head out.

The last thing you want is to be forced to turn around because you can’t get your vehicle on the road. Roads can be very icy, wet, and slushy during the late winter and early spring, making salt and a shovel a necessity if you wish to get to your cottage without incident. Even in the event that your road has been cleared, be prepared for the last bit of winter to hit and make sure you’re ready to clear snow away.

Will your water still work in colder temperatures?
Just because springtime is upon us, doesn’t mean that subzero temperatures aren’t here to stay for a while longer. Ensuring that your water pumps and lines will work as intended in these temperatures is essential.

These pieces of equipment should be able to function properly around freezing temperatures, but it’s important to stay prepared nonetheless. You’ll have to inspect your water lines, put your pump in the water if it isn’t permanently installed in the lake, and perform other typical cottage opening tasks. Bring the appropriate gear for the occasion such as waders, as snow, ice, and cold temperatures will continue to be present for at least a few weeks.

Keep an eye on your septic system
Snowmelt can lead to excessive water building up in your septic or sump pit, which can lead to backups in tub drains – especially if your septic is only sized for seasonal use. This isn’t usually a problem during the traditional May long weekend cottage opening season, so keep in mind that you’ll have to change your habits slightly to ensure that water does not back up into your home. Doing things like limiting laundry loads, washing dishes by hand, and conserving water in other ways will help prevent backups.

The best time to take care of upgrades and maintenance
Settling in ahead of the May long weekend gives you the distinct advantage of being able to tackle upgrades and maintenance around the cottage. Since few others will be around before the May long weekend, local companies and contractors will have the time to book your projects in. Waiting until the snow has melted means that you’ll be at the back of the line, potentially forcing you to wait all summer before a spot opens.

Opening the cottage early gives you the perfect opportunity to upgrade your windows, doors, and insulation to ensure that the cottage is comfortable all summer long, or you can tackle that nagging maintenance jobs and yard work you’ve been wanting to get around to.

Stay ahead of the game by booking your window and door upgrades with Muskoka Window & Door Centre today.

How to Prevent and Get Rid of Black Mould at Your Muskoka Cottage

The thought of a mould infestation is something that makes every cottage owner shudder. Mould is a problem in too many cottages, especially seasonal cottages that are shut down every winter. Moisture levels often go unchecked during the winter season, leaving cottage owners with a nasty surprise when they return in the spring.

If it’s not addressed immediately, mould can spread to uncontrollable levels, affecting your health and the structural integrity of your cottage. Black mould can be especially damaging, causing serious health complications and wreaking havoc on the interior and exterior of a home.

A Muskoka family recently found out the hard way about the devastating nature of mould, unknowingly purchasing a home that had been infested with black mould. The couple had been told that the house was built in 2016, despite the fact that the foundation had sat exposed to the elements for years prior.

Mould specialists deemed the property to be a complete loss, and so the family was forced to move out of their home after just one month.

Control the humidity in your cottage
It takes just 48 hours for mould to run rampant in your cottage, affecting the air quality, leaving unsightly stains, causing odors that can be tough to remove, and impacting the integrity of walls, windows, and everything inside the property including furniture and clothing. The most effective way to curb this is by more effectively controlling the humidity inside your cottage.

Mould thrives in humid conditions, and so addressing the humidity will ultimately halt the spread of mould. Running a dehumidifier in your cottage, and opening windows or using exhaust fans when showering, cooking, or doing dishes can go a long way in eliminating humidity, as will drying wet towels and clothing outside of your cottage rather than inside.

Prevent moisture from accumulating whenever possible
Without moisture, mould can’t grow. This makes it extremely important for cottage owners to take immediate action to dry wet areas like leaky windows or appliances, basement seepage, or any rain water or snowmelt that has made its way inside. Spills on carpets should also be quickly dried, as this can be a source for moderate mould growth.

Downspouts should be directed away from your cottage in order to minimize the risk of water entering your home, and snow should be shoveled away from the foundation of your home wherever possible. Taking these proactive measures will prevent excess moisture from accumulating in your home, making it an unsuitable habitat for mould growth.

Take appropriate flood prevention measures
One of the most common sources of mould growth in cottages is seasonal flooding, which typically takes place during the cottage off-season. Flooding causes snowmelt and rain water to enter your cottage and its foundation, going unchecked until you arrive to re-open the cottage and allowing mould to grow at uncontrollable levels.

Taking flood prevention measures is important in reducing the risk of mould growth, especially for properties in high-risk flood zones. Sandbags should be used around waterfront properties to slow flooding, and proactive measures like installing foundation vents and sump pumps, applying dry flood proofing coatings and sealants to the foundation and walls, and grading your lawn away from the cottage. While many of these precautions likely won’t eliminate the risk of flooding, they can go a long way in reducing the damage done, and the mould growth that inevitably follows flooding. To find out more about the high performance window and door products offered by Muskoka Window & Door Centre, contact us today.

How to Save Hydro at the Cottage

This past summer, Hydro One announced that electricity bills for their seasonal customers were set to rise by up to 129%, a shocking discovery for cottage owners everywhere. The massive jump in hydro rates came after the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) announcement that it was exploring the idea of eliminating the seasonal rate class, which would affect cottage owners around the province. The changes would see Ontario cottage owners divided into R1 and R2 classes, depending on the cost of delivering power to customers. This means that around half of cottage owners in Ontario may see their bills double.

With these major changes to your electricity bill, it’s always a good idea for Muskoka cottage owners to explore ways they can save hydro at the cottage year round. Saving money on hydro can help you enjoy the cottage more during prime cottage season, and save you some stress during the off-season.

Close your cottage the right way before leaving for the season
The most effective way to save electricity at the cottage is by powering down before you leave for the season, and unplugging appliances and electronics between visits. Anything plugged in while not in use is using phantom energy, even if it isn’t actively turned on. These costs can quickly add up, especially with rates increasing for cottage owners. Before leaving for the season or just for the week, unplug any appliances and devices that don’t require being left plugged in. Doing this will help you save money on your hydro bill with a minimal impact on your overall enjoyment of the cottage experience.

Energy efficient windows and window treatments prevent energy loss
Depending on how old your cottage is and how often it’s used, your windows may be a major source of energy loss. Drafty old windows should be replaced with newer energy efficient windows that eliminate energy loss, demanding less of your heating and cooling systems to keep your cottage warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. If window replacement isn’t an option quite yet, you can reduce energy loss by using energy efficient window treatments like blackout curtain, blinds, and awnings, all of which will work to minimize drafts and energy loss until you’re ready to replace those drafty old windows.

Tankless water heater
Traditional water systems are designed to hold and heat large quantities of water at any given time, using up far more energy than is needed. A great way to reduce your hydro bills going forward is to make the switch to a tankless water heater, which is an ideal water heating solution for cottage owners. Rather than heat large amounts of water at once, tankless water heaters are activated on demand, heating only what you need instead of wasting energy on heating water that is just going to sit in the tank.

Explore the possibility of switching to a small solar setup
Another option for cottage owners is to make the switch from traditional hydro to a small solar energy setup. Solar energy isn’t nearly as costly as it once was, with many manufacturers gearing solar energy solutions towards cottage owners, offering affordable solar panels and batteries that are perfect for powering your cottage throughout the bright summer months.

With plenty of solar energy dealers in the Muskoka region including Muskoka Renewable Energy, Greenside Electric, and Haliburton Solar & Wind, starter kits are easier to find than ever before, helping you kick start your transition to renewable energy that won’t be affected by exorbitant rate increases. Even a solar setup to only power certain items, such as a hot water heater, can save you money over time – especially with the new hydro rates.

To find out more about the high performance window and door products offered by Muskoka Window & Door Centre, contact us today.

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