Home Inspection: What to Expect and What to Look for Before You Sign

Everyone I know is a bit skeptical when it comes down  to signing documents for home contractors, inspectors, insurance agents , etc. One of the reasons is that everyone is a bit afraid to sign.  Unless you know the contractor or home inspector, chances are you are dealing with a stranger you know nothing about.  You don’t know if they are trustworthy or competent, or whether they belong to an association where they have to follow a code of ethics. 

Asking some basic questions before you sign a contract can truly save you a lot of headaches later on.  You are the paying customer, ask them questions to make sure everyone is satisfied before the work begins.

For more about home inspectors, follow the links below.


Top home inspection deal breakers

A home inspection can be stressful for both parties. Almost every inspection comes back with at least some sort of repair and, most often, those problems are minor and easy enough to negotiate. However, there are some deal breakers that can cause buyers to run for the hills.

Mold

Erin Craft, home inspector with Destination Bay Home Inspections, says this is one of the biggest problems that can potentially kill a deal.

“We see this issue in attics, basements, or crawl spaces,” he said. “There is a lot of fear when it comes to mold, and we’ve had buyers stop us right in the middle of the inspection and say they are walking away. They see it as a huge risk, both to their health and their wallet.”

However, Craft says before ditching the deal, consider doing a bit more investigating, especially if it’s a home you really love.


Make sure you understand terms of service before paying a home inspector

I was buying a house and hired a home inspector. We went through the whole inspection, and I even paid him his fee. Then he gave me a form that indicated that he would not give me the written report unless I signed a document.

The document stated that I agreed that I could only get back the $400 I paid him in case there was a problem with the inspection or his report, or I could pay him an extra $1,500 and the cap would be eliminated. Don’t you think that he should have told me this before I hired him? He’s a member of ASHI.

We think it is highly questionable that a home inspector would spring those terms on you so late in the game. ASHI stands for the American Society of Home Inspectors, and they have a code of ethics. Among their code is a requirement for the home inspector to “act in good faith toward each client” and that ASHI inspectors should “avoid activities that harm the public, discredit themselves or reduce public confidence in the profession.”


Dear Monty: Agent tells home seller not to attend home

Q: We accepted an offer on our home. The contract is subject to a satisfactory home inspection. Our agent called to set up a time for the inspection and asked us to vacate the house. My thinking is that if there is some discovery made during the investigation that both parties observing will aid in understanding the issue. Do you agree with her suggestion?

A: Most of the states that regulate inspectors are seeking inspections that reveal “significant” material defects that negatively affect the value of the property or create a concern for safety that is not apparent at the times the buyer viewed the home. The customer can overlook the fact this is a pre-owned home. They sometimes compare a pre-owned home inspection with the “certified” used car. Most every home has a wart somewhere, which is the buyer’s responsibility unless the seller agreed to remove the wart as part of the contract. Education of all participants, which requires investing time, is a key to ensuring a home inspection goes smoothly.


 

Home Improvement Checklist

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have programs that help people renovate and repair their homes with the assistance of the U.S. Government.  They received many complaints of contractors that do shoddy work, and because of the financing, these contractors believe they can do the shoddy work with impunity.

The Ohio Attorney General’s website provides a list to follow for all people living in Ohio that want or need to have home repairs.

The list includes among others:

  1. Checking the contractors references
  2. Not signing anything without making sure you have read everything carefully
  3. Not signing with the first contractor you talk to
  4. The contractor has shown you proof of Licenses, insurance, and bonding
  5. You have checked with the Better Business Bureau for the company’s credentrials

At Pioneer Basement Waterproofing, we pride ourselves with the work we do, the commitment to our community, and the customer satisfaction history we have worked for since 1979.  We are a locally owned and operated company that is fully licensed, bonded and insured for the protection of our customers. We treat our customers the same way we treat our friends and family; the way we want to be treated.

If you are thinking about a home repair or improvement, inform yourself before starting any big or small project.

To read more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


7 Explosive Ways to Increase Customer Satisfaction

Follow these seven strategies to keep customers coming back again and again.

Customer satisfaction is crucial for any business to succeed, but satisfying increasingly demanding consumers can become a challenge. Poor customer experience is a catalyst for customer churn, and the damage of one unhappy customer is the 9-15 people they will tell about their encounter. Customer satisfaction is priceless when acquiring new customers—a process that’s 4-5 times more expensive than maintaining an established customer base.

So, customer satisfaction is important, but what can businesses do to drive their customer satisfaction up and keep it there? Below are seven effective ways to improve your customer experience and increase customer satisfaction.

Respect Your Consumers

Just as a bad experience can have a dramatic effect on your business, so can a positive one. Word of mouth packs a punch in the buying world, so treat your customers with respect and watch your customer satisfaction flourish. The secret to building a loyal customer base is creating respectful experiences for your consumers to share with their friends and family.

It all sounds pretty straightforward. However, finding the right balance and approach to respectful interactions can be tricky for both you and your customer. Respect your customers by providing them with tools to help themselves. Ensuring that your consumers can easily access frequently asked questions and information about your product on your user-friendly site is one simple way to create a respectful customer experience.


5 major tips to measure Customer Satisfaction

When it comes to mobile app customers, there is no better friend and foe for a mobile app business, especially in the current market conditions. Earn the customer’s trust and they would be devoted to your brand but if you treat them poorly then the tables can turn towards you. In addition, the major issue is that only 5% of unhappy customers really express their discontents. And sometimes it might happen that some of them won’t even come back. So what can you really do to determine the satisfaction of your customers?

The most effective way to measure that is using feedback surveys and communicating directly with the customers. Being cautious regarding the customer experience and its influence on your business conversions is vital to the business’s success. Consider the following tips to measure the effectiveness of your app’s customer experience.

 


Do Your Customers Promote You?

Getting the right information about how satisfied your customers are with your services is the first step toward getting them to recommend you to others.

Few would argue that satisfying customers is a “must” if a company hopes to grow and prosper. Most companies even have some established means for measuring how satisfied customers are with their products and/or services, and they take these measures seriously. Too often, however, these internally developed measures do not provide a true picture of how satisfied customers really are. In fact, I would argue that many of the measures used by companies tend to skew results to be artificially favorable. This can lead to customer service complacency based on a mentality of “we haven’t heard otherwise, so things must be OK.”


Taking Care of Your Home

Remodeling the basement is not a top priority for many families.  Their budgets do not allow the expense of remodeling a whole basement, or the upper stories offer all the space they need.  But regardless of what your situation is, having a waterproofed basement is a necessity many families need to have.

If your basement is wet, has too much humidity, has mold, or has crack on the walls, you need to have your basement check by a knowledgeable person to determine the damage and to find a solution. 

The many illnesses associated to mold found in basements across the country are many; From eye, nose and skin irritation for those allergic to mold to respiratory system problems that are very dangerous to people’s health.  Wet basements are not a very nice place to be in they are in disarray, but offer the much needed space for a growing family.

Taking care of your home does not begin or end with the basement.  But, the basement and foundation of your home are very important parts of your home that you need to take care if they have problems before looking to fix something else.  These are some other things you can do to protect your home.

  1. Make sure the gutters and downspouts are properly connected, and free of debris.  Make a conscious effort to clean the gutters after the fall to ensure they are free of leaves and make sure the downspouts are taking the water away from the foundation of your home. From 5ft. to 10ft. ensures the water won’t find a way to the basement of your home.
  1. The mulch on the flower beds around the home should not reach above the sealant of the foundation. Flatten the mulch on the flower beds making sure there is no stagnant water anywhere near the foundation.
  1. Have you checked the grading around your home? The cement driveway can over time become unleveled and allow water to sit around the foundation, and inadvertently find a way to the basement of your home.
  1. The roof of your home is an expensive home repair you have to keep in mind.  Many homeowners overlook this simple maintenance home inspection check that can save you thousands if you find the problem quickly. Checking the roof of your home every year allows you to catch a problem before it gets too big.  Loose shingles or curling shingles are some of the first signs you need to check to see if you have a problem with the roof of your home.
  1. The moulding around your exterior windows should be checked periodically to make sure it’s in good condition.
  1. Have you checked your shed? How is the roof? A good quality shed at one of your Home Depot or Lowe’s stores can set you back close to a thousand dollars.  Why not check the roof, walls and doors to make sure they are in good condition, and if not, make the small necessary fixes to prolong its life?

For many of us, our home is the biggest asset we have.  By taking care of our homes, we increase its value while allowing us to live in a place that we can truly call home, and live comfortably ever after.


Humidity Control Gadgets For This Holiday Season

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For an allergy sufferer, clean air is not a commodity, but a need.  Allergies in the spring and fall, are a very trying time for many people.  Children with allergies  seem to have a hard time during this time, and school work and play time or exercise seem to be more of a chore than normal.  Humidity control in your home becomes a necessity, and here are two gadgets that are sure to help you control the humidity and clean air in your home.  Before you go out and buy things you do not need for christmas, think about these two choices for your home.


The Importance of Protecting Your Home from High Humidity

Homes that are subjected to high levels of humidity over a long period of time can suffer serious damage, which often requires expensive repairs. There are other times when repairs just aren’t possible if the humidity is left unchecked for years without taking precautions to keep the air within a range of less than 60%. 

While there are countries that have high rates of humidity due to warm, tropical air, the UK sees more than its fair share of rain each year, which is also a factor in the amount you will need to counteract in your home. Whether you intend to live in your home for many years or would like to sell it in good condition to get a decent asking price, there are some very important things you need to know about how humidity can impact future plans.

Why Is Excess Humidity a Problem?

Most people know that mould and mildew can be the ultimate cause of a huge number of physical ailments, typically in the respiratory system, but an equally large number of homeowners don’t understand exactly where that mould and mildew comes from. Over time, if left to accumulate, moisture in the air will provide the breeding ground for mould and mildew. This is where it comes from. However, most people have it wrong!


ecobee3 ‘lite’ Offers Same Smart Thermostat Features for $169 Price

In 2016, everyone wants to have a smart home, and one of the first places to start is with your thermostat. A smart thermostat can lead to savings on your electric bill, and who would argue with that? According to ecobee’s findings, running a smart thermostat can save you an average of 23% on your annual heating/cooling bill, so while these devices do have upfront costs, they should pay for themselves in the long run.

If you are already convinced on this technology, but were waiting to find a more affordable option than Nest’s latest or the standard ecobee3, ecobee has a new unit called ecobee3 lite. The lite model is priced at $169, which is a solid $80 cheaper than a Nest. With the lite model, you still get a digital touchscreen with readouts for your weather forecast, control over vacation modes, as well as alerts and reminders that only a thermostat should provide you. These alerts typically show up only when something isn’t working in the system.

I have been running an ecobee3 in my home for a few months now, and I must say, it’s quite nice. One feature I use in the colder months (which is now, sadly), is an automated feature that uses my area’s weather forecast to set my house’s temperature accordingly. For example, if it’s going to be a high of 54 degrees today, ecobee3 reads that information, then cranks the heat to make sure the inside of my home is never colder than 69 degrees. It’s very basic, but it works, and that’s all you can ask for from something called a “smart” thermostat.


Netatmo Healthy Home Coach review: This indoor climate monitor reports the obvious

This gizmo monitors indoor air quality, temperature, humidity, and noise, but it won’t tell you much you don’t already know.

Everyone from the EPA to the American Lung Association has stressed the importance of indoor air quality. Indoor pollutants don’t just impact personal comfort, they can often cause or exacerbate health conditions. Some researchers have even called for greater effort to monitor indoor air.

Fortuitous, then, that Neatmo has released the Healthy Home Coach ($100). This device monitors your indoor climate in real time to help you create the optimum environment whether you have particular health requirements, such as allergies or asthma, or just want greater comfort.

What you get

The Healthy Home Coach follow the same design cues as the Neatmo Welcome home security camera and the Netatmo Home Weather Station. It’s a 1.77 x 1.77 x 6.1-inch cylinder with a champagne-colored aluminum finish. There’s a single vertical light bar on the front that illuminates when the device is taking a reading. The Healthy Home Coach is easy on the eyes—certainly more so than your typical home hydrometer or thermometer—and can be placed inconspicuously on a shelf or end table.


 

Buying A Home? Read These Tips Before You Commit

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There is nothing quite like getting your first home.  After years of paying rent, signing the papers that make you a home owner is quite exciting.

The pitfalls that come when buying a home are many and it’s better to be aware of them before you sign those papers. So, what are some of the things you need to be aware when looking to buy a home? A thorough home inspection is absolutely a necessity.  The roof, foundation, water heater, furnace, and air conditioning are expensive home repairs you do not want to overlook when inspecting the home. Make sure the home inspector is a licensed professional with a good reputation before you hire him/her for the job.

Follow the links below to read more about this very important topic.


Buying an Old House? Here Are 5 of the Scariest Issues You Could Face

Many investors dive headfirst into real estate simply because it can bring high returns. However, those with more experience know that renting or flipping a home doesn’t always …

Many investors dive headfirst into real estate simply because it can bring high returns. However, those with more experience know that renting or flipping a home doesn’t always put you in the green, particularly if the house is subject to a number of serious issues.

Sometimes, when you tour a house or look at listing photos, the outdated fixtures can throw you off. For example, Formica countertops and closed off quarters can be a turn-off to investors. However, this is all cosmetic and can be easily fixed. It will cost a little extra, but these little changes won’t compromise the entire structure of your home.

When looking for a house, you must carefully watch for signs of issues that will cost tens of thousands to fix and potentially render the property unprofitable. If you see any of the following signs, think twice before making a purchase.


Home inspection checklist: What to inspect

If you’ve signed a contract to purchase a home, a key step before completing the sale is getting a professional home inspection. Make sure to keep this home inspection checklist handy – the inspection is often the last chance you’ll have to go inside the home before the final walkthrough.

“In my experience, the majority of homebuyers don’t know that much about what they are buying and are relying on the inspection to fill in the many gaps in their knowledge,” says home inspector Scott Brown, owner of Brightside Home Inspections in Syracuse, New York.

If your purchase agreement has an inspection contingency — and it should — a home inspection that reveals serious flaws can allow you to walk away from the deal without penalty. It can also allow you to ask the seller to make repairs before closing, saving you money and potentially some hassle.


A 5-Point Checklist for Buying Your First Home

Get these out of the way before you start house-hunting.

Are you buying a home for the first time? Before you start looking at wrap-around porches and bay windows, here are five things you need to do.

  1. Get your credit reports straight. The interest you’ll pay on your mortgage depends on how creditworthy your bank thinks you are. That means you have to cast yourself in the best light. Order all three of your credit reports — from TransUnion, Experian and Equifax — about a year before you start looking. Fix any mistakes.
  2. Set a budget. One good rule of thumb is to make sure your house doesn’t cost more than 2.5 times your salary. If your household income is $100,000, then $250,000 should be your max.
  3. Figure out which type of mortgage you want. So this breaks down to: fixed-rate versus adjustable rate. A fixed-rate loan is when the interest rate and payment stays constant for the entire loan, usually 15 or 30 years. An adjustable-rate mortgage has a fixed interest rate that then resets after a certain period. A good rule of thumb is that if you can afford a home only if you get an adjustable-rate mortgage, then you can’t afford a home.

The Fun Part of Waterproofing the Basement – Decorating It

stock-photo-3164773-executive-home-bar-and-entertainment-roomYou finally got your basement waterproofed.  It’s dry, looks good and smells even better.  Now it can be used as an actual living, working, and storage space.   This is where the fun starts; it’s time to decorate.

Basements can be a decorating challenge because they’re usually used for a variety of different functions (i.e. workshop, crafts, kid’s play area, storage, media room, workout equipment, laundry, meditation).  Some of these uses are utilitarian and straightforward, while others are more esoteric and personal. 

Here are some decorating ideas to make your spaces functional and uniquely your own.

Use the walls

Too often walls are used only to hang pictures on or put furniture against; there are other uses for them.  Think about using your storage needs as a decorating opportunity.  Depending on the function of the room consider using bookcases, cubbies, lockers, storage units or shelving.  Add corresponding baskets or plastic totes and you have a functional as well as decorative feature. 

Exercise room – metal shelves for weights, workout DVDs, fitness balls/mats and clear plastic totes for smaller items.  Kid’s play room – shelving (sturdy and secured to the wall) painted in primary colors for books, games, baskets and colored totes for toys.  Media room – bookcases for DVDs, electronic equipment and baskets for remotes.

Consider the ceiling

People don’t consider the ceiling when they’re thinking of decorating.  But, the basement can be different – like the walls, the ceiling can be used for decoration and function.  If you have overhead space there are some creative ways to use it.

Kid’s play room – string a net from the ceiling between 2 corners and use it to store balls.  Workshop – save garage space by hang bikes or golf bags along the wall, out of the way, with ceiling hooks.  Storage room – that Christmas tree doesn’t have to take up valuable self or floor space; some overhead hanging units can hold up to 250 lbs. 

Remember the stairs

The space under the stairs is usually left to spiders and bugs.  There are many pre-made cubbies, shelves and bookcases that fit under standard basement steps or you can get built-in shelves or cabinetry. 

Getting to decorate after your basement has been waterproofed is exciting, and there are a lot of good ideas you can use.  Just keep in mind that simple and uncluttered never goes out of style.  Cluttered and disorganized will make even an Architectural Digest room look bad.


Nicole Abbott is a professional writer who’s had over 200 articles published.  She’s a business consultant and former psycho-therapist with over 20 years of experience in mental health, business and addiction.  She’s a coach, lecturer, trainer and facilitator.  She has conducted over 200 workshops, trainings, presentations, seminars and college classes. 

Protecting Your Home By Waterproofing Your Basement

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One of the most obvious tell-tale signs of problems with the foundation of your home is the cracks in the floors and basement walls.  Puddles in the basement, and flooding after a rain, means you have a problem there. Waterproofing the basement and making sure the foundation of the home is not compromised requires immediate attention before the problem escalates. Problems to the foundation of your home done by swelling soils can play havoc to the entire structure, and make your home unsafe.

Calling a contractor or company to do the work requires you to do your homework first.  Make sure you call a reliable company with a long, and good history in the area.  If you still have questions and need an honest answer, then contact us.  We have an excellent record doing business in Northeast Ohio since 1979, and we’ll be happy to talk to you.


With more rain on the way, here’s how you can prevent water from leaking into your basement

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – While some people across southcentral Kansas saw extreme flooding over the last week, others experienced the storms in smaller doses with some minor basement flooding.

KSN wanted to find out what you can do to prevent water leaking into your basement and how to minimize damage if it’s too late.

The key is to divert any water away from your home, and while that may sound obvious, it’s an issue a lot of people struggle with.

You can start outside your home by extending rain gutter down spouts away from the house itself.

Next, make sure the grade of your yard surfaces slope away from your home, creating a natural flow downhill.

You can also clear your gutters of leaves and other debris that may block water from flowing through.

Finally, install a sump pump and even potentially a back-up sump pump if needed.

To learn more, KSN spoke with Danny Morrow, owner of Kansas Basement and Foundation Repair.


So, You Want to… Waterproof Your Basement – BobVila.com

Basement waterproofing can be a confusing (and expensive) process. But if you’re dealing with leaky foundation walls or water welling up from the floor, finding an effective means of managing these problems could save you a lot in the long run. Here’s a quick rundown of your options for keeping downstairs dry.

Unless your plan is to install a swimming pool in your basement, you probably cringe at the idea of water trickling in beneath your house. While the best time to waterproof is during new construction, if you live in an older structure, you don’t have that luxury. There are, however, a few measures you can take to protect your home from water, running the gamut from inexpensive safeguards to high-dollar professional remedies. Here’s all the information you need to choose the best solution for your basement.

EXTERIOR REMEDIES
The most effective way to waterproof a basement is from the outside. Doing so, however, involves excavating the soil away from the exterior of the foundation on all sides and installing drain tile (a flexible perforated pipe covered with mesh or fabric) at the base of the foundation.


6 Telltale Signs Your New House Is a Money Pit

Fixer uppers can get expensive.

If buying a fixer-upper is your next big money move, make sure you’re not settling for something that’s going to cost you much more than you planned. Buying a house in need of repair can mean ample savings in the short term but a potential significant investment in the long term.

If you don’t know how much it’s going to cost to fund all of those renovations, you might be diving right into a money pit. Ideally, your budget for repairs and renovations should have 10 percent to 20 percent tacked on for unforeseen problems. Run into these problems, though, and your budget could go well over that. Here are six signs you’re moving into a money pit.

2. Water in the Basement

If tornadoes, hurricanes and torrential rains are a frequent occurrence in the area, make sure the basement and home are protected from the elements.

“Just know that if your home has a basement and there’s been flooding before, the chances of recurring flooding issues are high unless you hire a professional to come out and ‘waterproof’ the basement, which can be extremely costly,” said Stephanie Sullivan of Dream Town Realty Brokerage.

Any puddles of water or small pools of water in the basement are a sign the basement might not have proper sealants or a fully functional interior water drainage system. According to the latest HomeAdvisor cost profiles, you’ll be looking at spending an average of $3,816 to waterproof the basement. But, your bill could reach $9,135 or more depending on the amount of work that needs to be done.


 

Home Repair And Basement Waterproofing

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As you make a list of projects to do in your home, there are many projects that are probably purely personal.  Men want a personal spot for them to relax, and women usually want projects that will make the home look prettier and organized.  But depending on the region you live in, projects done to your home may not return the investment invested doing them, and if selling the home, the projects may help you sell the house, but you won’t recuperate the money you put into it.  Basement waterproofing and installing a new roof are probably less glamorous than anything you may think on doing, but those projects are vital to the health of your home.  Read more about home repairs and upgrades that can help you have a better home.


The Top 5 Basement Waterproofing Tips of the Household

Waterproofing your basement is all about minimizing, if not totally preventing, the entry of water from the outside environment. This can then be enhanced further by the application of interior basement waterproofing technologies.

The basement is the strongest part of any home. However, it is also one of the most often neglected parts.

It is prone to water damage primarily because of its proximity to ground water. When the rainy season comes, the basement often receives the brunt of water damage. Before your basement get severely undermined by water damage, you need to make it waterproof. Here are the top 5 basement waterproofing tips for the household.

1.       Check Your House’s Plumbing Network. – Even before you buy and apply waterproofing products, it is important to make sure that you don’t have any plumbing fixture that is leaking or is already damaged or worn out. Sometimes, you don’t need the rain to flood your basement. A faulty or broken pipe or plumbing can have the same effect. If you are not sure what to look for, having a professional plumber and basement waterproofing experts check it out first is always a good idea.


17 Simple Home Repairs and Upgrades That Will Save You Bundles of Money

Homeowners fantasize about making fabulous changes to their homes: adding rooms, beautifying the grounds, and remodeling kitchens and baths. In reality, however, these dream projects may not be financially possible.

Don’t let that stop you, however, from taking good care of the home you have. By keeping up with small repairs you’ll not only save money by heading off the big expensive fixes, you’ll also maintain your home’s resale value.

Here are 17 small jobs you can do to hold down household costs:

1. Change HVAC filters

Your furnace and air conditioner filters trap airborne allergens and dust so you breathe clean air. These filters need changing every few months while you’re using the furnace or air conditioning. The reason: Tiny particles of dirt pulled into the system from the air can hurt your furnace’s heating coil and fan. Changing filters regularly also can lower utility bills by as much as $100 a year, since dirty filters force HVAC systems to run harder and use more energy.


Making Home Repairs to Sell your Home

When selling your home, you often need to first do perform some repairs and maintenance. Some of these you can do yourself if you have the time but many need special tools that repairmen tend to have in their toolboxes. Also, many people just can’t find the time to make repairs.According to Angie’s List, hiring a handyman can prevent waste and overcharging, as the handyman will only charge you for hours worked. Plus they keep their rates low with low overhead and by not having to pay other workers.

Handyman Work

Most handyman work is relatively simple. It can be simple carpentry work or painting. It doesn’t typically involve major construction or expansion of the home. When you think you’re going to more extensive work, you should consider a contractor. Contractors supervise specialized tradespeople such as plumbers, electricians, and craftsmen. Contractors can put together a teal to expand your house or make major remodeling changes.

Before you hire a handyman or a contractor, make a list of the jobs you need done. If your list is composed mostly of repairs and some updating like painting, a handyman should suit your needs.

Deciding On the Best Repair Person

  • Get recommendations from family, friends, or your real estate professional. She or he may know an individual or company that specializes in “make-ready,” a room-by-room clean-up, touch-up and fix-up. You can also contact sites such as HomeAdvisor or Angie’s List, to hire workmen.


 

Keeping Your Basement Dry This Summer

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Our home basement is finished, and have no leaks.  But, even though there are no visible leaks we still have a humidifier in the basement to keep the humidity low.  The air seems cleaner, and the water collected every day reminds us that having a humidifier in the basement is a good thing. Keeping your basement dry and your humidifier working can ensure that your family will enjoy a dry basement where the children can play, and you will have no worries about the accumulation of mold or the humidity levels.

For more about tips to keep your basement dry, follow the links below.


To prevent rot and mold behind your home’s brick walls, make sure the weep holes are not blocked

I live in a brick townhouse. In the back, there is a patio door leading to a concrete deck. The patio door sits on top of some brickwork. I’m trying to make sure the patio door is all sealed up, keeping out any and all moisture. I’ve noticed what seem to be round weep holes along the very bottom of the brickwork. I would like to plug them with some mortar to keep the moisture level down. Will this do any harm? What purpose do the weep holes serve?— Todd J., Newport News, Va.

Whatever you do, do not fill those weep holes. They’re an integral part of the drainage system to keep water from building up behind the brick. If allowed to contact any untreated lumber, this water will cause serious wood rot, mold and, eventually, structural problems with your home.

Allow me to explain the dynamics of brick walls, brick veneer and rain, and you’ll be able to do a fantastic job of protecting everything behind the brick.

Brick walls leak water. They have always leaked water. Builders and masons from hundreds of years ago knew this and developed a set of best practices to ensure that their brick buildings did not fall apart.

Sadly, for years, lots of this information was handed down by word of mouth. To add insult to injury, not all brick masons today are required to learn all the history about brick construction. If they had a better understanding of what’s going on, they’d be able to do a better job of preventing water infiltration.


Drain in slab floor might be salvageable without breaking concrete

Q. Our house has concrete slab floors, no basement or crawl. Our air conditioner and water softener used to drain to an opening in the floor in the utility closet, but the drain is stopped up. I was told I would have to break the concrete floor to fix the drain and am hoping you might be able to give me some ideas to fix this without taking out the floor.

A. A stopped-up drain can often be cleaned using a plumber’s snake. The drainpipe may have a simple 90-degree bend or there may be a P-trap under the floor if the drain is connected to a sanitary sewer system. It takes a little more shoving and turning if there is a P-trap. If there is a blockage in the pipe, the plumber’s snake will either break up the blockage or push it past the bends in the drainpipe and into the main sewer or drain line. When you remove the plumber’s snake there may be debris attached to the snake, so have a waste can or newspapers handy to clean the snake.

I strongly recommend using rubber gloves and eye protection. In older homes with cast-iron drains, the drainpipe may have collapsed and can no longer be used. If this happens you can use a lift pump to drain the condensate from the air conditioner. The pump has a small reservoir and a float switch that comes on when the reservoir is full. The pump can be drained to a washing machine drain, a sink in the laundry or directly to the yard.


7 Signs You Need a Dehumidifier

If you have a home that seems to have a dampness problem, it might be time to look for a dehumidifier. When excess moisture is detected in your home, first you should figure out the cause, then take steps to remedy the problem. Here, we’ll look at seven signs that indicate you might need a dehumidifier.

1. Mold spots on the ceiling or corners

If you notice mold anywhere in your house, it is generally a sign of excess humidity and time to get the best dehumidifier you can find. Bathrooms can’t air out steam and excess humidity, making them prime areas for mold to grow. It can grow on walls, ceilings, or around toilets and showers. For mold to affect your breathing you don’t even have to see it — it just has to be in your house. Try running the fan in your bathroom after each shower and work on keeping your ventilation system clean.

Small mold patches are a problem because they can quickly spread. They usually appear in clusters of small black spots but can also be gray brown or green in color. Mycotoxins, which come from toxic molds, can actually cause respiratory problems, inflammation, and mental impairment.


 

Making Your Home Maintenance A Bit Easier

pioneer (1)Hiring a home contractor with the help of one of those paid advertisements on TV, or the internet, is supposed to make your life easier by driving the cost lower since there are many companies and contractors competing for your project. But, is it true though?  There are many contractors listed is true, but they are listed on that site because they are paying to be advertised there. Their work, their credentials, and the safety of letting them come into your home, is not guaranteed.  Do your research beforehand. Prices, workmanship, and safety should be your top priority.


How Much Should You Tip Contractors, Landscapers, and Other Home Pros?

We all know that tipping a waiter is proper (and expected!) dining-out etiquette. But how much should you tip general contractors, landscapers, painters, and other professionals who help keep your home in tiptop shape. In fact, should you tip them at all?

The easiest way to clear up this question, of course, is to simply ask the company or contractor you’re using what is the tipping policy before you even agree to a deal. Yeah, it’s a bit awkward—but it’s nothing compared with getting it completely wrong. And since tipping customs can vary a lot by region—people in Bismarck, ND, may not tip the same as those on New York’s Upper East Side—you could get some community advice from people who live nearby.

Author and manners expert Amy Alkin suggests you play it straight and say: “I’m new in this neighborhood, and I want to do the right thing, and I’m wondering, do you know what people around here tip?”

Still looking for guidelines? Here’s your crash course on whom to tip, how much to give, and how to show your appreciation in other ways as well. No gratuity necessary!


10 Apps That Make Home Maintenance Easier Than Ever

What really runs the world? Well, apps, mostly. Apps call us cabs (Uber), help us slim down (Lose It), and can even find us people to randomly spoon with (try Cuddlr if you dare). It’s time to put some apps to work for you around the house and make life that much easier. Here we run down the top apps every homeowner should have within swiping distance.

Lose your house keys for good

Trade that annoying process of endlessly searching pockets for a tiny key for something a bit more 21st century: the Schlage Sense system, designed to work with Apple HomeKittechnology. Use the app to unlock your door or command Siri to “Open, sesame.” Your phone can also manage up to 30 access codes and even remotely check on lock status (and “Close, sesame” if you forgot to).