It’s around this time of year that you usually start hearing a lot about “winterization” and preparing your home for the cold months ahead. You may be wondering whether winterization really helps you get your home ready for the winter months. You might also wonder when the right time to start winterizing actually is. If you find yourself asking these questions, the answers are pretty simple. Not only should you winterize your home, but you should winterize it well before the cold weather starts moving in.
Winterizing your home can be a big job, so it’s important to understand how different winterization tasks will benefit you. The more you understand about winterization as a whole, the better you’ll be at figuring out which specific winterization tasks will provide the most benefit for your home and circumstances. While it’s a large topic to cover all at once, here is some basic information to cover then whens, whys, and hows of winterizing your home.
When to Winterize
Winterization should start once the temperature starts to fall and nights start getting a lot cooler. In many areas this is late October and early November but depending on where you live you might want to start winterizing even earlier than that. Some people think that the timing is just so that cold weather doesn’t take you by surprise, but the actual reason is a bit more practical than that.
Winterization involves a number of home maintenance and repair activities, and some of these involve adhesives, sealants, and other materials that have to cure or dry. The colder it is, the longer it takes for these materials to set up properly. In some cases, they might even experience shrinkage or fail to set up at all if the temperature is too cold for too long. Starting winterization early enough in the fall ensures that you have enough time to get everything done before temperatures drop into the trouble zone.
How to Winterize Your Home
Winterization can be broken down into three general types of activities. These general groups are inspection, repair, and prevention. The specifics of these activities will depend on where you live and how your home is laid out, but here are the basics:
Inspection activities involve checking to see how barriers and equipment are holding up to make sure that they’re ready for winter. Examples include checking your roof for signs of damage, checking for drafts or other signs of window leaks or damage, and having your furnace or heat pump inspected to ensure that it’s clean and working properly.
Repair activities involve fixing damage and checking items off your to-do list to prevent things like drafts or unwanted animals or insects from getting into your home. Examples include fixing your siding, replacing damaged shingles, or getting repairs done to your HVAC system.
Prevention activities are tasks that help you to preemptively take action so that potential winter problems never come to pass. Examples include covering pipes with insulation to prevent freezing, taking window unit air conditioners out of your windows to prevent heat loss, installing thermal film over your window interiors, and disconnecting hoses from outdoor faucets before installing faucet covers to prevent leaks and freezing.
It can be a big job to cover all your winterization tasks, but each one that you complete can help you to avoid problems and even save some money over the course of the winter. Many winterization tasks are common DIY activities, though some will require a bit of professional help to complete.
It’s increasingly common for homeowners to bring in professionals to help with some or all of their winterization activities. This includes things like professional roof or HVAC inspections, calling a plumber to inspect the pipes under the house and make sure that they’re insulated, and installers to replace old drafty windows with new ones. No matter what type of pro you need, HomeKeepr can help you find them. Sign up for a free account today to connect with pros in your area to help you get your home ready for winter.
In general, people tend to think about air conditioners as a way to keep a home cool and heating units as a way to keep it warm. There’s nothing wrong with this line of thinking, of course. If you’re only relying on heaters and air conditioners to maintain the temperature, though, then you may be spending way more than you need to keep your home comfortable.
One key part of controlling your home’s heating and cooling costs that you might be ignoring is the humble ceiling fan. By using ceiling fans effectively, you can keep your home at more consistent temperatures throughout the year while spending a lot less on heating and cooling. If you like the thought of staying comfortable while spending less, here’s what you need to know about using your ceiling fans effectively.
Ceiling Fans Save Money
Modern ceiling fans are incredibly energy efficient, giving you a way to keep air circulating in your home without breaking the bank. In fact, the average cost of running a ceiling fan comes out to around only one cent per hour; compare this to 36 cents per hour or more to run an air conditioner, and you can see how big of a potential difference a ceiling fan can make. That’s not to say that you’ll be using a ceiling fan instead of an air conditioner, but using a fan in conjunction with air conditioning helps to create a windchill effect within your home that lets you set the thermostat a few degrees higher while maintaining the same comfort level in the home. This results in less overall time with the air conditioner on and lower overall spending on cooling.
A similar effect can be had during the winter. Heat rises, meaning that you’re spending a lot of money on heating in order to essentially heat your rooms from the top down. Having your ceiling fan going keeps the air circulating, preventing the warmest air from staying near the ceiling and making it easier to maintain comfortable temperatures without having to run the heat excessively. This can actually result in a more enjoyable heat as well, since the circulating air will help you avoid cool pockets and drafts near the floor.
Proper Fan Usage
If you’re using ceiling fans in your rooms throughout the year, it’s important to make sure that the fans are placed properly. Ideally you should have fans placed near the center of the room they’re installed in, hanging around 7 to 9 feet from the floor with around a foot clearance between the fan and the ceiling. Large fans are best so long as they work with your room layout and don’t interrupt your décor; as they have larger blades, they can move more air at once even when running at lower speeds and will save you more money than smaller fans.
During the summertime, you should have your ceiling fans spinning in a counterclockwise direction to create the desired windchill effect to keep things cool. When possible, you should also close curtains and blinds to prevent sunlight from heating up the air as well. Once temperatures start to drop and you turn on the heat, flip the switch on your ceiling fan so that it starts spinning clockwise to circulate the air without the windchill. Open up the blinds and curtains as well, letting in that free heat from the winter sun.
Installing Ceiling Fans
If you’re installing new ceiling fans in your rooms, you’re going to want to bring in an electrician to get everything wired correctly and make sure that the fans are hung properly. HomeKeepr can help with that; just sign up for an account to find electricians in your area who can get the job done. Creating a new account is free, so sign up today and get started.
If you’ve been looking for a stylish and durable material for floors, countertops, or other surfaces, there are few finishes more timeless than terrazzo. A material in use in some form for at least 600 years, terrazzo continues to dazzle and dominate in all kinds of locations in the modern home.
Terrazzo: A Brief History
The Renaissance was an incredible time for artists and architects, with plenty of ground-breaking innovations in the arts coming about. But alongside all the fancy sculptures and haunting stained glass, there was an incredible amount of waste in the form of scrap chips. It was probably an accidental discovery outside of artisan workshops that led to terrazzo, but over time, Italians noticed that walking over those marble, glass, and other durable chips pushed them into workshop floors.
The result was an early form of the breathtaking material we know today. Over time, Italians learned to create terrazzo on purpose, by scattering the chips from workshops onto clay bases, compressing them, and polishing them for a more uniform look. It has since been used in such famous locations as St. Peter’s Basilica and George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and spread like wildfire in new homes built from the 1940s through the 1960s.
Looking for Sustainability?
Terrazzo is considered a sustainable floor option, provided you choose one made the old fashioned way: out of recycled materials. Leftover bits of glass, marble, stone, and even more modern materials like plastic can be included in a terrazzo floor to create a unique look. And with a zero VOC base, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a floor that’s safer or greener. It’s even approved for LEED-certified buildings and contributes to the points that are required for LEED certification.
As long as there are manufacturing processes going on, there will be plenty of waste that can be turned into terrazzo. It’s an excellent way to use up these materials and prevent them from ending up in a landfill. Plus, the material is incredibly durable, even when used in high traffic areas like entryway floors, so unless you simply want a change, there’s no reason to worry they’ll need to be replaced.
Choosing Terrazzo for Your Home
Terrazzo is one of the most flexible surface coverings available, and considering its long lifespan, one of the best values. Of course, if you’re not planning on being in your home for a while, you may find that the cost (which is similar to high end ceramic tile) to be a bit more than you’d budgeted for. However, if you’re in your dream home or at least the one you’re planning to retire in, there’s nothing that works harder or lasts longer.
You can use terrazzo indoors or out, on floors, inside showers, on walls, or as a backsplash; the possibilities are literally endless. Since it can be purchased as premade tiles or poured in place, it’s also a great solution for oddly shaped areas. There’s no pattern to match, and no wrong direction to turn terrazzo tiles, making a tile option a reasonable DIY project for people who want to try their hand at their own backsplash or shower tile.
If you’d rather use a pour-in-place terrazzo option, you’ll likely need professional help. There’s a great deal of equipment and skill involved in getting everything just so to keep your terrazzo at its best for the long haul.
Great news! You can find a skilled terrazzo installer right here, recommended by your HomeKeepr community where you will be able to connect with the best terrazzo installers in your area.
You’ve probably heard about some of the challenges of buying a home these days. Stories are splashed across news sites and whispered among friends and neighbors, about homebuyers mired in insane bidding wars, going way over asking price, and still not getting the house.
Daunted and dejected, homebuyers have also heard heaping earfuls on what to do, from “wait it out” to “waive your home inspection” and other extreme measures. Yet amid this frenzy of well-meaning chatter, the thing to remember is that real estate markets can change quickly, and much of what you’ve heard may not even be true—at least, not anymore.
“A lot of homebuyers are coming in with some trepidation because of the media hype around the market,” says Chris Arienti, broker and owner of Re/Max Executive Realty in Franklin, MA. “The market has been such a seller’s market, and there’s a million offers on homes. While that was true six months ago, we’ve seen a cooling-off period.”
To help homebuyers navigate this ever-changing terrain, here’s a look at six myths you’ve probably heard about buying a home, and why they might not necessarily be the reality right now.
1. ‘It’s a bad time to buy a home’
Even though there are fewer homes on the market, higher prices, and intense competition, experts insist that, despite the odds, it’s actually still a good time to buy a home. For one, the market is finally starting to soften. Combine that with low mortgage rates, and this spells a fantastic opportunity.
“Interest rates are at a historic low,” says Tony Rodriguez-Tellaheche, owner and managing broker of Prestige Realty Group in Miami. “If you can get a 30-year fixed-rate loan at an all-time low, it makes all the sense in the world to purchase property right now.”
2. ‘I’ll have to waive a home inspection for my offer to stand out’
Though it’s a risky move, many potential homebuyers have waived home inspections recently as a way to speed up their purchase and make their offers more attractive to sellers. But by now, most buyers have begun to change their tune on this.
“As the market is starting to change, we are seeing fewer homebuyers being this aggressive, although competition still exists,” says Jason Gelios, a real estate agent with Community Choice Reality in Southeastern Michigan.
Arienti agrees, saying buyers in his market are insisting on home inspections again, and using the inspection as a way to negotiate repairs or the home’s price, something few were doing earlier this year. And for good reason: Waiving a home inspection can be risky for buyers since they’re responsible for any repairs or maintenance issues that come up after the sale.
3. ‘I’ll need to bid tens of thousands over list price’
Over the past year, median home prices have soared to nearly $360,000—18% higher than last July, according to the National Association of Realtors®. As such, bidding over the asking price is something most buyers still need to consider, says Scott Bergmann with Realty ONE Group Sterling in Omaha, NE.
Yet buyers aren’t offering as much over asking today as they were a few months ago.
Over the summer, in his market in Southeastern Michigan, Gelios says buyers were offering more than $40,000 over the list price and waiving appraisals.
“Fast forward to September 2021, and we are still seeing offers over asking price, but not that many compared to several months ago,” he says.
Rodriguez-Tellaheche says he’s seen buyers offer up to 40% over the asking price (and sometimes still not land the home), but now it’s more like 10% above the list price.
4. ‘I’ll end up in a bidding war’
Bidding wars for real estate have been common in 2021, as there have been more buyers than homes on the market. Some buyers were left disappointed when their bids didn’t make the cut.
While the market is still competitive, Arienti says homes in his area aren’t receiving as many offers these days—maybe one or two instead of dozens from a few months ago. That’s leading sellers to adjust their expectations.
Still, some buyers may still need to bid on several homes before getting an offer accepted, so Arienti urges buyers to not get their hopes up too high about a home until they have a sales contract in hand.
5. ‘I’ll need extra money to cover an appraisal gap’
Mortgage companies typically require a home appraisal before approving a loan. But when a home appraises for less than what a buyer offers to pay, the buyer is often stuck paying the difference, known as an appraisal gap.
Rodriguez-Tellaheche says that over the past few months, it’s become common for buyers to pay for the appraisal gap, as many were submitting offers a lot higher than the home’s list price. Many buyers making cash offers waived appraisals altogether.
Yet waiving appraisals and agreeing to cover appraisal gaps aren’t happening quite as much anymore.
“A lot of buyers just got fed up in the spring, and they hopped out of the market,” Arienti says. “That changed the stance of a lot of sellers.”
6. ‘I need a perfect credit score to get a loan’
Today more than ever, a high credit score and a solid financial history are necessary for getting pre-approved for a mortgage. But this doesn’t mean your credit score has to be perfect.
Bergmann says he often encounters homebuyers who think they need a credit score in the 700s.
“Although a 700 or above does help your interest rate, it is not a requirement for most lenders,” he says. “If you have a 640 or above, you could potentially be pre-approved; you may just have a higher interest rate.”
If your credit score is a little lower and you’re offered a higher interest rate, you can purchase mortgage points to lower that rate. In his area, Bergmann says a point costs 1% of the purchase price and lowers the interest rate by 0.25%.
“So if you have the ability to save up and are worried about your interest rate, save up at least one point so that you can buy down your interest rate,” Bergmann says. “This will save so much more money in the long run.”
Even before the pandemic, basement conversions that included bars and other entertainment spaces were becoming more popular. Now, with many people still entertaining in small groups at home instead of going out, having a home bar downstairs can really liven up those times when you get together with friends. While there are a number of ways you can set up a bar area in your home, having a wet bar on hand makes everything more convenient.
If you aren’t sure exactly what a wet bar is, it’s pretty simple. As opposed to a “dry bar” that only has cabinets or other storage options, wet bars feature plumbing lines that are used to hook up a sink and occasionally even water-using appliances such as an automatic ice maker or dishwasher. If this sounds like a great idea for your entertainment space, here are some thoughts on having a wet bar in your basement and really making it your own.
Planning Your Wet Bar
The first thing you need to do when planning a wet bar is decide just how much space you want the bar to take up. Some people want a full bar area with seating for friends and a wide range of storage options. Others want a wet bar that just has a small sink next to a few cabinets and a mini-fridge. The design of your bar affects how much room it takes up in your basement, and this will in turn affect how much space you have available for other activities around it.
Another consideration as you plan out your bar area is how much lighting it will require. A small bar area will only need enough light for you to prep drinks and perform other basic actions, while a larger bar will need enough lighting to allow for conversation and interactions among your guests seated at the bar. Larger bars are more likely to have decorative lighting, higher-quality countertop materials, and two-tiered bar areas as well, so those will need to be taken into consideration.
Wet Bar Decoration
If you’re going to be entertaining with a wet bar in your basement, you’ll want your bar area looking nice. That includes the decorative lighting and countertop materials already mentioned, but there’s a lot more that goes into the look of your wet bar area than just that. You’ll need to consider flooring, and you’ll want something that’s waterproof and hard since you’ll be mixing drinks and dealing with things like ice and water. Wall coverings are also important, and can range from water-resistant painted walls to paneling, stone, or tile. Decorative storage options such as liquor shelves or built-in wine racks can also affect the look and organization of your bar area.
Whatever options you go with, it’s important to set up your wet bar so that it looks like it belongs with everything else around it. The more it matches the look and feel of the rest of your basement, the more it will seem to be just an extension of your entertaining area. This doesn’t mean that you can’t liven up the area around your bar a bit to help it stand out, but the style of the bar should at least complement the rest of your basement so that it stands out without sticking out like a sore thumb.
Installing Your Wet Bar
Depending on the size of your bar area and what you want to do with it, you may need to bring in professionals such as a contractor, a plumber, and an electrician to make sure that everything is built out and connected the way that you want it. Whoever you need to make your wet bar dreams come true, HomeKeepr can help you find them. Creating a HomeKeepr account is free, so sign up today and connect with the pros who will make your wet bar a reality.
Water is not always our friend. Sure, we drink it, swim in it, and need it to survive, but when it comes to homes, it can destroy the foundation, says home inspector Thomas Dabb of Immaculate Home Inspections in South Orange, N.J.
Water can enter a home from the exterior and interior, so buyers and homeowners need to keep their eyes open for signs of its presence—or worse—its damage.
The good news is that there are many experts available to spot and diagnose a problem and suggest the best fix. Water expert Steve Barckley with Exceptional Stone Products in Livingston, N.J., believes that homeowners should start by doing everything possible on the outside of the homes to correct problems and divert water away from a foundation.
Share these seven solutions with clients to help them minimize a foundation’s damage in various scenarios.
1. Improve grading. The slope of a property may direct water toward the base of a single-family house or multifamily dwelling rather than away. Cracks or openings in the foundation then allow it to enter, as well as through higher-level walls, the roof, and other entry points. Fix: “Be sure the grade slopes away from the house,” says Bill Coulbourne, a structural engineer whose eponymous company is near Annapolis, Md. A berm of soil or a swale with planting can prevent water from making its way to a foundation, says Cary Jozefiak, a home inspector with HomeTeam Inspection in Chicago. Caveats: This approach requires periodic maintenance to be sure the berm doesn’t erode. “It also needs to be directed so water doesn’t move toward a neighbor’s property,” Coulbourne says. Using a French drain to allow water to dissipate slowly from near the foundation into the landscape is more environmentally friendly than introducing it into the street to wash away, says Barckley. French drains also require some preventive maintenance to avoid clogging, Jozefiak says.
2. Waterproof a foundation. Keeping the foundation dry will prevent moisture from accumulating on the outside or entering inside. Fix: If wet, the best fix is to waterproof the exterior perimeter and interior walls of a basement or crawl space to prevent capillary action from building up, says New York City architect Victor Body-Lawson of Body Lawson Associates. “What we try to do is create an envelope around a building so water can’t enter through its skin, sometimes with a rain screen that drains water down and out to a storm drainage system,” he says. A sump pump will help if there’s moisture and water inside. It must drain far enough from a house, so water doesn’t recycle back inside if the property slopes or there’s an opening. Home inspector David Rose of Astute Home Inspections in Plainfield, N.J., suggests the drain be at least 5 feet from a house. A backup battery will prove useful if power fails.
3. Install gutters and downspouts. Water flowing off a roof will land near a house and possibly cause damage over time. Fix: A good line of defense is to have both gutters and downspouts installed around a home or building’s perimeter. The downspouts should extend far enough to carry away the water rather than have it sit near a foundation. Jozefiak recommends six feet away from a house. To keep gutters and downspouts functioning, they must be cleaned. How often to do so may depend on the trees near a house, Coulbourne says.
4. Keep large trees and bushes away from a house. Tree roots and other plant materials try to grow toward water, which can destabilize a structure and penetrate foundations, says Rose. Fix: If large trees already grow near a house, check that plumbing lines are free, and confirm there aren’t foundation cracks. If problems arise, the tree may need to be taken down or bushes transplanted, Body-Lawson says. Sacramento, Calif.-based landscape designer Michael Glassman suggests consulting a licensed arborist to check roots, stability, and if the tree should be removed. “The best time to remove trees is in winter when they are dormant,” Glassman says.
5. Don’t ignore diagonal cracks. Movement, temperature changes, and time may cause foundation cracks to develop. But large diagonal ones require attention from a structural engineer to avoid bigger issues. “Visual clues appear before structural inadequacies do,” says Madison, Conn.-based architect Duo Dickinson. Among the problems are moisture and salt destroying anything made of steel and non-pressure-treated wood, which may rot, Dickinson says. Fix: Cracks suggest settlement and send a red flag that something might be wrong with a foundation, says Body-Lawson. “It might have sagged but it may not deteriorate further. However, if it continues to do so, the foundation needs underpinning.” Cracks that appear in foundation walls due to settlement may be visible in a first floor’s interior, too, says Coulbourne. Hairline cracks are common, but when it’s a quarter-inch in width and V-shaped, it may indicate pressure on an exterior wall.
6. Check for significant leaks and stains, especially efflorescence in a basement. “An unfinished basement is the best basement because it’s easier to see problems,” says Rose. Fix: When a basement is finished, experts recommend looking for clues. For example, a rust color that shows through paint can be a sign of moisture, says Barckley. Efflorescence—white powder left behind from minerals in water—may also appear. Coulbourne says that mold is another indicator, most likely visible at the base of a wall where moisture accumulates. Use your nose, too, he says. “If you walk into a damp basement, you can smell that,” he says. Sometimes areas covered over need to be checked. For example, Rose may pop open ceiling tiles to examine what’s behind them.
7. Learn why interior or patio floors may slant. It could be that a house is settling, which happens over time, says Body-Lawson. “Old houses may sag a little and then stop,” he says. But if the floor or patio was level and now slants, it might be time to hire a structural engineer, says Jason Chang of Jersey Inspections in Verona, N.J. Fix: Floorboards, tiles, and carpet can be picked up, joists shimmed, and a new layer installed, says Body-Lawson. If water gets under pavers outdoors, they may need to be taken up, the pitch of the patio checked, a membrane or drainage system installed, then pavers put back, Jozefiak says.
Barbara Ballinger is a freelance writer and the author of several books on real estate, architecture, and remodeling, including The Kitchen Bible: Designing the Perfect Culinary Space (Images Publishing, 2014). Barbara’s most recent book is The Garden Bible: Designing Your Perfect Outdoor Space, co-authored with Michael Glassman (Images, 2015).
It goes without saying that your doors are an important part of your home. They provide security, help to control the temperature, and even play a big part in the overall look of your home. Your front door is one of the first things that people notice when coming to your home, and the state that your door is in can have a noticeable impact on the impression that people have of your house and property. Stop and think about it for a moment: What sort of a message is your front door sending?
If you don’t like what your door is saying or aren’t really sure how others view it, you might consider getting an upgrade. There are a few different types of updates you can give to your door depending on what you want and the sort of budget you’re dealing with, so you definitely have options. Here are a few things to think about while trying to decide if you’re ready to update your door or not.
Does Your Door Need an Update?
The first thing you should think about is whether your door actually needs updating. Don’t just think about your front door, though. While that’s the door in your home that gets the most attention, you should also stop and think about interior doors, back doors, and other doors that you, your family, and your guests will see. These other doors aren’t as likely to need a major update, but if they’re damaged or otherwise out of style then you might consider making some changes.
As you consider your doors, look at their physical condition: Is there any visible damage, or perhaps weathering or warping? Do the doors have trouble opening or closing, even after tightening hinge screws or making other adjustments? Think about how they look and how well they match the surrounding walls or other fixtures like shutters; do their colors and styles cause them to blend in, stand out, or contrast? What about features such as windows or other design work in the doors? Do they match what you envision for your home? This may seem like a lot of questions, but you want to consider both the look and the functionality of your doors when trying to decide whether to update or replace them.
Door Upgrade Options
If you’ve spent some time considering either your front door or other doors in your house and found them in need of some changes, it’s time to think about exactly what sort of change you want to see. Is it something subtle, or something more significant? Regardless of how you’d like to change the look and feel of your home, there’s likely some door updates and upgrades that can help you achieve it.
One of the most basic updates you can make to your door is to change its color with a fresh coat of paint. This can be especially useful if you just want your door to stand out a bit more and appear more welcoming. If you want a larger color upgrade, paint the door and then paint or replace your window shutters to match. Windows or other door inlays can be installed into some doors, though it’s more likely that you’ll buy a new door to accomplish this major change in look. There are a few other reasons to buy a new door as well, especially if you’re looking at damage or warping. There are both wood and metal doors available depending on your needs, so be sure to shop around to find the perfect doors for your home.
Getting the Door of Your Dreams
Whether you want a new paint job, a brand-new door, or large-scale updates to the door and other features of your home, finding the right pro to help you can be a big task. Fortunately, it’s one that HomeKeepr can make a lot easier. Sign up for a free account today to connect with the contractors, painters, and other pros who can give your door (and your home) the update that it needs to totally revamp its look.
Alarms play an important part in keeping your home safe. Smoke alarms and other fire alarms can give you an early warning in case a fire breaks out somewhere in your house, which is why it’s recommended that you keep your alarms in working order. To make this easier, some homeowners opt for hardwired alarms which don’t require periodic battery changes to stay active; these alarms are powered by your home’s electrical wiring, so they’re always functional as long as you have power.
Unfortunately, these alarms sometimes go off when there isn’t a fire threat as well. While you don’t want your smoke alarm or other warning system to miss signs of an actual fire, it can be pretty frustrating if your alarm goes off all the time when there’s no actual danger. If you have issues with an alarm that seems to always be going off, here are a few things that might help.
Cleaning Your Alarms
If you have a smoke alarm that’s way too sensitive, especially if I didn’t used to be, then there’s a good chance that you need to clean it. Dust, dirt, and similar small particles are some of the most common causes of alarms becoming too sensitive over time. The reason that this occurs is that these small particles can interact with your alarm in the same way that smoke particles do, triggering its sensitive mechanisms. Carefully cleaning your alarm with canned air or using a vacuum designed for electronics use can remove the dust and restore the alarm to proper working order.
It’s worth noting that insects might also be part of the problem with your alarm, especially if there’s a bit of a dust buildup on the alarm unit. These may be cleared out when you blow the dust free from your alarm, but it’s possible that you’ll need to place insect baits or spray bug spray on the wall near your alarm to help get rid of them. Just make sure that you don’t spray the alarm itself, and keep in mind that even spraying near the alarm might temporarily set it off.
If dust isn’t the culprit for your overly sensitive alarm woes, humidity might be the problem. If the humidity is too high, water condensing on the sensors within the alarm, or even just water vapor or steam interacting with those sensors, can interfere with the alarm and cause it to go off. This can be especially problematic as too much water within the alarm can actually damage the alarm mechanism and cause it to completely stop working or start sounding all the time.
If humidity is your issue, the only way to take care of the problem is to remove the humidity. This can be accomplished with a dehumidifier placed in overly humid rooms, pulling water from the air and keeping it from affecting the alarm. If the problem is that the alarm is too close to a stovetop or otherwise being exposed to steam, you’ll need to do a bit more work to fix the issue; you’re going to have to install a hood, vent, or some other method of redirecting the steam before it comes in contact with the alarm. If you don’t, the steam will likely ruin the alarm sooner or later.
In some cases, issues with smoke alarms are caused by electrical problems or insufficient current to keep them properly powered. For battery-powered alarms, all that’s required is to change the battery every few months to keep the alarm in good working order. With hardwired alarms, though, it’s a little more complicated. You’re going to need to call in an electrician to check out the situation, and they’ll either have to fix the wiring or possibly replace the alarm if it’s found to be defective.
Fortunately, HomeKeepr can help you find the electrician to straighten out your alarm woes. Signing up is free, so join today and get connected with the pro you need to get the job done.
Ron and Kathy Kern began looking in earnest for their forever home this past spring when their youngest child finished college. The couple hoped to trade their two-story, four-bedroom house in the Indianapolis suburbs for a smaller, one-floor ranch where they could more comfortably age in place.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out the way they had hoped.
The Kerns put in four offers, withdrawing the last one and losing their escrow in the process when they learned how much the home’s needed renovations would cost. After the demoralizing experience, they decided to suspend their search until Ron, 61, retires from his job at an engineering firm sometime down the line.
“We’ve never experienced a market like this before. … It’s a roller coaster we’re ready to get off of for a while. This last offer just did us in,” says Kathy, 58, a recently retired ATM specialist at a credit union. The empty nesters, who live in Fishers, IN, are having trouble sleeping and losing weight as a result of the stress. “When you do find that house where you don’t have to remodel anything, that’s the house that everyone else is looking for.”
After contending with more than a year of record-high and fast-rising home prices, ruthless bidding wars, offers that are all cash and 10% to 20% over the asking price, and a historic shortage of properties for sale, many shoppers in today’s pandemic-fueled housing market are suffering from buyer fatigue.
Some are burned out and taking a break, or leaving the market entirely. Others fear another housing bubble is on the horizon (even though real estate experts believe that’s not likely) so are sitting this one out. And there are those who were priced out as home prices rose higher than their budgets.
“The ultimate sign of buyer fatigue is putting a search on pause,” says Realtor.com® Chief Economist Danielle Hale. “I can understand how in today’s tough market some buyers may not be willing to keep searching.
“There is a real grief that happens if you bid for a house and don’t get it. Mentally a part of you was already committed to the home,” she says.
Only about a third of recent homebuyers had their first offer on a property accepted, according to a Realtor.com survey from January of recent and prospective first-time buyers.
The situation was bleaker for first-time buyers, many of whom struggle to come up with the down payment. Roughly 68% of first-time buyers fell in love with a home, but ended up not being able to buy it, due to being outbid or not securing financing, or the house failing inspection, according to the survey.
The COVID-19 pandemic and all the safety concerns that come along with it have exacerbated the situation. Some potential sellers have become more hesitant to list their properties, worsening the housing shortage. Meanwhile, desperate buyers who can work remotely for part of—if not the entire—week are moving farther outside of big cities and into smaller urban areas, boosting prices and competition across the country.
“It’s likely to continue to be competitive for the foreseeable future unless something drastic changes and we see a lot more homes for sale,” says Hale. But “even if some buyers bow out, there are still plenty of buyers in the market.”
Many local and first-time buyers are being priced out
The work-from-home (aka anywhere) phenomenon has pushed prices up to unheard of heights in many parts of the country where they had previously been more reasonable. But many white-collar workers who no longer need to go to an office in the big, pricey cities on the coasts have been able to sell their expensive homes and use that cash to purchase homes in vacation areas as well as the farther-out suburbs and smaller cities. That’s made it harder for locals to compete.
“It’s pretty bad in our market for first-time buyers,” says Barbara Jordan, a real estate agent at Coldwell Banker Realty in Tampa, FL. Many of the buyers who are winning the bidding wars are from the Northeast, Chicago, and California who are selling their homes and moving to Florida. “What we’re seeing is up to 20, 30 offers on a house. The ones who win are the cash buyers or have money they can throw on top.”
The first-time buyers—most of whom are college-educated, with good jobs and often 20% down payments—sometimes just can’t compete, she says. That’s because it’s harder to get offers accepted with a mortgage. Sellers want to know they’ll get the prices offered to them even if their property doesn’t appraise for as much.
“It’s so sad—they’re good people who have done everything right,” says Jordan of these buyers. “But a lot of them are pulling back from the market.””
On the other side of the country, Los Angeles–area real estate agent Scott Pinkerton says his clients who can afford to stay put are doing just that.
“A lot have gotten frustrated by losing out to all-cash offers, investors, and being outbid,” says Pinkerton, of Century 21 Peak. Some who could have afforded a single-family home are realizing they may be able to afford only a condo now or they may need to move to a cheaper location if they want to buy. “What they want is no longer available in their price range.”
But others are just waiting for the right opportunity.
“I’ve got clients sitting on the fence who reach out to me every so often, checking to see what the market is and what they can get for their money,” he says. “Some people are sitting around waiting for a shift in the market.”
Not everyone can wait until the market cools further and more homes come online. Many of Dallas-based associate broker Debbie Murray‘s clients are out-of-towners who got jobs in the area and need places to live (whether they’re going into the office one day a week or five). The Dallas region, in particular, has become a hot spot for big companies (such as Toyota) relocating their headquarters or expanding operations in the area.
One couple from Chicago whom Murray worked with put in 11 offers before one was finally accepted. They recently closed on a $1.1 million home they bought sight unseen for roughly $100,000 over the list price with no contingencies.
“If you’re moving here from out of state, you have no choice,” says Murray, who’s with Allie Beth Allman & Associates.
Taking a break can price some buyers out
Taking an emotional health break from an active home search can be a financial risk. While bidding wars may die down a bit, potentially saving buyers some big money, prices and mortgage rates are still rising.
“Unfortunately in our market, prices just keep increasing, and in some cases for a buyer who waits too long, can price them out of the neighborhood they desire the most,” says Brad Pauly, a real estate broker at Pauly Presley Realty in Austin, TX. “I do tell them that I understand what they’re going through, but to try and push through and wait for the next week of properties to hit the market.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Austin emerged as one of the nation’s hottest markets. Median home list prices surged more than 46% in the metropolitan area from March 2020, when the pandemic upended life in the U.S., through August 2021, according to the most recent Realtor.com data. (Metros include the main city and surrounding suburbs, towns, and smaller cities.)
He’s seeing homes sell for 40% over the list price as out-of-towners from the coast have moved in and are bidding up prices.
“You’ve got to be the crazy buyer to win. You have to be the one who’s willing to pay well over market value to buy the house you really want,” Pauly says.
Even those who can afford the higher price tags aren’t finding the home they want with so few properties for sale.
“It’s kind of like the whole world is against them. They’re throwing their hands up. They’re defeated,” says real estate agent Greg Nino, of Re/Max Compass in Houston.
The Kerns, who were trying to find a forever home in the Indianapolis suburbs, certainly had enough—at least for now.
“We’re going to stop looking for a while,” says Ron Kern. “Right now the entire market is so out of whack. … You don’t have time to think through all the things that need to be thought through.
“We’re really fortunate that we don’t have to move. We’ve got a nice house. We can stay here for a while,” he says. “But at some point it would be nice to move toward something that’s more fitting for people our age.”
A woodburning stove can be a great addition to your home. Not only do they provide non-electric sources of heat during the winter, but many people enjoy the dry heat provided by woodburning stoves and similar heaters and they aren’t limited to the old-school cast iron stoves. Modern woodburning stoves come in a number of styles and forms, including pellet stoves that use small wooden pellets for a more controlled burn and more manageable heat options.
While there are certainly advantages to freestanding wood stoves, it’s important that they’re installed and used safely. It should go without saying that an improperly installed or operated wood stove can be very dangerous. To keep you, your family, and your home safe, here are some things that you should keep in mind when considering installing a freestanding wood stove or pellet stove.
Finding the Right Spot
Location is important when it comes to installing a wood stove. Obviously you’re going to want to put your stove in a location where you want heat, but there’s more to picking the right place than that. You’re going to need to find a place where your stove can provide that heat safely without creating a fire hazard or potentially creating a dangerous situation for people or pets moving through the room.
A big part of this involves finding an area with enough clearance for the stove. This is the amount of room around the stove that needs to be kept clear of flammable items and surfaces that might catch fire if they get too hot. This will differ from stove to stove, but it will be listed among the stove’s specs and other important information. The clearance indicates how far the stove needs to be placed from bare walls, and should also be considered with respect to furniture, walkways, and other areas where household items and inhabitants might be. If there isn’t enough room to give the stove the clearance it needs, you’ll have to find another location for it.
Exhaust and venting are two other safety considerations that you need to keep in mind when planning on installing a woodburning stove or pellet stove. Though you might think that these are essentially the same thing, they’re actually two different systems. The exhaust system is your chimney, while the vent is the pipe that connects your stove to the chimney.
While some older homes feature double-thick unlined brick chimneys that can be used if they’re carefully inspected for cracks and other damage, newer homes will likely need to have a new chimney installed. Ideally these should be factory built or professionally installed and lined, as you need to be sure that the chimney won’t leak or otherwise release noxious gases into the house. As for the stovepipe that’s used for the vent, it needs to be at least 24-gauge steel or similar metal and should be insulated. To avoid gas buildup, it needs to be as short as possible, and shouldn’t have more than two elbows.
Installing Your Stove
There are several other safety considerations that you need to keep in mind when installing a stove as well. If you have children or pets, gates or similar boundaries should be installed to help childproof the stove and prevent burns. A fire extinguisher should be mounted nearby for easy access. When positioning the stove, it’s important to make sure that you can access the ash drawer and other components for cleaning and maintenance so you can prevent the buildup of potentially flammable materials. There may be additional considerations that depend on the layout of your home and the type of stove you install as well.
If you’re wanting to install a new stove, HomeKeepr can help. Sign up for a free account today to get connected with pros that can make sure your chimney is properly installed, your stovepipe vents the way it should, and your stove is safely installed to keep you warm all winter long.
Original Post: https://blog.homekeepr.com/installing-a-freestanding-stove-safety-first?sharedby=vincent-russo