Winterize Your Home Now So You Can Sell This Spring

Road in snowIt’s important  for homeowners to keep their homes in the best shape possible during the winter season and be prepared as potential listings for the spring. A little bit of work to winterize properties before colder weather really sets in can go a long way toward keeping a home in great shape.

Start Indoors
There are plenty of ways to winterize a home and the simplest usually start indoors. For instance, by simply checking and swapping out old furnace filters (which are available at a relatively low cost) homeowners can both improve the quality of the air in their homes and make those furnaces run far more efficiently.

Don’t forget to drain the water pipes that run water outdoors. Whether it’s a spigot that comes out of the side of the house or an underground sprinkler system, flushing them out at this time of year is vital. Otherwise, they can burst, leading to lots of water damage and costly repairs.

Where Inside Meets Outside
Homeowners may not be aware, but a primary cause of high heating bills is cracked seals around doors and windows. These can be small, but across an entire house can add up to be equal to the size of leaving a window open. Going through the home and inspecting the frames around windows and doors for cracks or fissures, then closing them up with weather stripping or a sealant, will make a home heating more efficient.

Make sure the roof is in good shape before the first snowfall or cold rain. If there are damaged shingles, replace them, and if gutters are clogged with fallen leaves or other debris, clean them out. In a lot of cases, a small issue on the roof can lead to big problems if left unaddressed.

Owners of older homes should evaluate their insulation situation. If it hasn’t been changed out in a decade or more, now might be the right time to do it. Often, homeowners might not even notice the difference over the years, but putting in new insulation could really help them save on their heating (and cooling) costs for years to come.

Out in the Yard
This time of year is the right one to go around your yard and see if there are any hazards, such as rotting trees or big, overhanging branches. Weighted down with snow, they could fall and do damage to your house or other parts of the property. Taking some time now (before the first big snowfall of the year) to trim them back or have them removed altogether can help avoid what would otherwise be some rather costly damage.

It’s also important to have plenty of products on hand to keep walkways clear – with de-icers and shovels and perhaps even a snowblower – so guests and family members can keep their footing even when conditions aren’t ideal.

When Selling a Home
Many homeowners who plan to sell within the next few months may not think of all these aspects of winterizing as being particularly vital, but if something were to go wrong with their plumbing, roof, siding or any other part of the home, that could really hurt their sales prospects.

Following all the above steps is a great idea, and it’s also important to add protection with a home warranty on top of any and all winterizing efforts. A home warranty can protect both buyers and sellers – even before the real sales process formally begins –because it will add financial protections in case a major home system or appliances suffer a mechanical failure. That, in turn, can provide all parties involved in the sale with peace of mind, even long after it has been finalized.

Need help with winterizing your home? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services who can recommend vetted service vendors to you!

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty. HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers. To learn more click www.hmsnational.com.

Quick and Easy Home-Maintenance Tips

Man Caulking WindowA properly functioning house saves homeowners headaches and money. Some home-related repairs are easy to do with a little know-how. With a bit of online research and some elbow grease, many issues can be  easily tackled issues throughout the home.

As any homeowner knows full well, little annoyances with things like squeaky floors, smelly garbage disposals, slamming cabinets and stained ceilings build up over time, but they’re not something you just have to live with. In fact, there are many home repair and maintenance jobs that can be done in less than an hour.

Just like any other home DIY projects, homeowners should take proper caution when taking up a task by investing in the right safety equipment and tools and proceeding carefully to ensure everything is done safely.

Quick Fixes
For people whose garbage disposals aren’t working properly or smell bad, you can disconnecting it from the power source, take it apart and clean it out thoroughly. That should resolve the issues.

If you have seen growing stains on your ceiling, there are a number of products that will cover up them up. A hardware professional will be able to recommend which materials will work best for specific situations. 

Cut the Noise
If there’s a spot on the front staircase that has been creaking or if a floorboard in the living room just won’t stop squeaking, the know-how needed to fix it is usually minimal. All it takes is locating the joist with a stud finder and applying a small screw to the area, right through the carpet. If one doesn’t work, try adding one or two more until the floorboard is more firmly in place and not making any more noise. This is the kind of job that can be completed in a matter of minutes.

And if kitchens have doors and cabinets that slam shut when closed, attaching little rubber bumpers to their corners can help cut out that noise in seconds. Some might prefer to install “soft-close” fixtures, which can be a little more expensive but add a nice element to the way closing a cabinet feels. In either case, they’re relatively easy to install even for someone with no expertise or experience.

Ongoing Maintenance
At this time of year, it’s also important for homeowners to make sure they’re doing all they can to keep their properties in good shape as colder weather arrives. After all, winter weather can inflict some serious damage on any home, so making sure everything is in good shape now, while the weather is still somewhat friendly, is always a good idea.

Perhaps the most important place to start on a property is outside it, specifically around driveways, front steps and other parts of the home where people are going to be walking when ice, snow and slush can make their unwelcome presence felt. Identifying areas where stairs may need to be repaired, cracks and holes patched or smoothed, and so on will help avoid dangerous slip-and-falls. Making sure the lights that illuminate those paths are in good shape is also a smart move.

Owners should also make sure their lawns and everything associated with them are in good shape as fall arrives. That means flushing out and shutting off water connections to sprinkler systems and outdoor spigots, and bringing in any hoses they’ve left lying around for the summer. That prevents freezing and the possibility of pipes bursting, which can cause massive headaches.

In addition, it’s important to stay on top of raking when foliage starts to fall. Letting all those fallen leaves sit on a lawn over the winter, especially when compacted by snow, can create dead spots in the grass next spring, so clearing leaves before serious snowfall arrives is a must.

Last Steps
In addition to clearing leaves off a lawn, it’s also critical for anyone with gutters to clear those out regularly in the autumn as well. Clogged gutters can lead to ice dams, which then result in water building up as snow melts, and potentially leads to a leaky roof. Getting all the gunk out of a gutter on a regular basis throughout the fall is a must.

And while up on the ladder, homeowners should also make sure everything is in good shape on that roof. If any shingles appear to be damaged or missing, they need to be replaced before harsher weather arrives. Depending upon the scope of the issue, this might not be something owners should tackle by themselves.

Finally, if you know there has been some water buildup in certain parts of your lawn – and especially around the foundation – you may want to think about ways to do a better job of directing water away from the home. Experts recommend ensuring there’s a six-inch vertical slope over 10 feet of space, ushering water away from a home.

Need help with your home’s maintenance? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services. They can recommend home-related vendors to you.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty. HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers. To learn more click www.hmsnational.com

 

Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Autumn

Raking_Lawn_Leaves.jpgSummer has gone and autumn has arrived. It’s time to get your home ready for upcoming colder months. Here are some tips to use when getting your home prepared for fall and winter:

Landscape and Garden
In addition to raking leaves, autumn is the time to clean out your garden. (Look at this interesting hack for raking using cardboard!):

Your lawn should be aerated, fertilized and reseeded (if needed). Perennials may need to be covered to protect them from winter elements. Fall is the time to plant most spring bulbs.

Be sure to turn off outside water spigots for winter to prevent frozen pipes. Store landscaping hoses inside.

Have a pool? Now is the time to close it for the season.

Patio furniture and cushions should be stored.

Detectors for your Home
Before you turn on the heat and use the fireplace, fall is the perfect time to make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries.

Heating System
Having the heating system serviced during fall will ensure you do not have a problem and lose heat during winter. Be sure to change air filters. If you have a humidifier, it’s time to clean and replace its filter, too.

Re-program your thermostat to a lower temperature at night and when you are not at home.

Fireplace and Chimney
The chimney should be cleaned by a professional. Check the damper to make sure it is closed to prevent drafts.

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Energy Efficiency
Check around your home to make sure it is well insulated with no cracks or other places for heat to escape. It’s also time to invest in thermal curtains (also called black-out curtains) to keep your home warm. If you have drafts under any doors, think about getting purchasing door draft stoppers. Doors and windows may need new weatherstripping.

New windows may be on your list for autumn. Newer windows not only look great, but offer substantial energy savings.

Is your attic insulated? If not, consider having some added to avoid heat loss.

Garage
When mowing season is over, be sure to empty and clean your lawnmower.

Roof and Gutters
Visually inspect your roof. If there are loose or damaged shingles, you will need to replace them.

When all leaves have all dropped have the gutters cleared to avoid water or ice build up.

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Ceiling Fans
Run your ceiling fans in a clockwise direction in fall and winter. This will cause an updraft and force warm air down from the ceiling.

Home Decor
It’s time to pull out the blankets and warmer duvets. If you have flannel sheets, now is the time to place them on your bed. Cozy throws in the family room or bedroom are another nice addition for fall.

Need help with your fall home projects?
Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services. They can recommend vetted service vendors to you!

 

DIY Home Projects to do Before Summer Ends

DIY home projectHomeowners often run out of free time once summer ends, so now may be a good time to complete a number of do-it-yourself projects.

Install Ceiling Fans
One great summer DIY project that many homeowners might not realize can help them all year long is installing ceiling fans, and specifically those that rotate both clockwise and counterclockwise. While some fans can cost a bit of money – potentially hundreds of dollars depending upon brand and how many are being purchased – installing them now, while the weather is still hot, can significantly reduce cooling costs.

Because hot air rises, a ceiling fan that runs clockwise will pull cooler air up from the floor and redistribute it from the top of the room. This can have the effect of cooling a room by as much as 10 degrees in the summer, without the use of an air conditioner. Likewise, a ceiling fan running counterclockwise in the winter will push more of the hot air coming out of heating vents and radiators back toward the floor.

Projects for Your Home’s Exterior
Great summer weather for most folks won’t last much longer; therefore it’s always a great idea to ensure a home is completely prepared for the fall and winter months. Pressure washing pathways, decks and siding is a great way to beautify a home in just a few hours, without the need to repaint or repave. Renting a pressure washer for the day will usually cost less than $100 from a local hardware store.

Taking the time to clean out gutters and repair them before leaves start to fall and potentially compound clogs or lead to other drainage issues. Getting this done ahead of the winter months – when melting snow and ice can create major problems if left unaddressed – is vital.

The Right Approach
Now might also be the time to make sure you have the proper guidance/guidelines to actually do the DIY jobs you have set out to do. For example, using a power washer is a great way to keep a home looking beautiful, but if operated incorrectly, this tool can be dangerous both to the user and the property. Taking all due caution, studying how to use tools properly, and having the right safety equipment on hand is important

Likewise, when cleaning out gutters, having another person there to hold the ladder is a minimum safety measure that should be taken.

There are some home improvement jobs that should not be undertaken by inexperienced homeowners under just about any circumstances. A little research can go a long way toward determining what’s a reasonable project to DIY and what’s better left to the pros. 

Need help with your home project? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services. They can recommend vetted service vendors to you,

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers. To learn more click www.hmsnational.com

12 Low-Cost Tips to Make Your Yard Look Even Better During Summer

GardenWith summer finally here, many home owners will put plenty of hours into beautifying their lawns and gardens. Here are 12 tips to help you save money while still making sure your yard looks its best all summer long:

1) Stay on the Lookout for Weeds
Weeds are a problem for your lawn or garden simply because they consume nutrients your preferred plants also need. Be vigilant about what you planted and if anything growing on your lawn or in your garden shouldn’t be there. As long as you pull the weeds out – roots and all – you should be safe. Some weeds may be persistent and you may need to resort to weed-killing chemicals readily available at your local hardware store.

2) Edge What You Can
Whether you’re doing it by hand, renting or buying an edger – they often cost less than $100 – edging your lawn is a great idea to differentiate your garden from your lawn, pathways or other features. It makes your lawn look cleaner.

3) Trim Overgrown Bushes and Trees
If you have big bushes in your yard that take up valuable square footage, trees with overhanging branches, or other areas where plants are growing out of control – investing time and energy to trim them back is a great idea. It will make your outdoor space cleaner with a more organized look and feel.

4) Make a Statement in Separation
When you’re trying to make your lawn look really impressive, do some extra work above and beyond simple edging – where it meets your driveway, gardens or other spots – will help it pop out more. For instance, putting up a small wooden fence or line of rocks around the edges of your garden will both help the two spaces contrast and give you a better idea of what you have to edge next time.

5) Add a Water Feature
Whether you put in a small concrete pond, birdbath or a fountain that runs from an attached hose, a water feature is an attractive addition to any garden. You can DIY most of these features, or buy a pre-made option.

6) Make a Path
While most people know not to tread on gardens, having people walk all over your lawn isn’t good for it either. Reduce possible lawn damage by laying down a path of stone, wood planks or other material, which you can get from most big-box hardware retailers. This will not only protect the lawn, but will add another attractive, eye-catching feature.

7) Contrast in Your Garden
A great way to make your garden areas more impressive is to plant flowers and other greenery that are of various colors and textures. It’s great to have a garden bursting with colorful flowers, but contrasting them with some deep green bushes, small evergreens or other plants can bring in a little more variety.

8) A Space to Enjoy
What good is a garden if you’re only viewing it from afar or as you pass through? Add some seating (such as a simple metal bench or wooden chairs and a table) to make your garden a more homey place to sit and relax. By placing the seating in the shade you will have a great place to read in the summer.

9) Bring in Containers Where it Makes Sense
Sometimes you don’t necessarily have the space to plan an entire new flower bed or other feature, but you do have an area you want to beautify a bit. In these cases, consider a large, potted plant or other type of container that will allow you to add something new without requiring a lot of digging or other work.

10) Put in Plants and Other Features Around Every Tree
When your yard has trees – whether they’re towering or merely saplings – it’s a good idea to make sure they have some company. Planting flowers around the tree bed or installing features like a birdbath or some rocks can help the whole area stand out as being just a bit more attractive.

11) Don’t Mow Too Low
When it comes to your lawn’s health overall, one of the biggest mistakes homeowners make is mowing too low to the ground. It may look great to have a nice short cut, but it’s not recommended because it hurts the lawn in multiple ways. First, short grass is more likely to dry out or be scorched in the hot summer sun. Second, it’s worse at retaining water as a general rule. Third, it often pulls up grass altogether and makes the lawn more susceptible to erosion when it rains, leading to patchy spots.

12) Plan Carefully When Adding New Features
If you’ve mastered care for other parts of your yard and you want to add a new flower bed or other feature, it’s wise to approach the job with caution. Take some time to plan out the whole area, staking it off to see how it might look before you start tearing up grass or putting down mulch.

One of the best ways to beautify your backyard or increase your curb appeal (which, for hopeful sellers, is critical to boosting their real estate sales opportunities) is to look online for some inspiration. A quick search on Pinterest may turn up plenty of options that will help you make your home a more satisfying place to live.

Need help with your landscaping, lawn or garden? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services. They can recommend vetted professionals to help you make your lawn and garden look great all summer long.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty. HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers. To learn more click www.hmsnational.com

Five Ways to Get Your Home Ready for Summer

Cleaning Gutters Filled With Leaves & SticksWith Memorial Day almost here – giving way to the fast-approaching summer – homeowners are encouraged to make preparations necessary to ensure their homes are ready for the hot weather.

Here are five tips to make sure your home will be in the best shape possible for the upcoming warmer months:

1) Air Conditioning Check and Maintenance
Whether your home has a central air conditioning system or window units, you need to make sure they’re in good shape. After all, if you’re going to get many hours of use for the next several months. Be sure to check and replace air filters on all units.

2) Clean Fans Thoroughly
If your home has ceiling or box fans, you’ll need to clean the blades. (Dust builds up on them if they were not used throughout the fall and winter.)

3) Check the Attic and Basement
Thank to spring rain, a lot of moisture can build up in your home. This can cause problems on your roof and foundation. Carefully inspect these spaces for any sign of dampness.

4) Maintain the Yard and Yard Tools
A big part of summer is tending to your lawn, garden and trees, and having your yard tools in good order is a must. A freshly tuned-up lawnmower will make mowing a breeze. After a long winter, yard tools may need to be cleaned and sharpened.

5) Keep Gutters Clear
While April showers have already given way to May flowers, you’re certainly not out of the woods yet when it comes to heavy summer rain storms. While you likely cleared out the gutters already (before winter began), giving them another check now is a good idea. This can help you identify potential issues, including leaks.

Need help with your pre-summer home maintenance? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services. They can recommend vetted home-service vendors to you.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com

 

Four Home DIY Projects for Spring

RoofIf you’re already doing spring cleaning, it might be wise to get out the toolbox and do some home improvement projects as well. A little maintenance can go a long way after the tough winter months.

Here are four crucial tips to making sure your home will recover from winter:

1) Fix the Roof
There’s probably no part of your home that takes as much of a beating every winter as the roof, according to BobVila.com. After all, it not only deals with snow, sleet and rain, but also harsh winds, cold weather, water runoff and bearing the weight of snow and ice that builds up over the course of a few months.

With that in mind, it’s quite common for shingles or tiles to crack, loosen or fall off during the winter. When the spring thaw hits, going up there once it’s safe and checking everything carefully will give you an idea of how much repair work you have to do.

2) Look for Leaks, Fissures and Cracks
Along similar lines to inspecting your roof, it can also be a good idea to look over your home’s interior and exterior for any signs of wear and tear from the winter. Missing shingles can be a sign of leaks into the attic, so checking inside is always wise if there’s obvious damage on the roof. The same is true of checking along windows and exterior doorways for any fissures, which can be fixed with caulk more often than not.

It’s also smart to check your home’s foundation for any cracks or holes that might have formed, and fill them with an appropriate patching substance as soon as possible to avoid further damage.

3) Check the Deck and Siding
While you may not realize it, painted, stained or even sealed decks can really get a lot of muck and grime built up on them throughout the winter. That’s also the case with siding, whether wooden or vinyl. Usually, turning a pressure washer on them can help unlock their real beauty once again, and renting this kind of equipment shouldn’t carry too big of a price tag.

4) Examine the Gutters
Finally, if your home has gutters, now is the time to check them out. They might have taken a bit of damage (especially if there was ice buildup) or clogged with tree debris over the winter.

Of course, no one knows your house better than you do, so if there’s an issue that seems to crop up consistently every year, working on ways to permanently address it is always the smartest way to start your home DIY efforts. Otherwise, just doing routine checks and maintenance to make sure everything is as it should be will help you avoid bigger problems down the road.

Need some help with your home-related projects? If you do not feel comfortable climbing your roof or tackling other home-maintenance details, be sure to contact Sibcy Cline Home Services. They can recommend vetted, home-related services and vendors to you!

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com.