5 Winter Tips to Save on Your Hydro Bill

Five strategies to beat the deep-freeze—without breaking the bank.


How to save on your electric bill this winter

The average Canadian will spend upward of $1,800 on natural gas and electricity bills each year; much of that during winter, when cold drafts entering the home can significantly jack up indoor energy use. Here are some hints on how to stay toasty warm this winter without taking a massive financial hit

1- Maintain your furnace

Do-it-yourself: Check furnace filters once a month for lint buildup, and clean or replace them every three months. Clogged with dirt and dust, they can be an energy suck and won’t last as long. Regardless of age or quality, a furnace should undergo a checkup every two years (or annually, for an oil system) to prevent expensive breakdowns and maintain the manufacturer’s warranty.

2- Turn down your thermostat

Do-it-yourself: Setting your thermostat back by 4°C to 6°C for eight hours each day can shave up to 15 per cent off your heating bill. The Canadian Centre for Housing Technology finds it most efficient to keep your home at 22°C when you’re at home in the daytime and at 16°C to 18°C otherwise. Contrary to popular belief, your furnace won’t work extra hard to bring temperatures back up. (Here are more home heating myths you need to stop believing.)

Big fix: Try a thermostat with a brain (such as Nest): some will track your daily home-and-away habits, set the temperature accordingly and are programmable using your smartphone. 

3- Inspect your roof and gutters

Do-it-yourself: Before temperatures dip below freezing, clean your gutters and downspouts of any leaves and debris clogs—clogs mean melting ice will seep into roof shingles. If you have an operational fireplace, make sure its damper is still working and keep it closed when not in use.

Big fix: Think of insulation like the toque your roof needs to wear in winter—up to 25 per cent of a home’s heat can be lost through the roof if it’s not properly insulated.

4- Seal windows

Do-it-yourself: A thrifty treatment for thin glass windows is to line them with bubble wrap: mist your windows with water and push the bubbled side of the sheet against the pane. No glue needed-simply re-mist and reattach if the plastic loses adhesion. (Here are 100 more home improvement hacks to save you time, money and effort.)

Big fix: Adding storm windows to existing frames is one way to boost heat retention. Replacing them entirely with Energy Star-certified windows, double- or triple-glazed and filled with insulating argon or krypton gas, keeps them sealed year-round.

5- Seal doors

Do-it-yourself: Prevent cold-air leaks with a draft snake: a plush doorstopper placed in entryways to stop drafts. If you’re crafty, make your own, but something as simple as a rolled-up towel will do.

Big fix: If your front door lets in more drafts than people, consider upgrading to an airtight model with double- or triple-glazed glass, an insulated core and good-quality weatherstripping (some newer frames include a magnetic strip that seals more tightly).

13 Pet-Friendly House Plants


House plants are a fantastic way to liven up your home decor by adding a natural touch and a splash of color to any room. However, if you’re a pet owner, you’re probably aware that some plants are toxic to your furry friends. The good news is that there are plenty of safe options that look stunning. So, check out our top picks for pet-friendly house plants.


All Calathea or prayer plant varieties are safe for cats and dogs. With their stunning range of leaf colors, sizes and patterns, we’re sure you’ll find one that suits your home decor. They grow best in medium light, high humidity and need filtered or distilled water to keep the leaves glossy and healthy.

African Violets

These flowering houseplants are an excellent choice for a pet-friendly home. To keep them happy, place them in bright indirect light and water them when the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. Then, throughout spring and summer, give them a bit of fertilizer twice a month to encourage abundant flowering.


Indoor palms can add a veritable touch of luxurious, tropical vibes to your home, and most of them are pet-friendly. Here are a few species that will get along with your pets: Parlour Palm, Areca Palm, Miniature Date Palm and the Ponytail Palm. Steer clear of the Sago Palm, though, as it is toxic to both cats and dogs.


Like indoor palms, the vast majority of indoor ferns are safe for pets. Our top picks include Boston Fern, Maidenhair Fern and the Staghorn Fern. These plants thrive in indirect sun and high humidity and make an excellent addition to a bathroom with a window.

Moth Orchids

This may come as a bit of a surprise, but all varieties of Moth or Phalaenopsis Orchids are non-toxic to cats and dogs. The trick to keeping these plants happy is using the right potting soil. A mix of two-parts fir bark, one part perlite and one part sphagnum peat would be perfect for them.

Polka Dot Plant

If you’re looking for a plant that’s small, colorful, beginner-friendly and also non-toxic to pets, the Polka Dot Plant is the answer to your prayers. Keep it in a room with bright indirect light, water it regularly, and you’re all set. Bonus tip: cut the ends of the stems once a month to keep your Polka Dot Plant looking bushy.


Another houseplant that’s both low-maintenance and pet-friendly, Fittonia or the Nerve Plant, stands out due to its compact size and stunning range of leaf colors. This plant loves high humidity and bright indirect light and needs a good soak when the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch.


When it comes to pet-friendly plants that also work as a dramatic centerpiece in your home, the Banana Plant has almost no competition. This exotic giant can easily grow to a height of 7 feet and will need plenty of sunlight, humidity and well-draining soil to reach its full potential.

Spider Plant

An oldie but a goldie, the Spider Plant ticks the boxes for being both pet-friendly and beginner-friendly. Easy to grow indoors, it’s also a great plant to have around due to its air-purifying abilities. As far as we’re concerned, this one is an all-around winner and must-have plant for any home.

Air Plants

Not only are Air Plants non-toxic to cats and dogs, but they also spare you the headache of having to clean up if your pets knock the pots over. That’s right: Air Plants, or Tillandsia, don’t need any soil to grow. Instead, you can either mount them on a wooden display or keep them in an open glass container. To water them, simply dunk them in water once a week, for about 30 minutes. Plant care doesn’t get easier than this!


Peperomia or Rubber Plants are another fantastic choice for a pet-friendly home. The secret to keeping them healthy is bright but indirect sunlight and only watering them when the top two inches of the soil feel dry to the touch.


Also known as Wax Plants or Porcelain Flowers, these slow-growing, trailing succulents are safe to grow in a home with cats or dogs. They also produce clusters of small, colorful flowers with delicate chocolate, vanilla, or cinnamon scent. Plant them in a mix of two-parts orchid bark, one part perlite and one part peat, keep them in bright indirect light and water them moderately.


Although most pet owners would be wary of having spiky succulents around their cats and dogs, there are many spike-free species you can bring into your home. Blue Echeveria, Buro’s Tail, Opuntia, Christmas Cactus and the Fishbone Cactus are just some of our pet-friendly picks. Or, if you don’t mind something a bit prickly, the Blue Haworthia is another excellent choice.


The Easy Way to Melt Ice You Never Knew About (Hint: It’s Not Salt!)

No rock salt? No problem! Here’s how to avoid slipping and sliding on your driveway this winter.

In the dark and cold months of winter, the last thing you want to do is spend hours shovelling ice and snow from your driveway. While rock salt might be a quick fix for slippery surfaces, it’s not always easy to find once temperatures drop. What to do?

Thankfully, winter-proofing your home doesn’t require breaking the bank on rock salt or fancy gadgets. You can create a DIY de-icer with items you already own, according to Jeff Rossen, NBC News National Investigative Correspondent and host of Rossen Reports.

This magical ice melter is easy to make, too. In a bucket, combine a half-gallon of hot water, about six drops of dish soap, and ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol. Once you pour the mixture onto your sidewalk or driveway, the snow and ice will begin to bubble up and melt. Just keep a shovel handy to scrape away any leftover pieces of ice.

Why does this simple combo work? Turns out, rubbing alcohol has a much lower freezing point than water, so it speeds up the melting process and prevent the surface from icing up in the future, Rossen says. (Check out more genius ways to put rubbing alcohol to work.) He also recommends pouring the mixture into a spray bottle and using it to thaw your car windows.

But that’s not the only cold-weather driving hack that won’t cost you a dime: find out why you should keep a nail file in your car this winter.

20+ Ways to Make Your Home Cozy This Winter


The secret to a cozy home

With daylight dwindling and colder weather on the way—along with pandemic restrictions, of course—this winter will likely feel like a long one. But if you’re dreading the thought of spending the next few months staring at the same four walls, it’s time to upgrade your surroundings with a few inspired touches. We turned to the experts of hygge—a.k.a. the Danish art of creating a comforting atmosphere—for their best tips on making the most of your time at home this winter.

Light a candle (or three)

Why hygge? According to Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and author of The Little Book of Hygge, Danes use hygge as a “survival strategy” for the dark and cold days of winter. “It can help us boost our sense of wellbeing under the current circumstances because it’s a way to make the best of the situation you’re in,” he says.

For instant hygge, it’s as easy as lighting a candle. The soft, flickering glow adds a warmth that immediately transforms a cold, stale room. Upgrade the experience with a seasonal scent and a wood wick that crackles as it burns like a mini-fireplace, as seen in Vancouver-based Mala the Brand’s hand-poured candles.

Create a soothing interior

“It’s now, more than ever, important to embrace our surroundings with soothing interiors that comforts and elevates our spirits,” says Dorothea Gundtoft, author of Real Nordic Living. For example, if your pre-sleeping ritual includes reading in bed, make the activity extra calming by changing up your décor. This elegant wood sconce from Vancouver’s East Van Light saves table space and it’s dimmable so you can adjust for the ideal brightness.

Go for a fresh coat of paint

If you’re searching for a home renovation project to undertake this season, why not reinvigorate your space with a new colour on your walls? Try a cheerful shade of yellow for an instant mood boost. (Before you get started, don’t miss these painting tips from professionals.)

Block out interruptions with a sleep mask

An important aspect of hygge is taking care of yourself, says Wiking, and we all know how important sleep is for managing stress and strengthening the immune system. If you’re struggling to get a good night’s rest, wear a sleep mask to block out any potentially distracting light. This 100 percent pure silk eye mask from Toronto’s The Silk Labs also promises to be a cooling treat for the delicate eye area. (Here are the things you should do all night long for better sleep.)

The key to the coziest bedroom

Sink into your deepest slumber yet with this linen duvet set from Toronto-based, Portugal-made linen company Envello. The super soft and breathable combed cotton fabric will keep the coldest sleeper toasty even when the mercury plummets. (Check 0ut our ultimate guide to the best sleep ever.)

Snuggle up with a luxurious blanket

“On top of daily tasks, the fact that we have a global pandemic—no wonder we’re all stressed out,” says Gundtoft. The silver lining of this, however, is that this pressure-cooker environment has prompted many of us to think more critically about our routines and self-care. It might be incorporating a walk around the block into our schedule, or putting an ultra-soft blanket in every room, at the ready for spontaneous naps or to be worn as a cozy cape. This washable merino wool throw blanket from Montreal brand Volprivé is great for snuggling on cold nights.

Or try a weighted one

If you prefer something heavier, lull your body into deeper sleep with a weighted blanket that’s designed to feel like a snug hug. This 15-pound version from Canadian mattress company Endy features a reversible, machine washable cover and a weighted inner layer filled with rounded glass beads and polyester fibres. The blanket evenly distributes the weight across your body to help calm, relax and relieve stress. Tip: When you’re looking for a weighted blanket, it should be no heavier than 8-12 percent of your body weight. (Here’s how to fix the most common sleep problems, according to the experts.)

Elevate your daily routines

“Hygge has oftentimes been referred to as ‘the perfect night in,’” says Wiking. With that in mind, you don’t need a big budget to create a cozy home. Start by thinking about the activities you do throughout the day and how it can be made more comfortable. Invest in that one piece that can make a big impact on your everyday. If you’re used to stepping onto ice-cold floors first thing in the morning, a textured, plush rug at your bedside could be all you need for a happier start to the day.

Step into comfort

One of the upsides to spending more time at home is being able to dress comfortably all the time. For most people that means two things—sweatpants and slippers. The shearling lining of these slippers makes them some of the softest on the market, and the sturdy sole means they’re durable for indoor and outdoor wear. (We won’t judge.)

Refresh the air

Hygge is all about creating a calm environment and recharging your batteries—something we could all use a lot more of in this time. Whether you’re gearing up for a long day in the home office or settling in for a Netflix marathon, keep your home refreshed with a bit of aromatherapy from this uplifting diffuser blend collection. In addition to smelling divine, the different fragrances are designed to help you feel energized or relaxed.

Unwind with a made-to-order bathtub tray

Can you think of anything more peaceful than a long, luxurious soak in the tub? How about adding a glass of wine and a thrilling mystery novel? Keep your bath time essentials dry and float the day’s worries away with this custom, reclaimed wood tray that’s made-to-order to fit any bathtub. Sherbrooke, Quebec-based woodworker Sharon Muravsky hand-makes the trays using recycled Eastern Hemlock wood for a truly unique touch.

Take a breather with a puzzle

Decompress with this quirky limited-edition puzzle by Toronto-based artist Stephanie Cheng, commemorating the greatest baseball moustaches of all time. Once you’re done assembling all 1,000 pieces, all that’s left to do is find a spot on the wall for your new art piece. (Don’t miss these 30+ stress management tips from the experts.)

Reflect in a journal

“Take the time to reflect on all you’re fortunate for: love, connection, shelter,” says Wiking. “The times may be challenging, but there’s always something to feel grateful for—focus on that.” If you’re have trouble putting your feelings into words, try The Human Being Journal from Canadian lifestyle and wellness brand Mahara. The guided format offers prompts and questions to help inspire mindfulness and a deeper dive into your life’s goals.

Fill your home with your favourite tunes

“Hygge can be understood as ‘the art of creating a nice atmosphere,’ so perhaps start with reflecting on what that means to you,” says Wiking. If it’s the sound of music that gets you going, set this charming record player spinning for an impromptu sing-a-long or a living room dance party. No vinyl? No problem. The Bluetooth connection allows you to stream digital music through the built-in speakers.

Get crafty

There’s no better time than a lockdown to master a craft. Get started with this thoughtfully put together embroidery kit from Ketch Harbour, Nova Scotia-based Hook, Line and Tinker studio. It includes all the materials needed to stitch an adorable Scandinavian design-inspired holiday reindeer. All that’s left for you to do is to focus on the task at hand.

Play a board game

Unplug for the evening and star in your own version of The Queen’s Gambit with this travel-friendly roll-up chess and checkers set. The board features one of Pendleton’s signature geometric prints and comes with two-in-one wooden pieces.

Treat yourself to a hot drink

While a snowstorm rages outside, partake in a steaming cup of hot chocolate that’s sure to warm you up from the inside out. Satisfy this seasonal craving with a trio set of gourmet hot cocoa mix. The festive tins and delectable flavours—choose from milk, dark and peppermint chocolate–will make you want to savour the moment for as long as possible. (Don’t miss our round-up of the best hot chocolate recipes to try this winter!)

Add a new mug to your collection

Take your hot chocolate—or whatever cold weather beverage you prefer—to the next level with this fun asymmetrical mug. Handmade by ceramic artist Karla Strickland for Tofino, British Columbia-based lifestyle shop Merge, its perfectly imperfect handmade shape and natural raw clay finish will be a homey addition to any cupboard.

Send snail mail

Spread the cheer near and far by sending the special people in your life some snail mail. In a time where we won’t be able to gather together with those closest to us, a heartfelt message will go a long way. Let them know you’re thinking of them and make your wishes extra joyous with this adorable card made by Vancouver-based letterpress printing and design studio Porchlight Press.

Spend quality time with loved ones (virtually)

“Spend quality time with loved ones,” says Wiking. “Engage, listen, and be present.” Although we might not be able to be in the same room with family and friends for the time being, it’s easy to stay connected with video chats that makes it feel as though you’re together. Make face-to-face time a regular part of your routine by scheduling calls and doing activities together, like baking cookies or playing games. (Don’t miss the Reader’s Digest home tech buying guide.)

A DIY ambiance

As you make your home cozy this winter, keep in mind the key elements of hygge—presence, pleasure, gratitude, comfort and togetherness. “Hygge is about the now,” says Wiking. “How to enjoy the moment and make the best of it.” This can be as simple as lounging in your favourite chair with a mug of eggnog and the fireplace channel roaring on YouTube.

Too Tight? The Impact of Bank of Canada Tightening on BC Housing Markets

Vancouver, BC – January 18, 2022. The number of home sales in British Columbia is expected to fall and home price growth will moderate because of rising interest rates according to a new report from the British Real Estate Association (BCREA) examining the potential impacts of the Bank of Canada’s rate tightening widely expected this year.

BCREA’s Market Intelligence report, Too Tight? The Impact of Bank of Canada Tightening on BC Housing Markets, was written by the association’s Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson and explores both the historical impacts of the Bank raising its policy rate and a number of scenarios likely to play out in BC’s housing market as a result.

“In the past, Bank of Canada tightening has usually led to falling home sales and flattening home prices, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the same happening in the upcoming round of tightening” says Ogmundson. “Based on previous trends and our model simulations for what might be to come with respect to rates, we have outlined a number of likely scenarios in this report.”

The Bank of Canada has signaled that in response to elevated Canadian inflation, it will begin raising its policy rate or “tightening” monetary policy this year. The impact of this type of action on housing markets is generally predictable, however, with BC’s housing markets currently undersupplied with record-low numbers of active listings, the impact on prices may not be as significant.

“With markets so out of balance, we expect home price growth to slow but to what extent depends on the final rate destination for the Bank of Canada and for Canadian mortgage rates,” adds Ogmundson. “Our model simulations show only a minor impact on home prices in the first two years following the Bank raising its overnight rate.”

British Columbia set a new record for home sales last year with 124,854 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in 2021, a 32.8 per cent increase from the 94,001 units sold in 2020. For more economic analysis from the British Columbia Real Estate Association visit bcrea.bc.ca/economics.

Getting Prequalified for a Mortgage: How Does It Work, and Is It Worth It?


If you’ve ever asked yourself how much mortgage you can afford, getting prequalified is one of the first ways to find out. The process is actually pretty quick and easy, and you don’t really have anything to lose. It is worth understanding exactly what a mortgage prequalification is, though, so with that in mind, let’s find out more.

What Is a Mortgage Prequalification?

A mortgage prequalification is a lender’s estimate that lets you know how much you can take out in a loan. It’s a very basic form of loan inquiry, and if you’re looking to buy a home, it’s one of the first items you should add to your to-do list. This will give you a better idea of the budget you’ll need for purchasing a house and also allow you to explore different mortgage options.

How It Works

Applying for a mortgage prequalification is surprisingly easy. To get started, you’ll need to first shop around for several lenders. Nowadays, many banks and creditors provide online forms that take a few minutes to fill in and submit. For a prequalification, the lender will only need basic information such as:

  • Your name and address
  • Contact details
  • A figure for your stable monthly income
  • Basic data on your bank accounts, savings and other assets
  • Your desired loan amount and, sometimes, how much you can put as downpayment
  • A credit check

Some lenders may not take a close look at your proof of income and assets, although they can do a background check on your credit report and history. It’s worth pointing out that applying for mortgage prequalification is considered a soft inquiry and will not impact your credit score. Once the lender has all this information, they will use it to assess your creditworthiness. The data will help them determine whether they can grant you the loan you’re looking for or whether granting you a loan is feasible, to begin with.

The process itself is quite speedy, and you can expect an answer from the lender within a day or so. If the response you receive is positive, you can either pursue things further with the lender and discuss a loan application or preapproval or just leave it as a loan inquiry.

Prequalification vs. Preapproval

Although mortgage prequalification and preapproval sound similar, the two processes have different requirements and implications.

To better understand the differences, think of a prequalification as just an inquiry that tells you how much you can borrow, with no strings attached. At this stage, lenders are also prospecting you as a potential client. However, mortgage prequalification is not a guarantee that your loan will be approved or that you will be approved for the amount discussed throughout the process.

On the other hand, mortgage preapproval involves a closer look at your creditworthiness. The paperwork requirements are different, and you will need to provide pay stubs, bank statements and tax records on top of meeting the lender’s credit score requirements. All information will be closely scrutinized, and the lender will provide an answer within up to 10 business days. If you are preapproved, the lender will send you an offer, usually valid for 90 days.

Last but not least, a traditional mortgage preapproval counts as a hard inquiry, lowering your credit score by a few points, whereas mortgage prequalification does not.

Is a Mortgage Prequalification Worth It?

Absolutely! For starters, mortgage prequalification is a quick and free process that will instantly let you know just how likely you are to buy your dream home. It will let you know whether you’re in a financial position to purchase real estate or whether you should postpone it for a few more years. Buying a home can be a stressful process, but if you can dedicate an afternoon to filling in a few forms, the peace of mind it provides is well worth the time invested.

Being prequalified will also give you more leverage when dealing with sellers. It lets them know that you are committed to purchasing their property and can also leave room for negotiation. What’s more, your offer can carry more weight when compared with offers from buyers that are not prequalified, let alone preapproved.

If you manage to obtain a mortgage prequalification from a lender, it’s also worth pursuing matters further and discussing a preapproval. Keep in mind that a prequalification is no guarantee for the loan. However, a preapproval letter brings you one step closer to securing a loan and can even lock interest rates in place for the next 90 days. In fact, being prequalified can also give you preferential access to loans and speed up the preapproval process.

Western Canada’s abandoned ski resorts


Abandoned ski resorts of BC


The consolidation of the ski industry in North America has seen a handful of large companies buy up dozens of resorts

While the issue has just started attracting attention in the past few years — both SilverStar and Whistler Blackcomb are now owned by American giants — the trend is decades old. Smaller, family-owned and operated ski hills used to be common but are an increasingly rare breed.

Dozens of now abandoned ski resorts dot Western Canada.

YouTube channel Skier72 recently published a video taking viewers through these smaller hills from a fading era of skiing.

Abandoned and lost resorts on the list include West Kelowna’s Crystal Mountain, now under new ownership that is trying to relaunch the hill as Bull Mountain.

There was also the Lac Le Jeune Ski Ranch, which operated from 1947 to 1992, as well as hills that operated in Princeton, Sparwood, Nelson, 100 Mile House, Tillicum Valley, Lytton and more.

Tabor Mountain outside Prince George is working to reopen after a fire destroyed its day lodge in 2018. The YouTube video also details abandoned resorts in Alberta and Manitoba.

Passengers should check for ferry cancellations due to staffing issues: BC Ferries


BC Ferries cancellations

A BC Ferries spokesman is encouraging passengers to check online for possible service disruptions before heading to a terminal.

Dan McIntosh says several factors could lead to sailing cancellations on some routes, including employees being sick with COVID-19, seasonal cold and flu or severe winter storms.

Four sailings were cancelled yesterday on the Queen of Cowichan between Horseshoe Bay and Nanaimo due to staffing issues.

McIntosh says some sailings can still go ahead even when there’s a shortage of employees but that depends on whether that’s the captain, engineers or a cook.

He says fewer kitchen staff may mean less cafeteria service, but a ferry can’t sail without key staff.

McIntosh says BC Ferries has contingency plans in place as requested by the provincial health officer to deal with a rise in absenteeism as the Omicron variant sweeps through the province, and that includes cross-training staff to do other duties or deploying them to different locations.

“All it takes is for a few people to be sick, depending on the role they play on the ferries, and then all of a sudden that augments your schedules in a way that we’ve seen. And we can say, anecdotally, that because of the COVID situation, we know that that is impacting our staff.”

He says service notices are posted online as soon as possible when sailings won’t be going ahead as scheduled because so many customers are dependent on the service to get to work, school and medical appointments.

Passengers can check the BC Ferries website for any cancellations before heading to a terminal or register to get notices sent to their mobile device.

Everything You Need to Know about Asbestos in the Home

The thought of having asbestos in the home can worry anyone. But is it as bad as it’s made out to be? Before you panic, it’s worth knowing a little more. So with that in mind, read on to find out what it is, how to identify it, and if you should be worried about it or not.

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral made out of thin, hair-like fibers. It has been used as a building material for millennia, primarily due to its fireproofing and insulating abilities. Asbestos began enjoying increased popularity starting with the late 19th century, when its use became ubiquitous, from bricks and concrete to fireproof insulation, drywall and flooring.

As medical research began to highlight the health dangers associated with asbestos, this material began to gradually decline in popularity. Some of the health concerns included an increased risk of lung, stomach, ovarian and kidney cancer, as well as other respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses.

Today, the use of asbestos is banned in 66 countries. Canada made it illegal to import, manufacture, sell and use asbestos products on 31 December 2018. In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency issued an asbestos ban in 1989, but the ban was overturned two years later. Although the use of asbestos in homes has declined after 1980, this material is still not completely illegal in the U.S.

Which Household Products Contain Asbestos?

If your home was built between 1920 and 1989, there’s a high chance that you can find asbestos in paint, plaster, pipe and wall insulation, drywall, vinyl flooring and linoleum, caulking, roof shingles and corrugated panels.

Asbestos could also be found in appliances such as heaters, ovens and stoves, dishwashers, fridges, and even toasters. In such cases, asbestos was used to insulate heating elements and electrical components. You can also find asbestos in old cars, in parts such as brakes, clutches, gaskets and hood liners.

Traces of asbestos contamination have been found in products that contain talc, from baby powder, children’s toys and crayons, to adult cosmetics. In addition, vermiculite, a mineral used in construction as well as a soil amendment for indoor plants, can also become contaminated with asbestos.

Identifying Asbestos

Identifying asbestos in your home can be tricky because it has no smell or taste, and its color and texture can change depending on what materials it has been mixed with. Also, it can be found in a wide range of items, from construction materials to household appliances. Of course, some items such as popcorn or stucco ceilings are a common giveaway for asbestos use. Most of the time, however, it’s almost impossible to identify asbestos just by looking at it.

If you’re worried that your home may contain asbestos, the best solution is to contact a licensed testing and removal professional. They will be able to identify asbestos in construction materials and other household items and advise if they pose a threat.

Should You Worry If Your Home Has Asbestos?

Asbestos has a long and well-researched history of negative health effects. So, to put it shortly, yes, asbestos is dangerous. Breathing in or ingesting asbestos can result in serious illness, and although patients can live with asbestosis for years, the damage done to the lungs cannot be reversed.

However, just because you live in a home with asbestos doesn’t mean your health is immediately put at risk. In this regard, asbestos is very similar to lead paint. As long as the material is in good condition, without any signs of damage, asbestos is not hazardous. In fact, if you do find undamaged asbestos in your home, the best thing you can do is simply leave it alone.

On the other hand, damaged asbestos can release microscopic fibers into the air, which do present a health hazard. Therefore, if you have items in your home that you either know or suspect contain asbestos, check them regularly. Signs of damage include cracks, tears, abrasions and water damage. Once you find a damaged item or area, do not touch it and contact a professional as soon as possible.

Removing Asbestos From Your Home

Removing or repairing damaged asbestos in your home is not a job you should do yourself. If the damaged surface is disturbed, it’s very easy to breathe in the microscopic particles, and even brief exposure to asbestos can have unpleasant health effects.

Asbestos removal should always be carried out by a certified contractor. Admittedly, there are no laws that prevent you from handling the removal yourself, yet the hazards associated with such a DIY project far outweigh any cost-cutting. Not only that but asbestos waste can only be disposed of in landfills designated explicitly for this purpose. Therefore, to save yourself the trouble and protect yourself from any health risks, it’s always best to leave the job to a professional.