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.

Insulating Your Windows for Cold Weather

If your home or cottage never seems to be warm enough during these frigid winter months, there’s a good chance that your windows are old and drafty. Older windows can turn any comfortable home into a nightmare of drafts and high heating bills during the winter, leading to homeowners trying just about anything they can to keep the warm air inside where it belongs. If you haven’t yet gotten around to replacing your old drafty windows, there are temporary measures you can take to keep your home warm this winter.

Apply caulking around your windows
Caulking is one of the most common ways to insulate your windows during the winter months, working to block drafts from entering from outside. You’ll have to begin by removing any old caulking, dirt, and grime around the window’s outer perimeter. Once the surface has been sufficiently dried, simply apply new exterior-grade caulking between your window’s frame and exterior trims boards or the siding. Exterior-grade caulking generally features silicone content that will stand up to the elements for a longer period of time.

Make smart use of window coverings
Heavy layered curtains and other window coverings like cellular shades and blinds are a stylish and effective way of reducing the effects of leaky windows. Window treatments reduce the amount of cold air entering your home through old drafty windows, adding some extra insulation to your windows. The downside to using heavy curtains and window coverings during the winter months is that on colder days you’ll be sacrificing letting sunlight into your home for insulating your windows against the entry of cold air.

Install weatherstripping around the window sash
Weatherstripping is a cost effective and easy to install solution that’ll help you close the gaps in and around your windows, serving as an air-tight barrier that will seal off many of the drafts in old windows. Weatherstripping comes in many different sizes and materials, with options that are ideal for windows of any type and size. While weatherstripping can last for long periods of time, regular window operation can cause it to wear down and detach from window sashes.

Good old fashioned insulation film will help reduce heat loss
Insulation film is the most popular way for homeowners to insulate windows during winter months, standing as a tried and true method of keeping cold air out. Insulation film is a plastic sheet affixed to the interior of your window with double-sided tape and then heated with a hair dryer to shrink it down to size and remove any wrinkles that may allow cold air to leak in. Insulation film is one of the most cost-effective ways of insulating windows, but comes with one major caveat – views are completely obstructed by the plastic film, and windows will not be accessible while the it is in place.

Draft stoppers
Another affordable but slightly less effective way of insulating windows for cold weather is to make use of draft stoppers. These can be quickly installed on the bottoms of windows and doors to lessen the flow of air leaks. Draft stoppers come in various shapes and sizes, acting as a cheap and dirty way to keep your home warmer until the spring. If your old drafty windows are making your winters more uncomfortable than necessary, it’s time for you to replace them. The winter is the perfect season to book your window replacement, as businesses become busier in the spring and summer, making it difficult to have your windows replaced before the cold weather comes around again. To book your free consultation with Muskoka Window & Door Centre, contact us today.

Muskoka is Home to Some of Ontario’s Best Craft Breweries

The Muskoka region is home to a wide assortment of activities for people of all ages – from hiking the many beautiful nature trails and swimming in Muskoka’s scenic lakes to checking out local museums, art galleries, and local shopping opportunities, there’s no shortage of things to do all year long. One of the most popular year-round activities enjoyed by many in the area is to take a tour of Muskoka’s impressive craft breweries, or just stop by for a quick pint. The region is home to some of Ontario’s most acclaimed craft breweries, including Muskoka Brewery in Bracebridge, Sawdust City Brewing Co. in Gravenhurst, Lake of Bays Brewery in Baysville, and Clear Lake Brewing Co. in Muskoka Lakes.

Muskoka Brewery
In 1996, Muskoka Brewery was founded in Bracebridge, Ontario. Originally located in the downtown area, the 8,000 sq ft brewery has since moved to a much larger 40,000 sq ft space. Muskoka Brewery is one of Ontario’s most acclaimed craft breweries, offering a wide selection of great beer including perennial favourites like craft lager, cream ale, Mad Tom IPA, and Detor, one of Ontario’s first ISA’s (India session ale).

Along with its lineup of regular offerings, Muskoka Brewery offers a wide variety of seasonal favourites. Tours of the impressive brewery are available year-round, as are special events including live music, open mic nights, and much more.

Find out more about Muskoka Brewery.

Sawdust City Brewing Co.
Founded in 2011, Sawdust City Brewing Co. in Gravenhurst, Ontario quickly became renowned throughout the Muskoka region for its dedication to creating exceptional craft beer. Its 20,000 sq ft brewery opened in 2014 in downtown Gravenhurst, and business has been booming ever since.

Tours of the brewery are available by appointment from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM every Saturday, offering visitors the chance to check out the impressive facilities and get a behind-the-scenes look at how their favourite beer is made. Sawdust City’s tap room gives visitors a chance to try its wide assortment of craft beer, including favourites like Lone Pine, their West Coast IPA, Ol’ Woody Alt, an Amber Lagered Ale, Little Norway, a Pale Lager, and the always refreshing Golden Beach Session IPA.

For more information about Sawdust City Brewing Co., visit its website.

Lake of Bays Brewery
Opened in 2010, Lake of Bays Brewery has become a staple of the community of Baysville. Lake of Bays has a simple philosophy – to make great beer, stay down to earth, and have fun running the business. The Brewery has a wide selection of beer currently available, including the Northern Glow Brut IPA, Lift Lock Light Lager, Switchboard Pilsner, and Starboard New England IPA among other favourites. The Lake of Bays Brewery and retail store open year round, with brewery tours available by appointment on Saturday afternoons between 12:00 and 3:00 PM, and on Sundays by chance. In addition to brewery tours, visitors can enjoy Saturday winter music sessions and other regular events at the Brewery.

Find out more about Lake of Bays Brewery by visiting its website.

Clear Lake Brewing Co.
Founded in September 2016, Clear Lake Brewing Co. is the newest addition to the Muskoka craft brewery scene. Offering a full lineup of craft favourites including the Clear Lake Session Ale, Clear Lake American IPA, Clear Lake Cran Radler, and everything from pilsners to porters, there’s a little something for everybody at the Muskoka Lakes-based brewery. Clear Lake Brewing serves up cold beer, features a full restaurant, and hosts a variety of events and live entertainment. Clear Lake closes for the winter season, but the brewery is a summer hot spot for locals and tourists, and Clear Lake beer is available in a number of nearby Beer Store and LCBO locations.

Learn more about Clear Lake Brewing Co. on its website.