Archive for the ‘home maintenance’ Category

12 Important Home Winterization Tips

Friday, October 16th, 2015

It may not feel like it here in southern California, but winter is on the way, and that means that if you are a homeowner then in order to keep yourself and your family safe, and prevent potential high utility and/or repair bills, you need to check a few things before colder weather sets in.  th

1. Furnace evaluation – it is important to have your furnace checked to make sure there are no cracks or other problems, especially if it is more than 15 years old. Most utility companies will schedule a free visit to evaluate your system. If any problems are found you can contact a licensed HVAC company to make necessary repairs.

2. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors – since you may be using your heater this winter is it imperative that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working. Batteries should be changed twice a year to stay safe, so now is a great time to do so.

3. Rain gutters – this is the time to have rain gutters cleaned out and evaluated for proper functioning.

4. Drains – Drainage should also be checked to make sure they are working properly and there are no clogs. You can do a simple test with your garden hose, by running water into the drain and making sure it goes where it needs to go (most drains in my area drain to the street in front of the homes, so it is easy to check).

5. Seal your windows, doors, and vents – check all your windows for drafts and seal any discovered cracks or openings where air can get in (in most cases caulk will work, but there are other products that expand – ask your local home improvement store for the best ideas in your area). The same thing goes for appliances that vent to the outside, like from your clothes dryer or microwave oven. Any air that can get into your home makes it more expensive to keep the temperature comfortable, so proper insulation and air sealing is a must.

6. Close the air gaps in water and waste pipes – Some reports I read stated that all homes have air gaps in piping systems, and that it wastes money every year. There are products you can purchase that will form air-tight water resistant seals to keep out the air.

7. Watch for spiders inside – if you see many spiders in your home that could be an indication that there are gaps in your house – find the source(s) and seal it(them).

8. Winterize your pantry – make sure your pantry is stocked with non-perishable food items and lots of bottled water, in case you are trapped at home due to bad weather. Now is the time to stock up on items like soups, canned vegetables and other ready-to-eat items that can get you through a spell of bad weather or lack of electricity. You also want to make sure you have first aid kits, emergency candles and flashlights, and that you know how to turn off your water main and electric panel.

9. Wash, dry and cover your patio furniture – this will preserve the life of your items.

10. Inspect your fireplace and chimney – make sure your fireplace is in good working order and the flue is functioning and clean, same for the chimney. Calling out a professional is a good idea.

11. Switch fans to reverse (clockwise) position – as soon as the temperatures start to dip, make sure to switch your house fans to the clockwise mode – this insures heat will be circulated evenly and blown down.

12. Check your roof for leaks and broken tiles – replace or repair if necessary.

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Check in With Your Home this Fall

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

As summer winds down, kids go back to school and the weather starts to cool, Fall is a great time to “check in” with your home. It is great to do this twice a year to keep your home in the best shape. Here are some things that you may want to consider looking into before heading into the winter/holiday season, to assure that your home runs efficiently and to prevent costly maintenance issues down the road.home_repair

Clean filters. Heating/air filters should be replaced twice a year. If you have the permanent kind, it is simply a matter of hosing them off and letting them dry out before reinstalling.

Check functionality and change smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector batteries.

Get a termite inspection. This is something that is most important, yet many people don’t ever do it. Many companies offer free inspections, so it is merely a matter of figuring out when you can be home to have one done. It is not only good to assure you are termite free, but there could be other pests or rodents nesting you attics and other places, and there could be wood rot around your home that if left unattended, may be expensive down the road.

Change filters in your refrigerator, water purification systems and softener systems

Clear and check rain gutters. Keeping them clear could prevent water damage to your home once the rainy season hits.

Check sprinkler systems for any broken or misdirected sprinklers, and any leaks

Clean dryer vent to outside of home. Many homeowners neglect to do this – ever. It is simple to do with a ladder and narrow brush with a long handle. It can prevent fires.

house_disrepairCheck under all sinks for running water or signs of leakage

Make sure toilets are secured to floors. If not, it is very simple and very cheap to re-caulk

Check caulking around showers and tubs. Again, caulking is very inexpensive and easy to DIY. Ignoring it could lead to water intrusion underneath showers and tubs and in walls – what could be a very costly problem down the road.

Check your roof. If you have not done so in a long time, it is important to have your roof checked. Time and weather can loosen or crack tiles or other roofing materials. It is smart to have a roof inspection at least every few years, as it could save you time and money.

Trim trees. If you have trees growing close to your home, it is imperative to keep them trimmed so that rodents and other critters cannot use them to access your roof and attic.

Check your water heater for signs of leaking. If it is over 10 years old you may want to consider replacing it before you have a problem. Call a service company to provide an analysis.

Trim any brush around your property that could catch fire

Replace torn/broken window screens

Clean your home. This can be fun by getting the entire family (or roommates, etc.) involved. Eliminating clutter will keep things clean, help maintain your home,  and will make problems easier to spot down the road.

The above are just some suggestions to keep your home in tip top shape, and many items can be DIY items. If you don’t want to do it yourself or don’t have the time, you can call a handyperson (who will be able to take care of many things on the list, but not all), or you can pay a home inspector to come out and check everything. Of course, depending on the location of your home there may be other items that are important to include in the list. Maintaining your home will keep it from falling into disrepair, which can end up costing more money in the future.


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New House, New Yard

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013


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Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Are Sellers Liable?

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

You may or may not have heard that as of July 1, 2011 carbon monoxide detectors must be installed in every single family residence. So, what is your liability if you are a seller – do you have to install them before the close of escrow?

While it is true that carbon monoxide detectors must be located in every home, it is not a requirement to install them in order to close escrow. However, the seller is responsible for disclosing in the Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS) whether or not the home has carbon monoxide detectors installed.

Keep in mind that if you do not install them in your home you are technically in violation of the law – but whether that would actually be enforced is anyone’s guess (I suspect local law enforcement officers have better things to do).

If you are a buyer and would like the seller to install the detectors during escrow you can ask your agent to write that into your contract. If you are a seller, my advice to you is to spend the money on carbon monoxide detectors and forget about it – there are some great deals if you check. I recently purchased a set of two for about $20.

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Cheap Home Improvements That Make the Most Sense

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Spring is the time of year where many of us think about renewing, revitalizing and, revamping. I suppose you can call it the season for contemplation. If you are a homeowner it is often the time where you realize there are things around your home that need some attention or maybe just a little tender loving care. But you also may wonder which projects are the most beneficial or cost-effective. Here are some guidelines, whether or not you are planning to sell you home one day or stay there.

Clean, minimize and declutter. We all have busy lives and things can tend to pile up. This is a great time of year to go through your closets, book shelves and magazine racks, and garages or attics. Get rid of the things you no longer use. This is the number one way to improve your living space. Clean your carpets and sofas, try to really minimize – furniture, plants, books, “stuff!” Not only will it improve your home’s feel, but you will get a great sense of satisfaction in purging all the unwanted things. You can make it a fun family lesson by including your children in the clean up; don’t forget to take them along when you donate unwanted items, as it shows them full circle how those things can help better the lives of others.

Don’t forget to go through your pantry. Throw away food items that are expired, and organize your shelves. If you are selling your home this will be appealing to potential buyers as well–a decluttered space allows them to picture making that space their own easier than they are able to do if there is stuff everywhere.

For those who are considering selling their homes soon or down the road, a decluttered and clean home is the best way to obtain offers more quickly. It is also one of the cheaper ways to really show off your space, with the best return on the investment.

Lighten up! Take a good look at your home and assess how bright it feels. Clean your windows and window treatments, remove items that block windows. If you are selling your home this is another important consideration, as buyers don’t tend to like dark spaces. You may want to consider different window treatments if the ones you have don’t allow the natural light to filter through, or you can remove them completely. Another trick is paint–a fresh coat of paint can really affect the lighting and add value to your home with little expense.

Plants: If you have space in your home that is vacant, or if a room looks boring consider adding a few green plants. They add color, are relatively inexpensive, and can really liven up any area. When I help sellers stage their homes for sale plants and flowers are one of my favorite tools. If you don’t have a green thumb there are plant varieties that do not need much maintenance, so talk to an expert at your local garden center. Don’t overdue it with plants, just a few strategically placed can do wonders.

Landcaping: It is easy to completely change the curb appeal of your home -front and back – without spending thousands of dollars, and you can even do it yourself. Flowers and shrubs are the number one way to so this. Choose varying heights and colors and just have fun. If you need guidance flip through a few home and garden magazines to get some great ideas.

If you don’t have a big area for planting consider a potted garden. If your front yard has only grass think about clearing a way for a small flower bed. Making it flowing instead of angled (for example, cutting curvy lines instead of just a square) will make it more appealing on the eyes. If you can’t spend a lot on flowers you can use bulbs, and now is the perfect time to plant them.

It is important to make a plan before you go shop for plants. Pencil out your plans and measure the space so you know how many plants or flowers you need to buy. If you simply cannot figure out what to do you can always consult a professional landscaper, who can help you create a plan and sketch it out. The cost will be minimal but you can work in stages, as time or budget permits, until you finish your project.

Revitalizing rooms: Take a good look at the rooms in your home once you have decluttered and cleaned them. Do they still feel like they need an extra something special to give them new life? You can try new throw pillows , area rugs or pictures on the walls (all which you can purchase inexpensively at stores like Target, WalMart or Home Goods) but it might be even more fun to rearrange the furniture, space-permitting. I have done this in my own home several times, and it really makes a room feel new.

No matter what you do to spruce up your home there are always ways to do so, even on a budget. Getting the whole family involved is a great way to not only spend time together, but also to teach children to take pride in their home.

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Fall Home Maintenance Tips

Friday, September 10th, 2010

It’s back to school time and my house is so QUIET! There are no more excuses, and no better time than now to address home projects that were put off during the summer. This is a great time of year to make sure your house is safe and running as efficiently as possible. Here is a Fall homeowner checklist:

1. Chemicals: Go through your stash of cleaners and chemicals and make sure they are all still good. If you have younger children, place them all in a locked cabinet. If you keep all your cleaners under your kitchen sink as I do, this is a great time to pull them all out and check for any water leaks. Believe me, this saved me a few years ago. My sink had a slow leak and I had no idea until I pulled everything out to clean the cabinet.

2. Smoke alarms: Check all smoke alarms and change the batteries.

3. FIre Extinguishers: Keep a dry-chemical fire extinguisher on each level of your home. I also keep one in the garage. If you already have one you need to check the charge at least annually.

4. Carbon Monoxide Detectors: These should be installed near bedrooms and by your furnace. They are inexpensive and run on batteries, which you should also check at least annually.

5. Dryer Vent: Your dryer vent hose and outside vent should be cleaned to avoid fires, at least once a year.

6. Furnace: Should be serviced annually to avoid maintenance issues.

7. Rain Gutters: Fall is a great time to make sure all your gutters are clear of debris and free of leaks that could direct water down the sides of your home.

8. Sprinklers: After a hot summer it is important to make sure your sprinklers are operating correctly. Not only does this help with your water bill, but also helps the environment. Sprinkler heads are easily broken by car wheels, dogs, lawnmowers, etc. Also make sure to scale back your watering time on your automatic sprinklers once the heat subsides.

9. Closet cleaning: Usually known as “Spring cleaning,” I like to go through my closets at this time of year as well. You can make it a fun project and get the whole family involved. I have my kids put clothes that no longer fit them into boxes, and then we drop it off at a charitable center. It makes them feel they are helping others.

10. Air/Heating Filters: After the summer heat subsides you need to clean or replace your air/heating filters…before the colder weather sets in and you need to use your heater. This keeps your units running efficiently and prevents danger.

I hope this list helps you in getting organized and ready for cooler days. If you have any questions about other things you may want to check to keep your home in tip-top shape before selling, please feel free to give me a call.

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Spring Home Maintenance Tips

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Spring is in the air and there is no better time to spend on beautifying and maintaining your home. From planting to cleaning, clearing to painting, there are lots of easy projects that can help your home maintain it’s value for years to come. Here are some great ideas to keep your home looking its best:

Windows: Spring is the perfect time to give your windows and screens a thorough wash. Take down screens and hose them to remove dirt and debris collected during the rainy season. Rescreen any screens that have holes or tears. Make sure to clean out all window tracts, which collect dirt, bugs and moisture during the winter. A bit of lubricant helps if needed to ease with opening and closing. Check all window locks and make sure they are tightened and functioning.

HVAC Filters: Make sure to replace (or clean the permanent ones) your filters before the air starts to warm up. After a cold winter and heater usage it is important to have clean filters, as it will save you money and prevent build up in your ducts. It is also a good idea to clean out all vents and make sure there are no obstructions.

Rain Gutters: Clean out rain gutters and remove leaves and other debris.

Tree trimming: This is the perfect time to trim your trees. Make sure to trim them so they do not touch your home, as rodents and other critters can access your attic via trees that are too close to the house.

Plant flowers: The soil is in great condition from the winter rains, and flowers can be inexpensive if you plant seeds. It is a fun and easy way to make a big difference in curb appeal and gives you an enjoyable feast for the senses. You can even venture into drought resistant plants to give your garden a beautiful look without requiring too much water.

Sprinkler system check: Make sure to check your sprinkler system and program the timer. Pay attention to any city or county regulations such as allotted watering days and times, and do not set the timer to over-water your yard. Check all sprinkler heads and replace any that are broken.

Paint: Painting is one of the least expensive ways to beautify your home, and you can do it yourself. Walk around your home and see what rooms need touch-up paint, or even a new coat. It is a great time to try new colors! Painting makes one of the most noticeable differences in the appearance of your home, so have fun with it. Inspect the outside of your home as well–if it has been ten years or longer since you last had your home painted you may want to consider repainting. This not only approves the appearance of your home, but saves money in maintenance. If you have a stucco exterior and you noticed big wet spots on your house during the rains then it is time to consult a professional painter.

Check roof: You should check your roof at least once a year to prevent any problems from arising. It is important to look for cracks in tiles, broken tiles or shingles, or any damage that is apparent. As it is dangerous to walk on your own roof, especially if you have a tile roof (as they can crack), you should call a qualified roof technician to inspect the roof for you.

De-Clutter: Take advantage of the change in season and go through your closets, garage, attic, kids’ toys, books and clothes. There are a plethora of charities that would welcome your donations…and you will love the feeling of having less “stuff” laying around. Get the whole family involved. It’s also a great time for a garage sale. Be sure to check your medicine cabinets for expired medicines, and your pantry and refrigerator for expired food.

Leaky faucets: Many of us do not think to ever look under the sinks in our home. Take everything out of your sink cabinets in bathrooms and the kitchen and check for signs of moisture or leaks. While you are at it you can throw away old cleaning supplies. If you find any leaks be sure to call a plumber right away to prevent a mold problem.

Smoke Detectors: Check all smoke detectors after replacing batteries.

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