Category Archives: Advice

If you can play “peek-a-boo” through your fire separation barrier, you’ve got work to do

Fire separation barrier walls can help slow the spread of fire—if properly constructed and maintained. In today’s post, Tim Hance of All Islands Home Inspections identifies issues he recently discovered at a residential building in Oak Harbor in which a fire separation wall separating two units had fairly significant open seams in the attic. These seams should be taped and mudded. **Bonus points for readers today: What’s the difference between fire separation barrier and a firewall? Learn more here! Thanks for watching…

Home maintenance for October

October means it’s about to get cold and brings with it lots of homeowner tasks. Among other things, remember to:

  • Check the roof for loose, cracked or missing shingles.
  • Trim tree limbs away from the roof and windows.
  • Check weather stripping and caulking around doors and windows and repair or replace as necessary.
  • Store paints, caulks and liquid materials in warmer areas or remove from unheated areas and sheds.
  • Detach and store hoses.
  • Clean gutters after most of the leaves have fallen and make sure downspouts and gutter extensions are in good repair.
  • Set thermostats and automatic sprinklers for winter.
  • Reverse fan blades for winter settings.
  • Ensure that gauges on home fire extinguishers indicate a full charge. Replace if necessary.

10 Tips for Hiring a Contractor

There are many tasks in and around your home that you can and should do for yourself, but there are some that should really be left to professionals. If you haven’t learned by now which tasks these are, you are in for a lot of trouble and expense. (Most of us know, we just don’t want to admit it.) When you have figured it out, or if you are not handy and just want to go straight to a professional, Popular Mechanics’ Brett Martin says, “Sometimes it makes sense to hire a pro rather than take on a job yourself. But choosing the wrong contractor can lead to delays, subpar work, and even legal problems,” See his guidelines to help you choose a professional contractor and ensure a good working relationship.

10 Rental Tools for DIY Home Projects

If you don’t own the right tools for tackling a remodeling or maintenance project, you have the option of renting them or buying them outright. The decision is usually based on how often the tool will be used and its cost. If you need something like a drill, it makes more sense to buy one because it is a good basic tool that will be used over and over. If the project is a one-time occurrence, such as installing large porcelain tiles, you may want to rent a large tile saw instead of buying one. Here are some other projects for when rental tools can help make the job a success. Continue reading

Home maintenance for September

Here are some great suggestions for September home maintenance tasks!

  • Clean and vacuum dust from vents, baseboard heaters and cold-air returns.
  • Check the heating system (include filters, pilot lights and burners) and have it serviced by a qualified professional.
  • Inspect storm windows for deterioration and repair as necessary.
  • While it’s still warm enough to leave the windows open, it’s a good time to paint indoor rooms and shampoo or replace carpets.
  • If you have window air-conditioning units, remove and store them. If they are not removable, cover them to protect them over the winter.
  • Check to make sure that soil around the foundation slopes four to six inches for a distance of three feet out from the foundation.
  • There are often year-end close-out sales on lawn and garden equipment in the fall. Look for a few bargains.

Roof maintenance

If your roof isn’t too steeply pitched and has material that won’t be damaged by walking on it, AND you are mentally and physically fit to do so, carefully inspect it in good weather. Look for broken or missing shingles, missing or damaged flashing and seals around vent pipes and chimneys and damage to boards along the eaves. Shingle damage up-slope will often cause water damage far downhill. Check the chimney cap and screen and look down the flues for obstructions or animal nests. If you can’t or don’t want to get on the roof, you might want to use a ladder around the perimeter. Pay close attention to valleys and flashings; these are the primary leak-generators. Some simple, easy fixes now can prevent thousands of dollars of water damage later.

Selecting a heating system

Selecting a new heating system can be complex. However, if you do your homework and talk to licensed heating/cooling professionals, a new system can make your home more comfortable and reduce energy costs.

Hints:

  • Usually it is more energy- and cost-efficient to replace systems older than about 15 years.
  • The system you choose will depend on local climate, home size, amount of insulation, and the heating/cooling usage patterns.
  • Look for an ENERGY STAR® label.
  • Furnaces are rated by annual fuel-utilization efficiency (AFUE). High-efficiency units are rated above 90 percent.
  • If choosing an air-source heat pump, look for one with a SEER of 13 or greater and a heating season performance factor (HSPF) of 7 or more.

Cleaning burners on electric stoves

The burners on an electric range get dirty with caked-on messes, often after a single use. The best way to keep your burners clean is to clean them after every use. Messes are much easier to remove when they are fresh. Make sure the burners have sufficiently cooled before attempting to clean. Use a kitchen towel to wipe the cool burners clean of any spills after use. Rubbing alcohol will remove caked-on messes and sanitize. For more difficult messes, soak a kitchen towel with rubbing alcohol and set it on top of the stain for an hour or two. This will soften the mess and make it easier to wipe away. For a detailed, soap-and-soda approach to clean the burners, see this Ehow article.

How To Repair Drywall Holes

While you are going about your winter preparation tasks this September, you might be in the mood to tackle that big hole in the drywall that you haven’t gotten around to yet. The DIY Network has easy, step-by-step instructions on how to repair seriously damaged drywall that will show you how to: cut out the damaged area, cut out the patch, attach cleats to wall studs, fit the patch into cleats and studs, apply fiberglass tape to the seams and finish the wall surface.

Home Maintenance Tips for Summer

Here’s some great information about Home Maintenance that can go a long way to ensuring a clean home inspection.

ManageMyLife.com has some suggestions for home maintenance:

  • Kitchen, bathroom: Check under your sinks for signs of leaks from supply pipes and waste pipes. Also check for rust on the bottom of enameled steel sinks and water damage to the countertop.
  • Structure and exterior: Check your home’s exterior wood for paint or wood stain needs.
  • Vinyl siding: Assess vinyl siding for cleaning needs. It requires less maintenance than most other sidings, but it still needs occasional cleaning.
  • Plumbing: Getting cold showers? The sediment in your water heater might be lowering your water temperature and the amount of available water. Flush sediment from your water heater.
  • Electrical: Inspect your outdoor electric wiring. While you’re outdoors during warm weather, take a few moments to inspect your outdoor electric outlets, lighting and wiring.
  • For more complete details and step-by-step guides see the article.