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.


Flood Sensors and Other Solutions For Your Basement

When we offer articles in this magazine about cost effective solutions to waterproof your basement, and you think you can do the job by yourself, we want you to think carefully first about the problems that you are facing.  If your basement’s problem is only humidity, a humidifier will do wonders to the place.  If on the other hand you have water sitting on the basement floor or there is seeping as well, the problem is no longer as easy to fix.  A basement waterproofing company with a long history in your community can be the only solution you have.  Contact us, we will offer you a  hassle free consultation for your basement needs.


Flood sensors for your basement

Cnet rating: 4 stars out of 5

The good: D-Link’s Water Sensor is smartly designed and features all the important perks to make it an effective flood detector.

The bad: D-Link’s only real weakness is that it relies on being plugged in, which means power outages are its Achilles’ heel.

The cost: $57 to $90

The bottom line: The D-Link Water Sensor is one of the best flood sensors on the market. If you’re considering buying such a device, this should be the first option on your list — especially if you don’t already use a smart-home hub.

Fibaro Flood Sensor

Cnet rating: 4 stars out of 5

The good: The Fibaro Flood Sensor combines clever design with an open interface, allowing users to creatively pair it with sirens, complementary sensors and more.

The bad: The tilt sensor can be hit-or-miss, and the price is definitely steep, especially if you want to monitor multiple areas at risk of water damage.

The cost: $60

The bottom line: The Fibaro won’t be for everyone, but its versatility and reliable design make it one of the best water sensors for homes at risk of flooding.


Wet basement? Try these cost-effective solutions before calling a contractor.

Wet basement? Thinking about calling a basement waterproofing contractor? Stop.

Many contractors will propose the installation of expensive interior drainage systems — even if you don’t need one — when most moisture problems can be solved through less expensive means. You’re more likely to get good results and save a lot of money by exploring other solutions and hiring a basement waterproofing contractor only if absolutely needed. If your home was built within the past few years, check the builder’s warranty for clauses on seepage.

Most basements get wet when rainwater runs toward the walls of houses from roofs, yards and driveways. So your first step is to force it to run away from your home.

Start by cleaning your gutters, repairing holes, and making sure they slope toward downspouts and have not come loose from the house, allowing water to fall directly from the roof to the ground. Test downspouts to make sure they spill water at least four feet away from the house.


What To Do If You Have Water In Your Basement

There is an approximate rain precipitation in the Akron area of about 36.06 inch every year. That’s nothing compared to the precipitation that Aberdeen Reservoir, Washington gets of 130.6 inches of rain every year.  But, the 36 inches of rain a year that we get can still play havoc with your home if your basement has issues.  There are many homes in the Northeast Ohio area that are older homes, and their basements need work.  But, if you have a flooded basement after a heavy rain, do you know what to do first? Below there are three articles about basement flooding and what to do right away.  If you need help finding a solution to your basement problems, contact us, we will be happy to talk to you.


Niles homeowners say flooded basements a recurring problem

NILES, Ohio –

Flooding on Thursday caused some problems for Niles homeowners, and they say this isn’t the first time.

21 News arrived at a home on Brown Street after the rain had passed but, water was still gushing out from the home’s basement pump.

The owner Joan Grusha said the pump became necessary after she spent $14,000 waterproofing the basement but, still experienced flooding.

“Every time is rains real hard we get it,” said Grusha who has lived at the home for 48 years. “I have had water in my basement, I don’t know how many times I’ve had to go down there and clean it up even after I had it waterproofed.”

Just around the corner on East First Street, Pamela Wolfe said her flooding problems are also on repeat.

“My furnace is out, my hot water tank is under water, my washer, my dryer, they’re all brand new because I had to replace them from the last time,” said Wolfe.

And although she said she followed advice to have her drain cleaned out, she fears that only paved the way for more overflow. Her main concern is that the flooding comes with more than just water.

“It’s sewage and water. Somehow they’re connected together, they said ‘Oh when these houses were built they probably hooked your sewer and your storm sewers together.’ There’s been things floating in my basement that weren’t from me,” said Wolfe.


Draining the water too fast could cause the collapse of the cellar walls, floors, and foundation of the house. The water must be drained slowly to equalize pressure on both sides of the wall.

Although the flood has receded, water still in the ground outside your house may be pushing hard against the outside of your basement walls. The water in your basement is pushing back. If you drain your basement faster than the water in the ground is draining, the outside pressure may be greater than the inside pressure and may cause the foundation or the floor to crack or collapse.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Iowa Emergency Management Division (IEMD) recommend the following procedures be followed when pumping a basement to avoid serious damage, collapse, or injury:

  • Begin pumping when floodwaters are no longer covering the ground outside.
  • Pump the water out one foot at a time. Mark the water level and wait overnight.

Water & wind could lead to leaky basement

The tiniest bit of ice can create the biggest problems. For the second morning in a row, the commute was slow because of slick roads. Now, incoming rain could lead to problems inside your house.

Columbus resident, Robert Giehl gave a tour of his basement while it was being waterproofed. A crew had to do repairs on the inside and outside after he discovered water had seeped into his walls and floor. He smelled mildew and knew there was a problem.

Scott Seneff of EverDry Waterproofing says water in the basement is more common in the winter than you might think. The ground is expanding and we are also seeing a triple threat this week of melting snow, power outages and rain.

Scott says you need to attack the water from the outside and inside.

“You should have a sump pump with a back up battery system attached to it, that you can get a few hours up to a day or two in case you lose power.”


 

Buying A New Home in 2017?

 

How to Keep Your Basement Dry

Basement waterproofing and foundation repairs can be very extensive and serious problems if you let small issues become bigger.  There are basement and foundation problems that are very different from home to home that you need to be aware of.   A draught can cause the soil near the foundation of your home to become dry unevenly, making some parts of the structure of your home to sit lower than other parts, causing cracks and possible structural damage to the foundation.

Water sitting around the foundation of your home is a good indicator that you need to make the area around the home slop away from the foundation to avoid water seeping into the basement.

If you have one or more issues with the foundation or basement of your home, contact us, we will be happy to talk to you and offer you a  hassle free consultation.


How to prevent water in your basement

Many Michigan homeowners spend time in the fall prepping their home for the coming winter months. You may have added more insulation in your attic or caulked around your windows and doors, but what about your basement? That winter snow will eventually melt and there is nothing worse than coming home to find your basement full of water.

Ed Krieger of Ayers Basement Systems said the first thing any homeowner can do is to check the exterior of the home.

“Check that your downspouts are connected to the gutter system properly and that they run at least 10 feet away from your basement walls,” he said. “If that all looks good, then you need to check the grading or slope of your yard and concrete.”

Grading refers to the level of the ground around a home. Over time, the ground shifts and if a yard has poor grading, water from rain or melted snow can run back toward the home. If you think this is an issue for you, you may need to contact a professional landscape company to take a closer look.


How to Winterize a House: Tips to Prevent Ice Dams, Drafts, and More

When the weather turns chilly, your house needs to button up, too. And the way to do that is to learn how to winterize your house. No, not once the snow starts falling, but now. Trust us, you’ll want to nip any issues in the bud before the temperature drops too much.

Here’s a handy list of things to check on your house to keep it cozy, save on energy bills, and prevent a nightmare’s worth of damage you’ll have to tackle come spring (or even worse, in the dead of winter).

Conduct a pre-winter inspection

First, size up how prepared your house is for winter by taking a walk around its perimeter and eyeballing these features, says Bob Hanbury, a Newington, CT, builder for 40 years and a board member of the National Association of Home Builders:


 

Handymen Services; Are they Right For You?

pioneer (10)Handymen services are a very inexpensive way to fix those small projects that you didn’t have time do, or do not have the skills or tools necessary to accomplished them.  For many people, having someone they know recommend a handyman is the best way for them to feel confident the job will be done, and the person in question trustworthy.  There are many companies out there that offer the services of a handyman, with license and insurance to back up any project they do. But, regardless of what choice you make, the recommended handyman or the company offering the services of a handyman, be choosy and do a bit of homework before any project you start.


Rosie on the House: Jobs a handyperson can do for you

Lots of times you have little jobs around the house that you don’t have the time to do. Or maybe you don’t have the skills or tools to do the job. So you think you want someone you might describe as a handyman or handywoman.

How do you find this handyperson? You can ask friends and neighbors, of course. You can ask your homeowners association if they have lists of people other neighbors have hired. You can look online.

Many times a contractor or remodeler you have used in the past has someone on staff that does these “handy” jobs. There are also licensed contractors who run handyman services of one kind or another. Of course, you want to find someone who has experience in the kind of job you want done.

There are some rules and regulations about what work a handyperson can do. Arizona law does allow unlicensed handymen or -women to do small home repairs or fixes if the value of labor plus materials does not exceed $1,000 and does not require a permit from your city or county. This handyman’s exemption means almost anyone can do small jobs in your home.

But the state does say that a contractor must have a license before he or she can do any electrical or plumbing jobs in your home. And you must always hire a licensed and insured contractor if your repair or renovation requires a building permit from the city or county.


Home Help: Keep your home safe without compromising style

TIP OF THE WEEK

Home accidents cause nearly 13 million injuries a year. Some simple updates to your home can help you avoid these accidents, as well as give your rooms a facelift.

The less clutter, the better: Sometimes the bulky knife block can be an eyesore or take up too much space on small countertops. If you are looking for new and interesting ways to store sharp knives, try installing magnet strips on the backsplash in the kitchen. This will not only keep your counter clutter free, but give your kitchen some flair.

Step it up: Have kids at home? Put a stepstool that slides into the toe kick beneath the sink so that your kids are able to roll it out like a drawer and step up to wash their hands. This is also great for parents who have young chefs in the house who like to help out in the kitchen.


Buyer Beware – Don’t Fall for the “Tricks” of Home Selling

housesMagazines, TV shows, blogs and your neighborhood realtors’ newsletters are all full of good ideas on how to influence people to buy your house.  What you don’t see as much are the magazines, TV shows, blogs and your neighborhood realtors’ newsletters full of good ideas on how to avoid that influence if you’re the buyer.

Buying a house is a difficult, confusing, time consuming task, and none of us want to make a bad choice.  Here are some suggestions to combat realtors and sellers attempts to sway you.

Smell

Sellers are encouraged to bake cookies, burn candles and use deodorizers to cover up unpleasant smells (mold, animal, dirty/musty, teenage boy, etc).  They’re also used to distract from nearby outside smells (farms, factories, neighbors’ kennels, sewage, etc).

Don’t be affected.  The chocolate chip smell doesn’t mean you’re in your cozy childhood home, and that wonderful cinnamon/vanilla candle combination might be masking the cat odor in the carpet.  If you’re serious about a house ask for “no smelly stuff” when you schedule your 2nd visit and go sniffing through it.

Fresh paint

Sometimes fresh paint is covering old or unattractive paint and sometimes it’s covering mold and water damage.  From the attic to the basement water damage is a fairly common problem in Northeastern Ohio houses; it would be wise to look for it.

Was the entire bedroom ceiling painted or just certain spots (roof leak)?  Has the whole dining room been freshened up or just the wall under the upstairs shower?  Are the freshly painted outside basement walls covering up big problems? 

Look for discolorations in suspicious areas.  Water stains and mold can bleed through paint.  You may be able to see faint outlines if you’re looking for them.  In addition to looking, feel for texture differences. 

Water damage can weaken the drywall, changing the texture and making it soft to the touch.  Does it give or feel mushy if you press it?  Does it look different from the surrounding areas?  Does the odd colored area on the outside basement wall feel moister or cooler (possible water) than another?  Ask the realtor about the spots and bring them to the attention of your inspector.

Creating the Dream

“Imagine your family eating together in this large, airy kitchen.”  “The basement is perfect for that man cave your husband wants.”  “Oh no, the house isn’t too big.  You can turn that extra room into your own private office.” 

Good realtors understand how to get you emotionally invested in a house.  Some will greet you at the door of a house saying, “Welcome home.”  Hopefully, your realtor will help you keep your feet firmly on the ground — just remember they’re trying to sell you something.

But, ultimately it’s up to you to look out for your best interests.  Falling in love with a house may sound romantic and seem necessary, but it can cause poor judgment.  Dreams are nice, except when they lead to buying a lemon.

Watch the TV shows and read the articles through an unemotional buyer’s eyes.  They come close to saying, “Assume the buyer is clueless and can be tricked with candles, staging, neutral paint, natural light and emotional manipulation.”  Buyers beware indeed.


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. 

Home Improvement Tips

pioneer (10)

You might not be selling your home just yet, but having a list of repairs or projects to better your home is a good way to keep the maintenance to a minimum, and the value of your home increasing.  Snow, sleet, high winds, and rain can play havoc to your home if it’s not properly maintained. Gutters full of debris can be a problem when the snow comes, and the spring showers can really be a problem for the basement and foundation of your home if those gutters were not cleaned after all.  Having a list of chores to do this fall, or home improvements that you need to consider, can keep your home and wallet “healthy” this year.

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


Kuffa: Small details could become turn offs for a home sale

Let’s talk about simple turn offs to houses on the market.

We often get calls from people who say, “My lender (or Realtor or parent) told me I should get a home inspection even though I don’t think I really need one.”

Then the day comes for the big inspection and I’m sitting in the driveway just looking at the exterior and my brain is racing because of numerous problem areas I have seen before I’ve even left my vehicle.

Inspecting a house is like being a detective. You are looking for clues, irregularities, oddities and indications of non-professional work. Other clues may be indications that previous owners or residents were possibly “do-it yourselfers” or were just neglectful or didn’t take care of the property. As an inspector, it is always easier to inspect a building whose previous resident has lived there for a long time. This resident has more knowledge about the history of the house and usually their lifestyle and habits are more evident. Also, it is always easier to inspect a house that is represented by a real estate agent than one that is “for sale by owner.” The real estate agent has to abide by specific laws and rules, fills out required paperwork and has their reputation at stake. In my experience, The “for sale by owner” situations typically are more problem laden, less often abide by the same rules as a real estate agent and the seller has decided to cut out the real estate agent’s fees.


Waterproofing Basement Walls: Costs and Options

Tempted by ads that promise to waterproof your basement? Here’s the scoop:

If you’re trying to figure out how to cure a wet or musty basement, you’re probably curious about advertisements for products that claim to waterproof basement walls. So you wonder: Is it really possible to dry out a basement simply by sealing the walls?

Yes, it is possible — but to make sure you’re choosing the right option, you need to figure out if the moisture is coming from the outside, or if it’s actually high humidity that’s condensing on the cool walls of your basement.

How to Find Out What’s Causing the Moisture

Tape a 1-foot-square piece of aluminum foil to the inside of your basement walls, and leave it in place for 24 hours.

If there’s condensation on the outside of the foil, you have high humidity in your basement. Fix it with a portable room dehumidifier or a whole-house humidifier system instead of waterproofing products.

If the foil has condensation on the inside surface (next to the wall), it may be the soil around your house is naturally damp from a high water table or poor soil drainage. In that case, waterproofing your basement walls can be useful.


How to Conquer the Huge Problems Found During Home Inspections

You’ve finally found a buyer for your beloved home and signed a deal. Phew, what a relief! But then comes the reality check, aka the “home inspection.” Such simple words, yet so fraught with stress and fear! Many contracts include a contingency that allows the buyer to back out if serious problems are found during inspection. So, bring on the fear.

Of course, you know your home and you think it’s just fine, but maybe a professional with a less sentimental eye might see it differently?

To keep at least one step ahead, check out these common issues found during an inspection. That way you can fix them, save the deal, and even save yourself!


 

Foundation and Basement Problems and Solutions

pioneer (14)Port Canaveral sustained millions of dollars in damages due to hurricane Matthew, North Carolina faired a bit worse with 1.5 billion worth in damages to homes and businesses across the coast.  Flooding is still a problems in those areas, and government officials hope the flood will recede in one more week. It is hard to predict and prepare for catastrophes like this, but for many homeowners our problems are not so significant.  Water seeping into the basement of your home doesn’t seem so huge after reading about the people in North Carolina.  It doesn’t mean you don’t have to take care of that problem, it means the problem doesn’t seem so big after all.  If you have problems with the basement or foundation of your home, we will be happy to offer you a hassle free, no obligation consultation to see if we fit your needs.  Contact us, we will be happy to talk to you.


Extreme drought causes home foundation cracks across the Valley

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The crippling drought in North Alabama isn’t just hurting farmers and drying up water sources, it could also threaten your home. Foundation repair experts say this is the busiest they’ve been, in the company’s 15 year history.

“The last time we saw a drought like this was in ‘07,” says Ben Bayless, the owner of AFS.

From afar, the Drach family’s home looks in pristine condition. “Very frustrating,” says Jesse Drach. “Inside, we have several cracks getting bigger and bigger.”

When you take a closer look, you can see major cracks have formed, both inside and outside.

The owner of AFS, a local foundation repair company, says this happens when the rain stays at bay.  “These foundation issues are directly linked to the drought,” says Bayless.

Drought conditions affect foundations because when the soil dries, it actually shrinks, causing the foundation to shift or crack.

Unfortunately for homeowners, there isn’t a lot you can do to prevent these foundation issues from popping up.


Wet basement? Here’s what to do

You might not need a waterproofing contractor. You might need to take a few simpler, cheaper steps instead, according to Consumers’ Checkbook.

CONSUMERS’ CHECKBOOK

Wet basement? Thinking about calling a basement-waterproofing contractor? Stop right there.

Many contractors will propose installation of expensive interior drainage systems — even if you don’t need one — when most moisture problems can be solved through less expensive means. You’re more likely to get good results — and save a lot of money — by exploring other possible solutions and hiring a basement-waterproofing contractor only if absolutely needed. If your home was built within the last few years, check the builder’s warranty for clauses on seepage.

Most basements get wet when rainwater runs toward the walls of houses from roofs, yards and driveways. So your first step is to force it to run away from your home.

• Start by cleaning your gutters, repairing holes and making sure the gutters slope toward downspouts and have not come loose from the house, allowing water to fall directly from the roof to the ground. Test downspouts to make sure they spill water at least 4 feet away from the house. You can extend downspouts for less than $15 each; gutter repairs are more expensive. But these improvements are worth the price, even if they do not fully solve your water problem.


Basement and Crawlspace Waterproof Experts Provide Preparation Tips for the Upcoming Season

Waterproof Experts Provide Preparation Tips.
Here are some tips you can observe to help you prevent water damage this coming season. Preparing for the season ahead is best served with the purpose of protecting your home (your family), saving time, and money. Making home investments by taking preparation tips from basement and crawlspace waterproof experts can prevent your finances being dried out in a drought.

. Always check your plumbing – One of the most common reasons for water damage in basements and crawlspaces is a faulty plumbing network. You may have a broken hot water tank system or even a leaking water fixture. And since a great majority of these pipes and water lines run through the basement or other crawlspaces, they tend to get neglected in the process. Take time to review the blueprint of your home and identify where your plumbing is. Otherwise, you can call for experts to try to determine if you have a local plumbing problem.

2. Clean your gutters and downspouts – Your roof is like a large basin that collects water and moisture. If this is not channeled down your spout, then water will eventually have to find a way to go down. And you know where this will lead. Your basement, of course. So, while it is still not snowing and the winds haven’t picked up yet, go up your roof and make sure you don’t have any broken shingles or any roofing material and that your gutters and downspouts are free of any obstruction.