Archive for the ‘Home Maintenance’ Category

Now is the Perfect Time to Winterize Your Home

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

The dog days of summer are definitely upon us. Is anyone thinking frigid, frost, snow, or winter? Probably not. But as we move into fall with its mesmerizing colors, cooler temperatures, and seasonal treats, we should be mindful that Winter. Is. Coming. And now is the perfect time to winterize your home.

How and Why You Should Winterize Your Home Now

If preparing for winter were as easy as pulling your cozy sweaters and fall decorations out of storage, this blog post would be unnecessary. But it takes planning. And planning takes time. And then it’ll be too cold to do what should have been started back in September. You know. Like hanging Christmas lights outside while it’s warm enough to do so. So, as the orange, 5-gallon Home Depot bucket says, “Let’s Do This.” There’s no time like the present.

 

Winterize Your Home Inside

Schedule Maintenance of Your HVAC System

The end of October is the ideal time to schedule maintenance for your home’s cooling and heating system. So stop what you’re doing right now and pick up the phone. Yes, stop reading and call your HVAC company. Schedule an HVAC appointment with them now so that they can prepare your system for efficiency and warmth when you need it later. And hey! They’re busy people, too. If you drag your feet on this one, folks, you may not see them before the end of October like you need to.

But if you use a window unit, remove it from the window and put it in storage for the winter. If it isn’t removable, then cover it with a breathable, waterproof cover.

Winterize your home

Change Your Filters

Replacing your air filters is easy to do. If your air

filters are dirty and clogged, your house might be costing you more money than it should be. Your HVAC system has a much harder time keeping your home at a comfortable temperature with a dirty air filter. And this will increase your heating bills and shorten the life of your system. How often you should change your filters varies depending on who you ask. But why not change your air filters monthly? Be good to your hard-working HVAC investment.

Fill Your Fuel Tank

If you happen to heat your home with propane or you use an oil furnace, make sure your propane tank or oil furnace is full of fuel. You won’t want to be without heat when it’s dangerously cold outside.

Clean the Ductwork

Your ductwork can be full of debris like dust, bugs, home construction leftovers, mold, toys, food, etc. You’d be amazed. Why not get all that stuff cleaned out before the furnace kicks on and blows even a little of that nastiness into your home?

Check for Drafts

The U.S. Department of Energy says windows are responsible for the loss of 25 to 30 percent of the energy we pay for to heat our homes. That’s a lot of money out the window! But weatherstripping is a simple and cost-effective way to keep your heating costs down and money in your pocket.

Tip:  When you have a draft issue, you need to find where it’s coming from. Close a door or window on a strip of paper. If the paper slides out easily, ta-da! You found it! Make a trip to your nearest home store and purchase weatherstripping.

Apply Insulation Where Needed

This goes for both the inside and outside of your home.

Exposed water or drain pipes in an uninsulated crawlspace, attic or outside wall are especially vulnerable to freezing. Insulate them with foam insulation at least. Wrap them with electrical heating tape first. Then follow with insulation. Burst pipes can cause extensive damage making this home repair one of the most expensive.

Buy an insulating blanket at the hardware store to insulate your hot water tank.

Outlets and switch plates on the outside of your home can be insulated with an inexpensive foam sealing gasket.

Stuffing a piece of fiberglass insulation into the fireplace behind the glass doors will block cold air that comes down the chimney and into your room. Just be sure to remove the insulation when you use the fireplace.

Change Your Batteries

Whenever you choose to change your batteries, you should do it once a year. You can choose to change the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide devices every fall, or New Year’s Day, or in the spring when you spring forward for the time change. The key here is to check them consistently once a year every year to make sure your devices are working just in case you need them.

Check Your Chimney, Fireplace, or Wood Burning Stove

Winterize your home

If your chimney hasn’t been cleaned in a very long time or perhaps never, call a professional chimney sweep. But here’s what you can do to winterize your home inside and out in regards to your fireplace or wood burning stove:

  • Clear the chimney of nests.
  • Look for leaks in the flashing around your chimney. Check for possible leaks around all the projections on your roof. If anything looks sketchy, hire someone to make repairs as soon as possible.
  • Check the flue to make sure it opens and closes completely. Can you lock it in either position?
  • Make sure the chimney draws up fire and smoke properly. Roll up several sheets of newspaper. With the fireplace damper in the open position, light the newspaper in the fireplace. Does the smoke rise up the chimney? If it doesn’t, call in a professional to clean the chimney. Something such as creosote, ash, or a nest is obstructing it. And that is not a good thing!
  • Inspect the firebrick in the fireplace for open mortar joints. If you find open mortar joints, have them repaired immediately! Open mortar joints can allow a fire to spread into the stud wall behind the firebrick.

Winterize Your Home Outside

Check Your Roof

Check for missing or damaged shingles. If you find any, hire someone to replace them for you.

Clean or Replace Your Gutters

And while you’re up there on the roof, check your gutters. They drain thousands of gallons of water from your roof every year, and you never give them a thought. Until they’re clogged. And a clogged drain can cost you. Wet leaves left in the gutters over the winter add a hefty amount of weight and volume when they get wet and freeze. This increases the risk of damage to gutters and downspouts significantly. So give your gutters a little TLC before you’re ankle deep in water inside your home. Clean them and check them every year. And if necessary, replace them before the first winter freeze arrives in November.

Drain Your Outdoor Faucets

This is extremely important to do before the first freeze. Open up the outside faucets and drain the water. And turn off the water supply to exterior faucets inside your home. Then disconnect all garden hoses from outside faucets, also known as hose bibbs or sill-cocks. Consider covering hose bibbs with an insulated cover.

Freezing temperatures outside freeze water and burst pipes inside. This spells damage and costly repairs.

If you store your garden hoses outside, drain them, too.

Prepare Your Fountain for Winter

Do you have a fountain in your yard? Drain it and unplug the pump for it.

Winterize your home

Purge Your Sprinkler System

Freezing temps are in your forecast, so hire someone to drain and blow out your sprinkler system. Getting this done by the end of October is ideal.

Protect Your Condensing Unit

Wet leaves and debris can rust and freeze your unit’s internal components. If you’ll cover it with a breathable, waterproof cover through the winter, you’ll protect it and extend its life and efficiency.

Bring Your Outdoor Furniture Inside

Yes, outdoor furniture is meant to be used outside. But if you want it to last longer than one or two summers, don’t put it through snowstorms. Take care of your investment. If you have the room, bring it inside. Or leave it outside with waterproof covers thrown over each piece.

Seal the Deck

Seal the deck with a fresh coat of sealer before winter.

Prepare Your Landscape

You may not have much of a lawn, but since you want to keep it looking great in the spring and summer, you need to fertilize it in the fall before winter. Grassroots are active even when it isn’t growing and needing to be mowed. Fertilizer prevents winter damage. So take care of your lawn now for a greener lawn tomorrow.

Drain the Gas from Your Lawn Mower

If you wait to “rake” leaves with your lawn mower after your deciduous trees lose their leaves, you’ll knock out two to-dos at the same time. “Rake” those leaves until your lawnmower runs out of gas completely. See?

Fix All the Cracks in Your Driveway

If you happen to have a driveway, take the time to fix any cracks that may be developing. Because if water gets into the cracks in your driveway and then freezes, it will expand making the tiny cracks even bigger. Neglect this step and many little cracks will eventually get bigger. And bigger cracks will make your concrete crumble. Again, visit your local home store and purchase some concrete crack sealer (while you’re there getting weatherstripping). Fill up every crack before the weather turns cold and rest easy.

Test Your Winter Equipment

Yes, test your snow thrower now. Fill it with gas and pull that starter cord. What good does a snow thrower do you when it won’t start to throw snow when you need it to? Been there. Done that. But if you don’t have a snow thrower, make sure you know where your snow shovel is and that it doesn’t need to be replaced. And while you’re at it, purchase an ice scraper and snow brush for each vehicle.

So, if you haven’t already started to winterize your home, inside and out, put down that pumpkin spice latte and get busy. Divide this list of to-dos by eight weeks. Then move through this checklist to winterize your home completely by the end of October before the cold winter months arrive.

Are you ready to move? Contact Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate. Call (718) 253-9600 ext.206 or email [email protected] today.


Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

 Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]

Is the Electrical Wiring in Your Home Up to Code?

Saturday, December 30th, 2017
Electrical wiring

Maintain the safety of your Brooklyn home and family. Bring the electrical wiring in your house up to code, and start today. It’s that important!

If your Brooklyn home was built more than 35 years ago, as most were, bringing your electrical wiring up to code is worth serious consideration. Not only will you maintain the safety of your home and family, your house will meet updated building codes and national requirements for residential homes. Today’s households utilize more gadgets, devices, and appliances than ever before. And that means easily overloaded electrical systems and possible danger to families living in older homes with outdated and insufficient electrical wiring.

Indications Your Electrical Wiring is Not Up to Code

How do you as a homeowner know whether or not the electrical wiring in your home needs updating? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do the lights in your home flicker?
  • Are breakers constantly tripping or fuses frequently blowing?
  • In order to use one appliance, do you need to another appliance off?
  • Have you discovered melted electrical wiring?
  • Do you have faulty circuit breakers that don’t trip causing shocks, overheating and fire?

The issues caused by outdated electrical wiring are easily resolved with the installation of a new electrical panel.

Tell-Tale Signs Your Home is in Need of a New Electrical Panel

Just as old electrical wiring needs to be brought up to code, your electrical panel needs to be updated or replaced. Look at and listen to your panel box.

  • Do you hear crackling sounds from your panel box?
  • Is there corrosion or rust on the breakers or panel?
  • Are any of the electrical service conductors overheating?

More Signs Your Electrical Panel Needs to be Replaced

Now take a walk through your house to look for and consider the following:

  • Do any appliances run at less than full power?
  • See any two-pronged outlets? Two-pronged outlets are non-grounded.
  • Are your kitchen and bathrooms equipped with GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters)?
  • How many extension cords do you own and how often must you use them?
  • Do you need surge protectors to protect the appliances in your home?
  • Was your home built with a 60-amp electrical service? Does it still run on that 60-amp electrical service?
  • Is your electrical panel a fuse block panel or split-buss panel? A split-buss panel is an electrical panel with no main breaker.
  • If your home has a 100-amp electrical service, is it sufficient to run necessary appliances?

Other Reasons You Need a New Electrical Panel

  • Kitchen renovation
  • Home addition
  • Installation of a major appliance: HVAC system, stoves, spas, power equipment, etc
  • More outlets are needed
  • Homeowners insurance requirements have to be met
  • A 240-volt circuit is needed
  • A sub-panel needs to be added

What is an Electrical Panel?

Your electrical panel is a painted or gray metal box mounted on a wall inside your home. It is easily accessible and usually located in a utility room, laundry room, garage, basement, or closet. In rare instances, an electrical panel may be located outside the home.

Your utility company provides power to your home via your electrical panel. Power is systematically distributed throughout your home through major and minor electrical wiring which branch out from your electrical panel. Thus a properly functioning electrical panel is essential for home safety and the use of your gadgets, devices, and appliances.

Just Because You’re Living in a Newer Home Doesn’t Mean Your Electrical Panel is Safe

Fuse boxes were designed before the 1950’s. And they were built to handle only 30-60 amps of power. Our appliances today require 100-200 amps or more. This is why fuse boxes pose huge fire and electrocution safety risks. If your home uses a fuse box or any of the following electrical panels, have a new electrical panel installed immediately:

  • Federal Pacific Electric Electrical Panel
  • Zinsco Electrical Panel
  • Pushmatic Electrical Panel

Is your electrical wiring in dire need of an update? Does your Brooklyn home need a new electrical panel? Schedule an electrical inspection of your older home. Update your electrical wiring in steps, if necessary, but start today. Prevent electrical emergencies, and protect your home and family.


Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]

 

When is the Best Time to Tackle Fall Home Maintenance?

Friday, September 15th, 2017
Fall home maintenance

The ideal time to prepare your home for winter is now before the cold weather arrives. Here are a dozen fall home maintenance tasks to help you get prepared in time.

September is here! For most of us, this means the end of the dog days of summer, the wearing of warm sweaters, and pumpkin spice everything! Temperatures are starting to cool off here in Brooklyn and our thoughts are turning to warm hues, the raking of leaves, and bright orange pumpkins. But before the leaves begin to fall, I encourage you to look further ahead to the cold weather that always follows autumn. Tackle fall home maintenance now and prepare your home for another cold Brooklyn winter hits.

A Dozen Fall Home Maintenance Tasks to Complete Now

Take these next two weekends to complete the following fall home maintenance tasks around your Brooklyn home. Why? It could save you from costly repairs down the road when it’s really cold outside.

  1. Clean out gutters

When leaves fall and rainy, snowy days become more frequent, it’s best to have your gutters clean and in working order. Gutters should be free of debris and clogs before winter arrives. Ideally, the best time to clean out gutters is right after the trees lose their leaves. And since we’re on the subject of gutters, have you considered installing downspout extensions? This would be a great time to install those!

  1. Clean and repair siding

Over the summer months, the siding of your Brooklyn home can get pretty dirty, grimy, and even moldy. Get a power washer and remove all that nasty stuff. And check for damage. Look for cracking, rotting, and warping that needs to be repaired before winter sets in. Inspect the caulking, too. Has it shrunk or cracked over time? If so, replace it.

  1. Check door and window seals

Before the weather turns cold, make sure windows and doors seal tightly and find the places where air may leak. You want your warm air staying inside and winter’s cold air staying outside. Where there are leaks, there is loss of energy. Use caulk or weather stripping to seal any leaks you find.

By the way, if you have double- or triple-pane windows that are frequently foggy, you probably have a failed seal.

  1. Inspect your HVAC

Before you turn on the heat, hire a quality HVAC professional to inspect your HVAC system. Don’t wait until it’s cold outside. HVAC specialists are busy when it’s hot and when it’s cold, and they are usually booked far in advance. Call them now and schedule a tuneup for your HVAC system. They will check the thermostat, blower motor, and heat exchanger to make sure they are working properly. They will also fix loose electrical connections and gas connections.

  1. Clean the chimney

If your home has a functional fireplace, clean the chimney before the temperatures fall. Soot builds up in your chimney and puts you at risk of a chimney fire. Clogged chimneys also increase the risk of carbon monoxide in the home. Be safe. Don’t enjoy a cozy fire until after the chimney has been cleaned.

  1. Check for cracks and loose paver material in walkways

Cracks and loose paver material in walkways and entryway areas should be fixed before icy weather causes an accident. Small cracks can be fixed with epoxy and don’t take long to fix. Serious cracking will require a professional.

  1. Repair leaky faucets

Repair leaky faucets in the kitchen, bathrooms, and utility room. It costs considerably less to fix leaky pipes now rather than later. A broken pipe in the winter is costly to repair and can cause a lot of property damage.

  1. Service the yard equipment

The best time to service your lawn mower and trimmer is in the fall before you put it to rest during the winter. Dirty components and old oil are harmful to your summer yard equipment. Change the oil, air and gas filters, and install new blades if needed. Don’t drain the gas tank completely though. Fill the tank with a mix of premium gasoline without ethanol and a gas preservative just before you put it in storage.

  1. Store garden hoses and turn off outdoor spigots

A hard freeze can cause hoses to burst and outdoor pipes to freeze. You won’t be using any of these things this winter, so insulate each spigot and detach and store the garden hoses. A headache avoided.

  1. Check all outdoor cords

All outdoor extension cords should be checked for potentially dangerous nicks or frays. Nicked or frayed cords should be thrown away. Extension cords in good condition should be neatly stored in the garage or basement.

  1. Clean the range hood filter

Now here’s a super easy fall home maintenance task! Just throw your range hood filter in the dishwasher. When the dishwasher stops, the filter will be as good as new.

  1. Check the toilets

To find out whether or not your toilets leak, put some food coloring in the toilet tanks. If the water in the toilet bowls changes color without flushing, your toilets are leaking. New flappers or seals will put an end to this money problem.

Want even more fall home maintenance tasks and tips? Call Charles D’Alessandro Your Brooklyn real estate agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext. 206 or email [email protected] for more great home maintenance information as well as answers to your questions about buying or selling your home in Brooklyn this fall!


Charles D’Alessandro

Your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate

718-253-9600 ext. 206

[email protected]