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.

 

Prepare Your Home to Sell Now for the Spring Market!

Many people wait to place their home on the market for sale once spring rolls around. Selling your home isn’t a decision to be taken lightly and requires preparation that should begin as early as possible. Here are some tips to get your home “market ready” just in time for spring:

The Basics
The first thing for home-sale prep work is a careful assessment. Is there any chipped paint, worn-out carpet, or other things you might choose to live with but could be a potential turnoff to a would-be buyer? Rooms should be cleaned thoroughly and repairs made. For the exterior of your house it is extremely important to boost curbside appeal.

De-cluttering every room of your home is a key point of action. Remove family mementos and repaint rooms to more neutral colors. Your goal is to have your home appeal to wide variety of home buyers. When they visit your spring open house you want them to picture themselves living there.

Getting it Right
It’s important for homeowners to make sure everything in the house works as it should. For example, if there has been an issue with the stove’s pilot light malfunctioning it’s important to get that fixed. The same is true of testing garage door openers, sinks, toilets, garbage disposals, exhaust fans and other home appliances.

Open and close every window and door and make sure they don’t stick, creak or otherwise present a troublesome function that might frustrate a potential buyer.
Make sure any aspect of the heating and cooling system – regardless of season – is in good working order to help expedite the real estate sales process.

With today’s high-demand seller’s market, there’s a perception that homes “sell themselves.” However, if you want to get through the sales process (with hopefully multiple bids and a quick turnaround), doing all the little things can help ensure your home is in top-tip shape and will help make things go more smoothly. Work with your real estate professional to help identify the areas that could pose the biggest issues and address them in the best way possible.

Need more ideas? Look at some of our past blog articles for home staging and  selling quickly.

If you need assistance with home-related tasks to get your home ready to sell, contact Sibcy Cline Home Services. They can assist by putting you in contact with vetted home-related vendors.

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.

Home-Maintenance Items to Check On as Winter Arrives

Winter officially begins on December 21, and now is the time for homeowners to perform one last check around their houses before cold and snowy weather sets in. Your home check will help keep everyone safe and warm inside as well as can save you money for utilities and repairs.

Water Pipes
Perhaps the biggest financial risk homes face during the winter is a pipe burst, according to Consumer Reports. When that happens, water can spill into the walls and cause quite a bit of damage long before a problem is even detected. It’s a very good idea for homeowners to assess where they stand with their water pipes.

Pipes that run along the outside of a home or along the ceiling in the basement and are uninsulated could be at risk. Wrapping them in an inexpensive specialized material or even just towels can help protect them.

It’s also a good idea to keep your home at 65 degrees F. or more to avoid large temperature fluctuations that could cause a pipe to burst. Know where your home’s water shutoff is located so you can quickly shut off water in an emergency.

Other Insulations
When insulating pipes, it’s also important for homeowners to make sure they aren’t losing too much heat in their homes from uninsulated attics or other spaces. Since heat rises you may lose a lot more heated air than expected through ceilings. When attics are properly insulated along floors they not only help with heat savings, but its warmth also prevents potential (and undetected) ice dams from forming on the roof.

Up on the Roof
When thinking about your roof, it’s a good idea to make sure all the shingles are in good shape and all gutters are cleared of fallen leaves and other debris that can lead to backups and potential ice dams. A quick trip up a ladder might be all it takes to identify problem areas before they become major issues.

Homeowners should also go around the exterior of their homes and look for any cracks and holes along the edges of window frames and doorways. If you find cracks, be sure to fill them with caulk which will help keep the heated air inside the home. While any individual crack or hole is going to be small, some experts estimate that the collective area of all of them across an entire house can amount to the size of an open window.

Need help with the winter upkeep of your home? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services. They can recommend vetted service providers 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.

Test Your Home-Heating System Now!

ThermostatAs the weather gets colder, homeowners need to make sure home-heating systems are ready for the rigors of another winter. There are plenty of ways they can do that – some by themselves, or with professionals involved – but getting it done before the truly cold weather settles in is a must for any house.

The first thing to do when attempting to test a home-heating system is to head down to the furnace and check out your air filters. Experts recommend this should be done once a month and if they’re looking particularly dirty, the filters should be swapped out. (The absolute maximum time between replacing the filters is, in most cases, going to be no longer than three months.)

Other DIY Efforts
It’s a good idea to test the thermostat – especially older models – to make sure it can be easily adjusted to whatever temperature is necessary. Own an older thermostat? Consider installing a “smart” thermostat to give even more responsive control over the home’s temperature.

Homeowners should inspect outside-facing doors and windows carefully for any cracks or fissures. If found – and given many homes have enough small cracks to add up to the size of an open window – patching them can be a great way to increase home-heating efficiency.

When to Call in a Pro
Most people don’t have a lot of experience in dealing with heating systems themselves, and in certain situations it might be a bit dangerous to tackle repairs or maintenance, even with the help of an online guide or how-to video. When a job seems particularly daunting, it’s wise to simply call in an HVAC expert.

This may feel like a less cost-effective option, however, you must consider the trade-off between that initial cost versus having both the initial problem and the mistakes repaired. That comes in addition to the obvious safety risks with fixing a furnace with little experience or know-how. It’s also worth considering that, for new homes with potential heating problems, there may be some fixes that end up voiding the furnace’s warranty, which can be even more costly.

Need a Recommendation for Servicing Your Furnace?
Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services. They can recommend vetted HVAC professionals 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.