Posts tagged ‘homeowner tips’

September 15, 2014

Preparing Your Home for Fall

The days are becoming shorter and the weather is becoming cooler; fall is right around the corner.  Now is the perfect time to get a jump start on accomplishing a few house chores before the cold weather strikes and it is too late. A lot of things are overlooked by homeowners when making the change from summer to winter. So, here is a guide on Preparing Your Home for Fall to help you remember all of the important tasks to get done to guarantee a safe and warm home for the upcoming cold weather.

 

 

Clean Out Your Gutters

gutterSource: http://www.pondarosahomes.com

It is best to put this first on your list of things to accomplish. You will want to clean out your gutters during the last few days of summer or the first few days of fall. However the most ideal time for gutter cleaning is after the last heavy rain or thunderstorm. The rain will have washed away any debris that accumulated on your roof down into the gutters. You will want to start at the opposite end of the downspout and then work your way down the gutter. Once you reach the downspout, take a hose or a bucket of water to flush out the spout. If your downspout appears to be clogged, you will want to eliminate it with a plumber’s snake. Clogged gutters are prone to rust and corrosion, can lead to damaged exterior surfaces and to water in the basement.  Stay ahead of the weather, have your gutters cleaned then covered with mesh guards to keep debris from returning.

 

 

Put Away Your Gardening Tools

garden-tools-cleaningSource:  http://sjcmastergardeners.wordpress.com/

Once you are finished with your gardening projects, you should properly clean your tools and store them away for winter. Thoroughly clean off all your spades, clippers, shovels, etc. and consider coating them with a thin layer of mineral oil to prevent having to replace them due to rusting over the winter months. After cleaning and coating your tools, make sure you put them in a safe spot like a garage or shed so they won’t be affected by the cold weather.

 


Check the Weather Stripping

window-weather-stripping-replacement
Source: http://beyondinteriorsdesign.com/


Gaps around door frames and windows can account for roughly 10% of your heating bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Don’t lose money by not checking for air leaks in your home. Weather-stripping is a cost-effective way to take control of your home’s heating and cooling costs. It is important to check this material periodically because it can deteriorate over time. If the weather stripping in your home appears to be questionable in certain areas, there are a few options for checking.
– Close the door or window on a piece of paper. If the paper slides easily or automatically falls, your weather stripping needs to be replaced.
– Or light a candle and trace the frame of the door or window. If the flame flickers at any spot along the frame, then there is an air leak.
You should also check for missing or damaged caulk areas around windows, door frames, and any other entry points (pipelines, electrical wiring). If there are any areas where air is leaking seal the gaps with caulk.

 

 

Driveways, Walkways and Steps

justiceconcretedrivewayrepairbefore
Source:  http://www.signature-concrete-stain.com/

When any of these concrete areas are damaged it becomes a hazard year round, but the real danger arises when the weather turns icy. Fixing this type of problem in the fall is important in preventing a minor problem now from becoming an expensive headache down the road. Look for cracks, uneven sections, loose railings, crumbling of asphalt and loose-filled pathways. The majority of the cracks you will encounter will be within the ability to do-it-yourself.


 

Inspect your Fireplace

Bert-mary-poppins
Source:  http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Bert

No matter how often you use your fireplace, it is important to check it annually for damages and hazards.

- Flue: Check your flue (chimney) for creosote. Creosote is a flammable by-product of burning wood. If accumulation occurs, the result poses great danger to your home.

Therefore you should consider having your chimney inspected annually. For most people, the best option is to have the entire chimney system inspected by a chimney sweep. Once you know what to look for, you can perform an inspection yourself by shining a flashlight up the flue. Look for deposits approaching 1/8inch in thickness. If you suspect any deposits, then it is highly advised to have the deposits cleaned by an experienced chimney sweep.

- Look for flue blockages: Birds love to nest at the top of an unprotected flue. A chimney cap can prevent this from happening. If you don’t have a cap, look up the flu to ensure that there are no obstructions.

- Exercise the damper: The damper is the metal plate that opens and closes the flu just above the firebox. Move it to the open and closed positions to ensure that it is working properly.

 


Check Your Smoke Alarm Batteries

A lot of local fire departments will run campaigns urging you to change your fire alarm batteries during Daylight Savings time changes. Take this into account. Always be sure to check that any alarms you have that run on batteries, or ones that are connected to your home’s electrical system to ensure that they’re working.

 

 

Change Your Heat Filters

filterSource:  http://www.timesrecordnews.com/

If your home has a forced air centralized heating system, you need to replace your air filters. Whether they have been running continuously all year, or if your heater has been turned off all summer, you need to change them regardless. They will either be dirty from running all year, or they will be stale and possibly growing mold or mildew due to inactivity. Luckily, filters are cheap and easy to replace. When you’ve decided on a time to replace your filters, set aside a day to turn on your heating system for a few hours so it can blow out all the dust that built up over the summer months. A good time to do this would be when you’re going to be away from the home for awhile so you don’t have to endure a heated house, and the smell of burnt dust, when it’s still warm outside. Once you’ve had the heating system on for a few hours or more, turn it off and let your home air out.

 

 

Preparing your home for the fall can sometimes be a tedious job, but you’ll be thankful once the winter weather arrives. Whether you just moved into your new home or are planning on selling in the near future, stay one step ahead by preventing minor problems from escalating, while also saving money.

 

 

 

July 2, 2014

Landscaping Tips

Have you ever looked at a home and thought that its landscaping was beautiful,
but you could never afford it?

Landscaping can be costly and discouraging if done improperly, but there are several things that you can do to increase the beauty and value of your home for an affordable price. When done correctly, landscaping can even save you on electricity and water bills in the future. Here are a few good guidelines to follow when considering how to landscape your yard.

July 14 IOV - Ecard Graphic

June 30, 2014

Fire Safety Tips

Firefighter&TruckEvery year, more than 3,800 people die in house fires in the United States alone. An additional 18,300 survive but are disabled or injured. It is important to keep your family and your home up-to-date on fire safety.

 

Fire Alarms

Every level of your house should have at least one working fire alarm. Be sure to test the alarms every month, keep them clean, and change the battery at least once a year. Every ten years, fire alarms should be replaced unless the manufacturer says otherwise. There are also smoke alarms available for the deaf or hearing impaired that flash strobe lights and shake the bed.

 

Causes of Fires

The leading cause of fatal home fires in the United States is smoking. If possible, smoke outside and dispense of remnants in designated areas, such as ashtrays. Cooking is another leading cause of fires, typically as a result of people leaving the oven or range unattended for any length of time. Heating equipment should be cleaned, checked regularly and kept away from furniture according to fire regulations. Lastly, burning candles should never be left unattended in the home.

 

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide is the deadly result of fuels burning incompletely. It is recommended that every house has a CO alarm on each floor as well as a fire alarm; in 2010 the United States fire department dealt with over 80,000 non-fire CO related incidents. Be sure to keep your home well ventilated, and use charcoal or gas grills outside only. Never keep a car running for an extended period of time indoors.

 

Escape Route

It is very important to have planned escape routes from your house in case of a fire. If possible, try to have at least two different ways out of every room, and make sure everyone in the house is familiar with them. It is advisable to practice your plan twice a year, both at day and at night. If an actual fire occurs, immediately get low, stay low, and get out of the building. Most fire-related deaths are caused by smoke inhalation rather than burns, since fire burns the oxygen out of the air and lets off poisonous gases. You can suffocate from a fire even if you aren’t in the same room.

 

May 27, 2014

Getting Your Lawn Ready for Summer

curbSummer is coming, so now is the perfect time to get out and work on your yard. Gardening, mulching, and sweeping out your pathways help to make it presentable, but a major factor of yard work is keeping your lawn fresh, bright, and green. Here are a few tips to make your lawn the brightest and freshest on the block.

 

1.) Keep your soil full of nutrients

If you are new to the area or have just never looked into what your soil is made up of, it’s a good idea to get a professional to check it out. Cooperative extension services only cost about $20 and they conduct a variety of measurements for pH, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrients. They will likely recommend a type of fertilizer to add to your lawn to make up for any nutrients it is lacking.

 
2.) Don’t let your lawn dry out

In order to keep your lawn bright and green over the summer, it is recommended that you water your lawn every day that it doesn’t rain. An easy way to do this is with a sprinkler system. Be sure that the system covers the correct area, as water on pavement or asphalt is wasteful. Your lawn gaining a slight blue tint, the grass blades curling, or foot imprints being left after someone crosses it are all signs of dehydration. Watering your lawn in the morning maximizes the amount of water absorbed by your grass, and also helps prevent burning.

 
3.) Watch for pets and pests

If you notice that your lawn is patchy, there are several common pests that may be at work. For instance, if you find small volcano shaped holes, it is likely that moles are the culprit. Voles also like to burrow in yards, and can be identified by the long pathways that they dig out in the late winter or early spring. Either of these pests can be taken care of by treating affected areas with castor oil. If you see an excessive number of beetles in the area, it is likely that you are dealing with lawn grubs. In this case, you can treat your yard with Milky Spore lawn spread or granular pest control products.
Another cause of lawn damage is pet urine. If you own a pet, it is likely that this cannot be avoided, but there are a couple of things that you can do to help. First, be sure to walk your pet in different areas so that one particular part of your yard is not over-used. It also helps to encourage your pet to drink more water, which can dilute urine. Most importantly, you should water down the affected area within eight hours.

 

 

December 11, 2013

Helpful Holiday Tips

The Clock is ticking, time to get your home ready for the holidays. Getting it ready means more than simply decorating, especially if you are hosting a holiday party. Before you deck the halls, take time to get organized. Be the host everyone will be talking about, for all the right reasons!

Holiday Checklist

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AskHomesale.com provides real estate advise and information for home buyers, home sellers, and homeowners alike. Askhomesale.com is part of the Prudential Homesale Family. The Homesale Family of Companies is the leading real estate company serving the Baltimore, Maryland, South Central and Southeastern PA real estate markets.  Prudential Homesale has more than 25 offices with over 1,000 REALTORS®. Prudential Homesale’s footprint includes Maryland real estate offices in Baltimore City, Federal Hill, Fells Point, Westminster, and Timonium.  Pennsylvania real estate offices include York, LancasterWyomissing, Chambersburg, Gettysburg, Harrisburg, and Schuylkill Haven.

Tips for Home Buyers  |  Tips for Home Sellers | Tips for Homeowners

September 23, 2013

National Preparedness Month

What would you do if there was an emergency? Would you be ready?
September will be your opportunity to find out. Throughout the month there will be numerous activities across the country to promote emergency preparedness.

Sept 2013 IOV - Ecard

September 13, 2013

Home Sellers: Check your Home for Storm Damage

housefloodedThe relentless rainfall and flooding in Colorado can be used as reminder that it’s been another crazy year of weather with many big rain and wind storms damaging houses throughout the country. With fall upon us and winter around the corner, home sellers should take a close look at their property for storm damage and make repairs.

If you experienced a powerful storm, it’s a smart idea to check your roof for any damage and ensure there are no missing shingles or cracks around any skylights the home may have. Climb into your attic and look for discoloration of the decking or plywood surfaces.

Also look for light penetrating from around plumbing vents or the chimney, indicating that your roof’s flashing needs repair.

Next, inspect your rain gutters for damage and clear them of leaves and debris. Look for holes, cracks or sags; all three can be easily fixed by a homeowner. (To fix a small hole, first use an abrasive pad to clean the area, then cut a piece of gutter material slightly larger than the hole. Using a stiff brush, spread gutter-repair compound around the hole and place your patch over the top. Cover the patch with another layer of compound to ensure a good seal. To repair minor sags, simply add a new hanging bracket to the sagging area or replace the compromised existing bracket.)

Pay particular attention to areas of your home near trees and shrubs. Limbs can play havoc with your roof, siding and stucco in heavy winds, and can come crashing down under the weight of snow. Prune your trees and shrubs to ensure their health and to safeguard your home.

Finally, be sure to inspect your windows, fencing, decking, which also take a beating in storms. Seal and repair any damage. Sometimes storm damage is unavoidable. But making quick repairs can help ensure your home is safe, sound and ready for sale.

Selling your home? Find more tips for Home Sellers here

http://askhomesale.com/category/for-sellers/

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According to the industry publication REAL Trends, Prudential Homesale is the 13th most successful Realtor nationwide in the combined delivery of home services: real estate sales, mortgage closings, title closings, insurance sales, and home warranty sales. Prudential Homesale is ranked the 4th most successful Prudential Real Estate franchise in the country in sales.

August 19, 2013

Personalize Your Home

A few simple improvements can help define your personal style
and will make your space feel more like home!

Kitchen

»        Swap your knobs – Add a little pizzazz.  Pick a pattern and finish that will accentuate your kitchen’s style and décor.

»        Hang pendant light – Install one over your kitchen sink to create an elegant focal point and to make sure you can see as you scrub pots and pans!

photo1»        Create an island – Paint a beloved bureau, desk, or sideboard to match your cabinets and top with butcher block for extra work space.  Extend 12” past one long side to create an instant breakfast bar.

»        Open plate rack – Install one for a touch of cottage charm.  It also makes storing everyday dishes a breeze and leaves your countertops clutter-free!

Bath

photo2»        Dress up walls – Wainscot or simple strips of lumber can form a board-and-batten treatment that protects drywall and provides an anchor for installing hooks and towel rods.

»        Wall Sconces – Install on each side of the mirror at eye level (66” from floor) for flattering lighting that won’t cast shadows on your face.

»        Storage cubby – Carve a space between the wall studs in a space-challenged bathroom.  Line it with beadboard and wrap the opening with trim or simply install a prefab wall niche, available in many shapes, sizes and designs!

 

Living Space

photo3»        Wall Rack – Perfect for a closet-less entry.  Install a rack with hooks and baskets for storage of coats, keys, and more.  Customize it with paint for any look you would like.

»        Stair Runner – Install for a splash of color and cushiony comfort.  Woven cotton runners are affordable and easy to work with.  Vacuum regularly to keep shipshape.

»        Use Wallpaper – In small doses….it can be used to boost any room’s personality.  Use to cover a door, add to stair risers, or line the back of a bookcase for a hint of color and pattern.  Have fun exploring the wide array of colors and textures available.  Be creative!

 

Exterior

»           Boost curb appeal – With container plants.  This is an easy way to experiment with different plant varieties.  You can even move them around until you find the perfect spot for their growth!

»           Dress up your porch – Treat it like any other room in your house.  Add homey touches like a painted floor, ceiling fan and comfy furnishings.  Encourage guest to kick back and relax!

photo4»           Front Entry focal point – A handsome door painted in a vibrant hue will set your house apart from the neighbors and will cheerfully greet your guests.  Complete the look with elegant hardware, furnishings, and plants.

»           Doorbell – Install one that compliments your home’s style and other hardware.

If you liked these tips check out some other articles we have posted for homeowners  

How to Paint Like a Pro  |  Dress-up Your Homes Decor  |  Decorate Your Homes Kitchen  |  Dress Up Your Backyard

This article was provided by Prudential Homesale;

According to REAL Trends, Prudential Homesale is the 13th most successful Realtor nationwide, among the top 50, in the combined delivery of home servicesreal estate sales, mortgage closings, title closings, insurance sales, and home warranty sales.  Prudential Homesale is ranked the 3rd most successful Prudential Real Estate franchise in the country in closed transactions.

Prudential Homesale’s 28 offices serve 11 contiguous south central Pennsylvania counties plus Maryland’s Baltimore and Carroll counties.  Prudential Homesale offers consumers a menu of services including realty, mortgage, settlement, insurance, warranty, relocation, builder/developer services, career services, and a complete customer care center. Information about the company can be found at www.PrudentialHomesale.com. Prudential Homesale is the #1 homeseller in south central Pennsylvania.

August 1, 2013

DIY Projects to cool your home!!

staycoolblogSummer is a great time for some of our favorite activities, like hiking, swimming, relaxing at the beach, or just enjoying the outdoors.  But at times the heat of summer can become a bit uncomfortable…..especially in your home.

Tackle these simple projects to make your home more comfortable for those times you are ready to take a break from the outdoor heat!

A/C Filter – Avoid costly air conditioning repairs by performing some basic maintenance……replacing the air filter.  This should only cost a few dollars and will help ensure that your a/c continues to run smoothly and efficiently.

Install Shades – A door or window shade can help block out a great deal of the sun’s heat.  They are simple to install and can be fairly inexpensive.  Be sure to measure carefully!  Keeping the blinds closed on extremely warm days can greatly reduce your cooling costs!

Shade Trees – Planting trees to shade your home is a great idea if you are planning to stay there for a while.  It seems like an ideal solution to have their canopy for shade, but we know trees do not grow overnight.  However, there are certain types that will grow faster than others!

Drafts – No matter what time of year, drafts can torment every homeowner!  In the summer, drafts can allow the stifling heat into your home, while allowing the cool air to escape!  You can detect leaks by guiding a candle around the frame of doors and windows, watching the flame for signs of a draft.  Once located, simply remove any old/worn caulk and replace it with new, waterproof filler!

Check A/C Ducts – If you have been using your a/c for a few years, chances are some of your duct work may have come loose.  Loose duct fittings can cause a 20% drop in your air conditioner’s efficiency.  Take the time to inspect the ductwork and repair any areas that show “wear”.

Bedding – This might seem like a very minor task to consider, but the difference you will feel with light-weight fabrics is quite noticeable!  Heavier fabrics trap heat making it harder to sleep if you are too warm!  Natural fibers like Egyptian cotton, will allow better circulation and a much more comfortable night’s rest!

Take care of these few DIY projects this weekend………so next weekend you can enjoy yourself whether you are out OR in!!

April 18, 2013

Plant a Tree (Earth Day)

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

earth-dayEarth Day is right around the corner (April 22) and planting a tree is a great way to show your support.  Finding the perfect tree is not as simple as it sounds.  Here are some suggestions on those you should consider planting in your yard and the trees you may want to avoid.

You should first consider what you are looking for in a tree; amount of shade, the size, shape, blossom production, and the attraction of birds or wildlife.  Then do a little research to find out which trees thrive best in the area where you live.

A few top choices…

  • Red Maple –     Most common tree in Eastern U.S., it is adaptable to a wide variety of conditions.  Often used for shade and medium to high quality lumber.
  • Yellow Poplar –     Also called the Tulip tree because of the beautiful yellow blooms that reach from top to bottom.  It is a tall, fast growing tree, without the common problem of weak wood strength.
  • Red Oak –     Not usually very tall, but great for shade.  Leaves in the spring are a delicate silvery, pink and change to a yellow, green before finally turning red in the fall.
  • Dogwood –     A beautiful, blooming tree in the spring that attracts small birds.  Historically popular for wood strength, it was also used in inks and dyes and for the treatment of dogs with mange, which may be how it got its name.
  • Sycamore –     The sycamore is able to endure a big city environment and has been extensively planted as a shade tree.  It bears transplanting well and grows rapidly.
  • American Holly –    It will grow in both dry and swampy soil, but grows slowly.  Holly is also a cold-tolerant plant, playing an important role as a survival food for birds, who will eat the berries after other food sources are exhausted.
  • Redbud –     They are characterized by simple, rounded to heart-shaped leaves and pinkish-red flowers borne in the early spring on bare leafless shoots, on both branches and the trunk.
  • Conifers –    Conifers are of immense, ecological importance. They are the dominant plants over huge areas of land.  They are also of great economic value; primarily used for timber and paper production.

Skip these…

  • Silver Maple –     Great shade tree, but the speed at which it grows makes for weak, brittle wood that may break during severe storms.  The shallow roots invade sewer pipes and drain fields and are notorious for cracking driveways and walkways.
  • Ash –     Threatened by the emerald ash borer beetle that is on track to wipe out this tree species.  If you want something long term, look elsewhere.
  • Quaking Aspen –     Root system sends up suckers that try to turn into new trees.  Once established it just takes over.
  • Willow –     Beautiful on the outside, yes, but the willow has an aggressive, water-hungry root system that terrorizes drain fields, sewer lines, and irrigation pipes. The wood is weak and prone to cracking, and the tree is relatively short-lived, lasting only about 30 years.
  • Eucalyptus —     This tree has a bad reputation for suddenly and unexpectedly dropping big, heavy, resin-filled branches.  The showy bark peels off annually and adds to seasonal maintenance chores.
  • Mountain Cedar –     This bushy tree releases massive amounts of pollen during the cooler months, causing severe allergic reactions in many people. Even if you don’t have allergies, planting one in your yard may affect neighbors.
  • Mulberry –     Big surface roots, lots of pollen, messy fruit, and shade so dense that grass refuses to grow underneath…and silkworms love it!!  The mulberry is the silkworm’s only source of food.

Our planet is in desperate need of more trees to replace the billions lost in development.  Planting a tree every year will add beauty to your yard, increase your home’s value, and help to make our planet a better place to live!

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