DIY Home Repairs: Replacing an Overhead Fixture

Many home repairs can seem like too big of a DIY project to take on, but this isn’t always the case. While you probably shouldn’t climb up on your roof today to fix those loose shingles by yourself or attempt to re-tile one of the rooms in your home, one common home repair you can handle without calling in a professional is re-wiring a ceiling light. There are thousands of interesting light fixtures at great prices on Kijiji, and switching your overhead light is an easy and fast way to make a big impact on a room. The right lighting can really take your interior design to the next level!

Let there be light: how to change a light fixture

1. Get A Partner!

You’ll want someone there to hold onto the screws and bolts, hand you parts you need, and as a general safety precaution, just someone to help make sure you’re following the steps and everything’s going smoothly. Chances are you’ll be up on a ladder, and having a buddy there to spot you is always a good idea when working on something up high.

2. Speaking of Safety…

The first step is to turn off the source that powers this lighting circuit – working on live wires with power still surging through them is a bad idea. Just the light switch is not enough – go to the fuse box and turn off the entire room or floor (make sure you have a flashlight handy). Obviously, if you have a natural light source, doing this during daylight hours is preferable to night time. Once the power is off, take off the cover of the light and remove the light bulb.

3. Take It Apart

Once the cover of the light is off, you’ll see the screws or nuts that connect the fixture to the gang box on the ceiling. At this point, loosen the screws while keeping a hand on the base (so it doesn’t fall off) so you can get a better look at the wires.

4. Evaluate

Look closely at the wires. You don’t want your wires to be frayed or to be loose from its insulation. If you see either of these issues, you know it’s time for re-wiring. If the insulation itself on the wire still looks good and there is no visible breakage in the wiring, then proceed to the next step.

If the wires themselves don’t look salvageable, it may take more than re-wiring to fix your light fixture. At this point, it might be a good idea to consult an expert.

5. The Next Step

If the wiring was still intact and it’s just a simple re-wiring that’s needed, all you have to do it clean up the ends of the wire making sure there isn’t any leftover insulation or tape.

6. Match Everything Up

Connect the wires according to colour. There are only 3 wires you need to worry about: a coloured wire that’s usually black, a white wire, and a green ground wire. All that’s needed for this step is to connect the wires to their matching colour with wire nuts. It’s a good idea to secure it with electrical tape for some added stability.

After this, put in the new bulb or bulbs, place the cover back on, turn on the power source and hopefully…let there be light!

How to write a great real estate ad

So you have decided that you want to post your house for sale by owner. Without the support of a real estate agent, getting the exposure that your house deserves can be difficult, so the importance of writing a great real estate ad is even higher when you won’t have a professional and their network supporting your marketing efforts. Remember, you are trying to market your house, so try and maintain a critical distance from it and understand what potential buyers are looking for. You might think the sauna or your custom dog washing station is an amazing feature, but the reality is, most buyers are not going to consider that a top selling point. Read the house listings for homes that generated a lot of interest in your area and try to emulate the parts of them that apply to your home, and follow our tips to create an ad that will generate attention.
house for sale by owner

Highlight unique features (provided they are desirable to most). A walk in pantry, wine cellar, en-suite bathrooms, and other stand out features that most people will want should be highlighted in any house for sale ad.
Entice. Remember, you want people to come see your home, so provide just enough information that they will want to see more. Focus on attributes that have a wide appeal, such as finished basements, high ceilings, bay windows, fireplaces, etc. Don’t focus too much on “upgrades” that may not appeal to everyone, such as pools, second kitchens, saunas, panic rooms, etc. Mention desirable brand names if applicable (if you shelled out for Bosch or Viking appliances on your new kitchen, mention it).
Mention upgrades. If you have kept your home in good condition, make it clear. A well maintained and recently upgraded home is very desirable. Buyers are especially interested in recently replaced roofs, windows, and heaters.
Consider your language carefully. Use lots of descriptive words to really illustrate the character of your home through words. Do not use any negative words – think “cozy” over “cramped”, “character” over “old”, and so forth. While you don’t want to bore the reader by writing too much, make sure you have a solid description that will answer some of the major questions that readers will be asking, and get them to imagine themselves in the space you are illustrating through your words.
Don’t profile the buyer. Anyone with the money could be buying your property, so don’t assume based on your neighbourhood or price what that person will look like. You might have fond memories of raising your family in your home, but that doesn’t mean the prospective buyer cares that has a room “perfect for a nursery”, or that the basement apartment is “ideal for the in-laws”. Focusing too much on what you think your buyer should look like might alienate other potential bidders on your home.
Be findable. Remember, many potential buyers are searching by area, so do your best to appeal to both search engines by listing the postal code, well known nearby landmarks or prominent intersections, the name and any nicknames for the neighbourhood.
State your price. If not there, people will assume high, and serious shoppers may think you are out of their price range.

Posting your ad on Kijiji? Get more views by sharing your ad to social networks, and purchasing ad upgrades such as the top ad feature. Learn about how to create an effective Kijiji ad.

The Ecological Impact of Buying Used Appliances vs. New

It would be great – for us and our budgets – if refrigerators, dishwashers, washers and dryers, and other high-end appliances never broke down. Unfortunately, that’s not the case – a fact that leads to plenty of questions for environmentally conscious homeowners. In many cases, going for used items is the best choice for the environment, but the very nature of appliances makes them a bit of a game-changer when it comes to going green. So when you’re faced with the task of replacing an appliance and want to make the most environmentally friendly choice possible, should you buy used or new?

Benefits of Buying New

Newer appliances offer certain environmental benefits that many older appliances cannot. For example, new refrigerators consume 75 percent less energy than those manufactured in the late 1970s. If you look for an Energy Star label, you’ll use even less energy as the refrigerator will offer better insulation, precise temperature control, more efficient compressors, and other features that help lighten its ecological footprint.

A new Energy Star dishwasher uses only about three-quarters of the energy used by those manufactured in the early 1990s and earlier. Because newer dishwashers are better at getting dishes clean, you won’t have to “wash them before you wash them,” meaning you’ll also conserve water.
A water heater is yet another example of an appliance with newer versions that are kinder to our planet. Because heating water accounts for around 14 percent of a typical home’s energy expenses, replacing an aging water heater can make a big difference – especially because when you consider that as water heaters age they function less and less efficiently.

Benefits of Buying Used

While new appliances typically tend to be more energy efficient than used ones, there are still many situations where buying used might be the better choice for both the environment and your wallet. For starters, used appliances are often also “new” – at least, in terms of the technology that’s been used to produce them. If you can find an appliance that’s no more than a few years old, in good condition, and with the Energy Star label, you can reap the same benefits of purchasing a brand new Energy Star model. The only added carbon footprint is the CO2 emitted in transporting the appliance to its new home.

An important point to consider is that every purchase of a used appliance reaps three major benefits.

1. Gives the used appliance new life
2. Keeps one more appliance from being adding to the pile at the landfill
3. Keeps a new appliance from being manufactured

This last point is especially important because the process of manufacturing a new appliance uses tremendous amounts of energy.

The environmental burden of buying used is limited to the cost of (and energy used by) transporting the item. Just be sure to buy a ‘newer’ used appliance. If the appliance is old enough to be an extremely poor steward of energy, these benefits may not be enough to offset the environmental benefits offered by energy-efficient new appliances.

Get the Most Environmentally Friendly Bang for Your Buck

Whether you decide buy new or used appliances, there are things you can do to ensure you cause the least amount of harm to the environment as possible.

• Look for the Energy Star label. Many new and used appliances alike bear this label, which means they are more ecologically sound than those without the Energy Star rating. They use less energy and water, and they emit fewer greenhouse gases.
• Buy the right size. Buying a bigger water heater, air conditioner, or refrigerator than you need is a waste of both energy and money.
• If possible, choose natural gas appliances over electric. It’s more energy efficient to burn natural gas in your home than for power plants to burn it, convert it to electricity, and send it to you.

Conclusion

There are a lot of factors that play into deciding whether to purchase new or used appliances. One of the biggest points to keep in mind is that even if you decide not to purchase new, ‘newer’ used appliances are still better, especially if they come with an Energy Star label attached. This holds true whether you are purchasing a refrigerator, air conditioner, washing machine, or any other high-end appliance.

Sources:

http://www.energystar.gov/about/

http://www.nrdc.org/air/energy/fappl.asp

It’s Raining Feral Cats!

You may know Pharrell Williams. Probably Will Ferrell too. But have you heard the term “feral cats” before? If you aren’t quite sure what a feral cat is, don’t worry, you aren’t alone!

A “feral” cat is a cat who has reverted in some form or another to a wild state. Feral cats originate from former domestic cats who were lost or abandoned and then learned to live outdoors or in environments involving little human contact. In the Greater Toronto Area alone there are estimated to be over 100,000 feral cats roaming the streets. Now that’s a lot of cats!

Luckily, the Ontario SPCA has created three innovative programs to help the kind people that care for the feral cats of our communities rain or shine! The first is a Feral Cat Trap Depot Program where the Society loans out cat traps to feral cat caretakers at no charge. The hope is that these cats will undergo the TNR program (Trap, Neuter and Return) and will rejoin the stray cat population without the possibility of having more babies.

The second is a Free Feral Food Bank which provides a steady support of food to help out the feral cat caretakers. Without this program, the dedicated caretakers use their own money to personally care for these cats that have unfortunately been abandoned by our society.

And last but not least, the Ontario SPCA and their volunteers build feral cat shelters for feral cat caretakers so that they can provide a safe, warm place for feral cats during our cold, harsh winters. We know how cold it can be for us (who have warm houses to deal with the extreme temperatures), so you can understand why the need for these cats to have a warm place to call their own is so important. No one wants to be stuck out in a blizzard with no where to take shelter!

So why are the numbers of feral cats so high? We think it’s from a lack of spaying and neutering. To give you some perspective, in seven years, just one unspayed female cat and her offspring can produce 80,000 kittens!

Shelters across the country are constantly taking in animals that are unfixed. According to the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, 25,000 cats and over 8,500 dogs were spayed or neutered while at shelters in 2013 (please note: this does not include statistics from the Ontario SPCA).

It’s been proven over the years that spaying and neutering pets can really make a difference in the number of homeless pets on our streets. For example, since the Ontario SPCA Marion Vernon Memorial Animal Clinic opened in Barrie in 2009, the Ontario SPCA Barrie Branch has seen shelter cat intake reduce by 53%! In six years, that’s definitely a lot less homeless pets on the streets! Overall at Ontario SPCA Branches across the province, shelter intake has reduced by 27%.

Doing your part to help manage the current pet overpopulation crisis makes such a large impact that it can be seen in communities across Ontario. Imagine what we could accomplish if everyone spayed and neutered their pets?

Want to learn more about the importance of fixing your pet? Visit fixyourpet.ca – it’s the kindest thing you can do!

Categories:Guest Post, Kijiji Pets

Teak Furniture Care: A Brief How-To

Teak furniture has long held the reputation of being a strong, long-lasting investment, however, cost and care are often the biggest factors for people who are hesitant.

What is it?

Teak itself is a type of wood from trees grown in South Asia. The material itself is dense and strong, with high oil content, which lends to its durability. It’s often used as outdoor furniture because it shields itself so well against natural elements such as insects or rain.

If kept well, teak furniture can last upwards of 80 years. This makes the initial investment worth it and it’s all about how you take care of it after you take it home.

Care Tip 1:

Teak greys over the course of several months as the natural oils evaporate. This is perfectly normal, and for some, the silvery-grey look works for them. However, for those who prefer the honey-brown colour, bringing teak back to that shade requires some work. Although it feels like common sense, do not oil your outdoor greying teak furniture. This can lead to mildew issues and gradual discolouration the longer you have it. The oil in commercial teak oil is not the same oil that’s found naturally in the teak itself. Although it will temporarily bring your teak back to its former glory, it can decrease its overall lifespan and oiling your teak once will result in having to oil it every few months, which can become tedious.

Oiling indoor teak furniture is a great way to keep it looking like new.

Care Tip 2:

If you’re looking for a DIY cleaning option, a steel wool or a soft-bristle brush combined with warm water and gentle detergent can help remove the build-up that’s causing the greying. It’s important that after you scrub the piece down, you give it ample time to dry before applying a teak sealer. There are also commercial teak cleaners on the market as well if DIY isn’t your style.

Care Tip 3:

Teak sealer is the preferred method of maintaining the look of your teak furniture. Unlike teak oils, sealer is applied after a thorough cleaning and drying of your piece. It acts as a layer of UV protection against the sun and it also contains ingredients that work against mildew and oxidization. It also needs to be applied much less than teak oil. Once a year is all you’ll need to dedicate to maintaining your teak furniture.

Care Tip 4:

Even with cleaning, oiling, or sealing, much of how well your teak furniture withstands nature and time is where you place it. Direct sunlight will speed up the wearing process whereas partly shaded or fully shaded areas keep it in its healthiest state longer. For added protection, you may also consider a breathable cover for the piece.

Categories:Kijiji for the Home