We’re Hiring! Carpenters, Installers, and more… Join our Team

How to Remove Water Spots from Windows

If you live or play in Muskoka, you know how frustrating it is to achieve a stain-free window, as 

hard water stains can easily build up over time. A normal cleaning process involving water, detergent, a rug, or squeegee is simply not enough in removing hard water spots. Instead, you’ll likely need to use one or more of the following methods to maximize your views this summer season. Here are some of the best ways to rub water marks off your windows: 

 

Using a vinegar solution

Vinegar solutions are an easy and effective way to remove any hard water spots from your windows. First, you need to fill a squirt bottle with half water and half plain white distilled vinegar and spray it onto the glass to fully saturate any stubborn hard water stains. Then, soak a rag in the vinegar solution and lightly scrub your window. Once you are done, remove the solution from your window with a paper towel or squeegee and follow it up with a wipe with glass cleaner to prevent additional stains and residue. 

 

Using other natural products

In case you need a substitute for vinegar, there are other natural alternatives you can use as a cleaning solution. Fresh lemon juice has the same acidic properties as vinegar, and can be equally effective for removing water spots from your windows. As odd as it may sound, you can even use toothpaste to get your windows squeaky clean and streak-free. Following the same process, apply either ingredient to your windows and lightly scrub them away with a rag soaked in water, using traditional glass cleaner afterwards to remove residue. 

 

Using abrasive cleaners

Abrasive cleaners such as baking soda are powerful cleaning agents you can use to remove stubborn, tough stains from your windows. First, wet the surface of the glass so that the water and the cleaner can form a sort of cleaning paste – this prevents scratches. Next, spread the paste onto the window and vigorously scrub the glass with a rag. Then, rinse the cleaner away with water and dry your clean windows – following up with glass cleaner if necessary – to prevent additional residue. Your window glass will almost look invisible when you’re done.

Water spots on your windows are difficult to remove, and do require special techniques to clean. If your windows are run-down even after a good scrub, then it may be time to replace them. Muskoka Window & Door Centre is the Muskoka region’s preferred supplier of high quality window products. Our expert team is ready to take on new window installation projects of any size or scope. For more information on our products and services, get in touch with us today and book your free estimate. 

Check with Local Bylaws Before Doing Muskoka Renovations

Any project at home is exciting, whether you’re building a new deck, installing a new fence, or even just doing some tree removal, there’s nothing as exciting as making your property perfect. This excitement makes it very easy for homeowners to overlook some of the necessary steps that inevitably come with the job, including checking local bylaws and filing the proper paperwork.

Skipping these steps is never a good idea, and can put a major damper on your home improvement projects, incurring significant fines and even forcing you to reverse much of the work you’ve done. In order to avoid these penalties, it’s important that you check with local bylaws before commencing any work on your Muskoka home or property.

 

A recent cautionary tale: Township of Muskoka Lakes building bylaws

Muskoka home and cottage owners can learn from a recent news story which saw a number of property owners and contractors in Muskoka Lakes charged after failing to check with local bylaws before removing trees and altering landscapes. As a result, a number of Stop Work Orders were issued to the parties, and they could even face charges of up to $320,000. For context, the Tree Preservation Bylaw in Muskoka Lakes clearly states that:

  • (a) No person shall injure or destroy a tree within 15 metres (50 feet) of a navigable waterway for those lands designated as Waterfront in the Township Official Plan and within 7.5 metres (25 feet) of a navigable waterway for those lands designated Urban Centre or Community in the Township Official Plan;
  • (b) No person shall injure or destroy a tree within an area zoned Environmental Protection (EP1) in the Township’s Comprehensive Zoning By-law;
  • (c) No person shall injure or destroy a tree in an area zoned as a Scenic Corridor or Scenic Area in the Township’s Comprehensive Zoning By-law within a distance of 100 feet from the front lot line
  • (d) No person shall injure or destroy a tree on land where a permit is required to do so, unless such permit has been obtained in advance

 

Had the homeowners and contractors simply checked with the Muskoka Lakes bylaws before starting work, they would have noticed the Tree Preservation Bylaw and could have planned accordingly for the landscape alterations. 

Muskoka Lakes Mayor Phil Harding stated that the problem of failing to comply with township bylaws has become all too common, and that homeowners across the township can face serious fines for failing to check and comply with them. He added that the 2021 budget has accounted for increased bylaw enforcement. It’s clear that these homeowners are being made an example of in the hopes that other property owners will think twice before kicking off a project without the proper permission.

 

Better to ask for permission than forgiveness – not the other way around 

It’s never a good idea to waste your own time and money. While it might seem like the quicker, more convenient option, the “do it now, ask for forgiveness later” mentality can cost you a great deal of time, money and effort. 

The amount of effort it takes to look up local bylaws and fill in the appropriate paperwork to obtain the appropriate permits is minimal. You don’t want to start a home improvement project only to have a Stop Work Order issued, a fine levied, and then having to tear down all your hard work.

Be aware that Muskoka bylaws exist for a reason, and all home and cottage owners in the Muskoka region are expected to follow them. Before you get too excited about that upcoming deck or dock construction, hot tub installation, private road work, or any other project, be aware of these bylaws and building permit requirements. You should also be ready to answer to bylaw officers and other authorities who may make an appearance during your build. 

 

Don’t become a cautionary tale 

Spare yourself from becoming another cautionary tale and do the work ahead of time – it’s never the most fun part of a project, but you’ll be thanking yourself for being proactive and ensuring that everything is okay to proceed before launching any work on your property. Whether you’re building, renovating or altering your property, there may be bylaws which dictate what you can and can’t do, and it’s expected that you comply with them regardless of their popularity.

Muskoka Window & Door Centre is the premier provider of high quality windows and doors and reliable installation services in the Muskoka region. Our experienced team has worked with home and cottage owners, builders, and contractors from all around the region. We use our expertise and industry knowledge to improve the aesthetic appeal and energy efficiency of hundreds of properties. To find out more about the high quality products and door and window installation services offered by Muskoka Window & Door Centre, reach out to us today.

How to Find a Good Contractor

We can’t always rely on our own skills to get the job done, that’s why so many homeowners are in need of a good contractor to see those home improvement projects through. Not everybody is well-rounded enough to be able to tackle difficult repair or maintenance projects, nor does everybody know a contractor or have one in their immediate circle of family and friends. Then there’s the issue of how exactly to find a good and reliable contractor in the first place, especially if you’ve never dealt with one before.

Making the wrong choice can leave you wishing you had just done the job yourself, can do more damage than good, or can leave you feeling burned and taken to the cleaners. Thankfully, with some persistence and the right know-how, finding a good contractor is easier than you think.

 

Ask people you trust

The first thing you should do in your quest to find a reliable contractor is to turn to the people you trust the most. Ask your family members, friends and neighbours who they recommend, and what kind of experiences they’ve had with local contractors. If they’re willing to make recommendations or warn against certain contractors, you can trust that they’ve already done the research and you can use this to expedite your search. Referrals are one of the best ways to track down high quality contractors, especially since the people giving those referrals can confirm that they’re already had positive experiences.

It’s also a good idea to ask business owners or professionals in your life for referrals. Trusted business owners or your accountant, lawyer, realtor, banker, plumber, electrician, or any other professionals you’ve dealt with can make excellent referrals, especially if they deal with contractors on a regular basis.

 

Do your own research

With information constantly at your fingertips, there’s just no reason not to do your own research. In addition to getting referrals from people you trust, it’s important to use the information available to you to your advantage. Look at online reviews on social media for a general idea of what people have experienced, but remember that you shouldn’t stop here because it won’t give you the full picture.

Once you’ve checked out the online reviews posted publicly, check to see if the contractor or business is listed with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). If they are, it means they’ve either paid for the BBB listing, or there have been complaints lodged against them. If no complaints show up on the BBB listing, keep in mind that it may have been removed after the contractor or business took steps to remedy or compensate the complainant. On the BBB’s website, you’ll be able to check for reviews to get an even better idea of what the general public thinks of the contractor or business.

After this, head on over to the official Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) website and type in the name of the business or contractor in question. This will pull up any official court cases against that person or business, and give you a good idea of their history and reputation. If nothing comes up, then you might be in luck.

 

Finding good contractors in Muskoka

With these tips, finding a good contractor in Muskoka is easy. When you’re in need of a high quality contractor in the Muskoka region, it’s always a good idea to book in advance of the summer season whenever possible. This is the busiest time of year for contractors, and their bookings often start filling up by late April. If you miss the summer season, don’t fret – you can always book for fall before the snow arrives.

For a great local place to ask for contractor referrals, check with your local lake association. Lake associations deal with a wide variety of businesses and contractors, giving them a good idea who is reliable and who should be avoided. Whenever possible, handle cosmetic jobs and simple repairs yourself, as it’s often a better option than hiring a contractor if you live in the country – save time and money by saving contractors for the big repairs or projects you don’t have the skills to take on.

For projects involving door and window installation, repair, or maintenance, choose Muskoka Window & Door Centre. For years, our team has been the first choice for Muskoka cottage and homeowners looking for the best service and the highest quality window and door products available. We maintain relationships with a wide variety of reliable Muskoka contractors and builders, working alongside the very best the region has to offer to make your dreams come true. To find out more about everything the team at Muskoka Window & Door Centre can do for you, get in touch with us today.

How to Clean Your Window Screens

Cleaning your windows is an important part of maximizing your view of Muskoka, helping you rid your windows of a season’s worth of insect debris, pollen, and anything else that lands on your window panes and frames. While many homeowners make window cleaning an annual tradition, many overlook one major area – the window screen.

Window screens keep pests and debris out of your home while allowing you to enjoy the breeze. By intercepting pests and debris, it’s natural that screens become grimy over time. Over the years, your screens can also get especially dingy looking and can significantly impact your view. If you’re a Muskoka cottage or homeowner looking to spruce things up without breaking the bank at the lumber yard, this is the way.

Removing window screens for cleaning
In order to fully clean your window screens, it’s recommended that you remove them completely. They can usually be removed in one of three ways – either they’re held in place by pins or a spring-loaded mechanism of sorts, they can be removed by pulling on the tabs found on the side or bottom edge of the screen, or they can be gently pried out with a screwdriver or some sort of prying tool if they lack an easy removal feature.

Before removing your screens, be sure to lay down a dropcloth, especially if you’re planning on cleaning them indoors. If you’re planning on cleaning all the window screens in your house at once, it’s also a good idea to mark which screens came from which windows so you can easily return them to their proper home once cleaning has been completed.

The most common window screen cleaning method
Once your screens are removed, make sure you have some supplies with you. We recommend a vacuum, a bucket with soapy water, a microfiber cloth, and a garden hose. Using these common supplies, here’s how to easily clean window screens:

  • Step 1: With the screens laying flat on a drop cloth or towel, use the soft bristle attachment on your vacuum and run it down the entire screen. This will clear away any loose debris found on the screen, making it easier for you to clean without dealing with spider webs and pollen. Remember to flip the screen over and vacuum the other side before moving on.
  • Step 2: With your microfiber cloth and soapy water, gently clean the screen from top to bottom on both sides. This will loosen up and clear the screen of any dust and grime which wasn’t cleared away by the vacuum. If you’re cleaning multiple windows at once, be sure to clean your cloth or use multiple cloths to avoid spreading more dirt and dust.
  • Step 3: Use your garden hose (on low pressure to avoid damaging the screen) to rinse off the loosened dirt, dust and grime.
  • Step 4: Dry the screen by patting it down with a dry absorbent towel, and then leave it to air dry for a while. Once the screen is completely dry, you can reinsert it and enjoy your newly unobstructed view.

If removing your screen isn’t an option, get creative
If you’re not in a situation where you can remove your screens, there are still ways to get them a little cleaner. Rather than taking them out and using the tried and true vacuum and soapy water approach, you can get creative and use common household supplies like a lint roller.

This method works best if they’re not especially dirty, but you’d like to perform some regular maintenance on them. Simply roll it gently over the surface of the screen, letting you easily remove dirt and dust without going through the trouble of removing the screen. If necessary, you can also use things like a toothbrush or a Magic Eraser to remove any grime not picked up by the lint roller – just remember to take it easy and scrub lightly.

Muskoka Window & Door Centre is the Muskoka region’s preferred supplier of high quality window and door products. Our expert team is ready to take on door and window installation projects of any size or scope, helping you get the most out of your view with energy efficient architectural windows and doors. To find out more about the products and installation services offered by the team at Muskoka Window & Door Centre, get in touch with us today.

6 Things You Can Do to Update Your Cottage Instead of Renovations

With the pandemic causing the price of lumber to soar to record high prices, it’s probably best that you wait a little while before starting a new renovation project. Unless you’re one of the lucky few sitting on stockpiled supplies and are ready to get rolling on a new project, you can expect to pay up to three times the normal price for lumber this year. Experts agree that prices will return to normal once the pandemic subsides and people get back to traveling. Until then, there are a few things you can do to spruce up your cottage and breathe some new life into it without breaking the bank on a few 2×4’s.

Add a fresh coat of paint
Painting is one of the cheapest and most immediately noticeable improvements you can make to a property. It’s also a great (and super easy) way to increase the value of your cottage, so throw on a fresh coat! Don’t rush into picking a colour, and if you’re going to be selling in the near future, use neutral colours. You don’t want to pick something bold if you’re going to be selling soon, as it’ll just be seen as another “to do” by potential buyers.

Update (or add) laundry
When you’re spending time at the cottage, the last thing you want to do is visit the laundromat or pack up a load of dirty clothes to bring back home with you. Adding laundry to your cottage not only provides convenience, but is also a very attractive feature for potential buyers. If your cottage already has laundry, look into updating your appliances – especially if they’re on the older side. (Yes, Kenmore mint green washer and dryer set from 1982 – we’re talking about you.)

Save money and increase comfort with new windows
With major renovations being put off, now’s the perfect time to look into adding new windows to your cottage. If you’re looking for an effective way to keep utility bills to a minimum and keep the cottage more comfortable year-round, consider installing energy efficient windows. Not only will they cut costs and keep you more comfortable, but they’ll boost the value of your cottage, reduce noise, increase security, and enhance your views.

Shed some light on the situation
If you’ve found that your cottage gets a little too dark after the sun goes down, it might be time to add some more lights. This is a problem faced by many cottage owners, and it’s usually solved just by placing lamps around the darker areas, track lighting in the kitchen, and fairy lights on the deck. Adding new lights is an affordable way to refresh your cottage and finally brighten things up, letting you get rid of some of those kitschy old lamps. If you’re not quite ready to add new lights, swapping your bulbs out for LED light bulbs is a quick way to brighten things up without the investment.

Change it up with some new furniture, window treatments and linens
If you’ve been spending more time at the cottage during the pandemic, there’s a good chance you’ve started to grow tired of your furniture. Either it came with the cottage when you bought it, or it’s cobbled together with second-hand furniture or broken-down stuff from your pad when you were a bachelor. While this certainly adds a certain charm to a cottage, it’s also a good way to make your cottage look very outdated. If many more cottage outings are in your future, swapping out your drab old furniture with new pieces can go a long way. Get something that’ll last for years to come, built to withstand kids, pets, and anything you might throw at it.

It’s also a great time to update your window treatments and linens. This might seem like a very minor improvement to your cottage, but these simple upgrades can addi some real beauty to your property. Swap out those ratty sheets, blankets and towels with soft, fluffy new ones, and throw out those frilled curtains in favour of something new that matches the rest of your decor. If you’re looking for some added privacy, consider adding blackout curtains or blinds.

Perfect time to declutter
Getting rid of the clutter is a cost-free way to spruce up your cottage and leave it feeling new-to-you again. Chances are it’s been a while since you’ve decluttered and that things have been left to pile up over the years – especially if you’ve only been visiting a few times per year. Clear out those old knick-knacks, books, toys, equipment, and everything else you’re never going to use again. Tackle those overstuffed junk drawers, closets, and even under your beds – clutter lives everywhere. Remember that once you’ve decluttered, the goal is to keep things clean and clear for the long term. Next time you consider bringing something with you to the cottage, ask yourself “do I really need this?”

Until lumber prices return to normal, focus on small and simple improvements you can make to your cottage. These projects aren’t brag-worthy (except windows, natch!), but can really go a long way in breathing new life into your getaway. Just because you won’t be adding a new deck overhauling your kitchen, doesn’t mean you can’t add value or refresh your property.

If you’re looking to refresh your cottage with new windows or doors this summer, let the folks at Muskoka Window & Door Centre help you pick the best, most efficient door and windows units for your Muskoka cottage. Our showroom features the highest quality products manufactured by the most trusted names in the industry, and our team of experts stand ready to breathe new life into your cottage. To get started on your upcoming door or window installation project, get in touch with us today.

Spring Cleaning: How to Take Apart Your Windows for Cleaning

**Please note: The below is provided as general direction. Refer to your window manufacturer’s manual for precise instructions.

Homeowners all around the province are rushing to get their spring cleaning list finished before the gorgeous weather arrives. This could be a summer to remember, and nobody wants to be stuck at home doing chores. That means it’s time to grab your bucket, a trusty microfiber cloth or rag, some soap and water, and your favourite window cleaning product because it’s time to get the most out of your view by cleaning those dirty windows.

Cleaning the windows themselves is a pretty straightforward task, but what about taking them apart for cleaning? In order to do a thorough job and give them the cleaning they deserve after a long winter season, taking them apart is a must – especially in situations where accessing your windows from the outside is difficult or simply out of the question. Here’s how to remove your windows for cleaning this spring cleaning season.

How to remove vertical and horizontal sliding windows for cleaning
Removing your sliding window can help with giving it a thorough cleaning so you can enjoy the view all summer long. Worry not, because it’s much easier than it sounds – simply follow these steps to remove your sliding windows:

Vertical sliding windows:

  • Check for screws in the side rails or rubber material in the top track of your window – these security measures are sometimes installed to prevent windows from being opened.
  • Unlock the window.
  • Lift clips on the interior of your window.
  • Lift the window until you hear a click.
  • Push left on the window and pull right to remove it for cleaning.
  • Reinsert the same way you took the window out, inserting it on the left and then on the right, sliding it back down into place, pushing down the interior clips, and activating the locks.

Watch this video for a quick demonstration.

Horizontal sliding windows:

  • Unlock the window.
  • Slide the window past the plastic stopper – this stop prevents the window from being removed.
  • Once past the stopper, simply lift the window up and out from the bottom to remove it for cleaning.
  • Reinsert the window the same way you removed it – make sure that you’re reinserting it past the stopper. Push it top-first into the track, then insert the bottom. Slide the window closed and activate the locks.

Watch this video for a quick demonstration.

When removing your sliding windows, it’s important that you remember to clean out the tracks of the window. This can be done with a microfiber cloth or even with a vacuum, and ensures that any dust, dirt or debris is removed from the window track, allowing the window to perform as intended.

How to remove and reinsert double-hung windows for cleaning
Double-hung windows feature two sashes (top and bottom) which can be operated independently. Removing double-hung windows for cleaning is quite similar to removing horizontal and vertical sliding windows. Following these steps will allow you to remove your double-hung windows quickly and efficiently for effective cleaning:

  • Unlock the mechanism between the two sashes.
  • First, slide the bottom sash a few inches towards the top of the window. Once slid up a few inches, squeeze both the tilt latch buttons at the top of the sash until they click.
  • Rotate the sash towards you until it’s perpendicular – from there, lift one side up a few inches, and then the other to remove the bottom sash for cleaning.
  • To remove the upper sash, slide it down towards where the bottom sash normally sits.
  • Press both tilt latch buttons on the top of the upper sash until they click, rotate the sash towards you until it’s perpendicular to the wall, and remove it the same way you removed the bottom sash.
  • Once both sashes have been removed, make sure the pivot bars aren’t connected to the balance shoes.
  • To reinsert your double-hung windows, start with the upper sash. Hold it perpendicular to the wall, placing one pivot bar into the outer balance shoe and then the other. When fully seated in the balance shoes, rotate the sash upwards and push it all the way to the top of the window.
  • Reinsert the bottom sash by following these same steps – hold it perpendicular to the wall, placing one pivot bar in the inner balance shoe and then the other. Rotate the bottom sash back into place, pushing it into the frame. Close the bottom sash and lock the window to ensure proper operation.

Watch this video for a quick demonstration.

Voila! You’re now able to remove both vertical and horizontal sliding windows and double-hung windows, allowing you to deep clean them for the summer season ahead. Before you know it, you’ll have the cleanest windows on the block and your home will be the envy of all your neighbours.

While you’re cleaning your windows, remember to make sure that they’re operating as intended. If you notice anything that requires attention or which could impair the operation of your windows, you can trust the experienced team at Muskoka Window & Door Centre for any and all maintenance, repairs, and window replacement. Our team is well-versed in every aspect of window maintenance and installation, and our showroom features the highest quality products and accessories found in the Muskoka region. To find out more about the services offered by Muskoka Window & Door Centre, get in touch with us today!

Common Signs That You Need to Replace Your Windows

There are many people who have no idea how old the windows in their home are, making it difficult to understand when they might need to be replaced or maintained. Windows can typically last up to 20 years before requiring replacement, though like other home maintenance issues, problems can arise at any time. While built to last, it’s important to be able to identify some of the most common signs that you might need to replace your windows.

In the process, it’s always a good idea to set aside some savings to make window replacement possible, much in the same way you would do for other important home maintenance projects like a roof replacement. Here are some of the most common ways to know if you need to replace your windows in the near future.

Drafts are the most common sign of a deteriorating window
Perhaps the most noticeable sign that you need to replace your windows is the presence of drafts around your windows. If you can feel cold air bleeding through around the window frame or hear the sound of wind whistling through the window, there’s a very good chance your window has a draft. While these issues can often be repaired by a window maintenance professional, significant drafts may require a full window replacement. Failure to address these issues will result in cold air leaking into your home during the winter months, causing your heating system to work overtime to keep your home comfortable, and in the process sending your utility bills spiraling out of control.

Single pane windows are long outdated
If your home still has single pane windows, it’s a good idea to replace them as soon as possible. Single pane windows have long been an outdated window type, providing little insulation and almost no soundproofing, meaning cold air and noise can almost freely enter into your home. Add in the fact that single pane windows have almost no energy efficiency, and it quickly becomes clear why so many homeowners have ditched these outdated windows. When it comes time to replace your windows, it’s highly recommended that you seek out double or triple-glazed windows for increased energy efficiency and soundproofing.

Increasing energy costs
While this isn’t a sign that you’ll notice physically, you’ll certainly notice it when your heating bill comes due. Increasing energy costs are often caused by drafty windows letting the cold air in and causing your furnace to work harder than usual to keep warm air inside your home. This also happens during the summer months with your air conditioning system. When you consider the amount of energy and money being wasted on high electricity and heating bills, it’s easy to see why you should redirect the money from your bills to replacing those old drafty windows.

Build up of condensation and moisture
Seeing condensation on your windows occasionally is a pretty common phenomenon, but frequently noticing large build ups of condensation, moisture, or frost on your windows means that there’s a significant issue. Usually, heavy and frequent build up means that your windows are in dire need of replacement, going far and beyond the normal condensation caused by the warm air from your home meeting the cold glass surface. Moisture means that the airtight seal found inside your windows is broken and that the window needs to be replaced. Unchecked moisture build up can cause problems with your home, affecting the window frame and the area around it and possibly even creating ideal conditions for mould growth.

Old and failing windows are a problem that should be addressed as soon as possible in order to avoid high utility bills and ensure your year-round comfort. Unfortunately, many cottages come with windows much older than 20 years. If you’re planning on using your cottage year-round or during the winter months, it’s highly recommended that you invest in new windows to make your stay more comfortable during any season.

Muskoka Window & Door Centre is the region’s leading provider of high quality windows and doors. For decades, our experienced team has worked closely with Muskoka cottage and home owners to determine the best course of action for window replacement, window and door maintenance, and new construction projects. To find out more about the wide range of energy efficient windows and doors found in our showroom and how they can transform your home or cottage, reach out to us today.

Is Your Water Safe? Time to Get it Tested!

With the ice and snow finally melting and spring making its presence known all around the region, it’s time for Muskoka cottagers and homeowners to have their water tested. Cottage owners whose water is drawn from the lake or a private well should be regularly testing their drinking water to ensure that it’s safe to continue using. These water sources can be contaminated by a wide variety of things, and so having it tested regularly can prevent you, your family and your friends from accidentally drinking contaminated water.

Why you should be testing your water
No contaminated water is ever safe to drink, making it crucial that your water gets tested on a regular basis, especially when drawn from a lake or private well. This applies to a great deal of the area’s home and cottage owners, many of whom draw water from Muskoka’s lakes or private wells. Even if the water in question is only used for swimming and other recreational activities, it’s important that it gets tested.

Any body of water, whether a natural lake or a privately dug well, can be contaminated by humans, animals, and other sources including blue/green algae, naturally occurring chemicals and minerals like trihalomethanes (THM), arsenic, lead, uranium, and sodium, or water-borne illnesses and pathogens like E.coli, cryptosporidium and giardia, making it very important to make a habit of testing your drinking water.

This is especially true if it doesn’t come from a municipal water system, if you haven’t tested it in a while (or ever), or if you’ve recently noticed a change in smell, taste or appearance. Drinking contaminated water can lead to a wide variety of serious health problems and should be avoided at all costs. Water testing can identify contaminants, allowing you to directly address any problems before they can affect you or those closest to you.

How to test your drinking water
Testing your water is easier now than ever before thanks to Ontario’s push to have home and cottage owners test their private water sources often. If you draw water from a private well or other private drinking water system, you can have your water tested free of charge by the Ontario Public Health Laboratory. 

All you have to do is pick up a sampling kit from your local District Health Unit location and take a sample of your drinking water by collecting it in the provided sterilized bottle, and drop it off with the Health Unit. From there, an inspector will analyze your results and offer advice on how you should proceed with fixing any existing issues.

These free services cover bacterial contamination, but Public Health Ontario doesn’t cover chemical or other contaminants, meaning you may have to consult a private licensed laboratory in order to fully test your private drinking water, especially if you’re concerned about chemicals and minerals that may be harmful. 

The government of Ontario has provided a list of licensed laboratories in the province which can perform mineral and chemical contamination tests on your drinking water. Before you send a sample to one of these private labs, remember to first contact them to determine whether or not your sample will be accepted (based on their licence class) and how to properly submit a valid sample to ensure that it doesn’t get rejected.

Getting your water tested now will give you lots of time to put remedial measures in place if an issue is discovered, leaving you free to enjoy your summer without being concerned about your water quality. 

Muskoka home and cottage owners looking to have their private drinking water system tested should contact the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit for more details.

Protect Your Cottage From Water Damage From Spring Thaw

Can you feel it? Spring is almost here, meaning we’re in the final stretch of the long and snowy winter season. People around the country can finally start their annual spring cleaning rituals, flowers will (eventually) start to bloom, migratory birds will soon return, and homeowners everywhere will begin to tear out their hair out of the many frustrations that come with the spring thaw. Quickly melting snow can cause major problems for home and cottage owners everywhere, bringing with it flooding and property damage that can be mostly avoided by taking the proper proactive precautions. Here’s what you can do to protect your home or cottage from water damage this spring.

Be proactive with snow removal
The most effective step you can take to avoid water damage to your home or cottage is to get proactive with snow removal. Some homes become flooded when the rapidly melting snow finds its way into your property. The best way to avoid this common problem is to simply ensure that there is less snow around your property’s foundation. Grab a shovel and head outside to clear away any of the snow sitting against and near your home’s foundation, which will allow the melting snow to drain further away from the foundation and minimize the risk of excess water finding its way into your property.

It’s also a good idea to clear snow away from your window wells for the same reasons, as these wells provide easy entry for snowmelt. While you’re outside clearing snow away, check to see that your home’s downspouts are clear and still connected, as they sometimes become dislodged during the winter season. Ideally, downspouts should extend at least two metres away from your home, and a path for the water to drain away from your home should be maintained until the snow melts away and obstructions are cleared.

Check your windows for signs of damage
The winter season can cause many problems for your home’s windows and doors, so it’s always a good idea to inspect these areas of your home’s interior and exterior to ensure that they’re in good working order. An exceptionally harsh winter season or two can do a number on your windows, especially the weather stripping as the cold weather can cause them to lose their flexibility and ultimately create opportunities for air leaks and water seepage. Windows can also be damaged by ice buildup and falling ice. Check out your windows and seals for signs of potential damage and have them addressed immediately by a window professional. If your window issues are resolved before next winter, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that your home will stay warm and dry for the foreseeable future.

Make sure your roof and eavestrough are in good working order
The roof can be another source of water damage during the spring thaw, so it’s always a good idea to make sure that it’s free of damage and functioning as it’s meant to. Ice dams can form on the edge of your roof, typically caused by heat leaks in your attic. If you notice that ice damming is taking place, it’s a good idea to hire an inspector to check your attic for leaks and repair it to ensure that warm air isn’t escaping through the attic.

While you’re at it, make sure that your eavestroughs are free of damage so they can continue redirecting snow melt from your roof away from your home. A clogged or damaged eavestrough can cause a buildup of water which may cause damage to your roof or leak into your home. That’s why it’s important to clean your eavestroughs every fall to clear it of debris. If you’re sick of cleaning them out, screen guards can be installed to stop debris from making its way into your eavestroughs.

If your windows or doors have been damaged from the spring thaw or you’re looking to get a headstart on spring home maintenance, you can count on Muskoka Window & Door Centre to guide you through your new window and door repair or replacement. Our experienced team can help you find the perfect doors or windows to keep your cottage comfortable and energy efficient all year round. To request a quote for your upcoming project, get in touch with Muskoka Window & Door Centre today.

How to Fix a Broken Window Latch on a Crank-Operated Window

Things breaking or falling apart at the worst time is unfortunately a fact of life. Even while the province is shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the winter weather continues to rage on, you’ll find that things have a way of breaking, malfunctioning, and generally doing whatever it takes to push you to your boiling point. Fortunately, DIY repairs are quite simple and effective thanks to the wonders of the internet, especially in the short term.

Whether a latch or lock on your window has just broken or if you’ve been meaning to find the time to fix a long-broken piece of window hardware, fret not – it’s usually not as difficult as it seems, and you probably won’t have to think about a window replacement for some time. Here’s how you can quickly and effectively fix a broken window latch or lock.

The trick is to actually get your window to open

Fixing a broken or non-functioning window latch is much easier than you might think – all it takes is a replacement latch keeper (preferably purchased from the manufacturer of the window in question), a putty knife (or similar tool), screwdriver, hammer, and a healthy dose of patience. The biggest challenge you’ll likely face is getting the window open, since the latch isn’t doing its job. In order to open the window, you’ll need to:

  1. Crank the window open as you normally would, despite it not functioning as it usually would – this step is intended to relieve mechanical pressure to make opening the window easier.
  2. Slide your putty knife between the window frame and gasket from above the window latch, gradually working your way down – if your latch functions by moving up, slide the knife below the latch.
  3. Use a hammer to very gently tap the putty knife in a downward direction, while of course manually maneuvering around obstructions as you go.
  4. Once you’ve reached as far as you can go, tap the putty knife with your hammer with slightly more pressure to allow it to disengage the latch studs.
  5. If done right, your window should open slightly and allow you to manually crank it open – open it as far as you can in order to access the mechanism.

Replacing a broken latch

Once your window has been carefully opened you should have direct access to the latch mechanism, allowing you to easily remove and replace the broken latch. In order to replace the latch, simply:

  1. Remove the screws holding the old latch to the window frame – dispose of the old broken latch.
  2. Install the new latch.
  3. If desired, use silicone lubricant on the mechanism to improve its performance and ensure its longevity.
  4. Test the new window latch to ensure smooth operation by cranking your window closed and operating the latch – if you’ve done everything correctly, the window should close as it did before and operate easily.

Voila! Your window should be functioning as good as new, saving you money and probably only testing your patience slightly (if all went according to plan). Since the latch on your window is a vital part of its anatomy, this is a repair that should be tackled as soon as possible so you can enjoy the coming spring and summer with your window open wide, or at least enjoy the option of being able to open it on demand.

Let’s face it – unfortunately, not everything can be fixed with a DIY solution. There will always be instances where homeowners are unsure of how to go about fixing a broken window or door. Sometimes it’s even difficult to determine if the problem can be “fixed” in the first place. If you’ve come up against a problem you just can’t seem to fix, Muskoka Window & Door Centre is here for you.

Our team of window and door experts has tackled just about every issue a window or door can present – from broken hardware to damaged door and window units, there’s nothing we can’t solve. If you just can’t seem to figure it out, call on our window installation and repair professionals to solve the problem. Find out more about how the team at Muskoka Window & Door Centre can repair and replace your doors and windows by getting in touch with us for a quote today.