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7 Rewarding Fall Home Improvement Projects
Fall Home Improvement Projects
Despite warm temperatures, fall is right around the corner. It’s a busy time of year with children going back to school, fall planting, and getting the house ready for winter. Here is a list of 7 fall home improvement projects that will protect your home from storms, keep energy bills low, and keep you warm in cool weather.
1: Furnace Tune-Up
Get the furnace tuned-up or even replaced. Older furnaces run less efficiently than newer ones. A new furnace, when properly installed, can run at approximately 80% efficiency. A well-operating furnace reduces energy costs and increases comfort. Yearly furnace tune-ups also make your home safer.
2: Clean Windows
During the fall and winter, the sun shines for fewer hours and at a different angle. Clean your windows to increase your home’s solar gain. The sun can shine through clean windows more easily and help heat up your home. Clean windows will boost your mood and keep energy bills lower.
3: Weatherstripping and Caulking
While major insulation projects can substantially reduce energy bills, heat may be lost through tiny cracks. Check the weatherstripping around doors and windows and replace it if it’s worn or broken. Caulking along the edges of the window panes will keep out moisture and cold air. This fall home improvement project keeps out those cold winter drafts.
Debris has been filling your gutters all year. When winter arrives, any trapped water in clogged gutters may freeze which could damage the gutters and other parts of your home. Gutters direct water away from the house. If that water freezes or overflows, it could cause major damage to the exterior of your home. Clean out your gutters as one of your fall home improvement projects.
5: Fall Home Improvement Projects for the Roof
If your roof is compromised, it can leak and cause water damage. Call a professional to inspect the roof and make repairs during fall. If you need a new roof, roof replacement is a good fall home improvement project.
6: Fall Home Improvement for the Fireplace
Soot can build up in chimneys and potentially start a chimney fire. Just like the furnace, having the chimney and fireplace properly maintained prevents dangerous risks.
7: Clean Ceiling Fans
You have probably kept your ceiling fans running all summer long. This perpetual movement builds up a static charge on your fan blades, which attracts dust. Fall is an excellent time to give your fan blades a good dusting. Also, you should switch the direction the fan rotates. As the temperature cools off, the fans should run clockwise to push warm air downwards.
These fall home improvement projects can make your home safer, lower your energy bills, and increase your comfort levels all winter long.
How to Reduce Humidity at Home
Humidity in the home is uncomfortable and can cause your energy bill to increase. As the humidity levels in your home rise, your HVAC has to work harder to cool the area. Eliminating excess moisture from your home takes time and attention. Here are a few simple steps you can follow in order to reduce humidity at home.
1. Cover Your Crawlspace to Reduce Humidity
The crawlspace is an entry point for moisture in the home. Reduce humidity by covering the dirt floor with a plastic vapor barrier. Make sure there is no standing water or damp soil in your crawl space. Use fans to increase airflow and help keep the area dry.
2. Use Exhaust Fans Throughout the House
Another easy way to reduce humidity at home is to use ventilation fans. Rooms like bathrooms and the kitchen tend to have higher humidity and benefit from the use of exhaust fans. Run the fan when cooking or showering to remove moisture and discourage bacteria and mold growth.
3. Use a Dehumidifier
Dehumidifiers are an effective option for excessively humid homes. If humidity levels in your house are 60% or higher, a dehumidifier is a good investment. A portable dehumidifier in a damp living space pulls moisture from the air. Keep the unit clean and empty the reservoir when it is full. Another option is to install a whole-house unit to reduce moisture throughout the home.
4. Grow Plants to Absorb Humidity
Certain plants are natural dehumidifiers. Plants like the Boston fern reduce moisture in the air. You’ll be adding more oxygen as you dehumidify your home. With the plants in the home, you will enjoy a more comfortable environment with cleaner air.
5. Dry Your Clothes Outside or in the Dryer
If humidity is an issue, don’t leave wet clothes to air-dry inside the home. While this may be an inexpensive and effective way to dry your clothes, it also adds moisture to the indoor environment. Reduce humidity at home by drying your clothes in the dryer or on a clothesline outdoors.
6. Take Colder Showers
Hot showers increase the amount of humidity in your home. Cooler showers are more appealing during the summer months and help to limit the amount of moisture that lingers in the air. If you’re showering with humidity levels in mind, take shorter, cooler showers.
Uncomfortable levels of humidity can be resolved with the right tools and techniques. Use the above tips to reduce humidity at home.
9 Grilling Safety Tips to Follow This Summer
The summer months are the perfect time to host a cookout, but July is also the biggest month for accidental grill fires. Both gas and charcoal grills have risks associated with their use. The next time you use your grill, practice these grilling safety tips to keep your family and home safe.
Grilling Away From the House is an Important Grilling Safety Tip
Many homeowners don’t realize that their home is at risk since flames from the grill can reach nearby structures. Use your grill away from walls, patios, and balconies. Stay away from patio umbrellas and overhanging tree branches as well.
Make Sure That Your Grill is on a Flat Surface
Unstable grills can tip over and cause injury or fire. Make sure your grill is on a flat surface and doesn’t tip over easily. A grill pad will contain any food scraps, protect your deck or patio, and create an even surface that stabilizes the grill.
Clean Your Grill After You Use It
Always clean your grill after use. Use a brush to scrub the grates. Empty accumulated grease from the tray below. If you use a grill that requires charcoal, dispose of the coals in a metal container after they have cooled off.
Check Your Grill For Propane Leaks
If you are using a gas grill, check it for propane leaks. You can easily do so with a soap and water solution. Apply the solution to the fuel line hose, then turn the gas on. If you see any bubbles forming, there is a leak. Another sure sign of a leak is if you smell gas.
Don’t Re-Light the Flame Right Away
Sometimes your flame will go out on a propane grill. When this happens, wait about five minutes before igniting again. Be sure to turn the propane off while you are waiting.
Never Leave Your Grill Unattended
Accidents often happen because of an unattended grill, especially with children or pets present. Always stay close to your grill when you are using it. The grill can stay hot for quite some time after you are finished cooking, so it’s important to keep your kids and pets away from it both during and after grilling.
Starter Fluid Grilling Safety Tips
Only use starter fluid when you are starting a charcoal grill. If the flame goes out, don’t add more fuel. Use a safer alternative like newspaper to re-light.
Grilling Safety Tips for Clothing
When you are using your grill, pay attention to your clothing. Don’t wear flammable items or accessories. Stay away from shirts that have long sleeves or strings hanging from them. Tie back your apron strings. Make sure that nothing hangs over the top of your grill that could catch fire.
Be Prepared In Case Of An Emergency
Emergencies happen, so always keep a fire extinguisher close by. Don’t use water when trying to put out a fire caused by your grill. That can just make it worse. This is one of the most important grilling safety tips to remember.
The summer is a great time to barbecue. However, take proper precautions to keep your family safe when you are grilling out.
6 Basic Tools for Homeowners
Purchasing a home is a goal that many people have, however, homeownership also means you are responsible for maintenance tasks around the house. You will no longer have the luxury of being able to call the landlord to take care of issues around the property. By relying on a few basic tools for homeowners, you can easily make simple repairs.
Six Basic Tools for Homeowners to Include in Their Toolbox
1. Claw Hammer
A hammer is one of the most basic tools that every homeowner should have, and you may already own one. This hammer has a head with a flat side and another with a V-shape designed to extract nails without damaging surfaces. If you do not already have one, choose a quality hammer with solid construction and durability.
2. Screwdrivers are Basic Tools for Homeowners
Screwdrivers are helpful tools to have in your home. Tighten cabinet knobs, open battery cases, and assemble furniture with this basic tool for homeowners. It’s also important to note that screwdrivers come equipped with a variety of screw sizes and heads, so purchase some with multiple head sizes and tips.
3. Pliers are Basic Tools for Homeowners
Generally, there are two types of pliers you will want to have: tongue-and-groove and needle-nose. Needle-nose pliers can be used to grip and bend wires and nails while tongue-and-groove pliers are used more for tasks like crimping and fastening.
Whether it’s a laser level or a standard level, this is a useful tool to include in your toolbox. A level helps you install items such as mirrors, shelves, and frames.
5. Staple Gun
A staple gun is great for tasks like securing fabric, installing carpet, and adding insulation. Many homeowners prefer to use manual staple guns because they’re easier to use and less expensive than electric ones.
6. Cordless Drill
The best perk of a cordless drill is that they don’t require an electrical outlet or cord. A cordless drill is a convenient basic tool for homeowners to have around the house.
When you own a home, stock your toolbox with these basic tools. Even if there are no pressing tasks that need to be completed yet, it’s always a good idea to have these tools for future maintenance tasks that are sure to arise.
Helpful Hints to Repel Mosquitoes Around the Home
Mosquitoes are troublesome insects that can disrupt a beautiful evening outdoors. Here are helpful hints to repel mosquitoes around your property.
Repel Mosquitoes Around the Home
One useful hint to repel mosquitoes is to check that the screens on your windows and doors are in good condition. Mosquitoes are small insects, so a tiny tear in the screen is enough to allow them access to your home. Repair window screens to keep the bugs outside.
Treat Your Lawn to Repel Mosquitoes
Have a lawn service apply mosquito repellant around your property. Having your lawn treated for mosquitoes will help keep them away from your home. Depending on how many rainy days you have, your lawn may need to be treated several times throughout the summer.
Plant Natural Mosquito Repellents
Some plants naturally repel mosquitoes and are a beautiful addition to your landscaping. Depending on your particular climate, you can plant catnip, rosemary, lemon thyme, holy basil, feverfew, or citronella to help repel mosquitoes.
Drain Stagnant Water
Mosquitoes need water to lay their eggs. Anywhere that water settles is a perfect breeding ground for them. Birdbaths or unused kiddie pools are common culprits. Keeping an eye out for standing puddles is one of the most helpful hints to repel mosquitoes.
Use Scented Repellents
There are plenty of options for bug repellents. You can find them made from chemical solutions or derived from natural sources.
- Sprays or lotions are available for your skin.
- Mosquito repellent candles can be used outside.
- Use oil repellents in lanterns to repel mosquitoes in larger areas.
- Mix natural oils like peppermint, citronella, and camphor with water and spray on decks and outdoor furniture.
Hints to Repel Mosquitoes Include Keeping Your Gutters Clean
Your gutters are another area where mosquitoes can breed. Debris that settles inside of your gutters creates damp areas that mosquitoes like. Have your gutters cleaned on a regular schedule to help discourage mosquitoes.
Using these hints to repel mosquitoes, you’ll enjoy being outside this summer without pesky insects biting you.
Addressing High Radon Levels in the Home
Radon is a radioactive gas that is created as uranium breaks down in rocks and soil. Radon enters into homes through cracks in the foundation or utility openings. Since houses are enclosed and doors and windows are often shut, radon can build up indoors. Exposure to high radon levels is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers. It is important to test for radon in the home and take steps to lower unsafe levels.
Testing For High Radon Levels in the Home
Radon testing is the first step toward identifying and correcting any issues. The gas is challenging to detect because it does not emit any odor or taste, and it is colorless. Hire a professional to test for high radon levels in the home. Their training, experience, and knowledge will deliver the most accurate results. Also, professionals use superior devices which are more accurate and reliable than DIY home testing kits.
Mitigation for High Radon Levels
Mitigation refers to the process of reducing high radon levels in the home. It’s critical to hire a radon mitigation professional to reduce radon levels because DIY tactics often backfire. Some methods include using pipes to suction the radon away from the home, sealing cracks to prevent more radon from entering, pressurization, and installing heat recovery ventilators.
Dealing with high radon levels in the home can be challenging. Hiring a professional will simplify the process and correct the issues in an effective and timely manner.
5 Benefits of a Pre-Listing Home Inspection
Why Order a Pre-Listing Home Inspection
It is common for a home buyer to schedule a home inspection. Sellers can also benefit from having their home inspected before listing the property for sale. A pre-listing home inspection can be used to more accurately price your home, avoid surprises, and help you decide which repairs to make before listing.
1. Avoid Surprises
After living in a home for many years, you know that it isn’t perfect, but you might not know of specific issues and their order of importance. A pre-listing inspection will inform you of potential problems so you can avoid unpleasant surprises when the home is inspected by the buyer.
Problems like a hidden roof defect, foundation issue, or termite infestation can derail a closing. These surprises affect the value of your home, can interfere with the buyer’s ability to get a mortgage, and potentially cause the buyer to walk away from the deal.
One of the primary benefits of a pre-listing home inspection is uncovering potential issues so they can be addressed before the home is shown to buyers. Depending on the results of the inspection, you might choose to make repairs or updates to your home or change the price of your home to account for any issues.
2. Time to Fix Problems
If the inspection reveals items that need to be repaired, it’s best to find out early in the process rather than in the middle of escrow. A pre-listing home inspection gives you plenty of time to fix issues so you can make smarter decisions about home repair. When you aren’t under a time crunch, you can shop around for the best price from a contractor.
3. DIY Repairs are an Option
When the pre-listing inspection turns up minor issues that can impact your home’s value, you have the option to tackle projects on your own. Once you are negotiating with a buyer, they will likely require that you bring in a professional, even for simple fixes. This can cause easy, inexpensive projects to become more costly.
4. Reduce Negotiations
By eliminating surprises and addressing any needed repairs before the home is listed, you can shorten the negotiation process by taking defects off the table. This helps you gain the upper hand in negotiations by removing the buyer’s justification for price reductions, repairs, and other concessions.
5. Accurate Pricing
One of the most challenging aspects of selling your home is choosing a price that is fair and will help your home sell quickly. When your home is priced correctly, you get the most money possible and a quick offer. A pre-listing home inspection helps you set a reasonable price for the property being sold.
Keep Your Home Warm and Reduce Your Energy Use
When it comes to heating your home, it’s easy to forget about the cost involved when you need to increase your energy use. If you’re looking for a few ways to save extra money during winter, here are a few tips to follow to help keep your home warm while saving energy
Close the Curtains
Use thick blackout curtains to block cold air from coming in through the windows. The curtains will act as an extra layer of insulation and are affordable to purchase. You can also open the curtains in the morning or midday to let sunlight into the house as a free way of heating up your home.
Check for Air Leaks to Keep Your Home Warm
The exterior doors on your house may be drafty, which can increase your energy usage as warm air escapes the building and cold air seeps inside. Caulking the windows and doors will prevent drafts and help keep your home warm. Use weatherstripping tape around the doors to seal up any gaps around the sides or underneath.
Turn Down the Thermostat
Turning the heater off during the day may seem like a good idea, but it’s not efficient and won’t keep the home warm. Opt for turning down the thermostat at night when your family members are sleeping and warm in bed. You can also turn it down when you leave on vacation or when the home is unoccupied throughout the day to increase your savings and reduce your energy usage.
Installing a programmable thermostat is the easiest way to adjust the thermostat based on your routine. A smart thermostat takes it a step further by learning your family’s habits and automatically lowering the thermostat when everyone is away. You won’t have to worry about adjusting the device throughout the day or knowing everyone’s schedule.
Increase Your Insulation to Keep Your Home Warm
If you want to keep your home warm, opt for adding insulation to the attic where heat can escape during the colder months of the year. Go into your attic and check for areas where insulation is missing. Attic insulation can be installed by an experienced DIYer, but it is important to wear protective gear.
Order an HVAC Tune Up
The heating system requires attention before the start of every season that it will be in use. Have an HVAC professional come for a tune-up to help the system run more efficiently by making adjustments and repairs as needed. Also, clean ducts and a fresh air filter will help air move through the home easier and use less energy.
There are many ways to keep your home warm throughout the winter season while also reducing your energy use. By using these tips, you can keep your home comfortable while reducing your energy bills.
Five Tips on How to Safely Take Down Holiday Decorations
Many people enjoy decorating for the holidays but few people consider the hazards when undecorating after the New Year. Falls, cuts, shocks, and other injuries are all possible risks when taking down and putting away decorations. Review these tips on how to safely take down holiday decorations.
1. Set Up Your Ladder Safely
Many people hang holiday lights high on the roof without considering the ways to safely take down holiday decorations. When removing decorations from roofs, balconies, and trees, you’ll need to set up the ladder safely to prevent falls. If you are using an extension ladder, lean the ladder against the house at a 75-degree angle. Place the ladder on sturdy and dry ground. Have someone hold the ladder down so it doesn’t move while you’re using it.
2. Test the Lights
Testing your lights is the next step after you safely take down holiday decorations. Before returning the lights to storage, check for broken bulbs and frayed cords that could spark and create fires. You want the lights to work and to know they are safe to decorate with next year.
3. Be Careful With Heavy Items
Do not injure yourself while carrying heavy items. Big holiday decorations can weigh a hundred pounds or more. Set a maximum limit for each box that does not exceed 50 pounds. That is the weight that most people can carry without injuring themselves. Lift with your legs instead of your back.
4. Get Rid of Broken Items
Get rid of broken ornaments immediately after you safely take down holiday decorations. Do not stash them away, thinking that the damages are small and barely noticeable. Cracked bulbs or glass ornaments are still hazardous to children and pets.
Always Consider the Ways to Safely Take Down Holiday Decorations
After the holidays pass, it’s typical for people to remove their decorations quickly and carelessly when storing them. With a little planning and thoughtfulness, you can avoid injury. Remember these tips when you safely take down holiday decorations.
How to Improve Home Security During the Holidays
Protecting your home against invasions, burglaries, and other crimes is a year-round task, but it becomes more important over the holidays. In many homes, expensive gifts are placed under a tree and conveniently packaged in boxes for criminals to haul off in a matter of minutes.
Travel is common over the holidays so burglars are on the lookout for vacant homes. Boosting home security during the holidays is smart and can be accomplished in a few easy steps.
Easy Ways to Improve Home Security During the Holidays
Now is the time to assess your home’s most vulnerable areas. View the exterior of your home by putting yourself in the mind of a criminal. Is your home easy to access without being noticed? What is inside your home that may be appealing to criminals and easy to haul off?
By focusing on the right areas, you can improve home security during the holidays and throughout the rest of the year.
1. Install Motion Sensor Lights
Many criminals use the darkness of night for concealment as they get in and out of homes. Therefore, when you look at ways to improve home security during the holidays, illuminating your home’s exterior should be a top priority.
Improving landscape lighting throughout the exterior is one idea, and you can also install bright motion sensor lights that turn on when someone approaches your home at night. These lights can sense motion several feet away. If someone is up to no good, a bright light turning on might scare them off.
2. Invest in a Security System
Another smart idea is to invest in a home security system. A basic system can be armed when you leave and will alert you and authorities if the doors or windows are opened.
A more advanced system may have motion sensors in the home as well as video surveillance capabilities. You may also be able to activate and monitor the system remotely from your smartphone using an app.
3. Use Smart Home Technology
Smart home technology can be used in a number of ways to improve home security during the holidays. For example, a wireless video feed on a smart doorbell or exterior video camera can be used to alert you when motion is sensed on your front patio.
You can connect interior lights, the TV, and even automatic blinds to your smart home system. When you are away, you can adjust these features periodically to give the appearance that someone is inside the home.
4. Talk to a Trusted Neighbor
When you are away during the holidays, it is helpful to have someone who lives close by to keep an eye on your home. You may also have a pet sitter visit your home several times per day or a housesitter that stays for the duration of your absence. Either one can collect your mail and newspapers while you are out of town.
If you have a neighbor that you know and trust, inform them when you will be out of town, and ask them to keep an eye on your property. You can return the favor for them.
Improving home security during the holidays requires forethought and planning. After you identify your home’s vulnerabilities, determine which of these tips may be most effective for you. Combining all of these tips will allow you to enjoy your holiday vacation with peace of mind.
Elite Home Inspections wishes you a happy and safe holiday season!