Archive for the ‘Seasonal Tips’ Category
Outdoor Space Tips
Want to expand your living space while increasing your property value? Take it outdoors! Consider the following when planning for a deck or patio:
Is there shade? If no natural shade is available, your plan may need to include a shade structure.
What is the Climate? Snow and rain could create a problem on a solid surface.
What is the Terrain? Rough or sloping terrain may require a deck, and extra excavation costs may be necessary.
What are local building codes? We can advise you on local restrictions before costly mistakes are made.
What materials should be used? Concrete, brick, or stone patios, wood, composite or vinyl decking, there are many possibilities! Let us help you make the best choice.
There are three areas that can transform your garage, consider an update to the following:
Flooring – there are many new products from simple paint to vinyl flooring to polymer coatings. All will make cleanup simple and keep your floor looking beautiful.
Cabinetry – again, there are many options! Any garage cabinetry, whether custom or ready-made will neatly organize your clutter behind doors, and in drawers and baskets.
Overhead Storage – if you still need storage space, look up! Utilize that space above the garage door with various shelving options to store your coolers and seasonal items.
Your roof will give you many years of good service if it is properly maintained. Periodically inspect your roof. You should avoid walking on it, as this will cause damage. You should inspect your roof for missing or damaged shingles or tile and have them replaced or repaired promptly. Look in the attic for water stains or wet insulation. Also check around skylights for leaks and re-caulk if necessary. Inspect the flashing in roof valleys, against walls and around the chimney; seal any gaps with a compatible waterproof caulk. Most roof shingling is not a waterproof membrane. Rather, shingles are meant to shed water down their overlapping courses. Erratic weather conditions can cause a buildup of water, either from snow or ice dams formed on the roof or in gutters or downspouts. This water may backup under the shingles or eventually seep through the shingles causing leaks. Remove ice dams from gutters and downspouts and attempt to remove ice and snow from lower portions of the roof.
Gutters and Downspouts:
Gutters and downspouts are very important and are often overlooked by many homeowners. Don’t make that mistake! It is very important to keep gutters and downspouts free of leaves and debris. You should inspect them routinely and remove any blockage. Gutters and downspouts were designed to carry roof water down and away from the foundation, therefore make sure your splash blocks and downspouts are positioned properly to drain the water a minimum of five feet away from the foundation. Also, make sure that the soil grade is sloping away from the home. Failure to keep gutters free from obstruction, or improper sloping away from the home, may result in water infiltration into your home.
Heating and Cooling:
You should inspect your air conditioning and heating system just before the start of their respective seasons to make sure they are in proper working order. Verify that all of the room registers are open and are not obstructed by furniture or other objects. Two kinds of registers are used: air supply registers (located on the wall, in the floor or in the ceiling) that deliver warm or cooled air into the room; and air return registers (located on walls or ceilings, or under the air handler access door) that return air from the room back into the air handler fan to be re-heated or re-cooled. If your home has high and low return air return registers on the wall, do the following: During the winter time, close the upper register and open the bottom register and during air conditioning season, reverse these registers. To regulate temperatures on different floors or rooms during different seasons, adjust the air supply registers by partially opening or closing them, thus restricting or moving additional air into each room.
Thinking about kicking back and enjoying some nice quiet time on the deck? Maybe doing a little grilling, inviting friends and family over? If so, think about doing a yearly maintenance check on that deck first. For many, the deck is one of the largest investments made on the exterior of a home. It pays to give it a thorough review once a year to keep it in good shape, serving you and your family for many years to come.
Here’s a checklist to use when reviewing your deck:
1. Check for surface damage. Look for signs of stress, like excessive curling, cracking, or rotting in the boards that make up the surface of your deck. Replace any questionable planks with new wood that matches the existing deck. Inspect all the nails, screws and/or bolts that hold your deck together. Tighten screws that have worked loose and redrive any nails that are not slightly lower than the surface.
2. Check for structural damage. Not often do we have occasion to look at the underside of the deck. Take time to do so, using a high-powered flashlight. Look for any signs of animal or insect damage, such as chewed wood, holes or brittle areas. If you find any signs of insects or insect damage, you may want to schedule a visit from a pest-control expert. If the damage appears to be animal-related, consider adding lattice or some type of barrier around the edges to keep critters out.
3. Clean the deck. Dirt, algae, moss and smog can discolor a deck and keep sealers from working effectively. Even newly built decks should be cleaned prior to treatment to remove mill glaze or excess wax, which will affect a sealer’s ability to penetrate the wood. Use a reformulated deck cleaner or oxygen bleach (now popularized under many brand names) and a stiff brush to scrub the surface (according to the manufacture’s directions). Be sure to loosen any debris that has built up between the planks. You may need to consider using a power washer for more difficult stains. Let the washed deck dry for 24 hours before applying a sealer.
If you used colored stain on your deck in the past, you may need to strip any deteriorating areas. Look for a special deck stain and finish remover to do the job quickly and safely.
4. Seal the deck. No finish, even pressure-treated wood, is weatherproof. No sealer lasts a lifetime either. Until recently, experts recommended sealing decks yearly. With advances in finishes, treatment time now varies; check the manufacturer’s instructions.
A simple test would be to check the deck after a short or moderate rainfall – or pour a half-cup of water on slowly. If water is beading and puddling on the surface, the deck is sealed. If the water is absorbed quickly, it’s time to re-seal.
There are many brands and types of deck finish; none is perfect for all situations. Their success lies not in the type of ingredients – or the price – but in how well they penetrate the wood. The more they soak into the wood, the longer the finish will last. Be sure, however, to get a sealer with ultraviolet protection, since sun can be your deck’s worst enemy.
- Caulk exterior joints around windows and doors. Caulking helps keep your house weather-tight and lowers heating and cooling bills. It can also help keep insects and other “critters” out of your house.
- Clean lint from the entire clothes dryer vent system, from the dryer to the exterior vent cap. Because lint is very flammable it poses a fire risk. If a gas clothes dryer is not properly vented, it can force carbon monoxide back into the home and that can be dangerous.
- Repair cracks in concrete patios and driveways. For cracks less than 1/4″ wide, apply concrete caulk; just clean the crack out with a high-pressure hose nozzle, let it dry and then apply the caulk into the crack. For larger cracks, substitute concrete patch for caulk.
- Wash the exterior of your house, using ordinary garden hose pressure and a mild detergent. Beware of pressure washers — they are powerful enough to force water under the siding where it can encourage mildew and rot.
- Clean and seal your porch or deck. Ideally, you’ll need three consecutive warm, sunny days. On day one, dry out the deck. Apply deck cleaner and scrub the deck on the second day and let it dry 24 hours. On the third day, apply deck sealer.