Archive for the ‘Preventative Maintenance’ Category

Quick and Easy Home Updates

If you have been living in your permanent or even semi-permanent home for more than a year, it can be refreshing and healthy to give it a new look. While it is easy to hang a new picture or bring in some flowers, there are other tasks you can complete to improve your home’s aesthetics. While art and other personal memorabilia are important, maintenance of our physical homes is often overlooked, most often because people consider this activity to require more time and dedication that other home updates. There are simple things that we can do to help make the places we live in feel more alive, and they can be completed in just one day.

  1. hardwood-shineBring back your floor’s shine. Your home’s tile and wooden floors take a lot of damage throughout the year as you travel in, out, and through your home. Taking a few hours to mop and shine your floors can go a long way in the overall look of your home. Before beginning, be sure that you have the proper cleaning product for the surface. This is a great way to refresh your floors and revitalize the look and feel of your home.
  2. Replace electrical outlet boxes. If you own an older home, this is an extremely easy way to not only improve your home systems electricity efficiency, but to make it safer as well. You may notice that a plug no longer fits snug in a certain outlet, which is a strong indication that it may be time to look into new electrical outlet boxes. Be sure to shut off the power in the electrical area of your home before starting this easy and empowering job. Take the time to evaluate all of your home’s electrical supplies, components and parts to ensure safety for you and your family.
  3. simple home updatesOrganize around your home. If you are constantly picking up papers, clothes or knick-knacks from around the first floor of your home, you may want to consider consolidating it to one spot. Doing this is as easy as finding a shelf, new or used, that can be used to store a variety of everyday items. A convenient place to put these items, like keys, bills or mail, is right by the exterior door that you use the most. Have fun with this update – it doesn’t have to be a shelf. You can use cabinets in the mud room or a small desk in the office to store these everyday items. The more creative you are with this project, the more likely you are to use the space on a regular basis.
  4. Liven up your home’s entrance with exterior lighting. The outside of your home is the first part that your guests see. Making a good first impression can go a long way, and is simple enough to do! Transform your home’s run-of –the-mill gateway by putting an inviting light by your door. You can do so with an inexpensive but stylish fixture that, once installed, should be relatively low maintenance. Don’t hesitate with this one, go for it!

These projects will help you feel like a true homeowner and bring back that newly-moved-in feeling. The best part is that these tasks are simple enough to complete on a rainy day stuck indoors, or as a quick weeknight project!

Preventing Plumbing Emergencies this Winter

frozen pipeIf you live north of the 35th latitude, then you’re going to have to deal with a few bitterly cold nights this winter. These low temperatures can lead to problems for your home’s plumbing – problems that you don’t have to consider during the warmer months of the year. In order to protect your home from the impending cold, follow these guidelines and take a preventative stand against plumbing emergencies this winter:

Problem: Frozen Pipes

Frozen pipes are one of the most common and potentially most damaging of all plumbing issues you may run into this winter. Since water expands when it freezes, frozen pipes can burst – leaving you with no running water, and a giant mess to clean up in the aftermath.

How to avoid:

  • Insulate pipes in cold parts of house (foam padding and insulated tape are easy to find and effective solutions).
  • Trickle water from your home’s spouts overnight (movement prevents water from freezing)
  • Caulk pipes at house entry points to reduce draft.
  • Keep the cupboard doors below your sink open to keep pipes warm.
  • If your pipes freeze, immediately turn off the main water valve and contact a professional such as McLouglin PHC.

 

Problem: Clogged Drain

Warm temperatures facilitate movement, while cold temperatures impede movement. Your sink’s drain can clog much more easily during the winter months than it would in the summer. Also, winter is the season of food holidays — and all the best foods are full of delicious, viscous fat. This all creates a perfect storm for clogged drains.

How to avoid:

  • Avoid disposing excess fat and grease from holiday meals down your drain. Bag it and trash it, instead.
  • Use drain un-blocker every other month to avoid backups.
  • Use a drain cover to catch all the large debris before it gets stuck in your pipes.

 

Problem: Blocked Gutters

When it’s warm, gutters assist in water drainage. When it’s cold, water can freeze in your gutters and damage your roof. The best way to avoid damage to your gutters is to keep them cleared of debris to facilitate easy water drainage.

How to avoid:

  • Clean out gutters before the nights drop below freezing.
  • Invest in gutter caps to prevent future build-up of debris.

 

Problem: Your Septic Tank

This one is self-evident. Any septic tank problem is a big problem.

How to avoid:

  • Make sure to get maintenance done BEFORE the ground freezes. It becomes much more difficult and much more risky to do maintenance and draining when the permafrost sets in.

Using these easy tips, you can rule out most of your risk for plumbing disaster this winter. Remember, prevention is always less costly than repair.

Four Things To Check Before Turning On Your AC

Four Things To Check Before Turning On Your ACWhen the summer months come along, there is a good chance that it will get quite hot outside. When the temperature begins to rise, many people will be turning on the AC in order to cool down. Before you turn on your AC, there are four things that you should check.

Check The Filters

All homes have filters in their heating and AC units that are used to catch dust and dirt that floats within the air. Air will flow through the filter, into the duct work, and out the registers throughout your home, while the dust and dirt is trapped within the filter. As the filter fills with dust and dirt, the air is not able to move through it, making it difficult to cool your home. According to Ductz, a company that specializes in New Orleans Duct Cleaning, it is important to ensure that your filters are changed on a regular basis, typically 30 to 60 days depending on the type of filter you use.

Ensure Vents Are Clear

In order for the air to flow freely into and out of the AC unit, all of the vents need to be clean and free of any debris. An AC unit works by pulling warm air from the outside and cool it before pushing it into your home. The unit can not bring in warm air or push out cool air if the vents are not clean.

Clean Duct Work

The dust within your home can be pulled into the duct work and can eventually work its way into the filter. In order for your filters to last longer and for the cool air to flow freely throughout your home, you need to ensure that the ducts are clean. You can clean the ducts on your own or look into hiring a professional.

Check Drainage Pipe

The drain pipe on an AC unit is used to allow extra moisture and condensation from the unit to drain. Over time, grime and sludge can begin to build up within the pipe. This sludge and grime can begin to clog the pipe causing issues with the unit. This is why it is so important to clean out the drain pipe to ensure that it does not become clogged and the moisture can flow freely.

 

Before you start up your AC, it is important to check these things to ensure that it will work properly throughout the summer months.

Five Reasons A Pest Problem In Your Home Is Something You Can’t Ignore

Five Reasons A Pest Problem In Your Home Is Something You Can't IgnoreBesides the fact that insects and other house pests are creepy and crawly, they often carry bacteria and diseases that are harmful to humans. Over time, if left undisturbed, many types of pests also cause serious damage to your home. If you suspect you have a pest problem, contact a professional immediately.

Termite Infestations

Termites are a type of insect that consumes wood. If your home is infested with this pest, the wood of your home is being consumed all day and night, every day of the week. This means that over time, the structure of your home may become compromised if the termites are not completely removed. Sometimes, termite infestations are not discovered until significant damage is already done to your home. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) estimates that termites cause $5 billion each year in property damage.

Marching One by One

Just like the nursery rhyme, the ants do go marching one by one. Where there’s one ant, there are bound to be at least hundreds more nearby. Ants are a household pest that have various nesting and food requirements. The type of ant affects what damage is done to your home. For example, carpenter ants chew on wood and can damage structures over time, while Pharaoh ants are known to infest food and transmit diseases.

Ravaging Rodents

Rodent control is especially important because mice and rats are capable of squeezing into tight places and reproducing quickly. This proves to be a problem for homeowners since the mice and rats gnaw on wood and other materials. These rodents leave behind droppings, which can potentially cause health issues in humans. According to Jones Bros., a company that specializes in rodent control in Sacramento, mice and rats are also known to carry diseases and spread bacteria; contaminating surfaces in your home as they travel in search of food.

Busy Bees

Bees are insects capable of flight that are either social or non-social. Some bees, like honey bees, are important to our environment for pollination. Despite this, their hives can damage structures and should be removed by professionals. Other bees, like wasps and hornets, are aggressive and also build their nests on household structures such as near gutters, pipes, under decks, behind shutters and in trees and shrubs surrounding your home. Some bees are known to consume surfaces such as drywall to build their nests.

Relentless Roaches

Cockroaches spend most of their time hiding away in tight crevices. These moisture-loving pests leave behind saliva and droppings that 1 in 5 children are allergic to, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). Cockroaches are also known to carry bacteria and diseases which can contaminate your food (they love starchy foods like cereal) and kitchen surfaces.

 

Insects and rodents are not welcome visitors in any home. These pests cause structural damage to your home and often carry diseases. If you see any sign of a pest infestation, from visually spotting a pest to seeing droppings or hearing crunching noises at night, immediately contact a trusted pest control professional.

How To Get Your AC Ready For This Coming Summer

How To Get Your AC Ready For This Coming SummerIn the midst of winter, it can be hard to imagine the hot days of summer that will be coming by and by. But come they will, and when they do, you will find yourself once again dependent upon your air conditioning. But will your AC be ready when it’s needed? A well running and reliable AC system is not something that happens by accident. Here are some tips to make sure your air conditioner can beat the heat this summer:

Inspect Early

The time to pay attention to the condition of your AC system is not on the first hot day. Early spring is the time to begin investigating the status of your AC system. Don’t count on being able to get service for your system once the heat waves start. That is when repair and maintenance services are the most busy and hardest to schedule. The result may be sweltering days spent waiting for the system to be fixed.

Cleaning

Once its apparent that spring has sprung, take the time to physically examine the exterior of your AC system. You will probably find that dirt, leaves and other debris has gathered on and around your system. Brush these away with a broom and cut away any branches or other growth that may have encroached over the winter.

Replace the Filter

There is no more common cause of poor performance by an AC system than a dirty filter. It is so simple to change, yet people have a tendency to forget. Always change it before starting a new summer season, then be sure to change it at least once per month.

Get it Checked

While basics such as keeping the system clean and changing the filters can be done by any homeowner, the inner workings of your AC system is not something you should do maintenance or repair work on yourself. That requires professionals who can correctly and safely identify and resolve any problems your AC system many have developed over the winter. Contacting a firm such as Barker Air Conditioning & Heating Inc. that specializes in AC issues will ensure that potential problems are resolved before inconveniences occur.

 

Perhaps the best advantage to getting your AC ready for this coming summer is not the inconvenience and discomfort it will avoid, but the money you will save. A properly maintained AC unit will save at least 20% over improperly maintained systems. So have your AC system checked today.

Three Tricks for Preventing Home Winter Weather Damage

Three Tricks for Preventing Home Winter Weather DamageWhen living in a cold area, many homeowners have to take a lot of steps to protect their house from the cold winter air or snow. This is not difficult as a person can, with ease, prepare the home for the winter. In fact, with these three simple tips, a homeowner can, without spending a lot of money, prevent home winter weather damage.

Plumbing

When a cold front hits an area, the pipes in a house can burst. This will cost the homeowner a lot of money as burst pipes can destroy expensive household items. To prevent damaged and burst pipes, an individual should call a local plumber who can inspect the pipes and find any vulnerable areas. In reality a person must do this as one cold front in an area can leave a resident in big trouble. With a Plumbing Houston company, a person can avoid this problem and avoid plenty of issues in the process.

Trees

An ice storm or large snow storm will knock down trees and cause damage to buildings. To prevent this catastrophic problem, a person should call a local tree specialist who can inspect the trees for damage. If any damage is present, a resident should have the tree cut down before the long winter months. Otherwise, if there is no issue, an individual should ask the tree specialists to trim any large branches that will damage the home. With this small investment, the owner can leave his or her during the cold winter months and not worry about returning to a house with a damaged roof.

Gutters

A person looking to avoid flooding all year should clean his or her gutters. If old leaves and twigs get stuck in the gutters then they will not work correctly. Fortunately, to clean them out, one only needs to get on top of the roof and manually remove the debris. If a person fears falling, he or she can hire a professional who can clean out the gutters quickly and efficiently. One must take this step as the home is vulnerable to flooding issues when the gutters fill with debris. Remember, when taking ten minutes, a person can prevent a lot of issues.

With these three tips, a resident can prepare his or her house for the winter months. These tips will help the individual save money and time as they will not have to spend months working on massive problems.

 

Fall Maintenance: Gutter Cleaning and Care for a Leak-Free Winter

Gutter CleaningBe sure to tackle your gutters’ cleaning needs before fall ends to avoid dealing with leaks this coming winter.

Winter is right around the corner. As temperatures start to drop, dealing with falling leaves is one of the main problems most homeowners have to deal with. Not only do they accumulate in the yard, they also tend to collect inside gutters, which if left unattended could obstruct the passage of rainwater that may result to roof damage and leaks.

Of course, if you are a homeowner yourself, you know how invaluable gutters are. Along with downspouts, they function as a drainage system that catches and funnels water away from your roof, exterior walls, windows, doors and foundation, keeping your home safe from leaks. As such, it is crucial that you keep them free of clogs to ensure that they will do their job properly.

Fall is the perfect time to tackle your gutters cleaning needs. As tedious as the chore can be, it is a good idea not to avoid it. After all, when winter sets in, your gutters will ensure that water from melted snow and rain will not find its way inside. Luckily, there are several ways how you can get the job done. Take note, however, that for any gutter-cleaning approach, the first step you should always follow is to assess the condition of the gutters. That way, you will know if there are repairs that need to be done and for you to determine the best approach suitable for the condition of your roof’s drainage system. Here are some of the most effective ways to keep your gutters spic and span.

Cleaning by hand

Cleaning gutters by hand is by far the most effective way to remove stubborn muck. For this approach, you will need a heavy-duty work gloves to protect your hands, a bucket, garden trowel, hose, scrub brush and an 8- to 12-foot step ladder to easily access the gutters.

Anchor your ladder securely and climb up to the gutter. Be sure to start at the drain or downspout area, then move your way towards the length of the gutter. With your heavy-duty gloves on, scoop out loose debris with your hands or you may also use a garden trowel, placing what you have just removed into the bucket. Once all the debris has been removed, bring the hose to the middle of the gutter and flush it with water, directing the stream to the downspout. To dislodge large chunks of stubborn debris, you can loosen them with the scrub brush and flush them with water from the hose. After this, go to the downspout and spray water into it to clear any build up.

Cleaning using a power washer

If the layer of debris and dirt on your gutters is too thick, using a power washer is the best way to go. For this approach, you will still have to use your hand to remove loose debris. After which, you may blast the hard build up using the fine spray nozzle of your power washer, including the clogs in the downspouts. Take note that this approach can be a bit messy, so if you do not want to end up cleaning your home’s siding, it is best to cover it up with a tarpaulin before you start cleaning.

Cleaning with a leaf blower

Dry fallen leaves that have accumulated in the gutters can be easily removed using a leaf blower. Most leaf blowers have a nozzle attachment designed to stream low level of air, suitable for gutter cleaning. Some leaf blowers even come with attachments that are long enough to reach the roof, enabling you to do the cleaning from the ground. If you would be using this approach, be sure to opt for a blower vac, a type of leaf blower that can suck in leaves and small twigs through a vacuum. Doing so will ensure that the debris on your gutters will not spread onto your roof or yard, which could entail additional clean up.

When using a leaf blower, be sure to cover the hole to the downspout first so the debris will not clog it up. Then, you can start blowing out debris, working your way slowly to the end of the gutter. As a final step, you may need to remove stubborn debris using your hands or a trowel and then flush the entire gutter and downspout with water from a hose.

An ounce of prevention

When you are through cleaning your gutters, test them by having someone run a stream of water into each gutter while you walk around the house to see if there are leaks that have to patched up and observe if the water is draining away from your home. If everything is in good working condition, the next best thing you can do is to consider installing guards, screens or filters onto your gutters. These things will reduce or even eliminate the need to clean the drainage system of your roof. They come in a wide variety, ranging from various metals to synthetics, allowing you to easily find pieces that will complement the look of your home.

Jessie Moore is an avid writer who greatly enjoys tackling topics related to home improvement. Because of her passion for the subject, she is the best choice as a regular contributor for McIntyre Masonry. To know more about the company, visit www.mcintyremasonry.co.uk.

Winning the Battle Against Squirrels That Invade Your Home

Squirrel Squirrels may be furry and cute, but when they start trespassing into your home and yard, they can do a whole lot of damage. Here’s how to keep them out.

It is always nice to see squirrels roaming around parks. After all, these acorn-nibbling critters are just too charming. However, for some homeowners, squirrels can be a real pain. Once they get into the yard or garden or even inside the house, they can cause expensive damage, the same way as rats do.

They can run along electricity lines and short out transformers. They wreak havoc on yards, burying their nuts and digging them out later. Then, they raid bird feeders and chew on plants, trees and shrubs. Even worse, when they get inside the house, they not only carry diseases that may be transmitted to humans. They tend to chew on electrical wiring, which may result to a house fire. So what should you do when squirrels start infesting your property? Here are some solutions worth a try.

Know if you really have a squirrel problem

Before you do any drastic measure, it is recommended that you determine first if you really are dealing with squirrels. As mentioned earlier, these little critters work like rats so you can never be too sure which between the two you are dealing with.

So how do you know if you have a squirrel problem? It is not difficult to tell. As visible creatures, squirrels are active during day time, so you will likely see them running on your yard. You may also hear them scrabbling around in the early morning and at dusk, if they are inside your attic. It is also a good idea to check the exterior of your house, especially the eaves, soffits and overhangs of your roof. Look for small spaces where squirrels can slip into and also go into the attic to see if there are signs of nesting and food. Chew on decks, shutters and window casings is also a clear sign of a squirrel problem.

Steps to prevent squirrels

As one adage goes ‘prevention is better than cure’ and this rings true with squirrels. If you want to make sure they will not cause trouble, then the best solution is to prevent them from accomplishing their purpose of damaging your property. There are several ways to do that.

Begin by trimming the branches of trees sitting next to your house. Squirrels are excellent climbers and the most common thing they will climb up to is a tree whose branches serve as bridges to your house. As a rule of thumb, cut back branches at least six feet away from your home’s roof. This distance is enough to discourage squirrels from leaping onto your roof.

Outfitting a two-foot-wide metal collar around trees and power lines at least six inches about the ground is another effective means to fend off squirrels from climbing to your roof. Use encircling wires with springs to hold the metal collar in place. As for electrical wires, consider covering the length with 2- to 3-inch diameter of lightweight plastic pipes. Since they will fit loosely on the wires, the pipes will spin whenever squirrels try to walk on them.

As mentioned earlier, squirrels love to dine on bird feeds. So if you keep a bird feeder in the yard, consider switching it for a feeder that is squirrel-proof. You also want to cover possible access points around your house with metal flashing or mesh. Before you plug the holes, though, ensure that there are no squirrels inside to avoid trapping any critter, which would only allow it to further access your house.

Repelling squirrels

If squirrels are already a recurring problem, you can use different repellents to drive the critters away. Hot sauce is said to discourage squirrels from gnawing, so you may want to use pepper-based spray on your deck, window casing, eaves, soffits and overhangs among others. Sticky strips can also be applied around railings and downspouts to prevent squirrels from climbing them. For crawl areas like the attic, adding naphthalene balls may also fend off the furry critters from accessing the space.

Know that the use of a repellent is just a temporary fix. So eventually, squirrels will find a way to climb trees and power lines and access your house. If you cannot get them out of your house, trapping could be the last resort. If you will be taking this approach, though, you first need to get a handle of the local laws regarding trapping to ensure that you will be doing the right method. Better yet, contact a wildlife-control company so they will be the one to deal with the loose squirrels in your property. This may entail a little expense, but it is the best way to ensure that trapping and relocating the squirrels are properly dealt with.

Mollie Fitzgerald contributed the post above. This writer and home improvement enthusiast is also a regular contributor for Home Coatings. To know more about the aforesaid company, visit http://www.homecoatings.co.uk/.

Five House Repairs You Need to do Regularly

Five House Repairs You Need to do RegularlyEven the most well-constructed and modern houses will need repairs every year. Some repairs need to be performed every few months. These repairs are necessary in order to keep all parts of the house working properly. Skipping repairs can cause costly problems or safety issues in the future. Homeowners need to perform five house repairs regularly.

Repair Leaks and Broken Fixtures

Plumbing repairs must usually be done every few months. The most common involve changing worn washers and replacing the flushing mechanism in toilets. It is also necessary to change faucets or showerheads when they start to wear down. Clogs in pipes, garbage disposals and drains are another common problem although these usually require the attention of a professional plumber. Plumbing repairs should be done immediately in order to prevent water damage.

Fix Doors and Hardware

The doors in a house are used multiple times every day. This includes turning handles and using locks. Common repairs to doors include replacing broken handles and changing locks that have stopped working as intended. Another common repair is required when the house or doorframe shift slightly causing doors to stick. Repairing this problem requires an electric sander or a hand plane to shave the door to match the new shape of the doorway.

Repair the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) System

The HVAC system in a house is designed to receive regular repairs and maintenance. Homeowners can minimize issues by calling a professional such as Indianapolis HVAC services at least once a year. Professionals can perform repairs that keep the system operating. Homeowners can do some minor repairs like changing a filter, cleaning the fan or resetting fuses. Most larger repairs must be done by a trained technician familiar with HVAC systems.

Patch or Seal Holes in the Walls

Cracks and holes appear on a regular basis in most homes. These cracks require repairs in order to keep the house looking presentable and to prevent problems with pests or energy loss. Sealing small cracks and holes in the walls can be done with caulk or special sealants. Larger holes could require cutting a square opening and screwing a drywall patch into place. Holes and cracks should be repaired quickly because they can grow in size over time.

Fix Roof Damage

Weather, age and even pests can all cause roof damage. Homeowners must deal with missing shingles, water damage to the decking or cracks in the fascia. Repairs like replacing missing shingles can be simple in some homes. Repairs that deal with the structural elements of the roof should only be performed by licensed contractors. Fixing roof damage must be done regularly to protect the home.

 

Cleaning and Maintaining Your Gutters

Cleaning and Maintaining Your GuttersCleaning your gutters is not going to be on the top of your list of things to do, . However, it is something that has to be done because your gutters are very important to your home. Without clean gutters, water and moisture can build up around your house and cause significant damage to your home. Here are some tips for cleaning and maintaining your gutters so that you can avoid doing any costly repairs in the future.

First off, you need to pay attention to the downspout. This is what is going to clog up and cause water to sit still, growing mold and mildew. It is also going to cause your gutters to sag, something that you will have to fix if they continue to sag and water continues to build up.

Gutter spikes are important to the gutters, they are what hold the gutters tight to the house. After years of battling weather and holding onto debris, these spikes can work their way out of the home, which is going to cause the gutters to fall down over time.

Check for any leaks in the gutters. This can include holes in the gutters and cracked caulking. You can re-caulk the gutters once you remove the old caulk and seal it once it is dry.

Now you can start cleaning the gutters. The most efficient way to do this is with a pressure washer. With everything secured and replaced that needed to be, a pressure washer is not going to hurt the gutters. A pressure washer is going to get all of the dirt, leaves, and any other build up out of the gutters while cleaning out the downspout as well.

If your gutters look old and you cannot replace all of the parts, it could be time for some new gutters. New gutters are made out of aluminum and vinyl so they do not rust and they can help prevent build up over time. You can consider adding a splash block, as it keeps water coming out of the downspouts going right next to your house, avoiding the home’s foundation and protecting it from forming a trench.

When you are cleaning and maintaining your gutters, it’s important to remember to be safe and know when it is time to hire a professional. Although routine cleaning and maintenance is easily done manually, if you get to more build up and older gutters, a professional can ensure they are well cleaned and safe from any mold or mildew.

Denver Roofing Contractors, Pinnacle Roofing Solutions is pleased to bring you this article on cleaning and maintaining your gutters. If you are looking into Denver roof repair, be sure to check out their website today.
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