Real Estate Blog
Monday, December 16 2013
It’s easy to be caught off guard when the mercury drops before winter has even begun. And this year a visit from unusually early icy blasts of cold from up north has been the rule almost everywhere in the country. This Holiday Season, even local house owners who don’t have to worry about their own house safety may be visiting relatives unprepared for the sudden December tundra; so it’s a good time to go over the Red Cross cold weather Preventive Action guidelines:
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing (but: move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children). And keep garage doors closed!
- In very cold weather, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.
- If you will be going away, leave the heat on in the house, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
Following those tried-and-true guidelines should mean you’re home free. But if you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Trace the culprit: likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters the house through the foundation. To thaw frozen pipes:
- Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device—no matter how tempting.
- Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice inside the pipe.
- Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
- Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if it’s not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe, you’ll have to call a licensed plumber. If you need a reference, call me anytime for this or any other house questions.
You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, October 21 2013
After buyers move in to their new home, they should be prepared for some home fixes to present themselves each season, says Rich Escallier, a handyman in Chicago. "If you can go six months without finding something that raises your blood pressure, you're lucky,” Escallier says.
CBS MoneyWatch recently released a checklist of routine maintenance and small home repairs that home buyers should expect to do their first year to help avoid more costly problems from surfacing later on:
During move-in week: Turn on all major appliances and run them for a complete cycle. Even if the buyer already completed a home inspection, they should test again, experts say. After all, “if you have a minor leak under the dishwasher, that water leaks into the subfloor and you can't see it," says Daniel Cipriani with Kade Homes & Renovations in the Atlanta area. "But you'll start to notice the hardwood floor buckling."
45 days after move-in: Change the HVAC system filter and vacuum out the air intake vents. “Capturing dirt and dust with the right filter can go a long way toward preserving the new home appeal for a few years,” CBC MoneyWatch notes.
Six months after move-in: Inspect the exterior of your home in both the summer and fall to ensure rainwater is draining away from the home properly. Also, clean out clogged gutters and downspouts. "Landscaping should be negatively graded away from the house," Cipriani says. "People don't think it's a big problem, but otherwise water pools against the foundation and doesn't have anywhere to go."
Every year: Inspect the home’s roof for any missing shingles and gaps around the chimneys. Also, check the ceilings inside the home for any water spots and indications of potential leaks.
Experts also note that every two years, home owners would be wise to hire a professional HVAC contractor to inspect their furnace, air conditioner, and hot water heater. A ruptured reservoir could potentially spill 40 gallons of water in a mere few hours so experts recommend home owners install a water alarm with sensors in the collection pan underneath the hot water heater. The sensors cost about $25 and can help save home owners from costly water damage.
Monday, June 17 2013
The graduations are just finishing up, most summer getaway are booked, and with the end of June soon to be coming our way, many homeowners may be thinking more about holiday weekends and BBQs than home maintenance. But for those selling a home this summer, keeping ahead of upkeep issues will become an important part of the project. Some items that bear watching:
The best time to clean air conditioners is before you fire them up for the first time…but since the AC always seem to be needed sooner than expected, few of us do. Never mind: sooner is better than later — and if you're selling your home in Evansville this summer, you'll want to keep the home comfortable at all times for potential buyers. Your owner's manual should explain how to change filters and clean coils and fins.
Everyone knows how important clearing clutter is for selling your home, but don't forget to stash the winter's heating paraphernalia. While you’re storing any portable heaters, pull the filters from the central furnace and pick up replacements next time you’re at the hardware store. When potential buyers see the new replacements neatly placed where they’ll be handy come winter, they are likely to register that this is one property owner who is well ahead of maintenance issues.
Cleaning the windows and window coverings is a chore none of us looks forward to. But when you're selling your home in this summer, few touches pay off like windows that shine, shine, shine! Choose one of our sunny days and see if you can get someone to work with you — and if you can spare an extra hour or so, hose off the screens and lay them out in the sun to dry.
Selling your home in Evansville is less taxing when you put yourself a step ahead on maintenance. Then call a hard-working agent like me to put the rest of a well thought-out marketing plan into action. I’ll be working all summer to help bring you top dollar for your home. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234 or email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Friday, March 22 2013
Deep clean your house and you’ll brighten rooms and help maintain your home’s value.
Deep cleaning your house is that top-to-bottom, take-no-dust-bunny-prisoners, mother-in-law-quality cleaning that truly maintains the value of your home. Here are frequently overlooked areas that a little spit and polish wouldn’t hurt.
De-bug the light fixtures
See that bug burial ground within your overhead fixtures? Turn off the lights and carefully remove fixture covers, dump out flies and wash with hot soapy water. While you’re up there, dust bulbs. Dry everything thoroughly before replacing the cover.
Vacuum heat vents and registers
Dirt and dust build up in heat vents and along register blades. Vents also are great receptacles for coins and missing buttons. Unscrew vent covers from walls or pluck them from floors, remove foreign objects, and vacuum inside the vent. Clean grates with a damp cloth and screw back tightly.
To deep clean brass door hinges, handles, and cabinet knobs, thoroughly wipe with a damp microfiber cloth, then polish with Wright’s or Weiman brass cleaner ($4). Dish soap shines up glass or stainless steel knobs. Use a Q-tip to detail the ornamental filigree on knobs and handles.
Replace grungy switch plates
Any amateur can wipe a few fingerprints off cover plates that hide light switches, electric outlets, phone jacks, and cable outlets. But only deep cleaners happily remove plates to vacuum and swipe the gunk behind. (OK, we’re a little OCD when it comes to dirt!) Make sure cover plates are straight when you replace them. And pitch plates that are beyond the help of even deep cleaning. New ones cost less than $2 each.
Neaten weather stripping
Peeling, drooping weather stripping on doors and windows makes rooms look old. If the strip still has some life, nail or glue it back. If it’s hopeless, cut out and replace sections, or just pull the whole thing off and start new. A 10-ft. roll of foam weather stripping costs $8; 16-ft. vinyl costs about $15.
Replace stove drip pans
Some drip pans are beyond the scrub brush. Replacing them costs about $3 each and instantly freshens your stove.
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/maintenance-repair/home-cleaning-secrets/#ixzz2O0mqzjb6
Tuesday, March 19 2013
The first day of spring falls on the 20th—making Wednesday the day many homeowners start planning their ritual seasonal maintenance. Spring is also the traditional launch of the busy season in real estate, when safeguardingproperty values can become a less abstract matter.
Because water damage is Public Enemy #1, homeowner checklists should always highlight three points:
First: the Roof
As soon as March’s lion turns a bit more lamb-like, it’s time to get out the ladder to survey roof damage. Leaves, twigs or other storm debris that have clogged gutters during the weather months can allow moisture to penetrate the roofing and below, in the worst case triggering mold or rot. Look for holes or rust in the flashings or metal seals around roof joints, chimneys, skylights or any other structures that penetrate the roof.
Second: Down Under
Now it’s time to go down. While spring rains are still falling, put fresh batteries in your flashlight and head to the furthest reaches of basement or underneath the house to check for puddles. Even when it’s raining outside, your home’s foundation should remain dry. When it comes time to sell, homes’ property values are seriously affected by water damage, some of which might not appear upstairs until later. If you see signs of trouble, it’s time to call an expert.
Third: the Exit Routes
That is— the drains. Backed-up plumbing is a nuisance you can avoid if you clean all the drains two or three times a year. Don’t forget the garbage disposal, either. My trick is to pour in equal parts salt, baking soda and vinegar, followed 30 seconds later by two quarts of boiling water. Then give the mixture a chance to work overnight before running water again.
With the sales market poised for spring action, the protection careful homeowners have given to their ownproperty values will make a material difference. But you don’t have to be selling your home for this time of year to trigger the maintenance efforts your property may need. Got a property-related question? Give me a call! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Thursday, February 21 2013
There is a long list of household chores the beginning of each season. If you break it down with one chore a day and bundle a short, easy list on a day off from work, then it can become manageable. After all, you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time!
So first, think of your personality. If you put the worst chore first, would you be happy to get that one over with, or would you simply never start working on the list at all? Order the list to fit your comfort zone.
- Walk around the yard and take a notebook with you. Write down any lawn or outdoor buildings which require maintenance. Be sure to make specific notes, so you will not be scratching your head later trying to figure out your notes. Remember painting as well.
- Get rid of all the old stuff you have not used in a year. Garage sales are great motivators.
- Switch the clothes in the closet from heavy winter to spring.
- Check the roof. Are there any loose or deteriorating shingles? Are the gutters in need of repair?
- The outdoor furniture is calling; pull it out of storage and enjoy watching the flowers begin to grow!
- It may seem silly to think of the upcoming frost, but checking the furnace or heaters now makes sense, instead of having a failure at the worst possible moment.
- Check the screens on all the doors and the assemblies for the sliding glass doors.
- If you use contractors for replacing gutters and other outside household services, now is actually the time to take advantage of that. The fall is when they are typically the most busy.
- The kids will be spending a lot of time on the swing set, is it well maintained?
- The leaves are falling, sigh, time to rake. Make the activity more festive and have a contest to see which family member can gather the most. Remember the gutters!
- When is the last time you checked the insulation in the attic? Do any shingles need replacement after the summer sun?
- Now is the time to aerate the soil, in the front and back yards.
- It’s a perfect time to get a lot of the detailed “spring” cleaning done inside the house. Holidays are approaching and folks will be dropping by for short visits and lengthy meals. Move furniture, vacuum underneath, check the foyer closet for clutter, to make room for heavy coats and umbrellas. Give the whole house a white glove test!
- Change clothes in the closet from summer to winter.
- Check supplies to keep the walks free of ice; shovel, dry ice, salt, etc.
- Check decorations for the holidays.
Friday, November 02 2012
Knowing how to evaluate, buy, and store firewood is key to the safe, efficient operation of your fireplace, wood stove, or fireplace insert.
Whether you burn fires as a supplemental heat source for your home or strictly for ambiance and pleasure, it’s important to know how to properly buy and store firewood. For homeowners looking to fuel a traditional masonry fireplace, fireplace insert, or wood stove, the goal should be the same: to get the best quality firewood for the best possible price.
Before picking up the phone, it’s important to know exactly what you want to purchase so that you can clearly express that to the wood seller, says Matt Galambos, a Maine arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture. This includes determining the quantity, species, and condition of the firewood, all of which affect its price.
How much to buy
Homeowners who intend to heat their homes through the use of a wood stove naturally will require more firewood than those who burn only the occasional fire for pleasure. A person living in the Northeastern U.S. who burns firewood as his or her primary heat source, for example, may require up to five cords of wood to get them through the season. In contrast, a weekend-only fire builder can likely get by on as little as a half-cord. Galambos estimates that for the casual but steady fire builder, one cord of wood should easily last through winter.
Measuring a cord of wood
A cord of wood is defined as a stack of cut firewood that measures 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide by 8 feet long, or any other arrangement that equals 128 cubic feet. The individual pieces must be stacked side by side rather than the looser crisscross style. Other measurement terms, such as ricks, racks, face cords and piles, have no legal meaning and are often banned by state weights and measurements agencies. Regardless what the load is called, says Galambos, it should always be converted to cords or fractions thereof so that homeowners can determine if they are getting a fair price.
Seasoning the wood
Freshly cut wood is composed largely of water. Not only is this “green” wood difficult to ignite, but burning it can lead to a dangerous buildup of creosote, the cause of chimney fires. Properly “seasoned” firewood is wood that has been cut to length, split, and allowed to air dry for at least six months until the moisture content dips to around 20%. Dry wood will appear grayish in color and the pieces will begin to exhibit splits and cracks on the ends. Compared to freshly cut wood, seasoned wood feels light for its size.
Though seasoned firewood is the only choice for immediate use, green wood shouldn’t be completely ignored, says Galambos. “If you have the room to store it and the time to dry it, buying green firewood can save you up to 25% compared with seasoned wood,” he says.
Hardwood vs. softwood
It’s a common misconception that burning soft woods, such as pine and cedar, leads to dangerous creosote buildup. As long as the firewood is properly seasoned, it can safely be burned in a fireplace or stove regardless of species, says Dr. John Ball, Professor of Forestry at South Dakota State University. But that doesn’t mean that all wood is created equal.
“Tree species differ widely in the amount of heat they produce when burned,” says Ball. Hardwoods like oak, maple, and madrone produce almost twice the heat compared with softer woods, such as spruce, pine, and basswood. Fires built with hardwood not only burn hotter, they last longer, meaning the wood pile won’t get depleted as fast. Homeowners can expect to pay a premium for 100% hardwood, but Ball cautions against purchasing cheaper “mixed-wood” loads that may contain little actual hardwood.
Homeowners should consider storage long before the firewood delivery truck appears in the driveway, cautions Galambos. A cord of wood takes up a significant amount of space, and if not properly stored your investment will quickly begin to rot. Firewood that is not stowed in a protected space like a garage or shed needs to be six inches off the ground. Firewood racks or simple pallets work well. If exposed to the elements, the wood pile should be at least partially covered with a waterproof tarp. Experts caution against storing the wood too close to the house for fear of inviting pests.
Homeowners can expect to pay $75 to $150 for a half-cord and between $150 and $350 for a cord of hardwood delivered and stacked. To save some money, a person with a large truck may elect to pick up his or her own load at the wood lot.
To verify the quantity, species, and condition of the firewood, it’s wise to arrange the delivery for a time when you’re home. Experts say, inspect the wood for type and condition before it’s unloaded, though quantity can only be accurately measured after it’s stacked.
Maximize your fireplace efficiency
It’s true that a traditional wood fireplace can never rival the energy efficiency of a wood stove or even a fireplace insert, but there are ways a homeowner can trim heat loss. Fire-resistant glass doors not only reduce the volume of heated home air that escapes up the chimney, they help radiate heat back into the room. Similarly, a thick cast-iron fireback is an old-fashioned device that absorbs and emits energy in the form of radiant heat. Check the fireplace damper for leaks and always tightly seal it when the fireplace is idle.
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/fireplaces-chimneys/buying-firewood/#ixzz2AzjlwPLk
Monday, October 22 2012
Unclog a drain by dropping three Alka-Seltzer tablets down the drain, followed by a cup of white vinegar. Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic
This month marks the 27th anniversary of the most influential DIY show ever. Nope we’re not talking about This Old House (which debuted in 1978). We’re referring to MacGyver, the action-adventure series that taught us any sticky situation could be fixed with a few mundane items.
To note this occasion, we asked four DIY experts to share their favorite MacGyver-inspired household hacks and tips.
This penny-pinching site known for doling out smart budgeting advice came up with two quick fixes; one clears clogs while the second neatens up floors.
1. Unclog a drain
Solution: Next time one of your drains is being a pain, drop three Alka-Seltzer tablets down the sink followed by a cup of white vinegar.
We’re not 100% sure about the science behind this, but we heard when combined together, these ingredients will dissolve grease and other funky things. After about 15 minutes, you can clear the drain with boiling water.
Do not attempt this trick immediately after using a commercial drain opener like Drano or Liquid-Plumr.
FYI, you can also use this exact same solution to clean and freshen up toilet bowls.
Fun MacGyver fact: He mixed it with baking soda to create a smoke screen.
2. Fix scuffed floors
Give scuffmarks on tile and linoleum floors the boot using a tennis ball fitted on the end of a broom handle. When rubbed against the floor, the ball will remove scuffmarks.
What, you don’t have a tennis ball? Use a sneaker. The bottom of most clean sneakers can easily buff floors.
Fun MacGyver fact: He once made a missile out of a broom handle.
Expert: Domestic Imperfection
Ashley, the blogger behind this site, knows a thing or two about being crafty. Just like MacGyver, she likes hacking common office items.
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/blog/repair-tips/macgyver-inspired-household-hacks/#ixzz2A2lA7DmS
Friday, October 19 2012
Are you haunted by strange noises and weird odors? With the proper maintenance, you’ve got more than a ghost of a chance to rest easy.
Creaking and popping in the night
The many materials that make up your house — wood framing, plywood, glass, metal ducts, nails, plumbing pipes — all expand and contract at different rates.
When a house cools at night, these materials may move slightly, rubbing against each other and making noises. Occasionally, they’ll contract with an audible pop.
These sounds tend to be more noticeable in fall, when warm days give way to rapidly cooling nights. The bad news? Not much you can do about it. The good news? Those sounds are harmless and normal.
It’s either time to throw out the garbage, or you’d better call your gas utility to check on your gas lines and connections.
Natural gas is odorless, but natural gas suppliers add a foul-smelling odorant — butyl mercaptan — to alert occupants to any leaks. The smell is like rotten eggs.
Leaks can occur at your gas-fired water heater, fireplace, clothes dryer, and any gas line. Leaking natural gas is potentially dangerous — leave the house and call your natural gas provider to assess the situation. Most utility companies perform safety checks for free.
Footsteps in the attic
Amplified by an unfinished attic space, a raccoon or even a good-size squirrel on your roof might sound like an ax murderer is doing the polka overhead.
These rooftop transits are normal for critters — roofs offer a nice long unobstructed highway.
Make sure your soffit, rafter, and gable roof vents are covered with screens and in good shape, or your rooftop buddies might find their way into your attic for real. Trim back branches that provide critters easy access to your roof.
You can smell the odor of burnt wood, but the smoke detectors aren’t going off and there’s no smoke in the house. The culprit could be your fireplace — even if you haven’t had a fire for days.
The probable cause is a drafty chimney and negative air pressure in your home, meaning that outside air is infiltrating down your chimney, bringing stale burnt smells with it.
Stop drafts by making sure your damper has a good seal. Regulate air pressure by adding more cold air return ducts to your HVAC system. You’ll get rid of the odor and save on your energy bill, too.
Moaning and clattering
These classic spooky sounds often show up when the wind blows and there’s a storm brewing.
Vents for clothes dryers, bathrooms, and water heaters exit out the roof or the side of the house. To prevent backdrafts, these vents have dampers — flaps designed to let vented air out and prevent outside air from coming in. These flaps sometimes move and rattle in high winds.
Because dampers often are located in attics or in between floor joists, the sound can be difficult to pinpoint. You may need a new damper ($85).
Monday, July 23 2012
July tends to be a busy month in most Evansville homes. If you have kids who are out of school, it’s up to you to dream up new ways to keep them out of trouble (and away from non-stop video gaming). Even if kids are not at homes, you probably have to get twice as much done anyway – you want to be ahead at work and around the house so you can relax and enjoy your vacation. Or recover from it.
And then there is the likelihood that in the back of your mind is the knowledge that you’ve been putting off what should be an annual maintenance once-over. All homes have areas that need looking after, and July and August are the best time to get at them. On dry days that aren’t too blisteringly hot to work, it’s prime time to fix areas that the year’s wear and tear may be turning into future problems.
Warm weather is perfect for conducting a timely energy audit. Any gaps or cracks around doors or windows - the likely culprits if heat leakage raised last winter’s energy bills - can most easily be filled in warm weather. Other possible spots where heat can leak is the junction between different materials, and around fireplace dampers. If you’re a dedicated DIYer, grab some caulk or other professional-grade material and get filling. If you’re less handy, the energy audit may suggest a call to an appropriate professional. A review of the year’s energy bills will tell you whether that makes dollars and sense.
This is the time to pay attention to the big one: the foundation. It’s prudent in all homes to clean visible concrete surfaces. Sidewalks and steps can be cleaned very effectively with the same pressure washer you use to clean your car. When it comes to the foundation, be sure to check for cracks, water or mold.. If mold or water is present, a trusted contractor or structural engineer will be able to recommend a solution that prevents real trouble later.
Summer is also a good time to take a look at your home’s deck or patios. Standing water rots wood. The solution can be as simple as slipping planter "feet" beneath outdoor flower pots. As long as water is able to flow around or under stationary objects, the underlying wood will benefit.
These are only a few examples of what you can make part of your summer home maintenance checklist. Call me anytime with home and maintenance-related questions, if you need a recommendation for a reliable local contractor or service provider, or if you want to check on the status of the Evansville homes market in your neighborhood. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Tuesday, April 17 2012
As the saying goes: April showers bring May flowers! With more rain in the springtime months of April and May, now's the perfect opportunity to get your rain gutters in tip-top shape. As a homeowner, you're probably wondering what the best way would be to maintain those gutters and I've got the answer for you! We have compiled a handy list of tips that will help you to save money by doing it yourself, so that you can simply enjoy the rain once it comes.
If you need any additional tips, please feel free to call me Rolando at 499-9234 or Kathy at
499-0246. Also if you have friends or family who are in need of real estate service or advice, we hope you'll give them our name. We are always happy to help!
FIVE TIPS FOR SAFELY CLEANING YOUR RAIN GUTTERS
· Maintenance means everything: Ideally, you should clean your gutters twice per year. Maintaining clean gutters will help you to avoid drainage problems that could potentially lead to more costly repairs.
· Climb on up: Borrowing (or investing in) a good, sturdy ladder is the key to ensuring your personal safety and to making the task as hassle-free as possible. Make sure that the ladder is placed on a flat, steady surface, and follow the rule of two: never stand on the top two rungs of a ladder, as it becomes very difficult to maintain your balance.
· Protect yourself: Thick, heavy gloves are a must when performing this kind of task. Gutters may have sharp or jagged metal pieces as well as screws or nails that may pose a danger to your hands and fingers. Want additional protection? Safety glasses are also a good idea!
· Up on the roof: Santa might find rooftops to be a walk in the park, but for the rest of us, they aren't generally ideal perches. However, if you have a flat roof or a roof with a low slope, you may find it easier to accomplish the cleaning by situating yourself up top. Always use extreme caution, wear non-slip shoes and never opt for this choice in bad weather!
Scoop, blast and repair: Once you're ready to start cleaning, follow a simple three-step process to get the most out of the task. Scoop out any debris, blast the drains clean with a high-powered hose, and repair any leaks you may find along the way.
Friday, March 09 2012
Electric fireplaces are cheap and easy ways to spark a little somethin’ on a cold winter night. Just plug and play. Here’s how they work.
Sparking the mood for love in the bedroom — or any room — is easier than you think with an electric fireplace that ignites romance without a complicated install, high price, or frilly lingerie.
Electric fireplaces have become the fastest-growing segment of the fireplace market. That’s because new technology makes flames look and feel real. Coils and blowers give off enough heat (4,600 to 5,000 BTUs) to warm 400 sq. ft., and add-ons provide the snap and crackle of a real wood fire for as little as $300.
In fact, if you don’t have the budget or structure to support adding a fireplace
fueled by wood or gas, you easily can light up with an electric fireplace, which doesn’t need to be vented or surrounded by noncombustible material. In fact, the only thing you need is a 120V outlet.
You can even buy fireplaces-to-go on casters that let you wheel them throughout the house. And if you’ve got money to burn, you can buy elaborate mantle packages that boost the price to $2,000. You can buy electric fireplaces at big-box stores and fireplace specialty stores.
But even with all the bells and whistles, you won’t be spending near the $7,000 that a comparable gas fireplace would cost to install.
With those savings, you can buy some champagne and get something waxed. (There’s only so much a fireplace can do.)
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/blog/fireplaces-chimneys/fake-fire-portable-electric-fireplace/#ixzz1oSdf6ZgF
Monday, November 21 2011
Repair wood floors and scratches that make rooms look worn out. We’ll show you easy ways to put the luster back into your floors.
Dogs chase kids, pans drop, chairs scrape, and soon you must repair wood floors and erase scratches that make a mess of your red oak or Brazilian cherry. A professional floor refinisher will charge $1 to $4 per sq. ft. to apply a new coat of finish. No worries. We’ve got inexpensive ways to remove wood scratches and repair deep gouges in a few easy steps.
Take some artistic license to hide minor scratches in wood floors by rubbing on stain-matching crayons and Sharpie pens. Wax sticks, such as Minwax Stain Markers, are great scratch busters because they include stain and urethane, which protects the floor’s finish.
Don’t be afraid to mix a couple of colors together to get a good match. And don’t sweat if the color is a little off. Real hardwoods mix several hues and tones. So long as you cover the contrasting “white” scratches, color imperfections will match perfectly.
Mix equal parts olive oil and vinegar, which work together to remove dirt, moisturize, and shine wood. Pour a little directly onto the scratch. Let the polish soak in for 24 hours, then wipe off. Repeat until the scratch disappears.
Spot-sand deep scratches
It takes time to repair wood gouges: Sand, fill, sand again, stain, and seal. Here are some tips to make the job go faster.
- Sand with fine-gauge steel wool or lightweight sandpaper.
- Always sand with the grain.
- Use wood filler, which takes stain better than wood putty.
- Use a plastic putty knife to avoid more scratches.
- Seal the area with polyurethane, or whatever product was used on the floor originally.
Fix gaps in floor
Old floorboards can separate over time. Fill the gaps with colored wood putty. Or, if you have some leftover planks, rip a narrow band and glue it into the gap.
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/repair-tips/repair-wood-floors-and-erase-ugly-scratches/#ixzz1e5XbHSvr
Tuesday, November 15 2011
Tankless water heaters cut energy bills but aren’t the right choice for everyone. Here’s how to figure out if going tankless makes sense for you.
If you’re a hot water multitasker who washes clothes, dishes, and yourself at the same time, a low-capacity tankless water heater could serve you a “cold water sandwich” or leave you high and dry. But tankless water heaters, which heat water only on demand, are more energy-efficient than traditional water heaters, which warm water whether you need it or not. What’s the best way for you to get into hot water? Read on.
Traditional vs. tankless water heater
Traditional hot water heaters typically live in your basement and provide gallons of hot water at one time: an 80-gallon tank heats enough water to shower, run a dishwasher, and do a load of laundry simultaneously. But standby energy loss is significant with hot water heaters, and once you’ve exhausted the hot water supply, you’ll wait 20 to 60 minutes for the heater to cook up more.
A tankless water heater produces hot water only when you need it. When you turn on the faucet, water is heated on the spot as it flows through capillary-like pipes heated by either a powerful gas burner or electric coils. (There are no oil-fired on-demand water heaters on the market.)
Gush to a trickle
Although a tankless water heater can pump hot water all day, it can’t produce a large amount all at once. And it can snap you out of a hot shower bliss with the “cold water sandwich effect,” a sudden splash of cold water that results from turning the hot water faucet on and off repeatedly.
A traditional tank heater puts out 7.5 to 9.5 gallons of water per minute (GPM), enough to shower, run the dishwasher, and do a load of laundry all at the same time. The typical tankless water heater, however, puts out only 2.5 to 5 GPM, enough to handle only two uses at a time.
Be warned: Not all flow rates are calculated the same. Energy Star measures GPM based on a 77-degree increase in water temperature for the incoming supply, while some companies list their GPM flows at 35- and 45-degree rises. The more heat the water requires to reach the desired temperature, the slower the flow rate.
High upfront costs
A gas-fired tankless water heater system costs $1,500 to buy and install, nearly double the price of a conventional gas water heater, and $575 more than a high-efficiency tank model. In addition, while a conventional water heater typically uses a half-inch gas line, a tankless water heater requires three-quarter-inch pipe. That plumbing change costs from $25 to $40 a foot, potentially adding many hundreds to initial costs.
On the bright side, your new energy-efficient unit may qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $300 on purchase and installation through 2011.
An electric tankless water heater costs as little as $400 installed. But it doesn’t qualify for a tax credit because it is less efficient than gas and is better suited for point-of-use applications, such as instant kitchen hot water, rather than a whole-house system.
Installing multiple units
One solution to the limited output problem is to install multiple on-demand units. Because it’s small—about the size of a carry-on suitcase—you can place a tankless water heater along any stretch of pipe—in the attic, basement, closet, or crawlspace. You can install two or three units to serve different parts of the house, or even dedicate a unit for a particular use, say a washing machine.
Multiple on-demand units increase overall energy efficiency. By bringing hot water close to where it’s needed, you reduce energy loss and increase efficiency by 50% over a conventional hot water tank system, about $165 in annual savings for an average household.
Energy and money savings
- According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, a tankless water heater is more efficient and uses less energy than a conventional water heater, providing a $25 to $107 in annual savings.
- If your hot water use is low (less than 41 gallons per day), a tankless water heater will be 24% to 34% more efficient.
- If your hot water usage is high (about 86 gallons per day), a tankless water heater is 8% to 14% more energy efficient.
- Installing an on-demand unit at each hot water faucet gives an energy savings of 27% to 50%.
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/water-heaters/tankless-water-heater-right-you/#ixzz1dPb6WNbp
Friday, November 11 2011
Installing a wood-burning, gas-burning, gel-fuel, or electric fireplace to your house costs $400 to $10,000, depending on the type of fireplace you select.
Installing a fireplace with a brick-lined hearth and a custom mantel can easily cost $10,000 or more. It’s also possible to get a similar look for thousands of dollars less. Just shop for a ready-made unit and watch what you spend on the fireplace surround.
If your budget is really tight, a free-standing gel-fuel or electric fireplace eliminates installation costs. But be aware that some bare-bones alternatives don’t completely succeed in mimicking a real wood fire.
Check local building codes for possible restrictions on the types of fireplaces that can be installed in your area.
Costs of a wood-burning fireplace
An open-hearth, wood-burning fireplace—like the ones you see in mountain resort hotels—requires the help of a skilled, professional mason and a budget approaching (and often exceeding) $10,000.
For an existing home, considerable renovation work is required, including a foundation to carry the weight of the firebox and chimney, and the cost of the chimney itself.
Expect to pay $7,000 to $10,000 or more.
- Cost saver tip: Go for a drywall surround and a simple, wall-mounted mantle.
Costs of a gas-burning fireplace
A fireplace unit that burns natural gas or propane runs about $2,000 for the basic materials package. Installation and finishing typically add $2,500.
- Cost saver tip: Switch to a simpler surround and mantle, and get a direct-vent fireplace so you don’t need a chimney. Or, opt for a vent-free gas fireplace for $400 or so. Hiring a professional to install a gas line or a connection to a propane tank adds about $1,000.
Your least-expensive option
A gel-fuel fireplace or an electric fireplace starts under $400. With a portable unit, that’s the total cost since the fireplace is ready to use once you remove the packaging.
Because there’s no flue or chimney, it’s easy to install TVs or other electronic gear directly above an electric fireplace. If you include a mantel package, expect to pay $800 to $1,600. One perk available: sound effects that mimic the crackle and pop of a real fire.
Estimate your energy costs by using a fuel cost comparison calculator. Gel fuel, not included in the calculator, costs $3 per 13-ounce can, enough for three hours.
For a wood-burning fireplace, figure on $100 to $200 a year for chimney cleaning. Gas fireplaces need an annual service check ($100 to $150) plus a chimney inspection. Gel-fuel and electric fireplaces don’t need regular maintenance.
Tax credits for fireplace inserts
Through Dec. 31, 2011, you may qualify for a federal tax credit for up to $300 in costs, if you install a biomass (wood-or pellet-burning) fireplace insert that’s at least 75% fuel-efficient.
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/fireplaces-chimneys/fireplace-addition-costs/#ixzz1dLQ7Xywj
Wednesday, October 19 2011
Besides the annual inspection and sweep for your chimney, improve the function of your wood fireplace with responsible use.
Ready for the colder months? You will be if you follow these simple guidelines to keep your wood fireplace burning brightly—and safely.
1. Only burn dry, cured wood—logs that have been split, stacked, and dried for eight to 12 months. Cover your log pile on top, but leave the sides open for air flow.
Hardwoods such as hickory, white oak, beech, sugar maple, and white ash burn longest, though dry firewood is more important than the species. Less dense woods like spruce or white pine burn well if sufficiently dry, but you’ll need to add more wood to your fire more often, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA).
2. Burn firewood and only firewood! Crates, lumber, construction scraps, painted wood, or other treated wood releases chemicals into your home, compromising air quality. Log starters are fine for getting your wood fireplace going, but they burn very hot; generally only use one at a time.
3. Close the damper when not using your wood fireplace to prevent warm indoor air—and the dollars you’re spending to heat it—from rushing up the chimney.
4. Keep bifold glass doors open when burning a fire to allow heat to get into the room. On a factory-built, prefab wood fireplace with a circulating fan, keep doors closed to prevent unnecesary heat loss.
5. Have a chimney cap installed to prevent objects, rain, and snow from falling into your chimney, and to reduce downdrafts. Caps have side vents so smoke escapes. A chimney sweep usually provides and can install a stainless steel cap, which is better than a galvanized metal one because it won’t rust. Caps cost $50 to $200.
6. Replace a poorly sealing damper to prevent heat loss. A top-mounted damper that also functions as a rain cap provides a tighter closure than a traditional damper for your wood fireplace.
7. Install carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors in your house—near your wood fireplace as well as in bedroom areas.
8. Get your chimney cleaned twice a year if you burn more than three cords of wood annually. A cord is 4 feet high by 4 feet wide by 8 feet long, or the amount that would fill two full-size pickup trucks.
9. To burn a fire safely, build it slowly, adding more wood as it heats. Keep the damper of your wood fireplace completely open to increase draw in the early stages. Burn the fire hot, at least occasionally—with the damper all the way open to help prevent smoke from lingering in the fireplace and creosote from developing.
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/fireplaces-chimneys/wood-fireplace-9-tips-safety-and-efficiency/#ixzz1aaAPwOVL
Tuesday, October 18 2011
Inspect windows and doors regularly to stop air leaks and water seeps that create high energy and repair bills. We’ll show you how.
Take a look at windows, doors and skylights to stop air leaks, foil water drips, and detect the gaps and rot that let the outside in and the inside out. You can perform a quick check with a home air pressure test, or do a detailed inspection. Luckily, these inspections are easy to do. Here’s how to examine the barriers that should stand between you and the elements.
Big picture inspection
A home air pressure test sucks air into the house to reveal air leaks that increase your energy bills. To inspect windows and other openings:
- Seal the house by locking all doors, windows, skylights, and shutting all vents.
- Close all dampers and vents.
- Turn on all kitchen and bath exhaust fans.
- Pass a burning incense stick along all openings—windows, doors, fireplaces, outlets—to pinpoint air rushing in from the outside.
Windows and the outside world
Air and water can seep into closed widows from gaps and rot in frames, deteriorating caulking, cracked glass, and closures that don’t fully close.
To stop air leaks, pinpoint window problems.
- Give a little shake. If they rattle, frames are not secure, so heat and air conditioning can leak out and rain can seep in. Some caulk and a few nails into surrounding framing will fix this.
- Look deep. If you can see the outside from around—not through—the window, you’ve got gaps. Stop air leaks by caulking and weather stripping around frames.
- Inspect window panes for cracks.
- Check locks. Make sure double-hung windows slide smoothly up and down. If not, run a knife around the frame and sash to loosen any dried paint. Tighten cranks on casement windows and check that top locks fully grab latches.
- Check doors for cracks that weaken their ability to stop air leaks and water seeps.
- Inspect weather stripping for peels and gaps.
- Make sure hinges are tight and doors fit securely in their thresholds.
Brown stains on walls under a skylight are telltale signs that water is invading and air is escaping. Cut a small hole in the stained drywall to check for wetness, which would indicate rot, or gaps in the skylight.
To investigate skylight leaks, carefully climb on the roof and look for the following:
- Open seams between flashing or shingles.
- Shingle debris that allows water to collect on roofs.
- Failed and/or cracked cement patches put down the last time the skylight leaked.
Thursday, November 18 2010
Houses that will sit empty through the winter need attention to avoid frozen pipes, reports Long Island American Water, which is part of American Water, the largest investor-owned U.S. water and waste water utility company.
The company offers these tips for ensuring that pipes don’t burst:
· Search for pipes that are not insulated, or that pass through unheated spaces such as crawl spaces, basements, or garages. Wrap them with pre-molded foam rubber sleeves or fiberglass insulation.
· Wrap really vulnerable pipes with electric heating tape with a built-in thermostat that only turns heat on when needed.
· Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations with caulking to keep cold wind from pipes. Look for areas where cable TV or phone lines enter the house, to be sure holes are tightly sealed.
· If hot-water radiators heat the home, bleed the valves by opening them slightly. Close them when water appears.
· Before really cold weather sets in, make certain that the water to outdoor hose bibs is shut off inside the house and the lines are drained.
· Drain any hoses and air conditioner pipes.
· Wrap the water heater or turn it off.
· Make sure gutters and downspouts have been cleaned to remove debris that could freeze and cause clogs during cold weather.
· Know where the main water shut-off valve is located in case it needs to be shut off during an emergency.
Source: Long Island American Water (11/16/2010) http://www.realtor.org/RMODaily.nsf/pages/News2010111706?OpenDocument