Posted on

Saving energy and money this winter

Increasing energy efficiency is absolutely good for the environment but it also can be good for your wallet! Here are several tips for reducing energy consumption while maintaining comfortable temperatures in your home this winter. The end result also can lead to extra money in your pockets!

· Open the curtains of your south-facing windows to let the sunlight heat your home naturally.

· Turn your thermostat down 10 degrees before you go to bed.

· Seal air leaks around pipes.

· Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning.

· Caulk around windows.

· Change your furnace filters regularly.

· Run your ceiling fan in reverse to bring the heat back down to floor level.

· Add insulation to your attic.

· Move furniture so it doesn’t block your vents.

· Wear extra layers of clothing.

Posted on

Fire prevention tips

According to the National Fire Protection Association, from 2012 to the present, approximately 360,000 fires occurred each year. Here are some basic tips to help you keep your family and home safe from fire.

· Check the electrical cords throughout your home for signs of fraying.

· Never leave pots or pans unattended on your stove.

· Clean out the dryer vent regularly.

· Clean out the lint filter after each load you put in the dryer.

· Don’t place a space heater near furniture, curtains, or other objects that could easily catch fire.

· Have your chimney inspected annually.

· Store containers of cooking oil away from the stove.

· Place matches and lighters out of reach of children.

· Always blow out candles when leaving home.

The following items should be installed in all homes:

· Carbon monoxide detectors—carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, and very combustible

· Fire extinguishers

· Smoke alarms/detectors

Taking these precautions will keep you and your family safe!

Posted on

Why Donofrio & Associates

From the minute you decide to buy a home and all through the various trials of homeownership, no matter what they are, Donofrio & Associates has you covered! We’re a family-owned, full-service home inspection company based in Ashburn, Virginia. Serving our clients since 2001, we specialize in residential and commercial inspections. We also offer:

· In-depth expertise in new construction inspections

· Radon testing

· Air quality mold screenings

· Lead-based paint testing

· And much more!

Beginning the moment you make an appointment, our team of transaction coordinators stands ready to assist you. To make things easier, we provide online scheduling options so you can quickly and easily lock in the exact times and days you need us. Our licensed and knowledgeable inspectors come prepared with the latest technology and generate reports with photos immediately after the inspection―and they’re available seven days a week. Another unique advantage that sets us apart is our in-house structural engineer. This service comes into play when we identify a structural issue during the home inspection. Without any additional charge, our structural engineer goes in and assesses your situation as soon as possible.

We also offer many complementary warranty programs to our clients.  These extended warranties provide you with peace of mind after our home inspection.

Beyond the home inspection process, we offer several continuing education classes for agents and firms across the region. We also produce agent and client quarterly newsletters as well as weekly blog posts packed with useful tips and information.

Donofrio & Associates may be just the home inspection company you need! Find out more―visit our website at donofrioinspections.com or call us at 703.771.8374.

Posted on

Wood-burning fireplaces

Wood-burning fireplaces can save you money by supplementing your main heating source. Also, that warm, cozy glow can’t be beat on a cold wintry night! Before you light it up, though, make sure it’s operating safely.

It’s a good idea to make sure smoke can travel through your chimney efficiently. Check connections to your chimney system to make sure the joints are still sealed tightly and venting systems aren’t clogged. One key to making sure your wood-burning fireplace is operating at peak efficiency is to make an effort to dispose of the ashes consistently. To make this easier, keep an ash bucket next to your fireplace. For optimal burning, use dried or “seasoned” firewood. Seasoned wood has a moisture content of less than 20 percent. Firewood that isn’t seasoned properly:

· Can be hard to light and just as hard to keep burning

· Can cause tars and creosote to line the inside areas of your fireplace and blacken the glass windows

· Can produce a lot of blue-gray smoke

Seasoned wood has another important benefit—when wood is properly cut, dried, and stacked, mold has less opportunity to grow on it.

Having a professional clean your chimney and conduct maintenance on an annual basis will give you peace of mind and keep you safe.

Posted on

Six questions to ask when looking for the right home inspector

Unless you’re buying or selling a home, you probably don’t know of a home inspector or inspection company, but things will quickly change once you find a house you want to purchase! Your real estate agent will likely be the person who first mentions a name or company to you. Though references are helpful and a great place to start, you should be diligent, ask questions, and be comfortable with the company you hire. You can easily narrow your search by asking some key questions. Here are the top six questions worth asking:

1. Are you licensed?

2. What is involved in a home inspection?

3. How long has your company been in business?

4. Do you include a written report?

5. What equipment will you use during the inspection?

6. What sets you apart from other home inspectors?

Two organizations that provide certifications are the National Association of Home Inspectors and the American Society of Home Inspectors; visit their websites for inspectors in your area. Though the price of the inspection is important, it shouldn’t be the determining factor. Looking at the big picture, the cost of a home inspection is low relative to the price of the home you’re having inspected. Remember, you often get what you pay for!

Posted on

Six signs your furnace is on the fritz

For many of us, the winter season is a time for snow, sledding, hot cocoa, holiday celebrations, and warm fires, but colder temperatures also bring about the frequent use of your furnace. On average, the lifespan of a furnace is approximately 15 years. Unfortunately, it could be less if you don’t conduct maintenance regularly. How do you know if your furnace is on the fritz? Here are the top six signs you should look for:

1. Strange noises when the system is running

2. Burner flame is not blue, but yellow; a yellow flame could indicate carbon monoxide

3. Uneven temperatures in rooms due to air not being distributed properly

4. Higher than normal energy bills

5. Frequent repairs

6. Cold air blowing when the furnace is on

The most obvious reason you should not delay scheduling repairs? Your monthly bills will grow higher than normal. Also, remember that the longer your furnace runs while having issues, the faster it will age and need to be replaced. Finally, an inefficient furnace has the potential to become dangerous due to carbon monoxide leaks, as noted above.

An easy way to bypass these problems is to have your furnace checked by an expert each spring and fall. Yearly service checks will keep your furnace running smoothly for years to come!

Posted on

Winter home maintenance projects

Seasonal projects around your home should continue into the winter months. Though it’s important to clean your fireplace and maintain your heating system, your focus during the winter months should be on the exterior of your home. Before winter weather sets in, think about the following projects:

· Remove debris from gutters—water can back up, causing leaks, ice dams, or damage to your roof and siding.

· Store your hoses and turn off the outside water.

· Apply caulking and weather stripping around doors and windows.

· Drain your sprinkler system.

· Seal cracks and leaks in the foundations and walls.

· Clean, cover, and store outdoor furniture.

· Inspect and upgrade attic insulation.

· Buy a roof rake.

· Protect your entryway floor.

Once winter weather begins:

· Carefully remove snow and ice from your roof and gutters.

· Remove snow as quickly as possible after storms from your deck, driveway, and sidewalks.

Finally, it’s always smart to stock up on water, batteries, flashlights, and other supplies ahead of time.

Tackling these projects will keep those winter blues away!

Posted on

What’s included in your home inspection report?

People are often confused about what a home inspection report contains. Is it a simply a glorified “honey do list”? Are there pictures? What is actually included?

A home inspection report is a lengthy document that will outline everything your home inspector sees. It provides an overview of the home you’re thinking about purchasing and typically includes pictures of the various items inspected. Each item the inspector checks is rated as acceptable, marginal, or defective. As an unbiased report to reference, it comes in handy when identifying areas you would like your agent to negotiate.

Home inspection reports include information about:

  • Structural elements: Visible foundation of the home.
  • Outside features: Grading along the house, siding, sidewalks, decks, lighting, and exterior outlets.
  • Roof areas: Condition of shingles, any repairs/patches to flat roofs, vents, chimneys, and gutters.
  • Attic space: Sufficient insulation, proper ventilation, and any sign of leaking or water damage.
  • Interior plumbing: Damaged or leaking pipes, water temperature, water pressure, functioning toilets, sinks, bathtubs, and showers.
  • Basement: Solid foundation, walls, and floors; notation of any signs of water intrusion or damage.
  • Fireplaces: Solid flue walls, functioning damper, and intact masonry in the firebox.
  • Electrical system: Proper function of circuit breakers, outlets, light fixtures, and fans.
  • Appliances: Proper function of stove, dishwasher, refrigerator, microwave, washer and dryer, and all other appliances.
  • Heating and cooling systems: Condition of furnace, air conditioning (temperature permitting), and water heater.
  • Garage: Windows, ceiling, framing, and roof; working garage door opener.

While the inspection is underway, many inspectors will discuss problematic areas of a home and answer any questions. It’s a lot of information to absorb. Thus, the report becomes the document you can reference later as you decide on your next step! Finally, if you buy the home, it then provides a great guideline as to when things may need to be replaced or repaired.

Posted on

Sellers: Is your home ready to go on the market?

As a seller, completing repairs and making sure your home is in great condition before listing is key to a successful sale. Before going on the market or contacting an agent, some sellers may request a pre-listing inspection. This approach will give you the guidance of an inspection report so you can better utilize your time and resources in making home repairs. Before your inspection appointment, you should take these steps:

  • Check to make sure all light bulbs are replaced and working.
  • Fix faucets so none are dripping or broken.
  • Check caulking in the bathrooms to make sure it is in good condition.
  • De-clutter rooms by removing extra furniture, personal items, and excess clothing.
  • Change your furnace filter.
  • Clean out gutters.
  • If the property is vacant: make sure all utilities are on.
  • Light the pilot light on stoves, furnaces, and water heaters.
  • Remove boxes, stored items, or debris from in front of attic entrances, electrical panels, and HVAC units.
  • Have pets secured in a kennel or gated away.

Be prepared to be away for approximately three hours. Once you have the report in hand, you can tackle areas documented as “defective.” Your agent and future buyers will be glad you took the time!

Posted on

Buyers: Are you asking the right questions during the home inspection?

Attending the home inspection is a key piece of the home buying process. Home inspection clients may feel overwhelmed by the process. Listening to the inspector discuss different aspects of a potential home may leave you feeling confused and overwhelmed, but you may not want to interrupt the inspector by asking questions. Let us reassure you―questions are always welcome! If you’re not sure what you should be asking, consider starting with these questions:

  • How bad is it?
  • How do we fix that?
  • What would you fix first?
  • Can you show me how (X) works?
  • How much time do I have before I should replace (X)?

Though many inspectors will provide information whenever they see a defective area of the home, make sure you know the answers to the following in advance:

  • How well is the drainage working around the exterior of the home?
  • Where are the shut-off valves, and how do they work?
  • Are there any serious problems with the roof?
  • Is the deck structurally sound?
  • Is there adequate insulation in the attic? Any signs of water damage?
  • Are all major systems and appliances working?
  • Is there any indication of structural issues or mold?

The more you know, the better you’ll feel when you purchase your dream home!