Monthly Archives: April 2015

Spring Home Maintenance for Savings

copyright: premier roofing

We’ve already seen how some basic cleaning can save you money in efficiency dollars, and in this post we’re going to expand that to include exterior maintenance and prevention.

It’s a good idea to give your house an annual whole house physical to catch issues before they get out of hand, and do routine maintenance that will extend the life of your home. In the case of home ownership, a penny of maintenance can be worth tens of thousands in repairs. Catching issues before they get out of hand will save time, money, and frustration in the long run.

Outdoor Inspections-
Roof–  Checking out your roof might seem like a daunting, ladder requiring task, but if you know what you are looking for, a simple pair of binoculars should do the trick. Below are some of the basic things to look for. If you see any of these,  call a roofer to come out and inspect further (or contact your homeowners insurance carrier if the damage is following a storm).
Cracked or Missing Shingles
– Shingles That Have Shifted

copyright 2002 Guardian

 –Nail Pops-                                                              copyright frisby construction

Chimney Check-Up

Even if you don’t use your fireplace or chimney, it is important to look it over regularly from the outside. Look carefully for anything missing or gaps between the bricks. Also beware of any greenery growing on chimney, as it is a signal that water is getting in between the bricks, which can ultimately lead to the chimney becoming unstable, dangerous, and expensive to fix.  Another indicator of water is something called “efflorescence”, which appears as an almost chalky white  layer on the outside of the chimney (see picture)In some cases, a special sealer can be applied to stop or repair the water damage, but in other cases an actual chimney repairman will have to be called.

Exterior Inspection

Take some time to walk all around the house and look over the exterior walls and foundation, paying special attention to trouble prone areas like under eaves and near gutter downspouts. Check to see that everything, including siding, looks in tact, as holes and misaligned siding can make way for carpenter ants and wookpeckers.

It’s a good idea to do a similar mini-inspection after any storms, especially those with really high winds, hail or if any trees fall. If you notice anything, take a picture and call your homeowners insurance and they can tell you what to do.

Top to Bottom In the House

Attic– Head to the attic and look for signs of insects or critters colonizing up there like animal droppings or bee/wasp nests. Also look carefully for mold, which can appear as gray or black blotches that look like staining. Good insulation, and proper ventilation will help deter mold growth.

Basement– Down here the things you want to look for are insects (again!),  and mold. As you probably know,  basements can be prone to dampness, which can lead to mold growth. Just like in attics, mold appears as a gray or black staining on wood. Installing a dehumidifier in the basement can help keep it dry.

Be sure check the interior foundation for any cracks in the masonry. If you see anything, call a qualified repairman to take a look at it. Avoid putting caulk into the crack or trying other DIY solutions. Foundation issues can be serious and ultimately affect the structural integrity of the house and should be handled by a professional.

If you live in an older area or historical house: While you are down there, keep your eyes peeled for areas that may have been built to cover up hidden passageways or uneven basement flooring that may be hiding buried treasure.

Maybe??

 

Hot Water Heater

During your whole house physical, be sure to take time to inspect your hot water heater.  Check it for signs of leaks or corrosion.

Resources:
Spring Home Maintenance Checklist
 www.bobvilla.com
Money Saving Home Maintenance

 

Spring Cleaning for Savings!

By Elizabeth Caddy
When the weather finally warms up and the days are longer, we almost instinctively open the windows, and freshen up the house. Did you know that adding a few more things to your Spring Cleaning regimen can actually save you money whether you are a renter or a homeowner?

Switch Your Fans–  Make sure your ceiling fans are going counter clockwise in the warmer weather.  This will help rooms feel cooler than they are, helping you get the best mileage out of your AC.

Vacuum the Coils Behind the Refrigerator– As dust, dirt, and pet hair build up on the coils behind the fridge, it runs in a less efficient (read: more expensive) way. Vacuuming away this stuff annually is a good way to increase the efficiency of an appliance that one of the biggest energy draws in the kitchen!

Dryer Vent Clean Out– It is important to clean out the dryer exhaust (the robot arm looking, flexi-pipe thing that comes out of the back of the dryer) twice a year. Dryer lint and a surprising assortment of dryer stuff ends up in there and it impedes air flow, which causes that dryer to work harder. Clearing this away allows the dryer to work better, saving you money, and maybe even more importantly can help prevent a dryer fire.
Clearing this vent is a little more complex than vacuuming the back of the fridge so here is a wikihow Cleaning a Dryer Exhaust  as well as a youtube video How to Clean a Dryer Vent 

Dust- I cast thee out! Take some time to clear dust off of electronic devices and any household vents. You may need to break out the vacuum for this task, but it’s worth it.
Many electronic devices have a fan inside keeping them cool, which means they have an air intake, which means there is a little area probably caked with dust on there somewhere. Clearing this away allows the machines to run cooler and, you guessed it, more efficiently. Taking the time to do this may also prolong the life of your devices!

Program Your Thermostat Many thermostats allow for programming based on the time of day and the day of the week. Consider setting your thermostat a little higher when you know people will be away or at night. Experts recommend setting the temperature to 78 degrees F during the summer months, allowing for comfort while preventing your AC from running excessively. This combined with your counter clockwise ceiling fans may even feel cooler than that.

Change Your Filters (no, not your Instagram Filters) If you’re an average person with a busy life, it’s probably time to change your whole house filter. The often forgotten, rarely changed (is that just in my house??) HVAC filter plays an important role in the air quality in the house and the efficiency of the HVAC system. Regular changing of the filter allows for unimpeded air flow and can cut down on the amount of pollen and other allergens in the air. Spring, with it’s rush of pollen, is a good time to change the filters and give everyone a breath of fresh air.

Check out this graphic made by AMBITENERGY that covers the above and more.

Health is Wealth– Cleaning a house is a big job and we are taught to reach for harsh cleaners that are often filled with chemicals, fragrances and other toxins. This year consider cleaning with some very effective, non-toxic cleaners that you can make yourself for MUCH cheaper than the cleaners you have already been using.

Wellness Mama is a great blog for information about homemade cleaners. Here is a link to her blog post on Natural Cleaning

Her blog has suggestions, recipes,  and tips for cleaning everything from the staples like floor and glass cleaner to things like laundry stain treaters and ways to clean urine (parents and pet owners!)

STAY TUNED FOR THE PARTNER POST TO THIS: Spring Home Maintenance for Savings!