Keeping Up With Your Home This Fall : 3 Important Tasks
We are heading straight for Autumn here in DFW and you know what that means! Time to take care of some very important maintenance tasks on your home. So break out a cold one and turn on your big screen TV for some football this weekend and get busy!
Gutters need to be cleared of leaves and debris that may have accumulated in order to function properly. Clogged gutters can wreak havoc on your roof, siding, and foundation. These repairs can be extremely expensive.
Many homeowners opt into a service contract with a gutter cleaning company that schedules twice a year. We recommend these plans because they are typically affordable and there is potential danger involved with accessing the gutters on many homes. Generally these specialists will get up on a ladder and check & clear the gutters & downspouts of debris. Clearing them can often be challenging due to baked on foliage (spring) or frozen leaves (winter) attached to the insides of the channels, so if you are doing this yourself, make sure you have a good ladder and a spotter helping you out. Water is generally run through the system after the channels are cleared. Make sure that all of your downspouts are extended away from the foundation at the ground level. Often, it may be necessary to regrade your soil in some spots so that all water is directed away from your home.
Annual furnace maintenance is mandatory for ensuring its optimal working condition. A poorly maintained and/or inefficient furnace could be costing you huge amounts of money and could prove to be a safety risk.
We highly recommend that annual service be completed by a certified HVAC or other heating specialist. Some of the main things they should do in this annual service include but are not limited to the following:
- Replacing the furnace’s air filter
- Cleaning its burners
- Clearing vent lines
- Checking for any small leaks
- Cleaning its exterior
- Monitoring its efficiency and performance
The attic is an integral part of your home that needs to be visually inspected annually. Problematic attics can lead to health hazards and/or expensive repairs mostly caused by water or mold damage. Inspecting an attic doesn’t take long and requires almost no specialized expertise.
The main thing you should be looking for are signs of water damage. Is any wood warped or water stained? Are there any wood surfaces that are cracked or sagging? If the answer to either of these is “yes”, you should contact a roofing/attic specialist immediately. Water seepage is akin to slow acting poison for a home’s structure. Pay special attention to areas around chimneys, roof vents, and sky lights for signs of water damage as they are often quite vulnerable. Proper ventilation is also key in an attic. If there are any roof vents, blockages caused by nests or leaves are common. Make sure to clear these out by hand. Furthermore, make sure that all of the pipes and ductwork that run through the attic are properly connected and are correctly venting to the outside. If you have an attic fan, test that it’s functioning properly.
There is a lot more to take care of your home after a hot and active summer, winterizing your home and yard is next on the agenda…. stay tuned for more this fall and enjoy the season!
The ABC’s Of House Flipping
While house flipping can be very lucrative, you can lose everything with one bad decision. It’s important to approach this profession with caution and educate yourself as much as possible.
Before you even dream of entering this field, you have to be great with your hands or at the very least well versed on the topic of trades and renovations. You should also have a feel for the market. The last thing you want is all your profits sunk because you bought at the wrong time. It’s not as fun and easy as it looks on TV. This is a job that is not only very stressful but requires a lot of hard work.
It goes without saying that you need investment capital and excellent credit before embarking on a project of this magnitude. This step-by-step guide will set you in the right direction, but it’s important to remember that this isn’t an exact science. Never be complacent and always stay on your toes.
1. Scouting Homes
The most typical way to find homes is through the regular channels, finding a real estate agent, searching online, etc. However it’s important to be patient, always look out for the right deal.
The best bang for your buck is foreclosed homes. Make a habit of routinely checking the Internet for new foreclosed homes. Once you find one that looks good, never buy it on a whim. Always see it in person and bring an inspector.
The real estate market is generally steady, but there can be significant fluctuations from time to time. The last thing you want is to be a victim of these fluctuations. The most important thing to take into consideration when scouting a new home is locations. The better the location, the easier to flip. Selling fast mitigates the risk of these fluctuations. It’s also important to have great relationships with contractors so you don’t get caught with them dragging their feet.
3. What to look for in a house
It’s important not to purchase a potential tear down. What you’re looking for is a home that is structurally sound and only requires cosmetic upgrades. That’s why it’s important to have an inspector to verify that there is no mold or asbestos and that the wiring is sound. You also have to ensure that it’s built on a solid foundation.
4. Which renovations to focus on
As mentioned in step 3 you want a house that only requires cosmetic renovations, structural ones are very pricey. Even when narrowing it down to cosmetic, make sure you are focussing on cosmetics that will actually increase the value of the house. For example, installing a swimming pool is very costly and while it attracts more buyers, it won’t make you any extra money.
The most important room to focus on is upgrading the kitchen. Fresh tiles, a new backsplash, and marble or granite counter tops are essential. It’s also vital that you upgrade the appliances to stainless steel.
Other essential renovations include upgrading the bathrooms, installing fresh hardwood floors and fresh paint of course. Be sure not to neglect painting and landscaping the outside of the house to increase curb appeal.
Once you’ve located a sound house in a good location and finished all the renovations, flipping it should be a cinch. Also, it’s a good idea to be proactive and look for buyers before the project is complete.
When you bought the house with the pool, it looked like it was going to be all fun in the sun and splishin’ and-a splashin’, but now that the first signs of fall are appearing (the emergence of Pumpkin Spice signals just six more weeks of summer), it’s time to figure out how to protect that pool through the winter.
Before You Start Closing, Consider the Climate
Depending on where you live, you may need to take further or lesser measures to protect your pool through the winter. Your goal, ultimately, is to keep that pool and its systems from experiencing any sort of freezing. A frozen pipe, a frozen filter, anything like that could be a very expensive replacement in the spring when you open your pool again.
If you know for a fact that it never gets below 50 degrees Fahrenheit where you live, for example, you might not want to close your pool all the way. But, if it freezes frequently and there’s lots of snow, well, you’re going to have to break out bigger firepower. Living here in DFW, we are a little bit inbetween, it may or may not freeze or snow, but you want to be prepared! This meant as a general guide to pool closing, that being said, your mileage may vary.
Pool Closing Made Easy
Closing a pool isn’t that big of a deal if you have all the right tools and materials on hand. It can be a complicated situation, though, because of all the parts that you’ll need to check as you go. Take your time, keeping in mind the risk of freezing in your area versus the cost to replace the frozen component, and you’ll be ok.
These are the necessary basic steps to closing a pool in a middling sort of climate like here in DFW:
Step 1: Deep clean your pool. Vacuum the entire pool, brush the walls, skim the surface, remove any and all debris. This way you’re starting fresh again in the spring.
Step 2: Test the water. Check that your pool is properly balanced before you put it to bed. This means a pH between 7.2 and 7.8 and alkalinity between 80 and 120 parts per million. If you’re running toward the high sides of these ranges, that’s ok. Check the hardness, too, since calcium deposits can form in your equipment over time.
Step 3: Shock the pool. Shocking the pool right before closing will help it stay as clean as possible over the winter. A 15 minute fast dissolving shock treatment is absolutely fine since you won’t be using the pool again. If you have chronic algae problems, a winter algaecide will be a good addition. Use the same dose as is listed on the bottle for opening the pool.
OPTIONAL: Many pool owners skip the manual adjustments and use a winter closing kit to prepare their water for the long dark march of winter. If you choose to go this way, read the instructions carefully. Some require you run the filter, others do not.
Step 4: Time to plug it up. Remove the eyeball fitting on your return line and plug it with an appropriate plug. Remove the skimmer basket and put it into storage. You can leave the skimmer in the pool if you use a winter skimmer cover to protect it from accumulating water. With a skimmer cover, you can also leave more water in the pool, rather than having to drain the pool below the skimmer level.
Step 5: Protecting the moving parts. The pump, chlorinator and all the hoses (including the skimmer hose) need to be drained and brought inside to prolong their lives and protect them from the cold. Filters should also be winterized according to the type you have installed and kept indoors.
Step 6: Put the cover on. Start by inflating your air pillow, then tossing it toward the middle of your pool. If you have a hard pool cover or are otherwise concerned about the water level, this is a good time to lower it a bit. Cover the pool and, when needed, install a winter cover pump to keep water from accumulating on the pool’s cover.
That’s all there is to it! You can totally do this — piece of cake.