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:
- Strange noises when the system is running
- Burner flame is not blue, but yellow; a yellow flame could indicate carbon monoxide
- Uneven temperatures in rooms due to air not being distributed properly
- Higher than normal energy bills
- Frequent repairs
- 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!
One of the biggest benefits of stucco is that it can help make your home more energy efficient. However, if a stucco exterior is poorly installed or not maintained properly, several serious issues can arise. The most serious problem stems from water-related issues—specifically, excess moisture that becomes trapped in your home.
One thing you can consider to protect your investment is a stucco inspection. Only a professional stucco inspector will truly be able to tell if your home may have problems. Here is an overview of what this inspection may include:
- Visual inspection: The inspector will first walk completely around your home and look for telltale signs of moisture—such as staining, cracks, and stucco running below grade.
- Moisture probes: This method of identifying the amount of moisture in specific areas involves drilling small holes and inserting a moisture probe into an area. The probe holes are then filled with a silicone caulk that ideally matches the color of the stucco and generally blends into the system.
- Thermal imaging: An infrared image of the home can often show areas with levels of moisture that can cause problems.
If the inspector notes areas of concern, you should call a professional stucco expert to remediate and repair those areas.
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!
When buying a home, your lender may require homeowner’s insurance, which in turn usually means a termite inspection. Even if your lender doesn’t require homeowner’s insurance, most lenders still require a termite or Wood Destroying Organism (WDO) inspection.
Termites may be small, but they typically live in
large colonies. It’s possible to go for years without knowing they’re
destroying your home. Termites need food (such as wood), moisture, and
warmth to survive. Wood building materials in and around homes can
provide the perfect food source, and insufficient grading that allows
puddles to form near your foundation or air conditioning units that
create run-off moisture can offer the perfect amount of moisture for
Some indications you may have a termite infestation:
- A temporary swarm of winged insects in or around the foundation of your home
- Cracked or bubbling paint (which may indicate termite droppings)
- Wood that sounds hollow when tapped
- Mud tubes on beams or in crawl spaces
A termite inspection will let you know if you have any infestation. Give us a call or visit our website to learn more!
Home inspections can be scary. Just when you think you’ve found the perfect house, an inspector comes along and tells you everything’s that’s wrong with it. Though most things that turn up during a home inspection aren’t deal breakers, some are more serious. Here are a few items you should watch for; problems in these areas can end up costing you a lot of money:
- Electric panels: Some brands of electrical panels should be replaced due to safety issues, including Federal Pacific, Zinsco, and Bulldog Pushmatic. All of them have issues around not tripping properly when excess current goes through them.
- Decks: Decks are built to last 12–15 years. Older decks may present issues with the fasteners, which can corrode and lose their hold on the house.
- Chimneys: If a chimney is cracked and is beginning to separate from the house, it may need to be taken down and rebuilt.
- Trusses: Broken or altered trusses are always an expensive problem because they can affect the structural integrity of a home.
- Environmental hazards: A professional should address hazards like asbestos insulation or floor tiles, termite damage, mold, or lead paint.
Always attend your home inspection and use the time to talk with the home inspector. Knowing the problems ahead of time will allow you to make a good decision about purchasing a home.
To learn more about asking a seller to repair or replace an item found during a home inspection, read our blog post from 9/20/2018. It also talks about our latest agent tool: Repair Request Builder.
Once colder weather hits, people tend to stay inside. When a house is closed up inside, airborne toxin levels actually become higher. Before you panic and run out to buy an air purifier, consider adding houseplants for a natural fix. The leaves and roots of plants digest contaminants in the air.
Benefits? People who work or live near plants tend to have lower blood pressure, recover faster from illness, and have improved mental clarity and fewer headaches. Here are six plants that do a great job of purifying the air:
- Bedroom: Gerbera Daisy
- Bathroom: Dracaena Janet Craig
- Kitchen: English Ivy
- Hallways: Peace Lily
- Laundry Room: Boston Fern
- Attached Garage: Golden Pothos
Think about adding a few plants to your rooms and watch the benefits blossom!