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How to make a cozy finished basement

CaulkingA warm, comfortable finished basement is a great feature that adds value to your home. But too few owners realize that finishing a basement the wrong way can bring mould, mildew and lower indoor air quality.

Building a healthy finished basement comes down to these five elements:

1. Only finish a reliably dry basement. Even a small amount of leaked water can trigger mould, mustiness and poor indoor air quality. That's why your basement needs to prove itself reliably dry before you invest time and money into finishing. Monitor the space and make sure it's dry for at least a year.

2. Use moisture-resistant inorganic materials. Even a dry basement might get unexpectedly damp. So use inorganic materials that won't feed mould even in the presence of moisture. Foam-based insulation is best at reducing mould risk in basements. Avoid putting wood in contact with concrete.

3. Install a subfloor. Proper basement subfloors make finished floors warmer and reduce the chance that humid summertime air will condense against cool concrete. Choose inorganic subfloor products to put against the basement floor.

4. Spray foam the rim joists. Although it's common to insulate the area where joists meet outside walls using fibre-based insulation and a vapour barrier, it's difficult to get a proper air seal around all those joists. The resulting air leakage is why many homes have some kind of mould in the rim joist area. Spray foam eliminates this problem because it's self-sealing when applied at least three inches thick. You'll need a professional installer to do this work.

5. Install a proper heating system. Just because you have a furnace in your basement doesn't mean it will automatically heat the space. You need sufficient ducts to deliver heat to all areas as well as cold air return ducts at floor level to promote air circulation.

If you're planning to hire a contractor, make sure they're experienced, knowledgeable and professional. The Canadian Home Builder's Association is a great source of free advice for hiring a pro and avoiding suspicious contractors.

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Smell Gas? Act Fast!

Natural Gas Rotten Egg Smell

Natural gas leaks can result in a fire or explosion. Make sure you, and your family, know how to recognize a gas leak and what to do if you suspect a leak. 

Signs of Natural Gas Leak

  • Smell - A distinctive rotten egg odour
  • Sound - Hissing, roaring or whistling
  • Sight - Damaged connections to natural gas appliances or vegetation that is dead or dying for no reason

What to do if you smell natural gas or suspect a leak

  • Act quickly and remain calm
  • Go outside or leave the area immediately 
  • Call your gas distribution company emergency number
  • Follow these safety precautions:
  • Don't use a phone or any electronics
  • Don't turn appliances or lights on or off
  • Don't smoke or use lighters or matches
  • Don't start any vehicles or motors
  • If leaking natural gas is burning, call 911. Don't attempt to put the fire out yourself

Winter Skincare Tips for Kids

Dry Skin HumidifierJust because your kids don't need to worry about wrinkles doesn't mean their skin doesn't need to be cared for. Like adults, children need a proper skincare routine year round.

Dr. Joseph Lam, a Vancouver-based clinical assistant professor in pediatrics and dermatology, says the difference in seasonal skincare is that skin is more prone to dryness during the colder months because of the furnace. Using a humidifier and moisturizing twice a day are the best ways to combat this. Below, Lam shares his top tips for parents looking to help their kids stay on top of their skincare this season.

1. Outdoor precautions. Don't be concerned about redness on your little one's face after being outside for a while — it's simply the body's reaction to being cold and working to pump more blood to the areas that need it. However, parents should be aware of the warning signs of frostbite, which include swelling, stinging, and burning.

2. Upgrade the moisturizer your kids use. Do you know the difference between an ointment, cream, and lotion? Lam says to go thicker during the wintertime and look for something with a lower water content — this often means the thicker the better. An ointment is the greasiest, followed by cream, and then a lotion, which is the thinnest and may be preferred in the summer months. Gels are generally not recommended for dry skin as they're alcohol-based and evaporate quickly.

3. Cleanse with common sense. Rather than a hard and fast rule of bathing, Lam recommends cleansing only when your child looks or feels dirty. This helps fight increased dryness, as the more cleansers you use the more fat is stripped off skin. If your child has eczema, look for products created or intended for use by people with the condition — the Eczema Society of Canada seal of acceptance is an easy way to be sure.

4. Avoid product panic. “Just because something is natural, doesn't mean it gets a free pass,” says Lam. Kids can experience an allergic reaction even with natural products, many of which are still being tested for use on the skin. Ever-popular olive oil was shown to cause redness in a recent study, making coconut oil a better choice. Similarly, concerns over parabens and sulfates aren't supported by good data. Despite widespread alarm, Lam says not everything that is taken out of products needs to be.

5. Make skincare age appropriate. Be careful with babies' skin in the cold, as they can't generate as much heat or communicate their needs. As your child gets older, explain a recommended skincare routine step by step. Don't brush off disobedience as rebelliousness — your child may simply not understand, the products may sting, or they could be embarrassed about their skin. Talk to your child and encourage good behaviour with a fun reward.

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More Ways to Save Beyond the Bulbs

Dim it!

  • Dimmers gove you flexibility to set different moods while saving energy!

Schedule it!

  • Add timers to lights to have them turn on and off at set times.

Style it!

  • Choose ENERGY STAR® fixtures-they use up to 75% less energy!

Sense it!

  • Forgot to switch of? Motion sensors save by turning lights off automatically.

Is Your Heating System Ready for Winter?

Furnace ServiceWith summer's warm weather, you're probably not thinking about heating your home. However, your family's safety and comfort depends on the condition of your heating system. Having your furnace and other natural gas appliances inspected by a certified technician will help identify any repairs or adjustment to be made before the cold weather arrives. A well maintained furnace is less likely to create dangerous carbon monoxide inside your home or to break down on the coldest days of the year. It will also run more efficiently, helping you use less natural gas and save money. Enbridge Gas do not service or maintain gas burning appliances. Call us at 905.707.1299 to book your annual inspection.

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