Contractor Lingo 101 – Communicating With Your Contractor

If you’re not up to speed on the lingo, you’re missing half the conversation. You may know this from talking and texting with your teenage children these days.  When you are getting quotes or having work done in your house you want to ensure you know what your contractor is talking about. Here are a few key words which are good to know:

Mud – Not referring to what pigs or 2 year olds enjoy playing in. Mud is any type of plaster, spackle, stucco, concrete or semi-liquid mixture. It is used to coat foundations, ceilings, walls or other related surfaces.

Stud – Sorry ladies, this isn’t what you think. Stud’s are fundamental in framing a building. They are vertical framing members that, can be made of metal or wood, are usually spaced between 16 or 24 inches and are used to assemble walls.

Change Order – Boring but important! Change orders are signed document that authorizes the contractor to make a change or addition to the work detailed in the original contract. Any changes in cost should be reflected on the change order.

Fascia – Am I the only one who gets soffit and fascia confused all the time? Fascia is the exposed horizontal band you see at the edge of your roof. It plays a functional role in that it protects the home’s underlying structure. It also plays a part in enhancing your curb appeal

Soffit – The soffit of your house is the underside of an arch, balcony or overhanging eaves. Soffits provide ventilation to the roof and also protect rafters from outdoor elements.

Jamb – Does not go in a sandwich. Jamb refers to the moulding around the frame of a window. “Side Jambs” are vertical while “Head Jambs” are horizontal.

Toenailing – Sounds painful! Toenailing is when you connect two framing pieces together by nailing at an angle.

Retrofit – Not Richard Simmons workout video from the 80’s. Retrofitting is installing new parts to a pre-existing fixture in order to give it an upgrade.

There you have it. A few words to throw out when you talk to someone handy.

Have a home renovation project you need completed in Saskatoon and area? Post your project to Kijenga.com today and get free quotes from certified pros we background check for you. Now that’s my jamb!


4 Things To Consider Before Hiring A Pro to Build Your Deck

Everyone in Saskatoon knows that our summer’s are precious…and limited. We eagerly anticipate every spring when the snow starts to melt, the first pelican is spotted at the weir and the indistinguishable smell of cow manure hits you as you drive by the University of Saskatchewan. That’s when you know spring has officially arrived in Saskatoon!

Although not all of us are ‘that guy’ who wears shorts and sandals when the temperature hits a balmy 5 degrees – we all know we have to take advantage of the weather while we have it. This includes enjoying your backyard deck. When meticulously built with design input from certified professionals, your deck provides an outdoor living and dining space perfect for entertaining on weekends or relaxing after a long day at the office.

Before you hire a Kijenga certified contractor for your deck project, here are 4 things you should consider:

You need to decide what the purpose for your deck is. Is it to have a table and chairs to enjoy an outdoor meal, to have a place to relax and socialize, or both? Along with determining what the general use for your deck is, you will need to determine some other factors including: BBQ location, pool/hot tub location (if applicable), container garden locations and if you require shade.

Size and Placement
To determine size, you will want to take into consideration your backyard as a whole and how the deck fits into the big picture. The size of your yard can dictate placement and location of the deck. When you determine the use for your deck and consider how much space you will need for the furniture you will require, you will have a better idea of how big of a deck you will need.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to have input into the placement of the deck, you will want to consider the following:

  • Accessibility to house
  • View
  • Location of sun/shade
  • Privacy
  • Wind
  • Rain/Snow



People tend to think of decks as rectangular, however with the consultation of a certified professional you can get creative with the design to best utilize yard space and appeal of your outdoor living space. Kijenga certified professionals can help in the design process, but it is always good to have some ideas in place before meeting with them.
Considerations for designs are:

  • Levels: Do you want multiple deck levels?
  • Privacy: Do you require privacy screens from nosy neighbours?
  • Shade: Are you interested in a pergola or retractable awning?
  • Lighting: Do you want deck lights or stair lights installed?
  • Gas/Power: Do you require a gas line to your BBQ installed? Do you want outdoor speakers installed?

Of course there are other important factors to consider when designing a deck such as getting permits, following City of Saskatoon guidelines and ensuring the deck is structurally sound. But that stuff isn’t the fun part so let the pro’s take care of that!


There are a variety of options for what materials to use. For decking you can consider pressure treated wood, composite, PVC decking or vinyl decking. Railings are another material to consider: wood, composite, aluminum, glass, there are a variety of options. All vary in maintenance, life and cost. Your best bet is to have a conversation with a professional about what is best suited to your needs.


If you’re ready to enjoy your summer and outdoor space like never before, relax and let someone else do the work – invest in a deck built by a Kijenga certified contractor! Post your project for free at Kijenga.com and we will connect you with our certified contractors.


Building Women Up – Empowering Women In Their Homes

Join us for a fun, interactive event for women at the amazing new Greystone Co-op Home Centre.

Co-op partnered up with Kijenga.com and Saskatoon’s finest women in trades where they’ll demonstrate everything you need to know about your home.

We will cover it all from the plumbing to the electrical and everything in between. Our experts will also provide you with tips and tricks when it comes to interior design, painting and carpentry.

It’s an evening where you are given the opportunity to build your skills and empower yourself under your own roof.

You and your lady friends will be able to enjoy fine wines and cheeses selected by Co-op’s sommelier team.

We have a few surprises in store for all those attending so grab your friends and enjoy an entertaining night out!

Special thanks to our organizers and presenters for making this event happen.



K9 Cribs Dog House Building Fundraiser

Kijenga is thrilled to partner up with the Saskatoon SPCA for the first ever K9 Cribs Dog House Building Fundraiser!

We have teamed up with reputable contractors in the City of Saskatoon to build custom dog houses for our furry friends!

These one-of-a-kind dog houses are being displayed Lawson Heights Mall from March 5th to 21st and Gardenscape Backyard Living Expo from March 23rd to 25th. The online auction is live from 9am on March 5th to 9pm on March 25th.

Visitors to the display areas will get to vote for their favourite dog house. The contractor whose dog house receives the most votes will win the “People’s Choice Award” which included a $1000 tool package courtesy of Construction Fasteners in Saskatoon.

The highest bid on each dog house will be awarded the opportunity to purchase the house at the price they have bid. All funds raised from the sale of the houses will benefit the Saskatoon SPCA.


bathroom countertop

Choosing the Countertop That Is Right For You

With so many popular countertops to choose from for your kitchen or bathroom, weighing the pros and cons of each is recommended if you want to find the one that is right for your home in Saskatoon. Before you make your final decision, consider your preferences for aesthetics and function. Choose the best material for your space – and your budget!



It remains the top choice of most homeowners.  Traditional granite countertops offer a high-end look that adds to your kitchen’s value while providing a durable prep surface. Because granite is a natural material, variation in the stone’s pattern is common and, for most people, adds to its appeal but can make matching up slabs tricky. In Saskatoon, the cost of granite and quartz are comparable but natural granite requires a bit more care than manufactured quartz to keep its good looks — wipe up all stains quickly, especially oils, wine, acids and soda, and follow a regular sealing routine — typically once a year. Granite has a timeless appeal. It’s not only beautiful but it’s eco-friendly and durable. Granite resists heat very well and is not susceptible to scratches. It’s one of the number choices of designer kitchens and immediately adds value to any home.

On the downside, it’s one of the more expensive countertop material options. It’s also vulnerable to cracks and chips and because of its porous material it requires sealing every year.

If you’re looking for a granite countertop for your kitchen, check out Michelangelo Marble & Granite Co. in Saskatoon. They have a long history of outstanding quality and amazing customer service and they are a Kijenga Certified Pro!

granite countertop



If you want maintenance free, a quartz is a great option! It’s not that you don’t have to care for it but engineered quartz countertops are stain, acid, scratch, heat and impact resistant and, thanks to their non-porous surface, don’t need to be sealed like natural stone countertops. They are available in a wide range of colors and patterns to fit your space. Quartz typically ranks close in popularity to the perennial top choice of granite.

quartz countertop



Tile countertops are a great choice if you want an inexpensive material that’s easy to maintain. It’s simple to coordinate with or mix and match with different design styles. Best of all, if you’re handy, a tile kitchen countertop is a do-it-yourself project that you can tackle in a long weekend. You’ll find tiles in a variety of materials such as porcelain, glass or ceramic. They also come in an extensive range of colors and sizes, allowing you to design a truly unique countertop for your kitchen or bathroom. The problem with tile is that it does require some maintenance and care. Tiles can get easily scratched and tile grout gets dirty and stained, particularly if it’s white.

tile countertop kitchen



Do you have a specific shape in mind for your countertop? Concrete can be poured into any mold and your countertop can take any shape you want. Concrete countertops are highly customizable — you can choose any stain color and texture. Concrete mixes well with many different materials, such as glass, tile and marble to create a one-of-a-kind look. Aside from its eye-pleasing appearance, it is energy efficient — when the temperature in your home rises, concrete captures the heat and releases it when the temperature cools down. Concrete is becoming more and more popular inside your home. The biggest question homeowners ask themselves is “who is going to do this for me in Saskatoon?” Well, luckily for you, Old North Concreteworks specializes in concrete furniture and countertops and they’re based right here in Saskatoon. If you’re considering concrete in your home, give these guys a call or post your project today and we will hook you up!

concrete countertop


Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is the countertop of choice for an industrial style kitchen. It’s incredibly easy to clean with soap and water and tough on high temperatures. The most appealing characteristic of this material is its ability to inhibit bacterial buildup, making it the most hygienic countertop available. Unfortunately, stainless steel is susceptible to dents and scratches. And because of its material, handprints and smudges can be easily seen, requiring it to be constantly wiped down.

stainless steel countertop



Hardwood countertops give off a natural vibe to any kitchen, making it warm and welcoming. It’s an excellent way to bring in an earthy element into your home. You’ll have a lot of wood types to choose from such as maple, oak, birch, and cherry; to name a few. Many homeowners like the hardwood option for being so reasonably priced.

For a warm, cottage kitchen look, opt for butcher-block-style wood countertops. Both decorative and functional, this hardworking surface is ideal for food prep — properly sealed, wood countertops are sanitary even for chopping meat. Unlike other budget-friendly options, like laminate, wood is highly heat-resistant so you don’t have to worry about putting hot pots and pans on the surface.

Hardwood countertops will require some care as they will stain. They’re also susceptible to scratches and dents. Expect to have to refinish your wood countertops after 10-20 years.



Marble Countertops

With timeless appeal, this stone gives any kitchen a decidedly high-end look and, although the cost is comparable to some granites, marble is porous so staining can be a problem. Regular sealing and special care with anything acidic to prevent etching will keep the creamy surface looking its best.

marble countertop



Laminate is easily one of the least expensive options for a countertop. It’s very easy to install and you can even install it over an existing laminate countertop. By far the most budget-friendly option, laminate countertops are enjoing a resurgence in popularity thanks to new patterns that resemble natural stone, wood or even quartz at a fraction of the cost. Retro, mid-century looks like the ubiquitous boomerang and bright, saturated colors are other trendy choices to consider.

The downside is that it damages easily. Your hot pans can melt the top layer and it is susceptible to scratches. It also doesn’t add much to the resale value of the house. However, if you’re on a tight budget, laminate is the way to go.

laminate kitchen countertop


Promoting and Supporting Women in Trade

It can be pretty intimidating for a woman to enter the trades because of the underrepresentation of females in industries like construction, carpentry, plumbing and electrical.

In 2011, census data revealed the rates of women in trades were increasing with 1432 female electricians, 931 female motor mechanics, 676 female carpenters, and 638 female plumbers across Australia.

And according to the Chicago Tribune, the U.S. Department of Labor in 2014 reported that women represented 4% of the U.S. workforce in natural resources, maintenance, and construction. And in the U.K., it was reported that almost 6% of trade workers that included builders, plumbers, and plasterers are women.

However, in Canada, while women account for nearly half of the workforce, they continue to be under-represented in skilled trades.

There’s no doubt that women in trades are on the rise all over the world. However, despite the growing numbers and impressive reviews of their capabilities and performance, hurdles still exist that keep women in trade from achieving equality, respect, and acceptance.

Women in trades experience three main barriers when trying to acquire training and employment in skilled trade occupations:

  1. Discrimination

In Canada, much like other countries, skilled trades are traditionally defined as male occupations. It’s no secret that the majority of cultures and societies separate based on gender and the reality is that gender stereotypes and inequality dominate society.

In the U.S., it was reported that women’s underrepresentation in high-paying industries is one main reason that women earn 78 cents for every dollar a man earns, on average.

  1. Lack of Educational Promotion

Lindsay Amundsen, a workforce development coordinator at Canada’s Building Trades Union, runs a national women-in-construction program that supports and mentors women in the skilled construction trades. When asked why more women don’t pursue to participate apprenticeship programs, she cites that there is a lack of awareness:

“Students are not taught in school — especially young girls — that a career in the trades is an option for them.”

And with gender stereotypes still posing a threat to work equality, most trade schools and programs tend to advertise and gravitate towards recruiting men.

  1. Inability of Workplaces to Implement Change

The reality is, despite the implementation of the Canada Labour Program, many employers refuse to change their attitudes and simply will not hire women.

To enforce change, organizations like WiN Canada and Skills Compétences Canada have taken steps to address these issues. However, many women in trade know that while policies and regulations are the steps in the right direction, the change needs to happen on a cultural level.

Women in trade are committed to changing the face of the industry. In the U.K., the surge in what has been dubbed as “white-van women” or women in trade is because employers are seeking tradespeople who are not only reliable but have excellent customer skills – both of which women have.

It’s only a matter of time before the rest of the world catches up as women continue to close the gender gap and change the social perception that these jobs are too physical and too dirty for women.

In Canada, government and workers unions have taken the steps towards closing the gender gap by requiring employers to accommodate from the four designated groups in Canada – Women, Aboriginal Peoples, persons with disabilities, and visible minorities.

However, the hope is that someday, there will no longer be a need for regulations and that employers and society will naturally employ and promote women in trades based on their skills and expertise alone.

Natasha Martynes, Red Seal Journeyperson Plumber and holder of the Blue Seal for business in trades, founded her company MARZ Plumbing in 2014 and caters to the Saskatoon area. They specialize in plumbing repairs, repairing and installing hot water heaters, drain cleaning, gas fitting, and renovations.

Knowing all too well the struggles that women in trade often face in the industry, Natasha and her company are not only dedicated to the highest level of customer service but also have a commitment to promote women in trades and encourage the youth to become involved.

Natasha and her team support local organizations and initiatives in Saskatoon such as YWCA’s Trade Journey and the High School Carpentry Apprenticeship Program (HCAP). The Trade Journey program is a pre-trades program that prepares women for success in their trade of choice whereas the HCAP program provides an opportunity for students to experience a hands-on approach to learning. Students will spend a semester working with a carpenter/teacher to build a RTM house.

To learn more about Natasha and her business, check out the website for Marz Plumbing and get in touch with her if you have any questions about starting your own business.

You can also check out the deals Marz Plumbing is currently selling on the Kijenga marketplace. Shop Now!


The Importance of Hiring a Licensed Contractor

A bid from an unlicensed contractor in Saskatoon will probably be much lower than one you’ll get from a licensed contractor. They’ll promise to do the same work (and oftentimes for less money) and while it may be tempting to take it, know that there are risks to hiring a contractor that is not licensed in Saskatchewan. If you’re finding your contractor on buy and sell websites, make sure you do your due diligence and in comparing quotes, make sure you comparing apples to apples. There is nothing more frustrating for a reputable contractor than to find out that you chose a fly-by-night contractor because they came in lower and when looking at their estimate, it didn’t include x, y and z.

What does it mean when a contractor has a license?

The Contractor Is Backed By the Province

In Saskatchewan, licensed contractors are required to have insurance which provides the homeowner with some financial recourse if problems arise.

Most provinces have a dispute resolution program and only by using a licensed contractor will you be allowed to take advantage of it. Provincial funds will be available to you to help you resolve disputes and compensate property owners.

All contractor members of Kijenga are required to carry a valid license. If you encounter any problems with a licensed contractor or a tradesman, the provincial licensing board will be your ally in resolving any disputes.

The Contractor Has Insurance and/or Bonding

As required by the city or town, the contractor must hold the minimum insurance and/or bonding to obtain a contracting license. The contractor is required to demonstrate proof of insurance whether you live in Saskatoon, Warman, Martensville, or rural Saskatchewan.

The Contractor Can Apply For Permits

A licensed contractor can apply for a building permit on behalf of the homeowner with written consent. Before a contractor can obtain a building permit, they must prove to their municipality that they are licensed and insured.

The Contractor Is Competent

The Ministry of Government Relations certifies Gas-Fitters and Electricians while the Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission (SATCC) regulates all other trades in the province.

Before working in the field, compulsory trades require tradespeople to have their Certification of Qualification. Basic competency is tested during the licensing process as a way to screen out the dishonest contractors. A qualified contractor should have a valid license.

Will a license always be required?

Because each city, municipality and province has a different set of requirements, ensure you know what they are specifically for where your home is located. Most provinces will require contractors to be licensed and/or bonded while some may not. Because licensing requirements change, check with both your provincial and municipal office to verify if there have any updates or if additional licences or permits are required.

For homeowners in Saskatchewan, remember that contractors are required by law to have a direct seller’s licence before soliciting you for work. Ask to see their licence and request for the contractor’s full business name and address. You can confirm if the licence is valid by searching for them on FCAA411. If they work for a company, check their registration status.

If you’re looking for a licensed and certified contractor, post your project for free and we will match you up with reputable and certified contractors we have already verified for you. Get a few quotes, compare the home professionals and make a hire! It’s that easy. If you’re looking to find some sweet deals, you have to check out our online marketplace. There is something for everyone.

Happy Hiring!

Brown chair with clean home decor that won't break your bank.

Easy Home Upgrades That Won’t Break the Bank

Home improvement projects are daunting, not only because of the stress they cause but because they are also quite costly most of the time. With the downturn of the economy in Saskatoon, there are a lot of homeowners that love the idea of upgrading one or two rooms in their house, but then they take a hard look at their finances and question whether or not they can afford it.

More and more homeowners are looking to remodel their bathroom(s), revamp their kitchen, make more space by developing their basement or simply looking to fix a few odds and ends.

When it comes to home improvement projects and renovations, you just have to make smart decisions. Listed below are some budget-friendly tips so that you can tackle those home projects without breaking the bank.

Be Bright about Light

Good lighting can make a huge difference in your interiors. A perfectly designed home that is improperly lit will never be able to achieve its full aesthetic potential. With that said, being smart with your lighting doesn’t have to be this big scary thing. Consider planning with the future in mind. LED lighting, although a tad bit pricier than other lighting options, consumes less energy. Especially for lights you use on a regular basis (living room, kitchen), the money you save on electricity costs would make up for the higher price tag. Here is some valuable information from SaskPower.


Be intelligent about making the wiring for your lights flexible. Even though you’re happy with the accent pendant light that illuminates your dining room, it would be wise to let the electrician prepare the ceiling for any recessed pin lights that you might decide to install in the future.

Two (or More) in One

Utilizing furniture and design features that serve more than one function not only saves you money, it create more floor space for you. Utilizing storage ottomans will provide you with both a stylish seating option and a space to store toys and books. For some homeowners, purchasing beds with storage space underneath is a great option. There is a plethora of smart furniture options for you to choose from and all you need to do to make them work for your own home is to keep an open-mind and a have a keen eye for style. There are lots of unique furniture and home decor stores in Saskatoon where you can find the perfect piece for you and your space.

multi use furniture

Bring in the Colour

People often underestimate the power of intelligently-planned colour palettes. The generous use of white undoubtedly brightens up a room but other colours work just as well and even add a little flair. You can go with a tan, beige, and warm browns for a very comfortable look and feel. If you want the room to be a little on the edgy side, use bright accent colours that pop. Neon greens, navy blues, and bright magentas do wonders to a room. Endless possibilities open up when you consider just re-painting a space. It’s an affordable design solution that has the potential to totally change your perspective on a room.

Give Faux a Chance

Think out of the box. Smart homeowners really put some thought into figuring out the individual qualities in design elements that they like and replicate those qualities with more affordable materials and building methods. Brick walls are undoubtedly charming, but having one installed is sometimes not feasible or affordable. Options such as brick veneer or even brick wallpaper can be more doable and budget-friendly than real brick. Wood flooring is also a popular design choice. However, the intricacies behind installing solid wood flooring and the maintenance of such design features can sometimes be overwhelming. Faux wood porcelain tiles or wood vinyl flooring could be better alternatives.


Do-It-Yourself (when it makes sense)

For the closet craftsmen out there, consider foregoing store-bought items for things you could create yourself. It might seem daunting at first, but the fulfillment one gets from creating something for their home (not to mention the costs sometimes saved) are well worth the initial apprehension. Learning and trying to do home upgrades yourself also serve to broaden your knowledge about home improvement.

Rustic Charm

A growing movement nowadays is the popularity of raw, unfinished aesthetics. If done right, these types of designs prove to be incomparably beautiful and unique. In many cases, these “unfinished” looks serve to be even better than more expensive alternatives. Raw concrete walls have been all the rage nowadays, and the vintage industrial style is making a big comeback. Consider industrial style furniture and surface finishes and you will find that oftentimes, less is more.

Go Green

Recent studies have proven that ornamental plant-life increases happiness and productivity. Although this research was conducted in an office setting, the same holds true for residential spaces as well. The smart use of plants serves to liven up a place, bring in some fresh air into the house, and really improve the quality of life in a space. They need don’t have to be expensive or high-end. Find something that works within your budget and just them them intelligently.

green plants as home decor

In the end, it’s all about understanding how you want your home to look and feel and making smart decisions to get you there. There are often many alternatives in all aspects of home design and improvement projects. Professional designers, when faced with difficult design choices, always make it a point to go back to asking themselves “why?”

Why do we need recessed ceiling lighting? Perhaps a well-placed centre light might do the trick? Why must I insist on polished marble floor tiles? Maybe using porcelain floor tiles will have the same effect?

Once you get to the root of what you want in your home, you start to see the bare bone spirit of the spaces you have in front of you. The more you understand what your house needs, the better (and more affordable) your home improvement decisions will be.

To help you with your budget-friendly home improvement projects, you must check out our marketplace of certified and reputable pros in Saskatoon. You will find sweet deals from verified contractors.


Fall Checklist For Your Home

It’s crazy to say this but Fall is right around the corner here in Saskatoon and if you’re a homeowner, it’s time to get ready. The little things you can take care of over the next few weeks can make a huge difference for you and your home.

We have put together a list of tasks that may or may not apply to you and most of the items here can be done by you when you have some free time. That being said, if there is something out of your scope, don’t be afraid to hire a professional and let them handle it. It’s worth the investment. Trust us.

Here is the checklist at a glance.

  • Inspect and clean your gutters and downspouts around your home.
  • Seal gaps and cracks around windows and doors with weather-stripping and caulking.
  • Inspect your roof for damaged or curled shingles, corroded flashing, or leaky vents.
  • Take the steps now to repair damaged sidewalks, driveways, and steps.
  • Drain and winterize outdoor faucets and irrigation systems.
  • Clean or replace dirty furnace filters.
  • The winters can be cold here in Saskatchewan. Have a professional inspect your heating system.
  • If you have a gas-fired room heater, have it inspected by a pro. Also, perform any routine maintenance recommended.
  • Wood stoves are making a comeback. To avoid a deadly situation, be sure to inspect yours before firing it up.
  • A home safety check should be an annual ritual in every household. Test smoke and CO monitors, inspect (or install) fire extinguishers, review fire escape plans, and get rid of old newspapers and other fire hazards.


Your roof’s drainage system annually diverts thousands of gallons of water from your house’s exterior and foundation walls. That’s why it is so important to keep this system flowing smoothly. Clogged eavestroughs can lead to damaged exterior surfaces and to water in your basement. They are also more prone to rust and corrosion. Before the leaves fly this fall, have your gutters cleaned, then covered with mesh guards to keep debris from returning.


A home with air leaks around windows and doors is like a coat left unbuttoned. Gaps in caulk and weather-stripping can account for a 10% of your heating bills.

Weather-stripping is easily the most cost-effective way to rein in heating and cooling costs. This humble material also reduces drafts and keeps your home more comfortable year-round. Because weather stripping can deteriorate over time, it is important to inspect it periodically.

If you suspect a problem with weather stripping, you have several options for checking. Close a door or window on a strip of paper; if the paper slides easily, your weatherstripping isn’t doing its job. Or, close the door or window and hold a lighted candle near the frame. (Don’t let the flame get near anything flammable!) If the flame flickers at any spot along the frame, you have an air leak.

While you’re at it, also check for missing or damaged caulking around windows, doors, and entry points for electrical, cable, phone, gas, and so. Seal any gaps with a suitable caulking from your local home centre.


Few homeowner problems are more frustrating than a leaky roof. Once the dripping starts, finding the source of the problem can be time-consuming and costly. Stop problems this fall before ice and winter winds turn them from annoyances into disasters.

Inspect your roof from top to bottom, using binoculars if necessary. Check ridge shingles for cracks and wind damage. Look for damage to metal flashing in valleys and around vents and chimneys. Scan the entire roof for missing, curled, or damaged shingles. Look in your gutters for large accumulations of granules, a sign that your roof is losing its coating; expect problems soon. Finally, make sure your gutters are flowing freely.

Roof-mounted television antennas, even if they aren’t in use, may have guy wires holding them in place. Look for loose or missing guy wires. If you see some, and your antenna is no longer being used, consider having it removed altogether.


Damaged walkways, drives, and steps are a hazard year round, but their dangers are compounded when the weather turns icy. Fixing problems in the fall is also critical to preventing little problems from becoming expensive headaches.

Look for cracks more than 1/8-inch wide, uneven sections, and loose railings on steps. Check for crumbling asphalt, or washed-out materials on loose-fill paths.

Most small jobs are well within the ability of a do-it-yourselver, but save major repairs for experienced hands.


Living in Saskatoon where we can experience some serious cold snaps in January, you have to take steps now to ensure that outside faucets and in-ground irrigation systems don’t freeze and burst.

Close any shut-off valves serving outside faucets, then open the outside faucet to drain the line. (There may be a small cap on the faucet you can loosen to facilitate this draining.) If you don’t have shut-off valves, and your faucets are not “freezeproof ” types, you may benefit from styrofoam faucet covers sold at home centres.

To freezeproof an inground irrigation system, follow the manufacturer’s procedure for draining it and protecting it from winter damage.


Furnace filters trap dust that would otherwise be deposited on your furniture, woodwork, and so on. Clogged filters make it harded to keep your home at a comfortable temperature, and can serious increase your utility bills. A simple monthly cleaning is all it takes to keep these filters breathing free and clear.

Here’s how: Disposable filters can be vaccumed once before replacement. Foam filters can also be vaccumed, but they don’t need to be replaced unless they are damaged. Use a soft brush on a vacuum cleaner. If the filter is metal or electrostatic, remove and wash it with a firm water spray.


Once a year, it’s a good idea to have your heating system inspected by a professional. To avoid the last-minute rush, consider scheduling this task in early fall, before the heating season begins.

Here are signs that you should have an inspection performed sooner:

  • Noisy belts. Unusual screeches or whines may be a signal that belts connected to the blower motor are worn or damaged.
  • Poor performance. A heating system that doesn’t seem to work as well as it once did could be a sign of various problems. Your heating ducts might be blocked, the burners might be misadjusted, or the blower motor could be on its last legs. One check you should be sure to conduct: Make sure your furnace filter is clean.
  • Erratic behaviour. This could be caused by a faulty thermostat or a misadjusted furnace.


Even if you use your fireplace only occasionally, you should check it annually for damage and hazards.

Inspect your flue for creosote. Creosote is a flammable by-product of burning wood. If it accumulates in a flue or chimney, the result can be a devastating fire. Have your chimney inspected annually for creosote buildup. If you use a fireplace or wood stove frequently, have the flue inspected after each cord of wood burned.

For most people, the best option is to have your entire chimney system inspected by a chimney sweep. Once you know what to look for, you can perform the inspection by shining a bright flashlight up the flue, looking for any deposits approaching 1/8 inch thick. These deposits should be cleaned by an experienced chimney sweep.

Look for flue blockages. Birds love to nest at the top of an unprotected flue. A chimney cap can prevent this from happening. If you don’t have a cap, look up the flu to ensure that there are no obstructions.

Exercise the damper. The damper is the metal plate that opens and closes the flu just above the firebox. Move it to the open and closed positions to ensure that it is working properly.

Check your chimney for damage. Make certain that the flue cap (the screen or baffle covering the top of the chimney) is in place. Inspect brick chimneys for loose or broken joints. If access is a problem, use binoculars.


You may know that bone dry winter air is bad for your health, but did you also know it can make fine wood more prone to cracking? You and your home will feel more comfortable if you keep your central humidifier in tip-top shape during the months it is running.

First, inspect the plates or pads, and if necessary, clean them in a strong laundry detergent solution. Rinse and scrape off mineral deposits with a wire brush or steel wool.


Keeping a gas heater in good shape is both a safety and a cost issue. An improperly maintained heater can spew poisons into the air of your home, or it may simply be costing you more to operate. Have a professional check these devices annually. There are also some maintenance items you should address.

First, shut off the heater. Then check the air-shutter openings and exhaust vents for dirt and dust. If they are dirty, vacuum the air passages to the burner and clean the burner of lint and dirt. Follow the manufacturer’s advice for any other needed maintenance.


Woodburning stoves are a great way to add atmosphere and warmth to your home. But regular inspections are needed to ensure that these devices don’t become a safety hazard. Here’s how to check them.

Inspect stovepipes. Cracks in stovepipes attached to wood stoves can release toxic fumes into your home. Throughout the heating season, you should check for corrosion, holes, or loose joints. Clean the stovepipe, and then look for signs of deterioration or looseness. Replace stovepipe if necessary.

Look for corrosion and cracks. Check for signs of rust or cracking in the stove’s body or legs.

Check safety features. Make sure that any required wall protection is installed according to the manufacturer’s specifications and that the unit sits on an approved floor material. If you have young children, be sure to fence off the stove when it is in operation.

At least once a year, do a top-to-bottom review of your home’s safety features. This is also a good time to get the family together for a review of your fire evacuation plan. Here’s how to do this:


Replace the batteries in each smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detector, then vacuum them with a soft brush attachment. Test the detectors by pressing the test button or holding a smoke source (like a blown-out candle) near the unit. If you haven’t already, install a smoke detector on every floor of your home, including the basement.


Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher rated for all fire types. At a minimum, keep one near the kitchen; having one per floor isn’t a bad idea. Annually, check the indicator on the pressure gauge to make sure the extinguisher is charged. Make certain that the lock pin is intact and firmly in place, and check that the discharge nozzle is not clogged. Clean the extinguisher and check it for dents, scratches, and corrosion. Replace if the damage seems severe. Fire extinguishers that are more than six years old should be replaced. Mark the date of purchase on the new unit with a permanent marker.


Every bedroom, including basement bedrooms, should have two exit paths. Make sure windows aren’t blocked by furniture or other items. Ideally, each upper-floor bedroom should have a rope ladder near the window for emergency exits. Review what to do in case of fire, and arrange a safe meeting place for everyone away from the house.


It’s time for the fall cleanup. Get rid of accumulations of old newspapers and leftover hazardous household chemicals. (Check with your state or local Environmental Protection Agency about the proper way to discard dangerous chemicals.) Store flammable materials and poisons in approved, clearly labeled containers. Keep a clear space around heaters, furnaces, and other heat-producing appliances.