Should You Replace Your Windows Yourself?

Choosing to install replacement windows in your Muskoka cottage or home brings with it a wealth of benefits, including reduced energy bills and increased energy efficiency, a quieter home, and added aesthetic appeal. It’s often tempting for homeowners to choose to install their own replacement windows, but doing so can sometimes result in poor or improper installation, leading to reduced window performance. It’s important to not take this decision lightly because it can make such a profound difference in the look and performance of your windows. Before you choose whether to install your new windows yourself or hire the services of a professional, it’s recommended that you consider the following.

The argument for DIY window replacement

If you have experience in home renovations, you might naturally assume that you have the skills needed to replace your own windows. The process appears simple, especially if you already have the tools needed to get the job done. Doing your own installation will help you avoid expenses incurred by hiring a professional, as well as time spent looking for and communicating with an installation professional.

Before deciding to go the DIY route, take into account the amount of time you might save yourself by hiring a professional, and how complex the overall job is – how many windows are being replaced? What kind of windows are being installed? Do you know what to do if anything should go wrong during the installation? Installing your windows will also see you foregoing any installation warranty, which is another major consideration. You may quickly come to find that hiring a professional will be an easier, more time-consuming option.

The case for professional window replacement

A professional window installer is far more convenient than attempting to do it yourself, saving you countless hours of planning and labor, and the potential embarrassment that can come with a botched installation. It’s also important that your windows be installed properly to ensure that drafts don’t let air escape from or enter your home, and that moisture is controlled. An installation expert will be able to detect any problems in your new windows and will know how to effectively seal them against the elements.

Window and door companies are well-versed in a wide variety of window types and have handled complex installations in the past, greatly increasing the chances that your installation will be correct the first time. A proper installation free of drafts will save you in future utility bills, as your furnace and air conditioner won’t have to keep up with fluctuating temperatures in your home. If your windows are faulty or mistakes are made in the installation process, your installation warranty will cover the work needed to fix the problems – performing the installation yourself won’t afford you this luxury. Your professionally installed windows will perform flawlessly for years to come, and you’ll be thanking yourself for not taking the much riskier DIY route. The experienced team at Muskoka Window & Door Centre make replacing your windows easy through expert consultation and superior product knowledge. No matter what the size or scope of your window replacement project, our team is ready to get the job done. For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high-quality line of window and door products, visit our website or contact us today.

5 Signs You Need New Windows

Too many people put off replacing the windows in their home until they have no other choice, which can cause damage inside your home and disrupt many aspects of your daily life. One of the major reasons why window replacements are often put off until the last minute is that most people just don’t know when it’s time to replace their windows, or aren’t aware of the many signs that indicate a window being on its last legs. Here are five of the surefire signs that it’s time to upgrade those drafty old windows.

1. You feel drafts and hear whistling wind

Drafts entering your home through old windows can drastically alter the temperature inside your home, which in turn affects your comfort and often results in higher heating and cooling bills. If you can feel a breeze coming from your window even when it’s closed or if you can feel cold air coming in from your window frame, your window is in rough shape and needs to be replaced. Hearing whistling through your windows on windy days is another major sign that you need to replace your windows, signaling that a major draft exists in your window frame.

2. Higher energy bills

When your windows aren’t working to keep your home warm or cool, the furnace or air conditioning will try to make up for the constantly fluctuating temperatures. If you’ve noticed that your energy bills have increased significantly, it may be due to drafty windows in your home causing your furnace or air conditioner to run when they’re not actually needed and waste energy. Wasted energy means that you’re flushing your money down the drain. Replacement windows will help to regulate the temperature in your home, keeping it cooler in the summertime and warmer during the winter, taking the burden off your utilities.

3. Condensation appears on your windows

Condensation appearing on your windows is one of the clearest signs that your windows need to be replaced. This generally happens during the colder months when warm air from inside your home meets with the cold glass on your windows to create condensation. The moisture generated by condensation can ruin window frames and create mold on your windowsills, even opening your home up to more substantial decay in your home’s wall cavities and attic. These potential major damages alone are more than enough to warrant installing new windows in your property. If you’ve noticed condensation between window panes, it could be a sign that the seal between panes is broken or not functioning correctly, which could necessitate replacing them.

4. Damaged window frames

When exposed to excess levels of moisture for prolonged periods, even the highest quality window frames and sills will succumb to rot or damage. Mold can also grow and thrive in damp frames and sills, leading to potential health complications and unsightly staining. If your window frames are showing signs of decay or have become damaged due to mold, it’s time to replace your windows.

5. Declining window performance

Your windows should open and close smoothly and reliably – if simple window operation has become a major strain on your daily routine, or if it feels like opening and closing your windows has started to replace your workout, you might want to consider installing new ones. Proper locking mechanisms is another essential thing to check for, both for the security they provide and for the added benefit of preventing air from escaping through your windows.

The experienced team at Muskoka Window & Door Centre make replacing your windows easy through expert consultation and superior product knowledge. No matter what you’re looking for, our team will help you find the perfect replacement windows for your home or cottage. For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high-quality line of window and door products, visit our website or contact us today.

Preventing Flooding in a Window Well

Throughout the spring of 2019, the Muskoka region was impacted by flooding that forced some communities to declare a state of emergency. This flooding caused damage to homes, cottages, and businesses throughout the region, and caused thousands of dollars in damage throughout Muskoka.

With the threat of future floods looming, Muskoka cottage owners need to take proactive measures in order to be better prepared for floods, and to minimize damage to property. Preventing flooding in window wells is one of the best ways to protect your basement from flooding.

How window well flooding happens

Window wells are a great way to let natural light into the basement of a home or cottage, avoiding the “dungeon” look that often accompanies basements. They also go a long way to prevent damage to basement windows, and to allow a point for emergency escapes or entrances.

Water entering your home through basement window wells can be devastating to your property, causing damage to windows, walls, paint, furniture, and home appliances. Window wells usually flood when they’ve been improperly installed, or when they have inadequate drainage to deal with heavy amounts of water from flooding, heavy rain, or snow melt.

Maintaining window wells

Maintaining your window wells will help to extend their lifespan, and can prevent flooding caused by poor or no maintenance. It’s recommended that cottage owners regularly inspect the condition of window wells, especially in the fall and after winter seasons when damage is most common. Debris should be cleared from window wells immediately, as leaves, branches, and dirt can quickly create a blockage in window well drains. If drainage isn’t functioning properly, pooling and flooding will occur, leading to serious window damage and water making its way into your home.

In addition, the caulking on window well liners should be reapplied if it has started to pull away from the foundation. Extreme weather and excessive snow and ice load can lead to caulking being damaged or pulling away, and can lead to water and debris entering drainage holes. While inspecting your window wells, be sure to confirm that your window well cover is in good condition, that it meets safety standards, and can still be easily removed in the event of an emergency.

Preventing flooding in window wells

Before taking measures to ensure that your window wells won’t flood, it’s important to ensure that your windows have been carefully fitted in order to prevent water from entering your windows – even the smallest gaps in the frame can let in large amounts of water. Once you’ve ensured the correct fit of the window and that gaps have been filled, one of the recommended preventative measures, especially during ongoing flooding, is to cover your ground level windows up using plywood and a rubber hose, as detailed here. Covering up your windows will ensure that they aren’t damaged by the increased pressure from the presence of water, and from floating objects.

Installing a dry well is another effective measure to direct water away from your windows and the foundation of your cottage. This can be done by digging a trench to direct excess water into, or by directing the water towards a sump pump that will pump water away from your cottage’s foundation. A contractor can do it, or you can rent the equipment to do it yourself.

Since 1988, Muskoka Window & Door Centre has helped customers see Muskoka as was meant to be seen with high performance window and door products. For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high quality line of window and door products, contact us today.

The Enduring Popularity of Boathouses in Muskoka

Boathouses have become a major part of the Muskoka shoreline – these prominent structures often rival the size and style of the main cottage, housing boats and watercraft of all types. The popularity of boathouses in the region has endured since cottagers have been making their way to Muskoka, becoming more grandiose and iconic over time. If you own a cottage in Muskoka or are looking into buying one, you may be thinking about investing in a boathouse to perfectly complement your property and add another beautiful structure to the Muskoka shoreline.

An iconic part of the Muskoka landscape
Many of Muskoka’s beautiful cottages feature prominent boathouses on their shores, creating a striking image for anybody new to the region. These pervasive structures have truly stood the test of time, with cottage owners being proud to show off their boathouses. Some owners have even gone as far as converting their boathouse into something far more versatile, with many spanning two stories – space for boats and watercraft on the first floor, and second-floor apartments that feature bedrooms, kitchen space, bathrooms, and living space.

Often, these lavish boathouses act as guesthouses for visitors or renters, giving guests the opportunity to experience accommodations that are truly unique to the Muskoka region. As time has passed, bylaws and regulations have changed throughout the region, limiting what cottage owners can do with their boathouses when looking to build or renovate.

What you need to be aware of when building or renovating your boathouse
Bylaws regarding boathouses vary throughout the Muskoka region – this can get very confusing, as different municipalities situated on the same lake will feature different regulations. Some areas like Huntsville, Bracebridge, and Gravenhurst allow for one story boathouses. Areas like Muskoka Lakes Township allow for boathouses to be built with living quarters on the second floor, but Muskoka Lakes is currently the only municipality in the Muskoka region that allows sleeping quarters to be featured in boathouses. Cottagers living on Lake Muskoka, Lake Joseph, and Lake Rosseau are permitted to build boathouses up to two stories high.

In Bracebridge, boathouses are allowed up to 15 meters from the shoreline, with Gravenhurst requiring that three quarters of the shoreline remain in its natural state. If you have a boathouse that doesn’t fit the established bylaws in your area, you may be grandfathered in due to the previous regulations in your location. If in doubt, it’s never a bad idea to check with the bylaws in your town or municipality to ensure that you can build or renovate the boathouse of your dreams. Parks Canada also has a number of policies relating to the construction of boathouses. Parks Canada also has a number of policies relating to the construction of boathouses.

Getting the right windows for your Muskoka boathouse
Cottagers who are lucky enough to have a beautiful boathouse on their property naturally want to frame the spectacular view from the boathouse. Large windows are the best way to accomplish this. Of course, you’ll want to make sure that your boathouse windows are in good shape in order to withstand the varying weather conditions of the Muskoka region.

Without the proper windows in your boathouse, you run the risk of letting moisture, pests, and the elements in, resulting in damages and creating an environment where mold will thrive. This can pose a safety hazard for anybody spending any significant amount of time in your boathouse, and will significantly reduce the lifespan of your boathouse. Remember to check for leaks and drafts in your windows, especially those situated in living spaces within your boathouse – this will allow you to tackle moisture and other problems proactively, and get the most out of your Muskoka property.

For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high-quality line of window and door products, visit our website or contact us today.

Mold Detection & Prevention at Your Muskoka Cottage

Mold is present wherever there’s moisture. Mold exposure can cause serious health complications in people who are sensitive or allergic to mold, or those who have pre-existing lung illnesses. Mold can also wreak havoc on your property, growing rapidly wherever moisture is present, including on windows, roofs, pipes, ceiling tiles, drywall, and many other areas. When mold makes its way into your home, it reduces indoor air quality, causes stains that are persistent and difficult to remove, and creates unpleasant odours. In order to avoid mold problems in your Muskoka cottage, it’s important to understand how to identify that you have a mold problem, and know how you can prevent them from occurring.

How to tell if your cottage has a mold problem

Despite the potential health problems, staining and odor caused by mold problems, it can be difficult to detect mold in your cottage – especially because mold isn’t always immediately apparent. If you’re trying to detect mold around your cottage, you’ll want to begin with damp areas such as leaky windows, basements, carpeting, and drywall that has been exposed to moisture. 

The most telling sign of mold is the staining that is often present with mold outbreaks. Mold will often contain dark blooms on or around windows, walls, and furniture, leaving a dark stain that few surfaces are immune to. Mold will often carry with it a distinct musty or earthy smell, helping you narrow down where the problem is coming from. If water damage has affected walls, window sills, or other areas where paint exists, it will cause cracking, blistering, or peeling, and cause drywall to “bulge” out or appear warped – mold will often be found underneath or around this water damage.

Remember that whenever you’re dealing with mold, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Take the proper precautions, even if you aren’t allergic or sensitive to mold. Wear gloves, masks, and gloves whenever working to protect yourself.

What to do to prevent mold in your Muskoka cottage

The most effective way to prevent mold from growing and spreading in your cottage is to take control of the indoor humidity and airflow in your property. This can be done by using dehumidifiers and fans, or simply by keeping your windows open – ventilation is especially important with bathrooms, laundry rooms, or any room with a source of running water or where laundry is hung to dry.

In addition to controlling humidity, it’s critical to prevent water from entering your home. You can do this by ensuring that your gutters are maintained and cleaned regularly, and that snow is shovelled away from your cottage, especially during the later winter months. Ensuring that the ground around your cottage slopes away from its foundation is also important, as it’ll keep rainfall and snowmelt from entering your property through its foundation. Eliminating leaks caused by old and damaged windows and doors is crucial, as is ensuring that the weather stripping around windows and doors is replaced when it begins to look worn. 

It goes without saying that wet feet are almost always going to be a presence in a cottage, so removing any carpeting and replacing it with hardwood flooring is a good idea for long-term mold prevention; plus it makes your cottage easier to maintain. Who wants to vacuum at the cottage? 

Mold can wreak havoc on window and door frames, causing them to break down and creating unsightly stains. The team at Muskoka Window & Door Centre has years of experience in dealing with windows and doors being affected by mold problems. If you think that your windows or doors have been damaged by mold, contact us today for an assessment and advice on the best course of action.

For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high quality line of window and door products, visit our website.

Hacks to Keep Your Cottage Cool This Summer

After a painfully long and unpredictable winter season, warm weather is finally here. With warmer months, though, comes sweaty days and nights searching desperately for relief. Though you can crank the air conditioner or run fans day and night, this can come at a hefty price – there are plenty of cheaper ways to escape the heat. If you don’t own an air conditioner or are looking to save money on utilities throughout the summer months, here are a few ways you can keep your cottage cool this summer.

Control air circulation with your doors

One way to prevent your cottage from overheating is to close off any unused rooms throughout the day to ensure that cool air stays where it’s supposed to, instead of circulating throughout the entire cottage. Opening your doors during the night will allow cool air to naturally circulate throughout the cottage, letting you take advantage of cool nights. Playing it smart and better controlling the circulation of air will keep you cooler during the coming summer months.

Make use of window coverings

This is another simple but very effective way to keep it cool throughout the summer. Throughout the daytime hours, keeping your blinds, curtains, shades, and other window coverings closed is a great way to keep heat out, lowering the temperature in your cottage significantly and helping you save a great deal on utilities. This method works best windows that face south and west, and especially when using blackout blinds or curtains, which go a long way in naturally insulating your rooms. When buying blackout window coverings, be sure to look for medium colours and plastic backings for best results.

Open your windows at night

While this method may seem obvious to many, it’s often overlooked by cottage owners looking to escape the heat. Opening your windows wide and drawing back coverings during the night will allow the cool night air to enter into your cottage and circulate naturally, reducing the temperature inside and keeping you cool while you sleep. Be sure to keep your doors open to allow the cool air to permeate throughout your home – a great way to maximize this is by setting a fan by the window to blow the cool air around. Remember to close them and draw the shades early in the morning to avoid the scorching morning sun.

Take your cooking outdoors whenever possible

Your stove or oven can be a huge source of heat during the summer months, turning indoor cooking into a risky affair on hotter days. The best solution is to take your cooking outdoors whenever possible, taking full advantage of the warm weather by using your grill to prepare food. Not only does grilling keep the heat outdoors where it belongs, but it also lets you make meals fun and delicious without heating up your kitchen and the rest of your cottage.

Other easy and effective hacks to help you keep cool this summer

  • Run the bathroom exhaust fan for longer than you normally would after taking a shower or bath
  • Turn off or limit the use of incandescent light bulbs
  • Use household appliances at night when possible
  • Make sure ceiling fans are spinning counter-clockwise

For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high quality line of window and door products, visit our website or contact us today.

The Pitfalls and Benefits of Renting Out Your Cottage on Airbnb

Since 2008, Airbnb has been helping users find or host short-term home, room, and cottage rentals around the world. The service currently lists millions of properties in nearly 200 countries, operating more than a dozen offices all around the world. Renting out your Muskoka cottage can present opportunities for earning extra supplementary income, but comes with its own unique drawbacks and pitfalls that you may want to consider before publishing your listing.

Extra income: the only “pro” to being an Airbnb host

The biggest – and only – advantage to owning a rental property is the amount of supplementary income you can earn. This is undoubtedly the main motivator in listing your property on a service like Airbnb, or hosting any long or short term tenant. This extra income can go a long way in helping you pay for mortgage and insurance expenses, or for paying for much needed improvements and repairs to your cottage. Depending on the success of your listing and the frequency of rentals, the extra income earned can greatly improve your quality of life, helping you pay off your mortgage or add new additions to the cottage.

Your time is valuable, make sure you can commit

The first major drawback to listing your cottage on a service like Airbnb is that it can very quickly start to eat up a great deal of your free time. The online nature of Airbnb means that you’ll have to be checking in frequently to respond to inquiries, as well as messaging back and forth with guests about details like arrival information and other important details.

Should your guests experience issues during their stay at the cottage, you’ll need to be on-hand or have someone lined up to solve them in a timely matter, or else be faced with a negative guest review. Another time-consuming aspect is that you may feel it’s necessary to be around the cottage when guests arrive, which can very quickly become disruptive and erratic. This can, however, be eliminated by installing a keypad for entry. You’ll also have to check the property after the guests have left in order to conduct a quick clean-up and inspection, which can take up a good deal of time if you host guests on a regular basis.

While cleaning services can be hired to do this, they are often few and far between in Muskoka and booked in advance; they aren’t available on a moment’s notice like they are in the city. If you can find one that can regularly clean your cottage after guests, it will be expensive but worth it if you can’t be there yourself.

Insurance implications can get complicated

Let’s be honest. Hosting complete strangers in your home or cottage will always bring with it at least a minor amount of risk. Your property can be damaged, guests can get unruly, and mistakes can happen. While the Airbnb Host Guarantee provides protection for up to $1,000,000 against property damage, it doesn’t cover cash, collectibles, jewelry, pets, or personal liability. You’ll also want to look into property insurance that covers short-term rentals, as standard property insurance doesn’t apply to these situations. Airbnb is very clear that the Host Guarantee program isn’t designed to replace homeowners or renters insurance, and strongly suggests that hosts understand the terms of their insurance agreement before hosting guests. While this insurance is available as an extra rider, it is usually not in a regular homeowners policy.

Not a consistent source of income

Finally, Airbnb is unfortunately nowhere near as consistent as hosting a long-term tenant is, although it does bring with it the advantage of you not having to be a landlord and therefore subject to the tenant-favouring Residential Tenancies Act in Ontario. Guests come and go, and dry periods are almost inevitable during seasons that don’t see a heavy influx of tourists. With Airbnb and other short-term rental services, you’ll never be certain just how much income you’ll be able to generate, although if you have a property on one of the major lake systems in Muskoka you can pretty much bank on it being filled during the summer months.

If you’re looking to use Airbnb as a long-term income supplementation strategy, you may want to consider other avenues that are more consistent or easier to predict, unless you have a second cottage in the area that you can stay at regularly and don’t have to work too far away during the summer months when you will have the highest volume of guests. One way you can make the property more attractive in the fall, winter, and spring is to ensure that it is nice and toasty inside. If you have windows that are getting old, this can be difficult, and that’s where we come in.

For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high quality line of window and door products, visit our website or contact us today.

Reduce Your Cottage’s Environmental Footprint and Your Utility Bills

Buildings are responsible for a huge amount of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada – especially those that were built over 30 years ago. If you’re looking to reduce the environmental footprint of your Muskoka cottage, you don’t have to rebuild it from the ground up. There are many ways to make your cottage more sustainable, and to save yourself a few dollars in utility fees at the same time.

Go solar or change your lightbulbs

One of the most popular ways to go green is to convert to solar energy or use it to augment your current system. Installing solar panels on the roof of your cottage is an essential step can drastically reduce emissions, and will allow you to generate clean electricity to power all or some of the essentials in your cottage.

While solar panels are a long-term investment, the eventual payoff is usually enormous both in energy savings and resale value. Additionally, installing solar powered outdoor lights, or a solar water heating system is an effective way of making your cottage more sustainable, and can also make a significant impact on your electricity bill. Switching to energy efficient light bulbs is another great way to save on electricity, as they tend to use far less of it and last longer than traditional bulbs.

Reduce your water consumption

Cutting the amount of water that you use everyday is a great way to reduce the environmental footprint of your cottage, and it’s easy to do. This can mean investing in energy efficient home appliances that use less water, reducing the amount of time you spend in the shower, or finally fixing the minor leaks and drips that you’ve been putting off. Even if you are getting your water from the lake, your pump and hot water heater are still using electricity to power the process, so it’s worth taking some extra steps to save water.  

Installing high efficiency shower heads and low-flush toilets are great ways to conserve water and reduce your cottage’s footprint. Minor lifestyle changes can also be made to use less water, such as not running the tap while you’re doing dishes or brushing your teeth are easy changes to make, but go a long way when it comes to reducing water usage.

Reinsulate your home

If your home isn’t properly insulated, there’s a good chance that it’s losing a huge amount of heat, wreaking havoc on your heating bills. Good insulation goes a long way in conserving heat, holding it inside your cottage and lessening the amount of heat you’ll need to generate throughout the colder months.

Ensuring that your walls, roof, and floor are properly insulated will greatly reduce the amount of heat escaping from your home, saving you on heating costs and going a long way in improving your environmental footprint. Making the switch to cotton insulation is a more environmentally friendly option than fibreglass insulation, which typically has a much higher production cost as it isn’t being sourced from a renewable resource.

Replace or repair your windows and doors

One of the leading causes of heat gain and loss in your cottage is having old windows and doors – they can be responsible for up to 30% of residential heating and cooling. Often they have developed drafts, have lost much of their structural integrity, or weren’t designed with energy efficiency in mind.

Replacing your old windows and doors with products that have been Energy Star or NFRC certified and feature lower U-factor ratings is a surefire way to greatly reduce the amount of heat that is lost in your cottage. New windows and doors go a long way in keeping your warmer in the winter months, and cooler in the hot summer months, and even have a major effect on dampening the amount of outside noise that makes its way inside your cottage.

If you’ve recently had new windows or doors installed in your Muskoka cottage, it may be a good idea to ensure that there are no air leaks. If you find that the weatherstripping and caulking around your windows has been damaged since its installation, re-installing it can be a quick and easy DIY project that will help to reduce your cottage’s footprint. During the summer months, window treatments and coverings can be an effective way to keep your home cool, and to minimize your use of air conditioning or electric fans.

For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high quality line of window and door products, visit our website or contact us today.

Preparing Your Cottage Septic System for the Summer Season

With the spring season finally here, it’s time for Muskoka cottagers to start the process of opening their cottages for the summertime. This means getting supplies together, cleaning, dusting, and airing out your cottage, fixing anything that was damaged over the harsh winter, and perhaps most importantly, preparing and maintaining your cottage’s septic system for the months ahead. Getting all the maintenance and preparation out of the way will ensure that you (hopefully) won’t have to think about your septic system for the rest of the season. If you’re unsure of what steps to take in opening and preparing your septic system for the summertime, here’s what you need to know.

How to recognize that you should pump your septic system

If you’ve never had your septic system pumped or have limited experience in doing so, it can be difficult to know exactly when to go about emptying it. It’s recommended that your septic system be pumped every three to five years, though this can depend on the amount of people spending time at your cottage or the usage. The first sign that you should pump your septic system is if it’s been a while or if you can’t pinpoint the last time it was done – it might be a good idea to have it pumped just to err on the side of caution. Another more obvious sign is if there’s a pronounced odour on your property – it could be a sign that sewage has backed up into your pipes. Less obvious signs like slower drainage and gurgling sounds emitting from drains can also signal that your system needs to be pumped.

Check your septic tank filter

A functioning filter is an important part of a healthy septic system, making it important that you check the status of the filter prior to opening your septic tank for the season. Your filter can become clogged with scum and debris from a long winter, with snowfall and snowmelt contributing to the buildup. A clogged filter can disrupt every aspect of your septic system, making it critical that you check and clean/change your filter to ensure that the system functions as it should. If you aren’t sure how to locate and clean your filter, follow these instructions.

Check your yard for pooling and standing water

One of the most common causes of a flooded yard or large pools of standing water on your property is a flooded septic system. This is usually caused by the septic system’s drain field becoming flooded. Keep an eye on your yard throughout the early part of the spring season, as it’ll help you catch problems before they can escalate into more serious ones by knowing to pump your tank if your yard floods.

Check your sump pit pump

If your household waste goes into a sump pit first before being pumped to your septic system, check your sump pit pump for proper operation when you open your cottage. If you have to have it replaced, make sure that the pump is designed for solid waste and not grey water (water from showers and sinks). Additionally, you should choose an ejector rather than a grinder pump so that the waste is properly broken down once it gets to your septic system. Your septic is designed to handle solid and liquid waste, rather than all liquid waste as you would get with a grinder pump.

Redirect your gutters away from your septic system

With more seasonal rain on the way and without proactive redirecting, your gutters will be directing water directly into your drain field and other parts of your septic system. Redirecting your gutters early in the season ensures that your gutters won’t be feeding directly into your septic system, instead carrying water and debris away from your cottage’s vital systems.

Watch your water usage

Finally, it’s always a good idea to watch your water usage throughout the cottage season. If you anticipate that your cottage will be hosting many guests, it may be a good idea to pump your septic tank just to be on the safe side. Using too much water can very easily throw off the balance of microorganisms within your septic tank, reducing their effectiveness and creating problems for your cottage and septic system. Remember not to flush objects that may harm the septic system or disrupt the microorganisms within – things like food waste and grease especially should not make its way into your septic tank. Bacon grease or grease from roasts should be thrown in the garbage or better yet – used as firestarter.

For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high quality line of window and door products, visit our website or contact us today.

How to Survive Black Fly Season in Muskoka

The disappearance of the snow and the arrival of warmer weather means that black fly season is on its way, driving Muskoka cottagers and tourists indoors to get away from the swarms of annoying biting bugs. Thankfully, black fly season won’t last forever and the annoyances that accompany it can be easily mitigated so that you can continue to enjoy your cottage while the swarms are out.

Facts about black flies

Though small in size, black fly bites can pack quite a punch. Black flies emerge from bodies of water like streams, creeks, and small rivers created by spring runoff. As with mosquitos, it’s female black flies that do the biting in order to take blood and thus be able to lay eggs. Black flies find their next blood meal by seeking out sources of body heat and through the scent of carbon dioxide, generally from unsuspecting humans, animals, and birds.

In addition to homing in on sources of carbon dioxide, black flies are also attracted to the smell of products that feature perfumes, including body wash, shampoo, skin lotion, and cologne. Once they’re ready to lay their eggs, black flies generally make their way back to the source of water that they emerged from and lay them in a more comfortable environment. They aren’t around for long, but they make themselves known – black flies usually plague the Muskoka region from mid-May until early to mid-June.

Make sure to maintain points of entry like screens, windows, and doors

While they’re not around for long, black flies can make the outdoors unbearable. It’s your mission as a cottage owner to keep these pesky black flies outside where they belong. The most effective way to keep them out of the cottage is to properly maintain points of entry. Because of their small size, black flies and other pests can very easily sneak into your home when even the smallest points of entry exist. This means checking every screen in your cottage for tears or damage from winter and being diligent in repairing or replacing any damaged screens. Screen repairs can be done quickly and easily with screen repair tape and other affordable methods. If necessary, replacement screening kits are also readily available at hardware stores and other retailers.

Maintaining your cottage’s windows and doors is also crucial for keeping the elements outside. This means checking for damage to your window and door units, as well as elements like weather stripping and sealant early in the season in order to tackle it proactively, and repairing or replacing damaged windows and doors wherever necessary. Investing in window and door accessories such as specially designed screens is a great way to keep the black flies outside. Integrated door manufacturers like Centor give homeowners the option to include effective pest screens that allow you to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Muskoka area without being bothered by pests.

Other preventative measures you should take

It’s just not realistic to expect cottagers to stay indoors throughout black fly season, especially when there’s so much work to be done to open the cottage. Removing standing pools of water from around your property will help to alleviate the number of black flies in your general vicinity, as they won’t have anywhere to hatch or lay eggs. Using insect repellent with DEET levels of up to (but not over) 30% have also shown to be effective in keeping black flies away from you, though they’ll still be drawn to the carbon dioxide being expelled from you. Lastly, wearing long sleeves and pants when around lakefront or marshy areas is recommended, as it’ll help to minimize the amount of bites you receive.

For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high quality line of window and door products, visit our website or contact us today.