Plenty of Ways to Start Summer DIY Jobs

Landcaping.jpgNow that summer is finally here, homeowners can put the finishing touches on their homes and yards with DIY projects. The problem some people face when they’re trying to start those efforts is that they can seem like colossal tasks to undertake. However, they don’t have to be.

One of the first things homeowners might want to do at this time is have a look at what may have changed about their properties during the winter and even spring, according to U.S. News and World Report Real Estate. A careful inspection will determine whether there are any cracks in a home’s siding, dead spots on the lawn or clogged gutters. If so, these obviously provide a good jumping-off point for where homeowners can start their work, and perhaps save some of the more aspirational “nice-to-have” changes for later in the summer.

DIY Tasks That Can Save You Money Right Away
For homeowners who are worried about the cost of electricity for keeping a home nice and cool all summer long, it might be wise to think about DIY projects that increase efficiency. For instance, resealing doors and windows or adding new insulation for older homes is something that can end up being worth the investment of both time and money. Some homeowners might be surprised to learn how much cooled air – and, in colder months, heated air – seeps out of their homes through even the smallest cracks. Some home improvement experts estimate that there are enough bad seals in a home to be equivalent to leaving a window open 24/7 all year long.

Homeowners may also want to use the early months of summer to do more physically intensive work before the sun gets too hot. Building outdoor features like decks or playgrounds, planting trees or repairing fences as soon as possible will pay off all summer long.

Ceiling fan

Other DIY Ways to Save
In addition to outdoor jobs, there are some basic indoor tasks homeowners can undertake to keep costs down, such as installing ceiling fans that can spin in both directions, according to Laser Level Hub. These simple devices can help to raise or lower a room’s temperature by as much as 10 degrees, and use far less energy than air conditioners.

Finally, for those who want to maintain happy, healthy lawns and gardens, it can be wise to invest in anti-pest efforts. Using pesticides and deterrents – both chemical and natural – can help protect the plants owners pour so much care into fostering, saving them time, money and headaches. However, when putting these into use, it’s wise to follow all instructions as carefully as possible.

In general, the more research any owner can do about how to properly execute all the DIY jobs on their to-do list this summer, the easier and more efficiently they’ll be able to complete that work. At this time of year, it can also be a good idea to start a group in which friends or neighbors all help each other tackle these jobs, providing support and camaraderie, and getting work done more quickly.

If DIY is not your thing, remember Sibcy Cline Home Services can recommend many home-related 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.

Home-Maintenance Tips

Maintaining your home on a regular basis not only keeps it in its best shape, but will also make your home more desirable when it is time to sell. Here are some maintenance tips to follow:

Air Conditioning Repair

HVAC
Heating and cooling systems should be professionally maintained twice yearly. On a monthly basis, be sure to check the filter to see if it needs to be replaced.

Drains
Maintain a clear pathway in your drains with this monthly activity: Pour one tablespoon of salt down the drain, then slowly pour one quarter cup of white vinegar. Let this set for one hour and then flush with hot water. For more serious clogs use a drain snake to pull debris out. Be sure to flush thoroughly with water.

Garbage Disposal
Flush out the disposal on a monthly basis with hot water and baking soda. This will eliminate odors and avoid chances of clogs in the system. To clean the teeth of the grinding blades, drop in a half dozen ice cubes along with a couple of lemon wedges. Run cold water into the disposal for a minute until the wedges are ground up. The ice will clean the grooves of the blades and the lemon freshens the disposal.

SmokeDetector

Smoke Detectors
Replace smoke detector batteries twice a year.

Hot Water Heater
Flush the buildup in your hot water heater twice yearly.

washing machine

Clothes Dryer
Remove lint from the exhaust duct once a year.

Refrigerator
Once a year, vacuum the refrigerator coils underneath this appliance.

Fireplace Chimney
The chimney should be inspected and cleaned every year.

Need help with your home-maintenance needs? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services.

 

Boost the ROI on Your Remodel in 2017

plans
With home prices and buyer demand on the rise, it’s smart for any homeowner to consider remodeling at least one part of their house to boost their asking price. However, any real estate professional can tell clients one simple truth: There’s a right and a wrong way to approach this issue. And a lot of it is tied up in return on investment.

For example, some owners might think it’s wise to put thousands of dollars into renovating a bathroom, but if it’s only going to come with a marginal increase in asking price, then it might not be worth it to them. With this in mind, there’s plenty of data to suggest which investments are going to pay off the most, according to Remodeling Magazine. The good news is that the value of these investments is on the rise thanks to the generally improving housing market.

Going less traditional
While many people may see redoing a bathroom or kitchen as the fastest and most obvious way to get more ROI for their remodeling buck, that might not actually be the case, the report said. Something as simple as putting new insulation into a home can provide owners with an additional in property value of $116.90 above every $100 they spend.

More traditional remodel efforts, like installing stone countertops, replacing garage doors and installing new steel doors also made the list of the biggest ROI last year, the report said. However, it’s worth noting that a number of “green” remodel efforts, including installing new installation, are moving up the list as consumer demands change.

“I think over time that really starts to loosen up prices a bit and allows some of these [remodeling] factors to become more significant as part of the price,” Jonathan Diehart, director of custom services and published research at Metrostudy, told Remodeling. “When times become more difficult, the price becomes competitive. When times are better, the price bands get bigger [on homes of equal size]. It’s no longer ‘It’s a 2,500-square-foot house so it should cost this,’ but rather ‘It’s a 2,500-square-foot house that has this and this.’”

What makes a good ROI remodel?
There are a number of common factors seen across all the things that tend to top the remodel ROI list on a regular basis, according to House Logic. For example, these projects tend to be low-maintenance going forward, implying shoppers want a kind of set-it-and-forget-it attitude toward such efforts. Likewise, homeowners don’t necessarily have to invest in the highest-quality items as part of their remodels, and certainly shouldn’t break the bank to undertake them. Finally, because energy efficiency is becoming so sought-after, it might be wise for owners to consider the ways in which they can improve their homes’ ability to reduce consumption of heat, water or energy.

Often, it’s wise for owners to consult with industry professionals before making any decision on a remodel, especially if they want to undertake these efforts just ahead of real estate sales. This is where an agent’s experience can really go a long way toward helping current owners boost their ROI in short order.

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.

Need a recommendation for your home’s remodel? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services.

Snow Shoveling Tips for Your Home

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Shoveling snow. This is not a fun activity, but is necessary during winter. Here are some tips about shoveling snow around your home:

Snow Shovels
Many shovels are now constructed of strong, light-weight plastic. Steel shovels are durable and will outlast all others, but require more energy to use since they are so heavy. Aluminum shovels are more durable than plastic and lighter than steel. But, aluminum may bend when in contact with an ice chunk or driveway crack.

Look for shovels with a sturdy handles. Fiberglass and resin handles are the best.

And, think ergonomics! Select a Z-shaped handled shovel that is designed to ease the strain on the lower back when shoveling. Some shovels come with a large wheel on the handle that supports the weight of the snow (like a fulcrum) and helps with lifting heavy snow. See one here.

Pushing the White Stuff
It is best to push snow rather than lift it. There are push-type shovels meant for just pushing snow from a 24-inch to 36-inch diameter blade.

Or, you want to consider purchasing either a gas or electric snow blower to help make snow removal an easier process.

Be Safe

  • Your cardiovascular system will be stressed and your heart rate level rises when shoveling, so be sure to check with your doctor to see if you are in shape for this type of activity.
  • Wear light layers of water-repellent clothing. Be sure to wear a hat, gloves and sturdy snow boots.
  • It is best to clear snow early and often. There is less strain on the body to remove snow in phases.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water! And, be sure to pace yourself.

Not up to removing snow? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services for a recommendation of snow removal from your home.

Burning Calories!
Want to know how many calories are burned shoveling snow? This blogger did! My snow removal usually takes one hour and I burn 312 calories. To find out your snow-shoveling carloric burn, go here!

This blog article was inspired from information from HouseLogic of the National Association of Realtors. 

5 Ways to Lower Your Heating Bill in Your Home

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As the weather cools down, homeowners across the nation will start turning on the heat and bracing for the accompanying energy bill. Whether your home is heated using electricity, gas or oil, heating is usually the largest bill, so it goes without saying that lowering this monthly bill is a priority. We have you covered with five great ways to lower your heating bill.

  1. Install a Programmable Thermostat
    Programmable thermostats are becoming increasingly affordable, and can take a serious bite out of that heating bill. These thermostats can decrease the amount of heat being used at specific time periods, for example when no one is home. Some modern programmable thermostats – called “smart” thermostats – can even sense when you are on your way home by connecting with your mobile device.
  2. Reverse your Ceiling Fan
    Everyone knows that a ceiling fan can save you money on cooling in the summer by blowing cold air over your skin, but did you know that it can also save you money in the winter by redistributing warm air? Reverse the direction of your ceiling fan so that it sucks cool air up. This will displace the warm air that naturally accumulates around the ceiling, forcing it to flow down along the walls and back to the floor. According to Del Mar Fans & Lighting, this can save you up to 15 percent on your winter heating bills if you lower the thermostat to maintain the same temperature.
  3. Use Blinds and Drapes Strategically
    If you have south-facing windows that let in significant light, they can actually let in more heat than they let out during the day. Light passes easily through windows, but once it strikes something inside it turns into heat. This heat has trouble passing through glass. We call this the greenhouse effect.

This means that you should leave your south facing window – or any windows that get significant daytime light – uncovered throughout the day. At night, when temperatures drop and light fades, pull the drapes and blinds down to keep that heat inside.

  1. Invest in Caulk
    Caulk is cheap – heating a house is not. For less than $5 at your local home goods store, you can purchase weather caulking to seal the tiny gaps around your windows. According to One Hundred Dollars a Month, homes lose about one-third of their heat through windows and doors, so this is an important investment of time.
  2. Purchase a Home Warranty
    While an HMS® Home Warranty won’t do anything to keep your heating bills down when everything is going smoothly, it will be there when the worst happens. A mechanical failure to a heating system can be a blow to even the most conservatively planned budget. A home warranty can help to hedge against the risk of an expensive repair or replacement.

While heating will still likely be your largest utility bill, using these tips can help to save you money and keep you feeling warm.

Prevent Frozen Pipes in Your Home

Frozen Water Connection
It is getting cold outside so now is the time to make sure you take steps to prevent frozen pipes in your home. Pipes usually break when there is constant freezing and expansion which causes water pressure changes. Here are six tips to follow:

1. Turn off the water supply to external spigots and leave the outdoor spigot open during the winter. Ice forming in a closed spigot can cause interior pipes to freeze even if the interior space is heated. 

2. If you are planning on traveling for a few days, you can lower your heat, but be sure to keep sink cabinet doors open so pipes do not freeze. Keep the heat at 55 degrees or higher.

3. If you have exposed pipes, wrap them with insulation.

4. Caulk and seal any holes in exterior walls or foundations that are near water pipes. Check the outside wall where television, cable and telephone wires enter the home.

5.  Keep garage doors closed if water supply lines are located there.

6. If you are planning an extended vacation during colder months, be sure to have your home professionally winterized by a plumber. You will need to keep the heat on in your home. The temperature should be no lower than 55 degrees F.

7. Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate near the plumbing.

See more about preventing frozen water pipes here.

Need help with getting your home winterized? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services and they can connect you to plumbers or other vendors who can professionally insulate your home.

Save Energy in Your Home This Winter

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With winter comes the monthly heating bill for your home. Read some tips on saving energy and money:

Open Curtains
Keep the curtains and blinds open during the day to allow sunshine in to warm your home. Close them when the sun goes down to help insulate the windows. (During winter, thicker curtains are best to create more insulation.)

Window Insulation
Install clear plastic film to create tight seals to the window frame to help with insulation.

Seal Leaks
Look around your home for places where leaks of air can occur, especially around windows and doors. Also looks for places where pipes or cables connect to your home.

Thermostat
See if you can lower the setting on your thermostat to a lower setting that you find is still comfortable. At night, consider lowering the thermostat by 5 to 10 degrees. A programmable thermostat lets you set the temperature throughout the day. (Wear a cozy sweater or hoodie and some warm socks!)

Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans can help provide better ventilation and airflow. During winter have the fan rotate clockwise to trap heat. Turn the fan on a low setting so it gently pushes hot air back down into the room.

Maintaining Your Heating System
Have your heating system cleaned and maintained yearly. Replace the air filter to improve efficiency.

Fireplace
Maintain your fireplace by making sure it is cleaned and sealed. Keep the flue closed when you are not using the fireplace.

LED Holiday Lights
LED holiday lights use less energy than old-styled lights and will save you money.

Water Heater
Wrap your water heater with insulation during the winter. (You can purchase water heater insulator kits at Home Depot.)

Insulation
Add insulation in the attic, basement and external walls to increase heat retention in your home.

Unused Rooms?
If you have rooms you are not using, be sure to shut off the heat to those areas.

Heating Vents
Make sure your heating vents are not covered with furniture or rugs.

Unplug Appliances
If you have appliances that you are not using (like a second refrigerator), unplug them.

Need assistance with your energy-saving activities in your home? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services.

Want to read more information? Duke Energy has more tips to read and heed.