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Category Archives: HomeOwnership

Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

It is that time of year again when winter is over and spring begins. The snow is gone, the trees and flowers are starting to bloom due to the rain and temperature changes, the days are getting longer and baseball season has started.

Most people look forward to this time of year and with it comes spring home maintenance responsibilities. You might say “I know but I don’t have the time” or “My house is fine.” We hope everything is fine with your home and it survived the harsh winter. Remember, this is most likely the largest investment you ever made so make sure that investment stays in pristine condition so it continues to increase in value.

Here are things you need to check or do to make sure your home stays in tip top shape.

Exterior Items

Air Conditioning/Humidifier/Furnace – Contact a local HVAC company to inspect, clean, replace filters and do a tune up to make sure everything is in working order. You don’t want you’re A/C to be out in the middle of the summer with 90+ degree temperatures.

Concrete/Driveways/Walkways/Patios/Porches – Inspect the concrete or asphalt flat surfaces around your home. Determine of you need to reseal your asphalt in the summer. Make sure the concrete does not have any large cracks and if so, use concrete caulk or fillers to fill in those cracks to prevent tripping hazards and the cracks from getting larger.

Deck – If you have a deck, look for damaged, warped or lifting boards, rusty nails and nail pops. If you have stairs or a railing confirm they are secure to prevent any accidents. It may be time to replace a few boards and re-stain/re-paint the deck to make it look it’s best

Fencing – Walk around your fence to inspect it. Look for broken pieces or warped boards. Does the fence touch the ground? Is it still upright and secure so it can’t be pushed over? If you have young children or pets, make sure the fence is strong and secure to keep them enclosed in the yard for piece of mind. If needed, replace broken or missing pieces, stain or paint to freshen up the look.

Foundation – Do a walk around the foundation of your home to identify any cracks or water infiltration and fix right away. Damage to your foundation will cause great expense if left untreated. Make sure water drains away from the foundation and the soil is at least 6” from the top of your foundation wall. Your lawns & landscaping should be 6” below where the siding starts to prevent damage.

Gutters & Downspouts – Make sure to remove all leaves, sticks and debris from your gutters and downspouts. If you have a lot of trees by your home you may want to install meshing or guards on the gutters to prevent them from clogging in the future. Downspouts should extend at least 3’ from your home’s foundation to prevent water from building up and penetrating your foundation wall.

Laundry vent screen – Cleaning the vent screen for your laundry should be done regularly. You may have noticed the clothes are not dry at the end of a cycle or you need to increase the drying time or temperature. This may be the cause of the dryer vent being plugged with lint and not the fault of your dryer.

Lawn & Landscaping – If you did not trim back all of your landscaping and clean your flower beds before winter, now is the time. It is also time to determine what annuals you want to plant where in your yard so you are ready when the time is right to purchase and plant. Your lawn needs some attention as well. Rack up the dead grass, fill in any dead spots with top soil and seed apply fertilizer so it will look it’s best.

Lawn Equipment – Now is the time to get your lawn equipment serviced and inspect your lawn tools so everything is in working order when needed.

Outside faucets – Turn on the outside water faucet to make sure it is in working order. If a hose was attached all winter by mistake it could have caused a crack in the plumbing. If you find an issue, contact a plumber for repair or replacement.

Overhead Garage Door – It may be time to service your overhead garage door and opener. If you hear the door squeaking, rubbing or notice it may not be functioning property, contact a local garage door company to service the door and opener. It may only need to be greased or a spring could be ready to break so be proactive.

Paint – Do a walk around the permitter of your home to determine anything that needs a fresh coat of paint.

Roof – Take a look at your roof from the ground and if possible, get on the roof to inspect it. If you do not feel comfortable with this hire an inspector to assess the condition of your roof. You will want to look for missing shingles, curling or lifted shingles or damage due to wind, snow or hail.

Septic System – Depending upon the size of your home, the size of your family and the size of your septic system, it may be time to have it pumped. Check with a local septic company or county health department for their recommendation on when to pump and inspect the system.

Well – If you have a well instead of city water you may want to have it serviced by a local well company to make sure everything is in working order. Water is something you definitely cannot live without.

Siding/Brick/Stone – Confirm you do not have any broken, damaged or missing siding. If you do replace those pieces right away. Check all stone or brick to make sure no pieces have come loose and the mortar joints do not need attention.

Sprinkling system – If you have an underground sprinkling system it is time to turn it on to adjust heads, replace any broken heads and make sure everything is in working order so you are ready when it is time to start watering. Hire a professional if you are not familiar with starting up the system.

Windows & Doors & Screens – Test all windows and doors to make sure they are functioning properly. Do they need to be caulked prevent air infiltration or painted to spruce up the look? Now is a great time to clean windows inside & out. The screens should also be washed and replaced if any are damaged or broken

Clean Garage – It is amazing how much we accumulate in our garages at anytime of year. Now is the time or organize and clean the garage to store the winter items and have the summer items available for easy access. It is also a great time do donate items you do not want or throw away items that are broken or do not work.

Outdoor Furniture – You may store you’re your outdoor furniture during the window or cover everything over and leave them in the elements during the winter. Either way, it is time to uncover or get the furniture out of storage, put it in place and wash everything so it is ready to enjoy.

Pool – If you do not open your pool yourself, you definitely want to call and schedule the pool service company so you don’t miss out when the weather is nice and you really want to take a dip. If you are able to open the pool yourself, check your current supplies, make a list of when you need and purchase those items so you have them when you are ready to open the pool.

You may tell yourself you do not want to any of the items above because of time, money or any other reason. Get help from family or friends that know how to do some of the items on your list and hire out the other items. Remember, this is the largest investment of your life so you want to keep it in tip top condition so it continues to increase in value and personal enjoyment.




Save Energy At Home – Energy Efficiency Tips for Homeowners

8 Ways to Save Energy at Home
We could all agree that saving a little more cash on your utility bills would be nice. But maybe you’ve heard living energy efficient would take a whole lot of time, effort, and money you simply can’t afford? In such unprecedented times there has to be a way to tip the scales in your favor without breaking the bank. We thought the same thing and compiled a list of simple low-cost and no-cost energy solutions that are easy to do to save energy at home.

1. Reduce Energy Waste with Smart Power Strips
Devices that continue to draw power when they appear to be turned off can cost up to $200 a year in wasted energy. Fight this by regularly unplugging your devices, or let a smart power strip do the work for you. The features of advanced power strips make it easier than ever to ensure devices are fully powered down.

Learn more about smart strips equipped with motion sensors, voltage sensitivity controls and master switches, and easily learn which model is right for you.

2. Maintain Your Heating and Cooling System
The average household spends more than $2,000 a year on energy bills, with nearly half of that going to heating and cooling. A well maintained system can save a lot. Change your air filter regularly, and have a professional perform scheduled tune-ups.

3. Set Your Refrigerator for Optimum Cooling and Freshness
ENERGY STAR® recommends a temperature range between 35° and 38°F to keep food fresh while not wasting energy.

4. Use the Cold Water Cycle in Your Washing Machine
Washing your clothes in cold water saves big on water heating costs. It also keeps colors from fading and clothes from shrinking.

5. Seal Your Windows and Doors
Use caulk and weather stripping to seal air leaks around windows and doors. Homeowners save an average of $200 per year on heating and cooling by better insulating and sealing their homes.

6. Save the Game Console for Gaming
If you stream content to your TV, use a dedicated set-top box, smart TV or streaming-capable Blu-ray player. Game consoles use far more energy than these alternatives.

7. Heat your Water to 120°F
At an average of $250 a year, water heating is the second largest energy cost for most households. Don’t overheat your water only to mix it with cold. 120°F will give you hot showers while saving energy too.

8. Upgrade Your Homes Lighting
Light your home with ENERGY STAR certified LED bulb, the simple choice for energy efficiency. LED lighting is the simple option to save energy, money and protect the planet for future generations.

Additional resources can be found under “Energy Efficiency Tips for Homeowners” by the Consumers Energy


Cold Weather Home Owner Tips

Stay Safe During & After a Winter Storm

Winter storms are dangerous. They can bring cold temperatures, power failures, loss of communication services, and icy roads. This can make being outside dangerous, so you should limit your time outside. Although staying indoors as much as possible can help reduce the risk of car crashes and falls on the ice, you may also face hazards inside your home.

Heat your home safely

If you plan to use a wood stove, fireplace, or space heater, be extremely careful. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and remember these safety tips:

Turning on the stove for heat is not safe; have at least one of the following heat sources in case the power goes out:

  • Extra blankets, sleeping bags, and warm winter coats
  • Fireplace that is up to code with plenty of dry firewood or a gas log fireplace
  • Portable space heaters or kerosene heaters. Check with your local fire department to make sure that kerosene heaters are legal in your area.
  • Use electric space heaters with automatic shut-off switches and non-glowing elements. Make sure to keep them away from any flammable materials, like curtains or blankets.
  • Use fireplaces, wood stoves, or other combustion heaters only if they are properly vented to the outside and do not leak gas from the flue or exhaust into the indoor air space.
  • Have your heating system serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Do not burn paper in a fireplace.
  • Make sure you have proper ventilation if you must use a kerosene heater.
  • Use only the type of fuel your heater is designed to use—don’t substitute.
  • Keep heat sources, like space heaters, at least 3 feet away from drapes, furniture, or bedding. Never cover your space heater.
  • Never place a space heater on top of furniture or near water.
  • Never leave children unattended near a space heater.
  • Make sure that the cord of an electric space heater is not a tripping hazard, but do not run the cord under carpets or rugs.
  • Avoid using extension cords to plug in your space heater.
  • If your space heater has a damaged electrical cord or produces sparks, do not use it.

Light your home safely

If there is a power failure:

Use generators and other appliances safely.

  • Generators should be located at least 20 feet from any window, door, or vent and in a space where rain and snow will not reach them.
  • Protect yourself from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning by installing a battery-operated CO detector.
  • Never using generators, gas or charcoal grills, camp stoves, or similar devices inside your home, in basements, in garages, or near windows. The fumes are deadly.
  • Plug in appliances to the generator using individual heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cords.
  • Do not use the generator or appliances if they are wet.
  • Do not store gasoline indoors where the fumes could ignite.

Conserve heat

  • Some gas-fueled heaters, such as vent-less gas fireplaces, require some ventilation. Otherwise, if you don’t need extra ventilation, keep as much heat as possible inside your home.
  • Avoid unnecessarily opening doors or windows.
  • Close off unneeded rooms.
  • Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
  • Close draperies or cover windows with blankets at night.

Make sure babies and older adults stay warm


Infants less than one year old should never sleep in a cold room because they lose body heat more easily than adults. Follow these tips to keep your baby safe and warm during the extreme cold:

  • Remove any pillows or other soft bedding. These can increase the risk of smothering and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Dress babies in warmer clothing such as footed pajamas, one-piece wearable blankets, or sleep sacks.
  • Try to maintain a warm temperature inside your home. If you’re not able to keep your home warm, make temporary arrangements to stay elsewhere.
  • In an emergency, you can keep your baby warm using your own body heat. If you must sleep, take precautions to prevent rolling on or smothering your baby.

Older Adults

Older adults often make less body heat because of a slower metabolism and less physical activity. Check on elderly friends and neighbors often to make sure their homes are heated properly.

If you are over 65 years of age, check the temperature in your home often during extremely cold weather.

Keep a water supply

Extreme cold can cause water pipes in your home to freeze and sometimes rupture or break. When you are expecting very cold or freezing temperatures:

  • Leave all water taps slightly open so they drip continuously.
  • Keep the temperature inside your home warm.
  • Allow heated air to reach pipes. For example, open cabinet doors beneath the kitchen and bathroom sinks.
  • If your pipes do freeze, do not thaw them with a torch. Thaw the pipes slowly with warm air from an electric hair dryer.
  • If you cannot thaw your pipes, or the pipes have broken open, use bottled water or get water from a neighbor’s home.
  • As an emergency measure, if no other water is available, snow can be melted for water. Bringing water to a rolling boil for one minute will kill most germs but won’t get rid of chemicals sometimes found in snow.
  • Visit Keep Food and Water Safe After a Disaster or Emergency to learn more.

Eat well-balanced meals, and avoid alcoholic or caffeinated drinks.

Eating well-balanced meals will help you stay warmer. Do not drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages—they cause your body to lose heat faster. Instead, drink warm, sweet beverages or broth to help keep yourself warm. If you have any dietary restrictions, ask your doctor.

Additional resources can be found under “Staying Safe During a Winter Storm” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Man and woman playing in the snow outside of a house


New Home Owner Helpful Hints

There are lots of projects you really can do yourself!

When you become a new homeowner, you may be tempted to call a professional for every item on your to-do list. This can become very costly, fairly quickly. The good news is, there are lots of projects you can do for yourself, without too much difficulty.

  1. Painting – To make painting successful requires patience, drop cloths, quality paint, and paint applicators (think brushes and rollers). there are several videos on YouTube that can help fill you in on technique, but for the most part, if you’re interested in changing things up with paint – go for it!
  2. Fixing squeaking doors – Carefully apply lubricant to noisy hinges. Use a cloth to make sure there aren’t any drips that could potentially stain the door or the surrounding carpet or other surfaces. You’ll be surprised how much more you enjoy your home without a constant squeaking reminder that something must be fixed.
  3. Replacing and repairing screens –  Patch kits with easy-to-follow directions are sold in hardware stores across the country. They work well and when directions are followed, new homeowners can be assured of a solid fix, not an eyesore. If the tear is large enough it may require replacing the entire screen. When purchasing the materials, be sure to get a color and screening density to match your existing screens. The tools to replace the spline and the spline itself are inexpensive. They can be purchased at a local hardware store and will more than likely be right next to the patch kits…


For more information on home repairs that you can make without the need to call a professional, read the full article “11 Home Improvement  Projects You Can Do Yourself; Instead Of Hiring A Professional” on the Readers Digest Website