Seven Tips to Prepare your Home for Winter

Fall is the best time to take advantage of the weather to winterize your home. A handful of quick and easy projects can help avoid serious issues and potentially even save money. Here are seven tips for getting your property ready for the snow and sleet, whipping winds and frigid temperatures that come with winter:

1) Start with the Heat
Perhaps the easiest way to prepare a home for winter is to look at the furnace and make sure it’s in good working order, according to Popular Mechanics. We recommend hiring a professional to review your heating system yearly.

Additionally, you should swap out old air filters at this time of year. Why change them regularly? Fresh filters will not only make the heating system run more efficiently (which can save a lot of money), but also improve overall air quality in your home.

2) Look for Drafts
A critical aspect of keeping a home well-heated when winter weather arrives is making sure the whole house is as efficient as possible. It’s important to confirm there are no parts of the home where heated air is leaking out. Some home experts note that all the little cracks, fissures and holes around doors and windows in an average house can add up quickly, becoming equal to the size of an open window. Inspect every window for fissures that can be easily patched with caulk or other sealants.

3) Take Care of the Water
Many homes have water lines that run outside of them to spigots on the side of the house or into lawn sprinkler systems. Shut off water access to these water spigots and then flush them out so they’re completely empty to help prevent pipes from freezing and bursting.

If basements aren’t kept at warmer temperatures or some plumbing runs along the outside of the house, it’s important to properly insulate any pipes in those places to reduce the risk of rupturing or bursting.

4) Up on the Roof
The average homeowner might not put a ton of thought into the condition of the roof simply because there is not an occasion to get a good look at it. Now is the time to get out the ladder and inspect it, because things like missing tiles and damaged shingles can become big problems. When snow piles up on a roof on top of a damaged or missing protective material, the weight and the wetness can combine to cause leaks and even collapses in some extreme cases.

Fall is also the time to clean out gutters so nothing gets clogged during winter months. Ice dams can build up quickly and create some potentially serious water damage that compromises the integrity of that part of the roof.

5) Invest in a New Thermostat
For those with older homes, now is a good time to install a new, advanced thermostat that’s programmable (and possibly Internet enabled). These devices give homeowners a lot of control over their home’s temperature on an ongoing basis. Homes can be programmed to turn down the heat when no one is home – during the school or work day – while maintaining a safe level for the plumbing system. This reduces heating bills and doesn’t strain the furnace. This will save a lot of money in utility bills.

6) Bring it Inside
Homeowners should store lawn furniture and other items to keep them in good shape for upcoming warmer months. Portable generators, grills and lawn equipment shouldn’t be left to the elements and need to be stored safely in the garage, shed or basement.

7) The Fireplace
For anyone with a fireplace, it’s a good idea to make sure it is free of debris for winter. The residue from having too many fires can build up in the chimney or there may be problems from animals nesting there. These issues could lead to some backup of smoke or fire.

Need Assistance with your fall home projects?
Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services for assistance with your home-related projects. They can recommend vetted local 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

DIY construction toolsA properly functioning house can save homeowners a lot of headaches and money. Not all home repairs have to be complicated with a little know-how. A bit of online research and some elbow grease is more than enough to tackle many issues that can arise. And, there are many home repair and maintenance jobs that can be accomplished in less than an hour with minimal investment

Just like any other kind of home DIY project, home owners should take all due caution when picking up these tasks, investing in the right safety equipment and tools, and proceeding carefully to ensure everything is done safely.

Quick Fixes
If you have a garbage disposal that is not working properly or has smelly odors, simply disconnect it from the power source. Usually it’s a matter of taking it apart and cleaning it out thoroughly.

If you have growing stains on your home’s ceilings, there are a number of products that will cover up stains and reinforce those areas of potential weakness. A hardware professional will be able to recommend which will work best for specific situations. Be sure to put plastic covering and drop cloths in place so the products don’t drip.

Need a new commode in your bathroom? Replacing a toilet is another DIY project. It requires a few tools and materials.

Cut the Noise
If you have a creaky staircase or a floorboard that 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 noise. This is the kind of job can be completed in a matter of minutes.

If your kitchen cabinet doors slam unpleasantly when being closed, simply attach little rubber bumpers to their corners. If you prefer to install “soft-close” fixtures, they are a little more expensive but add a nice element to the way closing a cabinet feels. In either case both are relatively easy to install.

Wall maintenance

Other DIY Home-Maintenance Projects
There are many other projects that can be done by a DIYer, such as adding weather stripping, patching a damaged wall, etc… Go here to learn about these and even more more DIY home-maintenance tips.

If DYI is not appealing to you, be sure to contact Sibcy Cline Home Services for recommendations of vetted home-related vendors and services.

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

 

Six Tips for Fall Home Maintenance

Leaves in guttersDuring the fall season it’s important to make sure you’re doing all you can to keep your home in good shape before colder weather arrives. Winter weather can inflict some damage on a home and so making sure everything is in good shape now – while the weather is still mild – is always a good idea. Here are six fall home-maintenance tips:

One (1) – Water and Sprinklers
Perhaps the most important place to start with fall home maintenance is outside, especially around driveways, front steps and other parts of the home where people are going to be walking and where 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, will help keep you safe from dangerous slip-and-falls. Also, be sure there are lights to illuminate pathways and sidewalks.

Homeowners should also make sure sprinkler systems are flushed out and exterior water connections are shut off to sprinkler systems and outdoor spigots. This will prevents the possibility of having pipes freeze and later bursting. Store all water hoses inside the garage.

If you know there has been water buildup in certain parts of your lawn – especially around the home’s foundation – think about ways to redirecting it. Experts recommend ensuring a six-inch vertical slope over 10 feet of space to usher water away from a home.

Two (2) – Leaves
Be sure the lawn is in good shape as fall arrives. 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.

Three (3) – Gutters and Roof 
In addition to clearing leaves, it’s also important to clear out the gutters. Clogged gutters can lead to ice dams, which then result in water building up as snow melts – and potentially leads to a leaky roof.

And while you’re up on the ladder, you should also make sure everything is in good shape on the roof. If any shingles appear to be damaged or missing, they need to be replaced before harsh weather arrives. (Depending upon the scope of any roof issues,  these might not be tasks you personally tackle.)

Four (4) – No Air Leaks
Don’t let warm air escape your home this winter. Use exterior caulk around your home’s exterior to seal any cracks between the trim and siding, windows and door frames.

Five (5) – Furnace
It’s always a good idea to schedule check-up professional maintenance for your heating system to make sure it is in tip-top shape for colder days. Be sure to change your furnace filters regularly.

Six (6) – Fireplace
Make sure the damper opens and closes. Look up into the flue to make sure it is not obstructed with leaves or bird nests. Consider a fireplace and chimney inspection to fix any damaged bricks and mortar.

Need help with your list of things to do this fall? 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

 

 

Take Care of these DIY Home Projects Before Summer Ends

Ceiling fanHomeowners often run out of free time once summer ends, so now may be a good time to complete a number of do-it-yourself home projects. Here are our suggestions:

Ceiling Fans
One task many homeowners might not realize is helpful all year long is installing ceiling fans, specifically those that rotate both clockwise and counterclockwise. 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.

Your Home’s Exterior
Great summer weather for most folks won’t last and it’s always a great idea to ensure your home is completely prepared for fall and winter. Pressure-washing pathways, decks and siding is a great way to beautify your 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 clog the drainage. 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 guidelines to actually do the DIY jobs you 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. Study up on how to use your tools properly and have the right safety equipment on hand.

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

Furthermore, there are some home improvement jobs that should not be undertaken by inexperienced homeowners under just about any circumstances, and 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 project? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services for recommendations of vetted home-service professionals!

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 Save on Cooling Costs at Your Home

Air conditioning programmingWith hot weather gripping most of the country, many homeowners are cranking up their home air-conditioning and this can be costly and expensive. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to bring cooling costs down as the summer heat continues. Here are a few tips to save money while staying cool:

Install Ceiling Fans
It may seem counterproductive to add even more electric appliances in an attempt to reduce power consumption, but a ceiling fan provides a good alternative to air conditioning as well as can assist your AC unit. A ceiling fan can help reduce the temperature in a room by as much as 10 degrees by pulling hot air away from inhabitants and constantly circulating it. Using it on its own may help on days that aren’t too hot, but using it in concert with an air conditioner set on low can make the AC work less hard.

As a bonus, ceiling fans that are able to spin both clockwise and counterclockwise can also help reduce heating bills in the winter. This is because as hot air rises, running the fan in the opposite direction helps redistribute it back down to the floor of a room.

Go Higher
It’s a good idea to turn the AC temperature setting up a few more degrees than normal to reduce costs as well. People usually won’t notice the difference between 68 and 72 degrees, but for every degree higher it goes, cooling costs are reduced by as much as nine percent.

Keep the Sunshine Out
Many homeowners may want to let the sun into their homes to make their living spaces bright, but doing so can increase costs significantly. The greenhouse effect applies to all types of glass, so letting in sunlight heats up a room. And even if it’s only just by a few degrees, the cost can add up, especially for homes that receive direct sunlight throughout the day. Instead, it’s smart to keep the blinds closed at this time of year.

Check Under the Hood
Whether a home has a central air conditioning system or relies on a number of window units, it’s important to make sure these devices are running properly. Checking air filters as well as clearing out any nearby debris will help ensure the AC runs as efficiently as possible.

For homes with older units, it might simply be a better idea to replace them with newer and more efficient options. As with installing ceiling fans, that will require some up-front investment, but the cost benefits will really add up over time.

Start Programming
For homes with a central AC system, it’s also a good idea to invest in a smart programmable thermostat. Most people know it’s not efficient to run the AC all day – especially when they’re not home – but may forget to leave it running when away at work.

With a wireless-enabled smart thermostat, you control your home’s temperature from anywhere you have an Internet connection.

Get an Expert Opinion
It might be wise to have an efficiency audit on your home. Trained professionals check to make sure there are no issues with the structure of the home hat would lead to inefficient operation of an HVAC system.

These audits can identify even the tiniest cracks in seals around doors and windows or in a home’s foundation that, if patched, can dramatically boost a home’s ability to keep cool air in and hot air out. Some estimates show a typical home may have enough of these little cracks and holes to add up to the equivalent space of leaving a window open 24/7. Sealing them up is often as simple as applying a bit of caulk other sealants.

Be Smart About Food Prep
Many homeowners love to cook, but doing this activity during the summer isn’t always a good idea. Running the stove can really heat up a kitchen and that’s going to make the air conditioner work overtime to keep a desired temperature. Instead, prepare foods that don’t need to be prepared in the oven or stove.

When you did need to turn on the oven,  it’s a good idea to only use it at night, when the temperature is lower.

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

 

Paint Your Front Door Black? Statistics Say Yes!

Front Door with square glass windows.I have been contemplating purchasing a new front door for over two years. My current  all-glass door will one day be replaced with a solid front door with small windows at the top. What has held me back from ordering this door for so long? Deciding what color it should be!

Initially I was drawn towards a light, mossy green color. I thought it would look fresh and a nice contrast to the all-white facade of my cottage-style home. However, the type of door I wanted to order was not available in that particular hue. My options at that time were: (one) order a door, paint it mossy green myself and then deal with paint upkeep in the future; or (two) select a standard color that promised no future touch-ups. I did not order a door. Instead, I contemplated.

Yellow was the next color up for consideration. This was a standard color per my door catalog, but I was not sure if this was the perfect color for my house. Since I was on the fence about making a color selection, I did next what 175 million other people worldwide do: I created a Pinterest board. It’s called “Front Doors” and was supposed to give me much needed inspiration. I pinned and pinned, and then pinned some more. I still did not take action on selecting a door color.

I recently read an article about front doors from Money Magazine. It suggested by painting a front door “black”, a home’s value could increase up to $6,271 when selling. (That information definitely caught my attention.) The article said a black door “…gives buyers the impression that your home is a serious, stately and safe choice…”

Hmmmm. Would my home be instantly worth $6,000 more? Probably not, but black might be a nice color to consider. Should I take the plunge and have a black front door? I am still on that fence. What do you think?

Need help in selecting a new front door or painting one? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services. They can put you in touch with proven service vendors.

 

 

7 of the Best Home Improvements that Pay Off when Selling

Seven best home improvements that pay offThinking of making updates to your home? Here is a list of projects that add value to your home from the National Association of Realtors Remodeling Impact Report:

1. Wood Floors
If you have existing hardwood floors covered by carpet, it might be a good idea to refinish them. Costs may be around $3,000 but you should recover 100% of that cost when selling.

If you are installing new hardwood flooring, the cost could be around $5,500 and you should be able to net $5,000 back.

2. Insulation
When you insulate your home, you not only benefit from lower utility bills, but you should be able to recover $1,600 of a $2,100 investment.

3. HVAC
Replacing your HVAC system is expensive ($7,500+). You should expect to recover 67% of that money back as well as enjoy the savings from a new, energy-efficient system.

4. Garage Door
A new garage door not only makes your home’s appearance look better, but you should be able to recover 87% of its cost. (The average cost is $2,300.)

5. Siding
Siding is another expensive item. It can cost $18,000 or more. When completed, your home will not only have a long-lasting exterior, but you should be able to recover 83% of its cost when you sell.

6. Deck, Porch or Patio Addition
A 16×20 wood deck costs around $11,000. You should be able to recoup $10,000 or 90%. Outdoors rooms are very popular and make living more enjoyable.

7. Replacement Windows
Ten 3×5 windows cost around $9,700. You should be able to get back 90% when selling!


Other Improvements to Consider
Although the return is not as high on these items, you may still want to consider updating a bath, the kitchen or your basement:

Bathroom
A full remodel on a bathroom is about $30,000. Your recovery on this item when selling is only 50%. However, a new bath is an important room to buyers. A minor bathroom remodel might be better for you. This cost will come in around $11,000 and the recoup rate is 102%. 

Kitchen
For a $35,000 investment expect to recover $20,000 or 57% of your cost. Again, the recoup is not as high as other projects, but home buyers do desire up-to-date kitchens.

Basement Conversion to Living Space
This project is a big one and can cost $40,000+. Expect to recover 63% when selling.

Need help with your home-improvement project? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services for recommendations of vetted vendors.