Real Estate Blog
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
Friday, February 17 2012
A Factsheet on Home Electrical Fire Prevention
Electrical fires in our homes claim the lives of 280 Americans each year and injure 1,000 more. Some of these fires are caused by electrical system failures, but many more are caused by incorrectly installed wiring and overloaded circuits and extension cords.
The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) would like consumers to know that there are simple steps you can take to prevent the loss of life and property resulting from electrical fires.
During a typical year, home electrical problems account for 26,100 fires and $1 billion in property losses. About half of all residential electrical fires involve electrical wiring.
December and January are the most dangerous months for electrical fires. Fire deaths are highest in winter months which call for more indoor activities and increases in lighting, heating, and appliance use. The bedroom is the leading area of fire origin for residential building electrical fires. However, electrical fires that begin in the living room/family room/den areas result in the most deaths.
- Most electrical distribution fires result from problems with "fixed wiring" such as faulty electrical outlets and old wiring. Problems with cords (such as extension and appliance cords), plugs, receptacles, and switches also cause many home electrical fires.
- Light fixtures and lamps/light bulbs are also leading causes of electrical fires.
- Many avoidable electrical fires can be traced to misuse of electric cords, such as overloading circuits, poor maintenance, and running the cords under rugs or in high traffic areas.
- Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring.
- Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately.
- Replace any electrical tool if it causes even small electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out, or gives off smoke or sparks.
- Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters; pay special care to electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen.
- Buy electrical products evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory.
- Keep clothes, curtains, and other potentially combustible items at least three feet from all heaters.
- If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
- Don't allow children to play with or around electrical appliances like space heaters, irons, and hair dryers.
- Use safety closures to "child-proof" electrical outlets.
- Use electrical extension cords wisely; never overload extension cords or wall sockets.
- Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker.
Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. And remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family
Tuesday, December 20 2011
During the colder months, preventing ice dams should be a primary concern. Here’s how to protect your home from damage.
Wintertime icicles may look charming, but they usually signal a serious — and potentially costly — problem. Often lurking behind that thick ridge of ice on your roof is a pool of melted water, hence the term ice dam. That accumulated water can work its way under roof shingles and into the home, causing significant damage to ceilings, walls, and floors. Additionally, the sheer weight of the ice dam often causes gutters and downspouts to pull away from the house, sometimes bringing the fascia boards with them. Preventing ice dams helps avoid damage and costly repairs.
Over the five-year period leading up to 2007, water damage and freezing accounted for the second largest share of homeowner insurance claims, according to Claire Wilkinson of the Insurance Information Institute. The average homeowner claim for such damages was $5,531.
Ice dams are responsible for cracked plaster ceilings and walls, peeling paint, soaked carpets, and buckled wood floors. Less visible but no less destructive effects include drenched insulation, rotting joists, and the formation of mold. The most common form of ice dam-related damage is collapsed rain gutters, which can cost $100 to $300 per side to repair.
What causes ice dams
As heat rises from a home, it melts the accumulated snow on the roof. That melted snow travels down the roof in liquid form until it reaches the eave line and gutter, where it refreezes due to colder temps. This ice ridge continues to expand, blocking the flow of subsequent snow melt.
As water continues to melt higher up the roof, it collects behind the ice dam in the form of a puddle. Because that water sits over the warmer portion of the roof, it doesn’t freeze.
In order for ice dams to form, there needs to be roof snow buildup, home heat loss, and subfreezing temperatures. The more snow, the larger the heat loss, and the longer the subfreezing temperatures remain, the higher the likelihood that ice dams will materialize.
Preventing ice dams
Homeowners can’t control the weather, but they can do something about heat loss. “The main goal is to keep heat from reaching the roof, thus preventing snow melt in the first place,” explains Doug Bruell, president of Cleveland’s 25-year-old North Coast Insulation. Proper insulation and ventilation of the attic space is intended to keep the roof surface at or near outdoor temperatures.
Typical steps include insulating the attic floor and installing soffit, gable and/or ridge vents to expel heat. Folding attic stairways and recessed light fixtures also need to be insulated. “All penetrations into the attic from the heated living space need to be addressed,” adds Bruell. Homeowners can expect to pay $800 to $1,500 to insulate the attic, plus another $300 to $600 for the installation of vents.
The process is a bit more involved for homes with finished attics, says Bruell. To facilitate sufficient cold air flow from soffit vent to ridge vent, baffles or tubes are installed between the ceiling insulation and the underside of the roof. This might involve opening up the ceiling.
Insulation means savings
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, adding insulation to an unheated attic will have a greater impact on energy consumption than placing it anywhere else in the house. A properly insulated and ventilated attic not only reduces winter heating bills, it will trim summer cooling bills by expelling heat buildup. You can expect to save 10% to 50% on your heating and cooling bills.
In addition, you may qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $500.
In theory, roof rakes, brooms, and other long-handled devices can be used to remove snow before it has a chance to melt. In practice, however, the scheme is difficult to pull off, considering that most homeowners can’t reach all areas of the roof.
Electrically-heated deicing cables, which install along eave lines to inhibit water freeze, are only moderately effective, says Bruell. “These heat cables often just back up the problem, forcing the dams to form higher up the roof.” In addition to the purchase price ($150 to $300), and installation ($300 to $500), these cables require electricity to run. They also can shorten the life of roof shingles.
Ice dam removal
Homeowners suffering the effects of an ice dam—or those who fear a leak is imminent—can hire a roofing company to remove the ice buildup. Rather than employ hammers, chisels, and salt, which can damage the roof and gutters, technicians will steam away the ice and remove any remaining snow. Expect to pay around $500 or more for the service. It goes without saying that do-it-yourself removal can be dangerous when it involves ladders, heavy ice, and slippery roofs.
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/home-thoughts/preventing-ice-dams/#ixzz1h600V0o5
Thursday, December 15 2011
December is a great month to cozy things up at home. The brighter and warmer a house looks and feels, the happier you will be. That's why we are including with this letter a few tips to make your house as cheery as possible!
And don't forget, if you have any real estate questions, you can always reach Rolando at
499-9234 or Kathy at 499-0246 or visit our Web site at: www.TheTrentiniTeam.com
FIVE WAYS TO MAKE YOUR HOME BRIGHT, COZY AND CHEERFUL
Fix it up:
Mirror mirror, on the wall:
Light the way:
During daytime hours, keep your draperies and window coverings open. This will not only allow your home to absorb heat, but it will brighten up the winter days that you spend at home.Lighting isn't just for indoor decorating it's also a valuable addition to the exterior of your home. Line your walkway or garden with cost-efficient solar light fixtures (no electricity needed!) to create a brilliant nighttime landscape outside your home. Mirrors not only create the illusion that your rooms are even more spacious than they already are, they also reflect light! Make your house warm and cozy by adding a few inexpensive mirrors in hallways, bedrooms and living spaces.Candles are generally inexpensive and are extremely versatile. Adding various candle arrangements to different rooms in your home will instantly create an atmosphere of warmth and style. Get creative! You might also favor scented candles to add a pleasant scent to different areas of the house.The light fixtures in your home are a reflection of your personal style and taste. Adding additional fixtures or replacing ones that aren't your favorites can be a fun and creative way to brighten up your home!
Wednesday, November 16 2011
November is a great month the holidays are fast approaching, we get to visit more often with family and friends, and colder weather makes us feel like getting cozy in our homes. Since you'll want to keep warm in the coming months, we are including a list of tips for you this month that will help you to save money on your energy bill, while still staying warm and cozy!
We hope these tips help you as much as they've helped me. If you have any home or real estate questions, please feel free to call Rolando at 499-9234 or Kathy at 499-0246 at any time or visit our Web site at: www.TheTrentiniTeam.com
FIVE WAYS TO SAVE ENERGY IN THE COLDER MONTHS
· Set the timer: Program your thermostat to reach lower temperatures while you're sleeping or out of the house. This simple action can save you a lot of money and will ensure that your house stays at a comfortable temperature at all times.
· Open and shut: During daytime hours, keep your blinds, draperies and other window coverings open. This will enable your home to absorb the warm afternoon sunshine and will effectively add heat to the entire house. Close all window coverings at night to keep the heat in!
· Installation time: If you have a window or two that feels drafty no matter what you do, consider installing tight, insulating shades to those particular windows. You'll be surprised what a little bit of extra insulation can accomplish!
· Light a fire: A fireplace is an easy solution to add extra heat to your home without adding to your energy bill. Capable of warming the entire room, you and your family can relax at home while keeping the thermostat at a lower temperature.
· No leaks allowed: Check doors and windows for drafts and places where air might escape. Weatherizing windows and doors is a simple task that you can perform; your local home improvement warehouse will have all of the materials you need! improvement warehouse will have all of the materials you need!
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
Monday, October 31 2011
The winter months are quickly approaching, and we are hoping that you'll have a warm, cozy season in your beautiful new home! In fact, we are including with this letter some quick tips for making sure that you and your new home are ready for the winter months ahead! We hope that you find these tips to be helpful and useful. If you need anything at all, you can reach Rolando at 499-9234 or Kathy at 499-0246 or visit our Web site at: www.TheTrentiniTeam.com
FIVE QUICK TIPS TO GET YOUR HOME READY FOR WINTER
Seal it off:
Creosote, a black substance that builds up in the chimney when wood is burned, can cause chimney fires. Inspect your chimney for creosote and call a chimney sweep to keep your fireplace safe and functional.Make sure that your heater and ventilation systems are in good working order! Clean out accessible ducts and replace filters where necessary.Inspect doors and windows to ensure that the weather-stripping is in good condition. This will keep your house warmer and cozier in the winter months.
Now's the time to clean out those rain gutters again! If you want to do it yourself, make sure that you can safely access the gutters and then scoop out any debris, blast the drains clean with a high-powered hose, and repair any leaks you may find along the way.If you can safely get onto your roof to inspect for missing shingles or other factors that may lead to a leaky roof, now's the time to do it! If not, call in a professional organization and have them take care of the rooftop work for you.
Wednesday, October 26 2011
Don’t use chemicals to clear clogged drains. Use a plumber’s snake and follow these tips on preventing clogged drains.
Clogged drains are the most common home plumbing problem, but you probably don’t think much about the network of pipes inside your home’s walls until a drain stops working. Clogged drains are a hassle, but easily cleared.
However, you can avoid the hassle by paying attention to what goes down your drain. A little care prolongs the life of plumbing pipes, prevents leaks, and avoids costly repairs.
Avoid chemical drain-clearing products
You can buy chemicals to clear clogged drains, but these products sometimes do more harm than good. They can actually erode cast-iron drainpipes.
And because they typically don’t remove the entire clog, the problem is likely to recur, causing you to use the chemicals repeatedly. The caustic action of chemicals may eventually wear away the insides of pipes, causing leaks.
Better to hire a plumber to snake the drain (usually $85 to $325) and completely remove the chunk of hair or grease that’s plugging the line.
Better still (and cheaper!), pick up a manually operated augur, or snake, of your own, for about $15 at the hardware store. Or, rent an electric snake for about $30 for a half day, and try clearing the clogged drain yourself.
Prevent clogged drains
Clogged drains aren’t just nuisances. Backed-up water puts added pressure on wastepipes, stressing them and shortening their lifespan. To avoid clogged drains:
- Keep food scraps out of kitchen drains. Scrape food into the trash before doing dishes—even if you have a disposal—and never put liquid grease down the drain; pour it into a sealable container to put in the garbage after it cools.
- Keep hair out of bathroom drains. Install screens over drains in showers and tubs, and pull out what hair you can every few weeks to prevent buildups.
- Keep anything but sewage and TP out of toilets.
Keep your sewer lines or septic tank clear
If you have municipal sewers, hire a plumber to snake your main sewage cleanout every few years. This will cost $135 to $600, and will remove tree roots that inevitably work their way into these pipes—leading to messy sewage backups.
If you have a septic system, get the tank pumped out every three to five years for $75 to $350; it’ll be more for larger tanks.
A former staff writer for the Wall Street Journal, Joe Bousquin writes about housing, construction, and home improvement. The galvanized steel water pipes in his 1930 home in Sacramento, Calif., have all been replaced with copper.
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/electrical/how-to-prevent-drain-clogs-and-blockage/#ixzz1bowJLuFj
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.