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

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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

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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.

 

 

 

Preparing Your Home for Fall

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

Landscaping Tips

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.

 

Fire Safety Tips

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.

 

 

Getting Your Lawn Ready for Summer

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

Helpful Holiday Tips

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.

Home Sellers: Check your Home for Storm Damage