Here at All Islands Home Inspections, one of our continuing themes is “fix small problems before they become big ones.” While this is hardly an original idea, it is a proven and important principle. Popular Mechanics says: “No matter how much time you spend safeguarding your home and performing routine maintenance to keep everything in tip-top condition, you’ll still be blindsided by unexpected breakdowns. But often you can eliminate potential problems before they arise, saving yourself a lot of money and hassle.” See their list of nine things to fix around the house before they get worse.
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While it’s crucial to tackle certain household fixes quickly, it’s also a good idea to do a little research before undertaking major, costly fixes or improvements. Many owners trying to make their home into a more ideal setting for their own use, as well as those trying to make their home more marketable, spend a lot of money expecting to “get it back when we sell.” As always, good information can prevent bad decisions and save money. You might wish to begin your research with Bankrate.com’s list of the worst fixes for the money and Remodeling Magazine’s comparison by geographic region of the average cost for 35 popular remodeling projects, with the value those projects retain at resale.
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
“To fix myself OR hire a contractor?” This question occurs often in my household. Below is a great article with some helpful tips for DIYs and for finding contractors.
Thinking of trying some Do-it-Yourself (DIY) work around your home? There’s a lot you can do to save time and aggravation, not to mention money, by doing the job yourself. If you are a seasoned DIYer, you will know the basics of what to do, how to do it and what you will need to get it done. But if you are a beginner, how will you know what to do and how to do it? What tools will you need? Which projects should you attempt first? Yahoo Real Estate has a useful article to help answer these and many more questions, as well as some suggestions for finding a contractor if the DIY approach is not for you.
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Roof Help.com says, “There can be many reasons for a leak. Leaks can be the result of poor roof system installation, mechanical damage such as dropped screwdrivers or knives, plugged roof drains, roofing material failure, HVAC problems; the list goes on. The source of a leak can be quite distant from where it actually shows up…Chasing a leak isn’t always as easy as it would appear to be. When trying to locate a leak, use the following guidelines to assist you.”
The polar vortex has descended with a vengeance on much of the U.S. this year, setting records for low temperatures and threatening to send utility bills skyrocketing. While you can’t do anything about the chilly weather, you can take steps to make your home more energy efficient and pay less for heating. To start, the U.S. Department of Energy has a do-it-yourself energy audit on its website, or you can call a contractor for a professional audit. Homeowners should start with smaller tweaks to their home before making big-ticket purchases. “There are a lot of changes you can do before you get a new furnace,” says Todd Recknagel, CEO of AM Conservation Group in Charleston, South Carolina. What matters most is keeping the warm air in and the cold air out. There are a number of measures you can take to accomplish those goals, from inexpensive, do-it-yourself repairs to more pricey renovations that require hiring a contractor. The areas where you can get the most energy savings for the money are insulation, windows and closing up cracks in walls, around windows and doors and any other spot where air might slip through. See the complete U.S. News and World Reports article.
Normal fluctuations of interior walls often cause problems. Wallboard is fastened to the studs of the ceiling and walls and the joints are taped and joined for finishing. Minor cracks in drywall and some nail-pops are normal occurrences. Slight imperfections, such as nail pops, seam lines, and cracks not exceeding 1/8” are common. Repair cracks with joint compound, sand and repaint. Repair hairline cracks at inside corners with a flexible, paintable caulk. Repair nail pops by resetting or replacing the nail in the drywall. Place another nail 1” or 2” away in the stud and hammer below the drywall surface. Cover the areas with spackling compound and allow to dry completely (second coats may be needed). Sand until smooth and repaint. Wallpaper seams can become loose or curl due to climate changes. Re-attach loose wallpaper.
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.
Water hammer is a specific plumbing noise, not a generic name for pipe clatter. It occurs when you shut off fast-moving water suddenly, bringing it to a quick halt and creating a sort of shock wave and a hammering noise. Fix “water hammer” by draining the plumbing system. Open the uppermost faucet (or the one furthest from the water meter) and the lowest (or closest to the meter) and allow the water to flow to a lower-level sink or floor drain. Draining the system restores air to air chambers. Close the lowest faucet and refill the system. For more detailed information see this article.