Safety Tips For Your Home This Holiday Season

The National Fire Protection Association safety tips for this holiday season are common sense for many of us, yet we insist on doing many of the things that are dangerous to the safety of our families.

According to The National Fire Protection Association, more than 1/3 of home decoration fires started by candles, and almost half of the home decoration fires started because decorations were placed too close to a heating source.

We enjoy the lights and decorations around the home to help us celebrate the holiday season so much so, that we neglect safety tips that can prevent fires and damages done to our homes.

Safety during the holiday season should be your most important concern, and it’s not very difficult to read safety labels and follow them accordingly. Keep your home safe by following these common-sense safety tips.

  1. Test ALL the smoke detectors in your home.  Replace the batteries and replace the old smoke detectors that are not working properly
  2. Buy a small fire extinguisher.  It can cost you less than $15 dollars and save you thousands.
  3. Keep the fire extinguisher close to the kitchen.  Fires that begin in the kitchen are numerous during the holiday season and can get out of control in a matter of seconds
  4. If cooking extensively during the holidays, make sure children are protected from oil burns, or other stove-related injuries by talking to them ahead of time.  Baking cookies should not be the beginning of a trip to the emergency room
  5. Place the Christmas tree away from the fireplace and any other heating sources
  6. Place candles away from flammables decorations, walls, curtains, or any item that can catch fire quickly.
  7. Indoor lights should not be placed outdoors and vice versa.  Follow the safety instructions from the manufacturer.
  8. Test the Christmas lights before using them.  If the cords are damaged or the lights are old and unreliable, buy a new set.  They are very inexpensive all other expenses considered.
  9. DON’T leave any candles lighted or Christmas tree on if you leave the home.
  10. Books, magazines or newspapers should never be left close to candles or other heating sources

Remember the holiday season is a time of joy.  Keep your loved ones safe during this time of year.


Fall and Winter Chores To Maintain A Beautiful Home

Affordable housing is not a joke.  Many people around the country cannot afford to own their own home or rent a home without spending a large portion of their income paying rent. 

Owning a home is without a doubt a huge expense, but for many families, it’s a stabilizing force that gives them a sense of security. Homeownership allows communities to grow and be safe, and to create an environment where children feel safe and thrive.

But, for many families owning a home and maintaining a home can be a struggle. A good rule of thumb says a homeowner should set aside 1% of the purchase price for the yearly maintenance of their home. If you stretched your finances to the maximum buying the home of your dreams, the yearly maintenance of the home might be a bit difficult to accomplish.

Keeping with the maintenance of your home means taking care of the problems that arise in a timely matter.  Ignoring a problem or procrastinating can cost the homeowner more the longer he waits.

From easy chores to prepare your home for the changing seasons to extensive work your home might need, yearly checkup maintenance is key in maintaining and keeping your home beautiful

Are you now getting ready for the fall and winter chores your home needs to keep it running efficiently? Here is a checklist for you to go through. 

  1. Replace/test smoke detectors around your home
  2. Schedule a winter maintenance check for your furnace
  3. Change the filters in the furnace
  4. Check windows and doors to make sure the seals are intact
  5. Buy a carbon monoxide detector or test the one you have at home
  6. Clean the gutters from all leaves or debris
  7. Cut or trim all branches close to the home
  8. Shut off sprinklers and store away any gardening supplies
  9. Empty the gasoline tank from your lawn mower
  10. Make sure your shovels and rakes are handy for this fall and winter

5 big ticket items you might need to check and price before this year is over.

  1. Basement waterproofing
  2. Replace windows or doors
  3. Upgrade or replace an old heating system
  4. Replace the water tank
  5. Replace your AC unit

These are big-ticket items that you might need to do some research or call contractors or companies for pricing.  If you do the research first and call different companies to compare prices, you can get a good price and a good company to do the job.


Interior vs. Exterior Basement Waterproofing

When a homeowner is faced with water issues in their basements, there are many questions that begin to take place in the homeowners’ mind.  Is the sump pump working? Can I salvage anything? How long will it take me to dry out the basement? Can I waterproof the basement myself?

Depending on the problem in a basement, every homeowner should contact a qualified professional before attempting to waterproof the basement themselves, but also to learn the options available to them, the pros and cons of a particular method, and pricing.

There are many available options when waterproofing the basement of your home. Interior basement waterproofing is one of these options.

When is it advisable for you to adopt this option? 

When the walls of your basement are dry and the water seeping is coming from where the floor meets the wall, the only solution to fix this problem is an interior basement waterproofing system.  A basement waterproofing company can install a “channel” drain system on top of the floor that will take the water to a draining point and out of your basement. As with all systems, installing a “channel” drain system comes with its issues as well. Water sits on the trough till there is enough water to begin moving and taking it to a drain point, but on the bright side, this solution can be much cheaper than other systems since it requires less labor and trenching to install.

When Is it necessary to dig around the foundation of your home?

In older homes, it is common to find problems in the basement.  From water sitting on the floor, foundation issues or structural damage, a homeowner can find himself with issues that can be very expensive if not taking them seriously.

Wet basement walls high or at ground level can be an indicator water is running down the basement walls, or water deposits high or on the middle of the walls.  The “white” deposits you see on the basement walls are a big indicator of water from the exterior is finding a way into the interior of your home.  If the drainage outside your home is not taking the rainwater away from the foundation, or the original seal on the exterior of your home has deteriorated, water is finding a way to the inside and an exterior basement waterproofing job might be the only and best option for your home.

There are many waterproofing companies around your home, but if you are looking to waterproof your basement you need to contact different companies that have a good reputation before making a decision. Compare the solutions they give you as well as the prices.  Hiring a company to waterproof the basement of your home usually requires diligence.  New companies will promise you a lifetime warranty for the work they do at your home, then go out of business within a few years.  Hiring a company with a long history in the community is not only advisable but perhaps your only alternative.


  

Energy Saving Tips for Your Home

Heating and cooling bills are two major expenses during the summer and winter months that can put a dent in your budget. According to the US Department of Energy, the typical American household spends $2,200 a year in electric and gas bills. That’s a big percentage of your annual income considering the energy expenditures are only a very small part of your total expenses.

The EEI ( Edison Electric Institute) recommends many heating and cooling tips for you that will help you save energy and money. Here are some of them for you:

Heating and Cooling

  1. Setting your thermostat one degree higher in the summer and one degree lower in the winter can lower the cost of your electric bill by 2%
  2. If you need to replace your air conditioning unit or your furnace choose one that is an ENERGY STAR unit.  These units are more efficient than other units by 5-10%
  3. Sealing and weatherstripping your doors and windows can reduce the cool air leaving the home.  It can also save you more than 10% of the total usage for the year.
  4. If using a window unit to cool your house, place it on a window that is not directly under the sun, otherwise your unit will be working more to cool your home.
  5. Closing vents and rooms that are unused can lower your air conditioning bill and keep other parts of your home cooler. During the winter months, the house will seem warmer if unused bedrooms and the basement door are kept closed, and the furnace filter is changed regularly to allow the warm air to circulate better.
  6. Opening windows and doors to cool your home during comfortable days not only helps refresh your home, it can save you money too.
  7. Make sure all bushes and trees are away from the unit outside the home to keep it working efficiently.

The amount of energy many households use yearly can be considerable. The amount of energy we use and the cost we pay go hand in hand.  The more energy wasted, the more money will be needed to pay for it. But, if the financial repercussions do not bother you, saving energy helps save the planet.

If you want to find more ways to save energy go to the EEI website to learn more.

Basement Waterproofing Solutions

Northeast Ohio spring and winter weather can play havoc with your basement.  If you have a problem with leaks, the snow and early spring showers can let you feeling overwhelmed by the amount of water you can find on the basement floor.

The ramifications of a wet and leaky basement are many.  From health related issues to structural damage, a wet basement is a hazard to your health and to your home. The good news is that there are many options to fix the problem in the basement of your home and there are many reputable contractors that can fix the problem.

Some of the solutions to a dry basement include:

  • Installing an interior draining system
  • Installing a sump pump
  • Installing a basement waterproofing membrane to the outside of your home
  • Cleaning the gutters of your home yearly
  • Fixing downspouts and making sure they are draining away from the foundation

By fixing the leaks, either by sealing the cracks and walls or by installing a drainage system in the basement, waterproofing the basement of your home is best done sooner than later.

How can you tell that you need to waterproof your basement?

Many of the tell-tell signs that you have a problem with humidity in the basement are many and you need to be vigilant to see if the humidity is coming from the inside or the outside of your home.

  • Water accumulation on the basement floor
  • Water damage where the wall meets the floor
  • Visible salty deposits on the walls of the basement or where the wall meets the floor
  • Warped or rotten wood
  • Rust on metal ( If you have appliances in the basement, check for rust at the base of them)
  • If you have flooring in the basement, check it to see if it is damp or shows signs of being wet

Many of the problems in the basement begin with slow leaks that can take months or even years to detect.  The damage can slowly rot the wood, destabilize the foundation or damage the items you have in storage there.

Before you decide to wait and fix the problem later, call a reputable contractor to fix the problem now.  They will work with you and offer you options and finance if they have it available.  Many cities across Ohio offer US grants for the upkeep of your home if you need assistance.  Check them out at https://www.hud.gov/states/ohio/homeownership/entitlement

Preventable Waterproofing Measures

The average annual rainfall precipitation in the city of Akron, according to recent records is 56 inches. That’s almost 5 Ft. of water that can easily end up in the basement of your home.

There are many preventable measures to ensure that rainwater stays out of the basement of our homes and as far away as possible.

  • Clean the rain gutters of debris that has accumulated throughout the fall and spring.
  • Clear the rainwater downspouts, and make sure that water is finding a clear path from your home to the drain, or away from the foundation.
  • Replace broken or damaged gutters or downspouts that are improperly draining the rainwater.
  • Level the flowerbeds, and avoid over mulching close to the wall of the foundation.

These preventable measures can save you a lot of headaches down the road.  And the older the home gets, the more vigilant you have to be to make sure water is not finding a way into your home. Many older homes start having problems because the waterproofing that was done during the construction of the home is already gone or has deteriorated to the point of being ineffective.

The water-resistant paint or the drainage membranes that were used to waterproof your basement might no longer do the job they were supposed to do, and they either need to be replaced or find another solution for the waterproofing instead.

Many homeowners believe they can do a DIY waterproofing to their home without consulting a professional.  Many men and women are handy with tools, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they can do a waterproofing job to their home.  If you have issues with the basement of your home, those issues can be the beginning of major structural problems down the road, and consulting a professional can save you money if you address the issue head-on.

Basement waterproofing solutions can be tailored to the particular problem you have in your home.  Every home is different, and the solution for its waterproofing problem has to be tailored to that particular home. If you are a homeowner, call a professional if you have a water issue in your home. They can offer a hassle-free consultation to address your waterproofing issues right away.


Is Your Home Insurance Policy Up to Date?

Many homeowners do not know what is covered by their insurance company until they need to file a claim.  Property damages done by a pipe bursting is covered by most insurances, groundwater damage may not be.

For many homeowners, damages done to the roof and basement of the home may not be covered by their insurance company, and they find out their deductible has to kick in before the company makes any payment to cover the damages.

Ask yourself these three questions about your home insurance policy and see if you know the answer without looking at your policy.

  1. Does my insurance company cover groundwater damage? Most insurance companies will cover damages done to the dwelling of your home if the water damage was sudden and accidental. If the groundwater damage was due to the aging of the home, most insurances companies won’t cover it. You must purchase a different kind of coverage with your standard policy to cover any damage done to the property due to groundwater damage.
  2. If my sewer backs up, is that covered? Most insurances policies won’t cover sewer backups, but once again you can purchase additional insurance to cover these eventualities.
  3. Is flooding covered by my insurance policy?  Most companies won’t cover flooding with your regular policy, but through the federal government, you can purchase flood insurance coverage that will protect you against such disasters.   

Most disasters related to flooding come unexpectedly and many homeowners are not prepared.  Personal belongings, appliances or other types of electronics stored in the basement can be lost in a blink of an eye and can cost you thousands of dollars to replace.  The structural damage done to the basement can cost you much more than a few thousand and can put a strain on your finances if not covered by insurance.

Now that you know the type of policy you have, you need to take these three steps to ensure your property is safe and will be safe in the future.

  1. Call your insurance agent and ask whether you can purchase flood insurance through them.
  2. Shop around to see if your agent is giving you the best option. Check the United States Government website concerning flood insurance. https://www.floodsmart.gov/ and make a decision to purchase it as soon as you can.
  3. Make sure to inspect your basement, foundation, and roof for any signs of damage.

Many disasters occur when we least expect them, and even when we want to be prepared, it is impossible to predict when we will suffer one devastating disaster.  What can we do to protect ourselves from such eventuality? The best advice is to buy the right insurance coverage to protect your assets and your families as soon as possible.

Exterior and Interior Basement Waterproofing Systems

Homes in the North part of the country deal with a lot of weather changes throughout the years. From rain and snow and everything in between, the roofs and basements of our homes have to withstand much wear and tear due to weather.

Water damage due to improper grading or drainage systems can play havoc with the basement of your home and can cause the foundation to suffer structural damages that cannot be visible right away.

If you own a home and can see water damage in the basement, chances are the water problems have been there for longer than you suspect.  The structural damage to the foundation may not be there yet, and that is one of the main reasons to call a professional to take care of this issue.

There are different methods to deal with a wet basement.  Depending on what your basement problem is, there are two types of basement waterproofing options for you.

Exterior Basement Waterproofing Systems

What are the basement waterproofing systems that are commonly used to treat and solve your waterproofing problems?

If your contractor has advised having an exterior waterproofing done, then that requires:

  • a full excavation
  • A waterproof coating that is applied to seal the cracks and pores of the foundation
  • A waterproof membrane that is installed after the seal is applied

If a contractor has advised you that an interior basement system can solve your problem then the solutions are a bit different and the cost can be a lot smaller than a full excavation.

Interior Basement Waterproofing System

  • A pump system can be a recommendation you will get from a professional
  • An Interior drain installed 

When calling a contractor and asking for a free consultation, make sure you understand the problem and the solutions they are giving you.  Research their findings with your own findings and consult at least three different contractors before making a decision.  A good, reputable firm will stand by their work and will offer you time to decide and consult with your spouse.  DO NOT sign anything right away, and make sure you research the company or contractor of your choice before agreeing to any work or payment exchange. A lower price does not mean better work. Compare, research, and shop before signing a contract.


Basement Waterproofing and Financing

Storms affecting the Northeast part of the United States are not over, and with the warm weather just around the corner, rain accumulation for many homeowners is not something they are looking forward to experience.

Basement waterproofing companies are busy during this time of year because this is the time when water accumulates around the foundation and find its way to the basement and the walls of your home.

What are some of the signs that you need to see to call a professional instead of procrastinating?

  • Wet spots on the walls,
  • Cracks or shifting
  • Have water sitting on the floor of your basement

If you have problems with any of these issues happening in your home, it is time to call a waterproofing company to inspect it.There are many “quick” solutions you can try before making that call, but eventually, you will need to call a professional to inspect the home.

Are you afraid you cannot afford the basement waterproofing your home needs?

If you do your homework and call at least three trustworthy companies, and compare prices, you will learn that basement waterproofing is not as expensive as you might think.  Some of these companies will provide companies where you can get the financing available, or you can always talk to your personal bank representative to see if their loan offer is better for you than going with the banks the basement waterproofing guys provided.

What loans can you get?

  • A Home Equity Line of Credit is a good choice for you if you have a first mortgage with the bank already.  This kind of loan lets you pay it back at your own pace as long as you pay the minimum payment on time.  You can get a good interest rate for this kind of loan if you shop around.
  • Home Equity Loan lets you borrow a fixed amount with a fixed payment over a period of years.  It can be a 15 or 30 year home equity loan if that is what you wish.  Take into consideration the interest you will be paying over that amount of time, if the interest rate is too high, shop around.
  • Credit Card charges to pay for home remodeling or home repairs is something that we personally do not recommend.  Many people pay for the remodel or materials with credit cards because they want to acquire “points”, but at the end of the day, that is not a solution we recommend.

Whatever route you want to take, talking to the basement waterproofing company for solutions to your basement problem and then for financing available it is the recommended route many homeowners take.  Do your homework first, and you will see great results.


When To Hire A Professional For Your Home Projects

According to a Consumer Report’s article, “Americans will spend about $200 billion dollars this year fixing up their homes—nearly a fifth in the form of DIY projects.”  Many homeowners are handy, but a great deal of them only believe they are handy.  There are many home projects that it’s better to have a professional do them.  There is a huge difference between wanting to do the project and actually making it look good or professionally made.  Not everything in your home needs to be done by you, the homeowner, especially if you are thinking about selling the home.

Top 3 home projects that pay to have a professional do them:

  1. Roof – This is a big project that needs many hands and experience to accomplish. And depending on the shape of your home, it can be dangerous for you to do without help, or without the necessary protection.
  2. Basement Waterproofing and Foundation repair – These are projects where a professional it’s not only recommended but need it.
  3. Kitchen and Bathroom remodeling –  The experience and quality of hiring a contractor or company to do these projects for you cannot be emphasized enough.

When deciding to hire a contractor for your basement waterproofing and foundation repair problems, roofing or kitchen remodeling, what are some of the qualifications you have to consider before making a decision?

  1. Experience – An experienced basement waterproofing contractor or foundation repair company has seen many of the problems affecting wet basements and faulty or damaged foundations.  If they have not seen the problem affecting your basement, the experience and knowledge they possess will help them find and fix your problem.
  2. Reputation – A new company has not had the longevity to have an old list of satisfied customers, but if they have been in business for any number of years, they have a history and it is your responsibility to find out whether it’s a good or a bad one.
  3. Insured Contractor – Having workers on your property without insurance is asking for trouble.  If a contractor is not insured, have no permits, or is just “winging it”, he or they should not even be on your radar as prospective companies to hire.
  4. Price – Having at least three different quotes from contractors is a good place to start if you want to compare prices.  Do not sign a contract with the first prospect.  Wait for at least two more prices to compare and then make an informed decision.

There are many home projects you can do without the help of professionals, but the major home projects you might want to do may require the help of experienced professionals in your area.