Friday, November 29, 2013

Homeowner 101: Home Maintenance Problems 2

homeowner 101: more home maintenance problems and cures
In continuing with our series on home maintenance possible causes and cures, here are another four more common problems you can encountered as a home owner.

5. Toilet tank refills by itself

a. Possible causes: The inside parts of your toilet tank are made of rubber and therefore subject to wearing out due to constant exposure to water. This causes hardness in the rubber and it begins to leak. The leaking lowers the water level in the tank and initiates the auto refill mechanism. A toilet leaking in this way can waste about 1,500 gallons a month and increase your water bill.

b. Cure: Replace the internal rubber parts if they are worn, cost will be under $25 if you do it. Also, take a look at the chain to make sure it is not tangled or too tight. That would prevent the flapper from closing all the way. Or you can slightly bend the arm connected to the float. Another option is to upgrade to a water-saving dual-flush valve.

6. Groans and creaks.

a. Possible causes: As the temperature changes, all homes tend to develop groans and creaks as the smaller parts contract and expand. Changes in humidity can also cause the noises.

b. Cure: Sorry to say, there isn't one. Every once in a while you may have a nail pop or hear some noises as the home settles, especially if you bought a brand new home. However, really loud creaks and groans are not as common. During winter months, be aware of any snow buildup on your roof, or in the case of a flat roof, any water buildup. If you suspect a problem, call in a professional.

7. Musty odors

a. Possible causes: A fungus called mildew is growing in your home because the indoor humidity is high enough for condensation to appear on cold surfaces. This is most common in basements.

b. Cure: Keep surfaces dry. Increase the air flow in your home with a fan. Ceiling fans are popular for this purpose, especially in homes in the deep South. Try to keep the humidity level below 50 percent in your home during the summer or 40 percent in winter. A dehumidifier can help pull out the moisture or add some more insulation to your home.

8. Smell of rotten eggs when using the water

a. Possible cause: A bacteria is in your plumbing which produces hydrogen sulfide gas (rotten egg smell) or your hot water heater has an issue. To troubleshoot; fill a glass with hot water, move away from the sink and smell it, if there is no smell than the problem is in your drain and not your water heater.

b. Cure: If it's a drain problem, then disinfect your drain by pouring a cheap bottle of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution down it. A rotten egg smell in your hot water only, goes back to the hot water heater. You will need to call a plumber to disinfect your system or he may need to replace the magnesium anode. If you are smelling rotten eggs in both cold and hot water, contact your water supply company or if you have a well, your local health department.

Hope these tips helped you out. These issues can appear in both newer homes and older homes. Some maintenance issues are just not picky. Next week we will finish up this series with four more causes and cures.

Now on to our photo blog picture for today. Here we have a shot of the Brooks Brothers storefront on main street in downtown Greenville, SC. Brooks Brothers is a professional clothing retailer based in New York City famous for their readymade mens suits. They provide classic styling for mens and ladies clothing with skilled master tailors available for fitting services. Special ordering is also available.

brooks brothers clothiers main st greeville sc

If you need assistance with selling or buying a home I can help. Referrals and people needing relocation assistance are welcome! Search Single Family homes in Greenville. Search Condos and Townhomes in Greenville.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Homeowner 101 Series: Home Maintenance

homeowner 101 series home maintenance
Are you a first-time homeowner? Daunted by the issue of home maintenance? Here is some help. Below I will review four common causes and cures for home maintenance problems.

1. Exterior paint peeling

a. Possible causes: moisture maybe getting under your paint. Possibly from leaking gutters above it or from the inside of your home like the bathroom area.

b. Cure: by catching the problem early, you can search out the moisture issue and fix it then scrape and repaint the wall. Don't delay if you have siding on the home because it might rot. Replacing a whole wall or home with siding can be expensive. If the issue surrounds your bathroom, think about installing an updated ventilation fan with a humidity-sensor switch. It will auto exhaust the humid air.

2. Lights that flicker

a. Possible causes: when it is just a single bulb, check the tightness of the bulb in the socket or replace the bulb if it is beginning to look burnt. If your lights are dimming when one of your major appliances starts up, that might be an indication of an overloaded circuit. Groups of lights flickering could indicate issues with electrical panel connections. Loose connections in your panel can cause arcing and lead to a potential fire hazard.

b. Cure: single bulbs are easy to deal with as described above. If you are handy with some tools, then you can shut down your circuits and snug up those loose connections. If you suspect something more serious, call an electrician. Licensed electricians can replace circuits or even whole panels for a lot less than the cost of recovering from fire damage.

3. Rustling noise coming from your wall
a. Possible causes: termites. Not only can you see visual evidence of termites but they can be detected by their sound. Listen to this recording of the Eastern Subterranean Termite. Another option could be carpenter ants which sound like cellophane crinkling.

b. Cure: if you have a termite bond on your home, call your pest-control company and let them know. They will come out and perform a termite inspection on your home. For other pests, they can spray and drop poison pellets around the outside walls of your home to kill off any invaders. Available at your local home improvement store is a product called Ortho Home Defense Perimeter and Indoor Insect Killer. For about $13 for a gallon you get 12 month protection.

4. Knocking noise

a. Possible cause: can occur when turning off your water facets. A "water hammer" happens when fast-moving water stops abruptly and no air chamber is provided to cushion the shock wave. Knocking from your furnace switching on and off is more likely due to metal ducts contracting or expanding with the temperature.

b. Cure: for the water facet, check to see if you have an air chamber. If so, then it might need to be drained. If not, you can employ a plumber to add one. The metal duct noise you will just have to get used to it.

Some of these issues may be more common in an older home than in a brand new build. With codes being constantly upgraded in new homes, you are just getting better circuit panels, furnaces and bug protection. But for those who enjoy buying and living in an older home, these tips might help. Next week we will cover four more causes and cures for home maintenance issues.

This week we have a shot from another local park located in the Greenville area. The views are wonderful! Imagine walking, running or biking along this wonderful path winding through the park. Never fear the warm summer days when you have all this shade!

greenville area parks

Friday, November 15, 2013

Remodeling Ideas for a Champagne Taste

Are you thinking about remodeling? Have a champagne taste but a beer budget? Below are some clever ideas to adding a touch of elegance with breaking your budget. These items can be easily purchased at your local home improvement store.
remodeling ideas for a champagne taste
  • Ceiling Medallions - a quick way to add a bit of old world style elegance. Often placed in living rooms or formal parlors, this easy  DIY project will only cost about $94. Today's medallions are lightweight urethane not the plaster from days gone by.
  • Wainscot - another easy DIY project is adding some wainscot to your home. Whether you want to spruce up your entryway, living room or kitchen, this can be easily accomplished by buying the bead board and installing it over a weekend. Cost of lumber and a gallon of paint. 
  • Crown Moulding - adds an elegant touch to any room. There are several styles to choose from and it can be easily added. Add an extra touch to the kitchen by adding the moulding above the cabinets at the ceiling.  Comes in wood, MDF and Polystyrene. Costs depends on pattern and material. 
  • Kitchen Backsplash - make an elegant impression by adding a stainless steel backsplash to your kitchen. Available in single tiles of all sizes or in patterned tiles. These can be applied directly using adhesive. 
  • Cabinet Pulls - a really quick and easy way to add elegance to your kitchen. Add or replace existing kitchen pulls with stainless steel or retro classic pulls. Price will vary by pull style. 
  • Accent Walls - often used in high end homes to lend a splash of color. Pick a wall in any room and add variety. You could also use stencils or sponges to add texture. If you don't like it, repaint. Don't want to do a whole wall, pick a door or an alcove to add your color. 
  • Salvaged Style - another retro style making a comeback is salvaged. Lower income families would add the inexpensive tins to their ceilings to copy the look in the luxury estates. Today you can copy that look using ceiling tiles. These panels are available in lots of styles and can be painted to match your decor. 
  • Reflective Light - want to add light to a dark stairway? Think about adding mirror tiles to your risers. Look into mirror mosaics by the sheet and using mirror tile adhesive.
While I was writing this I used a popular home improvement web site to look up the items and found most, if not all, available through the store. These stores also offer free classes for DIYers. Contact me about getting on my mailing listing Lowe's coupons.

Another shot from around Greenville. This week we are hosting a beautiful shot from Falls Park in downtown Greenville. Serving as an oasis in the Historic West End, locals and tourist alike come here to relax and enjoy the sound of the falls.

falls park greenville sc

The Reedy river runs through the park with the Liberty Bridge overhead. This bridge is a unique curved, cantilevered marvel of engineering. Get more details on this unique foot bridge.

Friday, November 8, 2013

5 Quick Fixes to Trim your Energy Bills

5 quick fixes to trim your energy bills
Now that we are headed into our winter months, here are some quick tips on how to help reduce your energy bills.

  • Caulk - This may seem simple enough but keeping up with the caulking around your windows and doors will help to stop cold drafts from coming in and warm air from escaping. Use a good grade polyurethane product made for windows and doors. Also target plumbing lines, electrical wires, recessed lighting, crawlspaces and attics. Possible savings: $220/year per U.S. EPA.
  • HVAC - Time to have your fall heating system checkup. Call and set an appointment with your local HVAC contractor to give it a once over before you need to use it. Also, think about replacing your filters. Better airflow means better efficiency. Possible savings: $330/year for duct sealing and tune up per DOE.
  • Thermostat - Replace old outdated thermostats with new programmable thermostats. Using a programmable thermostat allows you to set the temperatures once for weekly or weekend days and allows you to be the boss over when you use your heat. Possible savings: $180/year per EPA. 
  • Light Bulbs - Upgrade your regular incandescent bulbs to energy efficient energy-star rated LED or CFL bulbs. These new types of bulbs may cost more initially but the savings you will get over the next several years will be great. They also run cooler than regular bulbs so no threat of getting burned. Possible savings: $75/year per EPA. 
  • Hot Water Tank - Set you tank water heater to 120° Fahrenheit. This will not only save you energy but lessen the chance for scalding burns. Also, most dishwashers will heat the water they use internally now so no need to keep the temperature high. If you have an older hot water tank with an R value less than 20, get a water heater wrap kit from your local home improvement store and wrap it up. Possible savings: $18 to $39/year.

Alone these might not seem like much of a difference, but add each of these together and you are getting a possible yearly savings of over $800. Imagine paying that much less to the electric company. I was charged a quarter as a child and young adult that every time I left a light on when I left the room. This cured me from leaving lights on to this day I turn off lights when leaving a room.

Hope these tips have helped you out. If you have any money savings tips of your own, feel free to let us know below.

By the way, if you need assistance with selling or buying a home in 2013 I can help. Referrals and people needing relocation assistance are welcome! Search Single Family homes in Greenville. Search Condos and Townhomes in Greenville.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Inexpensive Tips for Staging Your Home for Sale

Hiring a professional stager, although a great idea when selling your home, can cost anywhere from $150 to $500 or more for the stage. Usually, they will come out to your home and walk through it to see what they can use and give you a written proposal based on that visit. Then they hire a company to bring in any rented furniture and accessories and get the home “staged”.

Here are some tips for doing some low cost staging on your own before you get the proposal from a professional.

  • De-personalize – One of the quickest and cheapest solutions to making your home look good. Pack away personal items such as pictures and memorabilia. You don’t want potential buyers distracted by pictures of your family and spend time staring at the pictures instead of viewing the home. Your want your home to show like a model home. Cost to you: a roll of packing tape at $2 to $3.
  • Declutter – goes along with packing away the personal stuff. Pack away the knick knacks, children’s toys if you have kids, clean out closets, drawers and clear off counter tops. Experts suggest packing up 90 percent of the home. Put what you can in a corner of the garage or rent an inexpensive storage unit. Better yet, have a garage sale to make money for the next step. Cost to you: about $45 for a 5 ft by 5 ft unit.
  • Arrange and neutralize – Take any remaining furniture you are keeping in a room and arrange it in a way that attracts the buyer. Take a tour of a builder model home for free to get ideas. If your rooms need a paint job, pick a palette of neutral colors and repaint those walls. Out there colors, although you were happy with them, are not attractive to would be buyers. Cost to you: gallon of paint $12 to $50 plus a bit for painting supplies. Use the money from your garage sale above to pay for this project.
  • Clean, clean, clean – before letting buyers into your home make sure you clean it top to bottom. Get the cobwebs out of the corners, clean the baseboards of dirt, have the carpets shampooed and scrub the grim from around your sinks. Paying to have a professional company clean the home will pay off in the offer. Also, consider baking cookies or simmering cinnamon sticks on the stove before a showing. Track down and remove any offending odors. Once a buyer gets a weft of one they often can’t get past it. Cost to you: cleaning company around $100 depending on location. Cookie dough $3.
  • Increase curb appeal – Don’t overlook your home’s exterior. This is where a potential buyer will get the first impression of your home. Trimming bushes, adding fresh mulch, mowing the lawn, edging sidewalks and pressure washing concrete areas. Take this chance to make your home stand out among the other homes that are for sale. Professional stagers don’t often work with the outside of the home. Cost to you: mulch $3/bag. Pressure washer rent $50/day or less.
Staging doesn't have to cost money - just stream lining - and a good old fashion cleaning from Top (Ceiling Fans) to Bottom (Baseboards) and everything in between like organizing your linen closets and organizing the pots and pans can sell a home. When you let people think you have taken care of your home then they feel more at ease. Most buyers will overlook small items at this point and concentrate on the home and how it would work for them.

Today’s photo blog picture is a look at a unique sight at a local Greenville park. Think of your home like these roots in the picture. If the roots are strong they will take care of the tree. If your home is well maintained it will take care of you in market value when you sell.