Home Repairs That Can Save You Money

Maintenance is the key to keep your cars running smoothly, your appliances working, and your house looking beautiful.  There are a few maintenance tips for your home that can help you avoid costly repairs later.  Cleaning the gutters of your home and making  sure they are not loose or clogged can save you repairs  due to leaking water to the basement, or damage done to the roof. Making sure the water downspouts adapters are firmly attached, and are taking the water away from the foundation of your home, can save you from having water sitting around the foundation and eventually finding a way to the basement. Prevention is the key to saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars in unnecessary repairs.

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


5 Home Repairs to Make Now to Avoid Problems Later

If you put off fixing a wobbly fence post or squeaky door hinge, it’s probably not going to end in a homeowners insurance claim. Other home repairs, if left unchecked, can quickly domino into major disasters. Water is a factor—if not the primary cause—in the majority of high-risk situations. Here’s how to identify priority home repairs and handle them at their source:

Runaway Rainwater

Telltale signs: Rain pouring over gutters and puddling along foundation walls.
Why you need to act: Water can deteriorate siding and foundation walls, eventually finding its way to interior spaces and damaging them.
What to do: Inspect the entire gutter system for clogs and corrosion; you can clear clogs yourself, but if your gutters are corroded, you’ll want to talk to a pro about having them replaced. Check that the soil around your home’s foundation slopes away from the house at least 1 inch per foot for 6 feet or more. Regrade the soil if the slope is insufficient.


Tips from the happy homeowner playbook: Don’t let your cash go down the drain or out the window.

Whether your live in a 19th-century farmhouse or 1990s colonial, chances are you’re leaving real money on the table each year in the form of excessive energy consumption. Simple behavioral changes, such as turning off power-hungry video game consoles, can add up to serious savings. The following energy-efficiency advice also includes high-hanging fruit, like upgrading your water heater and making the investment in rooftop solar.

Eliminate Drafts

Here’s an easy way to pinpoint air leaks in your home that make for drafty rooms in the winter and can drive up annual heating costs by $100 or more. First, turn on every exhaust fan in the house, including a whole-house fan and kitchen range hood, and hold an incense stick up to suspected leaks around windows, doors, and even electrical outlets. If the smoke blows sideways, you have a leak large enough to undermine your home’s comfort and efficiency. For around $30 worth of caulk, weatherstripping, and expandable foam sealant, you can plug the leaks for good.


How to Afford All Your 2017 Home Improvements

A leaky roof or a sagging gutter can be hard to ignore. The same goes for some old-school wood paneling in your den or that hideous palm tree wallpaper you put up in a (misguided) attempt to recreate your honeymoon. Unfortunately, most home improvements don’t exactly come cheap.

In fact, it may even feel like you’re basically saving up another down payment on your home to fix it up. There are some ways, however, to sock some dollars away and have your new sink and bathtub in the new year, too.

Here’s how to work some much-needed home improvements into your 2017 budget.

1. Save

Sure, you may feel inclined to rush into renovations — and when it comes to certain home repairs, things must be readily done. But it still behooves you to save where you can before crossing things off the to-do list. One trick?

“[Set] an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account to take place every two weeks on your payday so that the money leaves your account before you ever have a chance to spend it,” Brian Davis, director of education for real estate blog SparkRental, said.


 

Is Your Sump Pump Working?

This winter in Northeast Ohio hasn’t been bad.  Temperatures are nothing compared to what they used to be a few years back, and snow accumulation has been minimal — my daughter is still waiting for enough snow to build our annual igloo — and unless February brings too much snow to make up for January’s, the climate in Northeast Ohio is not too shabby.

Spring will come sooner than you think.  The rains will undoubtedly come too, and with the rains come flooded basements in many homes around here.  We are humans, and busy humans to boot.  We don’t check many things around the home, unless we have an emergency or pay someone to do it for us.  For example: When was the last time you checked the sump pump to make sure it works? Do you know if you have one?  A sump pump can be an incredible help if you have a flooded basement, and making sure is in working condition can be very beneficial for your whole family.

If you have a sump pump and are wondering what to do, these are some of the basic things you need to check to make sure it’s working properly.

  1. The electrical system of the sump pump can suffer from damages over time.  Power surges during storms can damage it and leave you with a sump pump that no longer works.
  2. If you are testing the sump pump, make sure you go outside to make sure that is discharging the water.
  3. Replace the battery every couple years.
  4. Make sure the motor of your sump pump is not making strange noises when running it.  If it is, follow the manufactures’s instruction to fix the problem, or call a knowledgeable company to fix it for you.
  5. Make sure the drain lines are clean, and will not block the water exits.
  6. Maintenance is key for your sump pump.  The manufacture’s instruction booklet can give you clear instructions on how to properly maintaining your sump pump, and keep it working for years.

If you have already one installed, checking it before the rains arrive can be a very helpful aid when you most need it. Look into the manufacture’s booklet to know what steps to take before you test it, or call a knowledgeable person or company to do it for you.

Looking at any Home Depot, or Lowes store, you will find that there are hundreds of sump pumps to choose from.  Make sure that if you are going to replace the one you have, you need to make sure it is the right one for your home.  A too little or too big sump pump for your home cannot be good and even shorten its life. Talk to a professional if you are unsure what to buy.


Home Improvement Projects For 2017

We hope you a had a great 2016, and if you made New Year’s resolutions, and home improvements made the list, then this is a good place to start.  For many families, home improvements that they can do themselves is economically sound, and they do tackle those improvements themselves, but there are some home improvements that hiring a professional to do them, is the smart thing to do.  Basement waterproofing is one of those improvements that you do need to hire a professional company to do it, and we will be happy to offer you a free estimate to see if we meet your needs. Contact us, we’ll he happy to talk to you.


5 Home Improvement Projects for the New Year

It happens every January. Motivated by the sense of a fresh start for tackling those home improvement projects that never got done the year before, many of my clients come to me with a wish list of to-dos–primarily inspired by the latest trends in design and remodeling. This year I thought I would beat them to the punch and compile my own list of what I think contractors–and DIYers–will be called upon to do the most in 2013.

1. Install Garage Organization Systems

Why it’s popular: Getting organized is probably the top New Year’s resolution of home improvement enthusiasts. What’s great about starting out with the garage is that the area can then serve a workshop for other projects. Plus, there are just tons of options to choose from in home improvement stores.

Expert tip: It may sound obvious, but remember to leave room for car.

2. Update Lighting

Why it’s popular: Again, because there are so many great options to select from. Home owners can add recessed lights, spotlights, ceiling fans (with light fixtures), under cabinet lights… the list of interesting styles of lights available looks to continue to grow in 2013. My personal favorite for really making an impact fast is the addition of a tube skylight. They can be installed in less than a day and they bring sunlight directly into the home, but they have the profile of a recessed light, so they won’t draw too much focus in the room.


Three easy home improvement projects you can tackle right now

During the milder months — like summer and fall — homeowners naturally tend to prioritize working on the exterior of their houses, because the weather is nice. But in the winter, we’re more apt to tackle smaller home improvement projects inside. This seems like a no brainer, right? After all, no one wants to redo landscaping when it’s 35 degrees outside.

With that in mind, Chip Gaines, host of HGTV’s Fixer Upper and lead contractor/owner of Magnolia Homes, offers these three easy home improvement projects to help you make the most of your winter indoors.

Repaint your walls

While you’re holed up inside the house decorating for the holidays or just escaping the cold, you may start noticing places on your walls in high-traffic areas with one too many scuff marks or kids’ grimy handprints. Whether they come from the kids, the pets or even yourself, erasing them is quick and easy.

KILZ Hide-All primer and sealer can take care of these marks and more. This high-hiding product only needs one hour of dry time before you apply your topcoat, so there’s no need to set aside a whole weekend to cross this project off your list.


Only certain home improvement projects will pay you back

In many markets and today’s economy, most of your home improvement projects and remodeling projects are not going to make you money. You won’t see a good home improvement return on investment for all your remodeling projects. The money that you spend remodeling your bathroom, adding a deck, or finishing a basement will unfortunately not translate dollar for dollar in new home equity.

If you spend $10,000 remodeling your master bathroom, that rarely converts to $10,000 in added home equity if you were to put your home on the market immediately afterward. Some projects have a higher impact or rate of return. One great rule of thumb is that anything with running water, such as bathrooms and kitchens, have a high correlation when it comes to increasing your home’s value relative to the money you spend. Many recent studies have shown that you can only expect a 70% to 80% return on your investment in a kitchen remodel should you decide to sell your home.


 

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.

Home Repairs That Can Save Your Budget

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Doing a little bit of maintenance around your home every year can surely prevent costly repairs that you are not expecting. A list of yearly chores for the fall is a good way to keep you organized, and keep your home healthy thought out the year. Here are 4 chores for you to do this year.

1.Tree branches that are too long around your home can be trim to a good size, and help you keep them from damaging your home during a good storm.

2. Cleaning the gutters, and making sure they are debris free, can help you keep the water flowing well.  Water sitting around the foundation of your home will eventually find a way to the basement, and   give you a new set of problems.

3. Inspecting the roof for loose shingles, or other problems can help prevent further damage to the roof.  Inspect the foundation of the home as well.

4.Change your smoke detector batteries, and carbon monoxide detectors as well if you have them.


Six Expensive Home Repairs You Can Avoid With A Little Maintenance.

The cost of owning a home goes well beyond the price you paid for the house itself. When something breaks, you have to fix it, and those repairs can be costly. You can’t foresee or avoid every home repair, but some regular maintenance can save you hundreds — maybe thousands — on some of these big ones.

Inspect Your Roof Every Six Months to Avoid a Costly Roof Replacement.

If you have a loose shingle or a leak in your roof, it will typically cost you several hundred bucks to fix the problem. That’s not exactly spare change, but if the problem goes unaddressed, the damage will cost a lot more in the long run.

When you neglect a leak, water can seep into the insulation and other parts of your attic, which can lead to mould growth and structural damage to your attic’s decking, beams and joints. At this point, you may have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to fix the problem. Duh, that’s what homeowner’s insurance is for, you might think. Bad news, though. Typically, homeowner’s insurance only covers damage that is sudden and not preventable. Most policies won’t cover any expenses you could have prevented with proper maintenance.


Quick Fix Home Repairs You Can (Really!) Do Yourself

Did you know…

There are some quick fix home repairs you can do yourself, at little to no cost?

Patching up those small holes in your wall from nails and screws can be a cinch…with a just a little toothpaste! Squeeze a bit into the hole, and simply use a putty knife or playing card to scrape off the excess!

Scuffed linoleum floors can also be rejuvenated with a little toothpaste just apply some to a dry towel and buff out those scratches. An old tennis ball fitted at the end of a broom handle can also do the job!

Finally, if you have any loose laminate tile that needs to be adjusted, try using an old hair dryer! Hold the dryer a couple of inches away from the tile and move it around until the laminate’s glue softens up. Then, simply reposition as needed! Just be careful not to hold the dryer too close for too long or you’ll burn out the motor.


Video: How a Sump Pump Helps Protect Your Home from Flood Damage

If you’ve ever been the victim of water in your home then you know how much of a hassle and how costly it can be to repair the damage. Having a sump pump in your house is the best defense against flooding. A plumber can install one for you or replace your broken one.

Brad Isley, L.E. Isley & Sons Inc.:  “Anybody that has a sump pump pit needs a sump pump. If you have a basement you have a sump pump pit and if you have a crawlspace you’ll have a sump pump pit so you’ll need a sump pump. Older homes sometimes do not have a sump pump pit and there are companies out there that will put those pits in and run the piping. There are a lot of different model, sizes, and horsepower on a sump pump. It’s based on your application. A traditional home uses a 1/3 horsepower sump pump. Some of your larger homes or large commercial buildings use 1/3 or 1 horsepower sump pump.


 

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. 

Make Your Basement Safe for Storage

pioneer (9)It’s the unusual, and lucky, person who doesn’t want more storage space. Even people who are ruthless about clutter need a place for their “must keep” items.  Thank goodness for basements.  When used properly a basement can be a great place to safely store a variety of objects for a long time. 

Unfortunately, in most households basement storage just happens, there’s no organization to it.  Items are tossed into unsuitable boxes and bags, then “temporarily” put in corners, on shelves and in cabinets — where they stay for years. 

People often unintentionally damage or ruin their things, sometimes important keepsakes and valuables.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  A little bit of knowledge and planning can go a long way toward making sure your possessions are protected.  Here are some things to consider when making your basement safe for storage.

  • Every house and basement has bugs, so it’s smart to plan for them.  What kind do you have?  Are they the kind who do damage and need to be exterminated (carpenter ants, termites)?  Or are they the kind to create deterrents for (spiders — sealed bags and boxes, or moths — balls or cedar chips)?
  • Think about plastic or wire shelves instead of wood.  Wood shelves absorb moisture and can damage items stored on them. 
  • Get a dehumidifier, it’ll help control dampness and odors.
  • Go through your belongings and decide what storage containers and packing materials are appropriate for them.  Grandma’s quilt (damp) and your mother’s good china (breakage) need something different.
  • People often store tools, iron or steel possessions in the basement thinking it’s safe.  They don’t think about rust until they unpack Uncle Joe’s vintage train set and see that it’ll need major, expensive repairs to get it back to the condition it was in when first packed.  Consider a light coating of machine oil every few years for protection. 
  • Furniture can easily get ruined in a basement.  Moisture, odors and bugs can damage it fast and beyond repair.  Consider using unbleached drop cloths or old color fast sheets to drape over it.  Store it at least 3 inches from the wall and elevated on non-wood pallets, bricks or blocks to prevent moisture damage. 

Basements are funny places — they hold our cherished memories alongside our junk.  It’s worth the time to safeguard the valuable and useful.  After all, what will your kids put in their basements if you don’t preserve anything to give them?


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. 

Organizing One Room At A Time

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Researches have found for many years now that having a clean home is not only “good” for you, it is good for your health as well.  A clean home seems to reflect the state of some  homeowners health, and even  the EPA – The United States Environmental Protection Agency-believes that the indoor air quality of some homes can be up to five times more polluted than the outdoors. Pollen, dust, mold ,and cleaning chemicals that are found in the home are a constant worry for many families, especially when they have small children or children with respiratory problems. 

To inspire you to get organized and therefore having a cleaner home, follow the links below.


Reduce interruptions before you start organizing

Some of you wake up with good intentions to organize your home. However, by the end of the day you feel dismayed because you could not follow through on those good intentions.

In many cases, it’s interruptions that keep you from accomplishing your organizing goals. The key is to reduce as many interruptions as possible before you start.

If you want to succeed, especially if you’ve taken off work, don’t tell anyone you’re home for the day. If people know you’re available, they are more likely to interrupt you.

Tell your family members who will be home, the set hours you plan to organize. Request they not interrupt you during that time.

If you have young children, ask your spouse, grandma or a friend to care for them during your organizing time. Your family will benefit from your home being more organized. Plus, organizing can also give your relationship a boost. This is a big incentive for a spouse to find something fun to do with the kids.

Peter Bregman’s quote, “The best way to avoid interruptions is to turn them off,” is spot on. Turn off your phone and shut down your computer before you get started. You need quiet time to make decisions regarding your possessions and to process the emotions that often surface.


The Pros Reveal Their Personal Organizing Secrets

The term organizing tends to conjure images of color-coded labels, exhaustive filing systems, or strict, Kondo-style minimalism. But the truth is, even the houses of professional organizers aren’t always pristine. “One of the things we get asked most often is whether our own homes actually stay organized or whether our kids destroy them in a split second,” says Clea Shearer, who co-owns organizing company the Home Edit with Joanna Teplin. “Our answer is always the same: Of course our kids destroy it, but if you put simple systems in place, you can get it back to perfection in about ten minutes.” Here, Shearer, Teplin, and another industry pro, Marissa Hagmeyer, a cofounder of organizing service NEAT Method, share the secrets that make organizing a habit, not a chore.

They don’t buy a zillion bins
Yes, vessels are your friends, but don’t think a shopping spree at the Container Store will solve all your problems. Buying the wrong boxes can just add to your clutter. “Most home organization mistakes begin when bins, baskets, and other organizers are purchased before the actual organizing has been completed,” says Hagmeyer. Edit first, and then choose storage strategically. “You must know exactly what you have before the purchasing begins.”


Organizing Your Home Just Got Easier

If you’re like me, there has most likely been a time where you have been attempting to improve and organize your home, only to be met with frustration due to lack of space or a tight budget. It’s an inevitable outcome when there is just so much space within a house to hold all the necessities, hey, even fun and entertaining things, that we have accumulated over the years.

One thing I have been noticing in the homes of my friends who manage their space particularly well have been nifty sliding shelves in their cabinets. Nearly everyone has seen or knows someone with sliding shelves. Often times they’re referred to as rolling shelves, slide out trays, pull out shelves, extending shelves, and the list goes on. But regardless of what you call them, there is no doubt that sliding shelves are an organizational blessing to any home space.

With simple installation, sliding shelves can be the instant and unexpected tool that will have you saying, “Who knew I had all this space?” Shelves That Slide are the number one- Tucson trusted pull out shelf company that is here to answer all of your home organization needs.


 

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.


 

Taking Care of Your Basement and Your Finances

pioneer (13)Unhappy customers are always more than willing to post a bad comment on a company’s Facebook page, or a bad review someplace else.  They have reason sometimes, but if you are doing a project where signing contracts is involved, doing research about the company and the products you are buying pays off. Those unhappy customers are unhappy for a reason, and although their comments may be exaggerated, maybe there is a grain of truth there. The BBB is an excellent place to check a business credibility, and although you should not inherently trust the BBB, that’s a good place to start. Trust your instincts as well if you believe there is something not quite truthful about the salesperson sales pitch, it is your money after all. Take care of it!


Analyzing basement cracks, shifts

In the last couple of articles we have been discussing what I see and what you see when looking at the same area or item in a house. We have referred to this as “double vision.”

In the past articles, we have spent time looking at the exterior of the house, the property, the garage and attic.

Today, lets go down into the basement and see if we still experience “double vision” here.

I always look forward to going down into the basement because usually it tells me more about the house than any other area. If the basement is finished off into a living space, it is more difficult to observe the systems, but on the other hand it tells us about the past owner’s mentality as it relates to making improvements. Finished basements typically are done by someone other than the original builder, often show semi-professional workmanship and they have shortcomings and issues.

In most cases, however, the basement is unfinished, but often it is full of boxes, tools, exercise equipment and old furnishings. Many people enter this area, grab their forehead and say, “Where do I start?” Well, let me give you a tip on how to get started.


Judge criticizes Green contractor convicted of bilking elderly Copley couple

A judge blasted a Green man convicted of white-collar crime after he attempted to hide his face from a newspaper photographer during his sentencing hearing on Wednesday.

“You’re a convicted felon,” Summit County Common Pleas Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands reminded Allan Vertucci, 41, who in January was found guilty by a jury of bilking an elderly Copley Township woman and her now-deceased husband out of $80,000.

Rowlands said Vertucci’s response to a Beacon Journal photographer snapping pictures showed he had no remorse for the couple or their ordeal, which left them bankrupt.

“This is a case devoid of one iota of remorse. I understand Mr. Vertucci maintains his innocence, and that’s his right, but to not even express sadness,” Rowlands said. “Mr. Vertucci is sitting here like he’s angry at the world.”

Rowlands was scheduled to sentence Vertucci on Wednesday. She also would have imposed restitution so the elderly woman could be repaid the money taken from her.


Ways to spot and stop basement water problems

Water damage. Until they’ve experienced it, homeowners tend not to keep it top of mind.

But it’s something everyone should be looking for in the basement of their home – or a home they’re thinking of purchasing.

 

If left unchecked, water can cause significant damage to the foundation, as well as harmful mold buildup.

As a result, it pays to know the signs that water is infiltrating a basement and how to remediate it.

“There are a few telltale signs I look for when I enter a basement,” said Bob Cunliffe, a basement waterproofing contractor who owns Basement Medics in New Hope, Pa., with his son Ryan. “The first is freshly painted walls.”

“There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with painted walls, but it could be a way to cover up a problem,” he said.

Next, he said he looks for stains on walls or a white powdery substance on block walls called efflorescence. The powder is mineral deposits and a sign that water is pushing its way through the block – or once did.

Lastly, Cunliffe said to be on the lookout for cracking.