Monthly Archives

May 2014

Can I do this home repair job myself?

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8748181Contrary to popular belief, no matter what area they specialize in, every contractor thinks there are some repairs that everybody should at least try to do themselves. If for nothing else, people who try to DIY have a better understanding of the major systems of their home. And while they’re at it, many homeowners may develop a new appreciation for the work that home repair specialists do all day. There are also some repair jobs that you should never, ever try to do yourself. Even though stucco and parging are our specialities, we consider ourselves pretty well-versed in general home repair.

Here are suggestions for things you should try to do yourself, and a firm recommendation for jobs to leave to the pros.

Do try this at home:

Apply caulking to your windows and around your bathtub. Caulking is a relatively easy, inexpensive way to protect your investment in your home, and it’s a remarkably forgiving material. Keep a wet rag nearby, and if your caulking goes awry, wipe it away while it’s still wet and try again.

Fix a leaky faucet. Most of the time when your tap just won’t stop dripping a damaged or missing washer is to blame. Trying this relatively simple home repair yourself is always worth a shot because it can end up saving you a lot of money on wasted water.

Clearing toilet clogs. If you have small children, at some point one of them is going to throw something in the toilet that fits in the bowl but won’t *quite* go all the way down. Oh, who are we kidding? This one is going to happen more than once. If you call a plumber every time a Matchbox racer is circling the bowl, you’re going to have a very happy plumber.

Replace broken tiles. If you still have the tiles used when you built or renovated your house, replacing a broken tile is easier than you think. It can also make a big difference to the look of your kitchen or bathroom.

Paint a single room. If you have very high ceilings or awkward landings to reach, it’s probably not worth the investment in specialized equipment for your DIY paint job. However, assuming it’s the standard “four walls, a window and a door,” painting a single room is not impossible, and the savings can be worth the effort.

Always call a professional:

Electrical repairs. Electrocution is a real thing, and the building and fire codes around electrical work are difficult for even licensed electricians to keep up with. When it comes to keeping the lights on, it’s best to leave this job to the pros.

Removing hazardous materials. Asbestos, lead and mould are all health hazards. Once you have discovered a hazardous substance in your home, it’s understandable that you just want it OUT. But unless you have HAZMAT gear kicking around and access to proper hazardous waste containment facilities, you need to leave this one to environmental remediation specialists.

Gas appliance repairs. Seriously. Just don’t.

Parging. While we think you should leave this one to us, we understand that not everybody lives in Edmonton. You should still hire a professional. Parging protects your foundation and a functional, attractive application affects your home’s curb appeal. Don’t leave this to the instructions of some guy you saw on YouTube!

Top 10 Spring Maintenance Tips, Part Two

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Spring is finally springing in Edmonton! Patios are opening for the season, BBQs are fired up for dinner, and you’re probably ready for spring to hurry up and give way to summer. While our business is parging and stucco, we have learned a lot about general home maintenance along the way. Before you get too far ahead of yourself, we still have a few more things for you to take care of to get your home ready for the season.

In our Top 10 Spring Maintenance Tips, Part One, we started at the roof and made our way down to the windows. Let’s keep going on the top-down to-do list for your home:

6. Leaks

Dishwashers, washing machines, sinks, toilets and tubs are all potential sources of leaks. Check the connections on pipes and hoses, and look for drips or wet spots that can tip you off to signs of trouble.

7. Air Conditioner

Before you take off the cover and turn on the A/C for the season, make sure it’s in good shape. Vacuum away any dust so you can have a really good look at the unit. Change the filter, check the hose for signs of cracks or leaks, and if you see anything that looks suspect, call in an HVAC professional now, rather than when your A/C inevitably breaks on the hottest day of the year – along with everybody else’s!

8. Backyard

If you want to get the most out of your wooden deck, spring time is the perfect time to examine it for wear and tear. Look for any warped or loose boards, and give it a really good cleaning to remove any debris between the boards. For your patio, consider re-levelling stones as necessary to prevent a serious trip hazard.

9. Basement

The basement is an area that a lot of us avoid if we can. Other than doing laundry, when was the last time you spent time hanging out underground? That telltale dampness in the basement may actually be the result of poor ventilation. If you’re lucky, you might just need to start running a humidifier to dry things out a bit. Let’s hope you’re lucky.

10. Foundation

4154369Check the foundation of your home, inside and out, for any signs of cracks in the masonry. If you do discover a crack, remember that the foundation is literally holding your house up. Foundation repair is NOT a DIY project for a Sunday afternoon! Hire a specialist to make sure this is addressed properly to prevent further damage. Consider a fresh coat of parging to protect the foundation and improve the look of your whole house.

There you have it, our Top 10 Spring Maintenance Tips. Be sure to go back and read Part One to make sure your whole house is ready for the season. Though we developed these tips with homes in Edmonton, Alberta and the surrounding area in mind, you can apply them to your home maintenance routine anywhere in Canada or around the world.

Ready for more? Follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook for more of the latest news and suggestions on protecting your home safe from the elements.

Top 10 Spring Maintenance Tips, Part One

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Our recent bout of snow in Edmonton aside, it looks like spring is finally springing in Alberta. Though this time of year usually brings the annual gardening season to mind, there are a few things you can do right now to protect your home from damage as the seasons change. After all, you’ll have a lot more time to enjoy your newly planted garden if you’re not busy cleaning up surprises around the house. Though we’re in the business of parging and stucco, we’ve picked up a few tips about general home maintenance along the way.

To kick off the new season, here are is the first half of our Top 10 list of top-down spring maintenance tips for your home:

1. Check Out the Roof and Chimney

If you don’t have a ladder tall enough, or you’re afraid of heights, you can borrow a pair of binoculars from your local birdwatcher to have a look at your roof from the ground. You’re looking for missing or damaged shingles that may need to be replaced. Inspect your chimney for wear and tear like cracked bricks or missing mortar. If you no longer have a fireplace, consider taking the chimney down. You can promise the kids Santa will find another way in, and save yourself the hassle of annual chimney inspections and maintenance.

2. Inspect Exterior Walls

No matter what exterior finish covers your home, the exterior walls should be inspected at least annually for signs of damage, especially around eaves and downspouts. Signs of damage that should be investigated include water damage and cracks in any parging and stucco finishes.

3. Gutter Cleaning

5512029The primary function of your eaves troughs is directing rainwater into the downspout and away from your home. They can’t do that when they’re clogged with debris. Left unchecked, this debris will allow water to pool in the eaves and that can cause rust or even a leak in the roof. Keeping the eaves troughs clean is a relatively easy way to keep your house dry.

4. Window Gaps

The caulking and/or weather stripping you applied to keep drafts out last fall (you did that, right?) will also keep your nicely cooled air inside in the summer, so make sure it’s still in good shape. While you’re at it, a good cleaning of the windows won’t hurt.

5. Pop the Attic Hatch

You may have sealed off the attic to prevent heated air from escaping up there. That’s a good idea, however once in a while you may need to inspect the attic for signs of improper ventilation, like the telltale black blotches of mould. Warmer conditions will turn a small mould problem into a bigger one quickly, so the best time to address it is now.

There you have it, part one of our Top 10 Spring Maintenance Tips. Though many of these tips are suited for Edmonton, Alberta and the surrounding area, tips will help maintain your house no matter where you call home. Stay tuned for the rest of our tips, coming soon. In the meantime, be sure to Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter for the latest news.

ps, don’t miss Top 10 Spring Maintenance Tips, Part Two. It’s live on the blog now!

Welcome to J and J Coatings!

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Welcome to J anJ and J Coatings Logod J Coatings’ new home on the web!  In business since 2007, we’ve been helping people in Edmonton, Alberta and the surrounding area protect their homes and businesses with high-quality parging and stucco exterior finishes.  Though we’re best suited to a life outside, we are moving things indoors to share the benefits of our expertise on our company blog with homeowners all over the world.

Our fellow Canadians, in particular, will benefit from the many years we have spent keeping the harsh winter elements of our climate out of homes just like yours. Obviously with the level of experience we have, there are many topics we could talk your ear off about all day, but we do have a good idea of where to start. Our next few posts will cover the following:

  • Top 10 Spring Maintenance Tips
  • Latest Standards in Exterior Finishes for Your Home
  • Things to Ask a Contractor Before Signing on the Dotted Line
  • What’s the Difference Between Different Exterior Finishes?
  •  Can I Do This Home Repair Myself?

That’s just a sample of the kinds of informative posts we’re working on for you. If there is a specific question or home maintenance issue you’d like us to address here, feel free to drop us a line.  We happily take requests!  We’re just getting our online presence started and will have a fresh post for you here every two weeks.

If you can’t wait for the next post to hear from us, Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter.  We’ll have quick flashes of information to whet your appetite between updates.


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