Archive for Appliances

Selling Your Home? Consider an Inspection First.

Posted in Around Your Home, I Wish I'd Thought About That, New Homes, Sell your Home, Worth Repeating with tags , , , , , , on February 5, 2014 by Pat Hansen

If you plan to sell your home soon, it may be wise to get a home inspection before you list your home. You can speed things along by getting a home inspection and analyzing the condition of your home and making necessary repairs before the house is under contract.

Whole home inspections cover numerous systems within the house, but there are some hot spots that seem to worry buyers the most:

Roofs and Chimneys

  • Decaying ShinglesDeteriorated shingles or other roof coverings are one of the first things home buyers and inspectors notice. If the elements underneath the shingles are moist or rotted, you can bet repairs will be requested.
  • Make sure flashing around the base of the chimney is watertight, and that mortar and bricks are in good condition.

Radon

  • Radon may or may not be part of a home inspection, but it is a good idea to ask for a radon test since radon has been linked to lung cancer. If an unacceptable level is found, then a radon mitigation system will be required. There are recommended companies that do radon mitigation and they can be found by contacting the MDEQ (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality).

Mold and Mildew

  • Mildew stains and odors scare buyers, especially since toxic black mold is such a hot topic. Chances are you won’t even get an acceptable offer if mold and mildew are present. Even if the mold is the normal variety, get rid of it and fix the source of the problem.

Plumbing ProblemsShower Inspection

  • Fix leaks long before the home inspection takes place. The inspector will check water pressure by turning on multiple faucets and flushing toilets at the same time. The inspector will also run the dishwasher.

Damp Basements and Crawlspaces

  • Mildew odors signal that a basement is too moist. Buyers and home inspectors will look closely at the walls and floors for patches of mildew and signs of dampness. The inspector might use a meter to determine how much moisture is present in these spaces because moisture deteriorates building materials and attracts insects.
  • Cover exposed earth in basements and crawl spaces with plastic to help keep moisture levels down.
  • Most foundation leaks are a result of poor drainage that funnels water towards the foundation.
  • Make sure gutters are clean so that rainwater flows toward downspouts instead of spilling over gutter sides along the foundation.
  • Point drainage downspouts away from the house.
  • Check water flow through buried drainage lines by flooding them with water from a hose. If water comes back towards you, the line is plugged and should be cleared.
  • If foundation problems do exist and you cannot make repairs, you might need to lower the price of the house upfront, with the understanding that the price reflects the problem. Another option is to give the buyers an allowance to make the repairs after closing.

Inadequate Interior Electrical Systems

  • Electrical PanelThe electrical panel and circuit breaker configuration should be adequate for the needs of the house.
  • The inspector will look for receptacles with ground fault interrupters (GFI) in bathrooms and kitchens. These receptacles contain mini circuit breakers that click off during a short circuit or overload. The inspector will make sure the receptacles are what they appear to be, and not “dummies” that are not wired correctly.
  • The inspector will test a portion of the remaining receptacles in the house.

Other Important Home Inspection Checks

Furnace inspectionHeating and cooling

  • The home inspector will check the heating and cooling systems, making sure they work and will comment on their efficiency.

Structure and Foundation

  • The inspector will take a close look at the structure and foundation.

Appliances and Smoke Detectors

  • The inspector will check the appliances that will remain with the house, including running the dishwasher and testing smoke detectors.

Before the Home Inspection

  • Sample Inspection ReportDo everything you can to get the house in good condition before you attempt to sell it, but don’t be discouraged if the inspection report contains a few negative comments. Home inspectors make a note of everything they see. They can identify problems in the making and suggest preventative measures that might help avoid costly repairs in the future.
  • Home inspections usually take 2-3 hours, or more in some instances. Costs vary from $250 to as much as $500. Home inspectors are not required to be licensed in most states; however, many are certified by ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors).

Home Appliance Maintenance Tips

Posted in Around Your Home, I Wish I'd Thought About That with tags , , on August 27, 2012 by Pat Hansen

Just like your car, your home systems and appliances all need periodic maintenance checks to make sure they’re operating safely and efficiently. American Home Shield, a unit of the ServiceMaster Company, shares these expert tips to help you keep your home’s systems and appliances in great shape:

Air Conditioning

  • Check filters every month. Clean or replace as needed.
  • Keep the condensing units free of debris.
  • Trim shrubs and plants near condensing unit to ensure proper air flow and circulation.
  • Bent condensing unit fins can often be straightened with a fin comb.

Washing Machine

  • Inspect cold and hot water supply hoses for cracks and deterioration.
  • Look for signs of water or oil leakage.
  • Check to make sure the machine is level, and adjust it if needed, by turning the legs clockwise to lower them or counterclockwise to raise them.

Dryer

  • Clean the lint screen after each load of clothes has been dried.
  • For gas and electric dryers, check and tighten supply connections.
  • Check to see whether the dryer is level; if it’s not, the drum may vibrate and damage the unit. To adjust the level, turn the legs clockwise to lower them or counterclockwise to raise them.

Water Heater

  • Drain and flush sediment from tank twice a year.
  • Check pressure-relief valve once a year to make sure this crucial safety device is not clogged.

As a company with significant experience in covering the repair of major home systems and appliances, American Home Shield is a strong advocate for preventative maintenance. They realize that it is easy to forget or postpone do-it-yourself maintenance; consequently, they offer annual preventative maintenance plans by a qualified professional. To learn more about preventative maintenance plans, and how you can get one, visit www.ahspm.com

Selling Your Home? Consider an Inspection First

Posted in I Wish I'd Thought About That with tags , , , , on February 2, 2012 by Pat Hansen

If you plan to sell your home soon, it may be wise to get a Home Inspection before you list your home. You can speed things along by getting a home inspection and analyzing the condition of your home and making necessary repairs before the house is under contract.

Whole home inspections cover numerous systems within the house, but there are some hot spots that seem to worry buyers the most:

Radon

  • Radon may or may not be part of a home inspection, but it is a good idea to ask for a radon test since radon has been linked to lung cancer. If an unacceptable level is found, then a radon mitigation system will be required. There are recommended companies that do radon mitigation and they can be found by contacting the MDEQ, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Mold & Mildew

  • Mildew stains and odors scare buyers, especially since toxic black mold is such a hot topic. Chances are you won’t even get an acceptable offer if mold and mildew are present. Even if the mold is the normal variety, get rid of it and fix the source of the problem.

Damp Basements and Crawlspaces

  • Mildew odors signal that a basement is too moist. Buyers and home inspectors will look closely at the walls and floors for patches of mildew and signs of dampness. The inspector might use a meter to determine how much moisture is present in these spaces, because moisture deteriorates building materials and attracts insects.
  • Cover exposed earth in basements and crawl spaces with plastic to help keep moisture levels down.
  • Most foundation leaks are a result of poor drainage that funnels water towards the foundation.
  • Make sure gutters are clean so that rainwater flows toward downspouts instead of spilling over gutter sides along the foundation.
  • Point drainage downspouts away from the house.
  • Check water flow through buried drainage lines by flooding them with water from a hose.  If water comes back towards you, the line is plugged and should be cleared.
  • If foundation problems do exist, and you cannot make repairs, you might need to lower the price of the house upfront, with the understanding that the price reflects the problem. Another option is to give the buyers an allowance to make the repairs after closing.

Roofs and Chimneys

  • Deteriorated shingles or other roof coverings are one of the first things home buyers and inspectors notice. If the elements underneath the shingles are moist or rotted, you can bet repairs will be requested.
  • Make sure flashing around the base of the chimney is watertight, and that mortar and bricks are in good condition.

Plumbing Problems

  • Fix leaks long before the home inspection takes place. The inspector will check water pressure by turning on multiple faucets and flushing toilets at the same time. The inspector will also run the dishwasher.

Inadequate Interior Electrical Systems

  • The electrical panel and circuit breaker configuration should be adequate for the needs of the house.
  • The inspector will look for receptacles with ground fault interrupters (GFI) in bathrooms and kitchens. These receptacles contain mini circuit breakers that click off during a short circuit or overload. The inspector will make sure the receptacles are what they appear to be, and not “dummies” that are not wired correctly.
  • The inspector will test a portion of the remaining receptacles in the house.

Other Important Home Inspection Checks

Heating and cooling

  • The home inspector will check the heating and cooling systems, making sure they work and will comment on their efficiency.

Structure and Foundation

  • The inspector will take a close look at the structure and foundation.

Appliances and Smoke Detectors

  • The inspector will check the appliances that will remain with the house, including running the dishwasher and testing smoke detectors.

 Before the Home Inspection

  • Do everything you can to get the house in good condition before you attempt to sell it, but don’t be discouraged if the inspection report contains a few negative comments.  Home inspectors make a note of everything they see. They can identify problems in the making and suggest preventative measures that might help avoid costly repairs in the future.
  • Home inspections usually take 2-3 hours, or more in some instances. Costs vary from $250.00 to as much as $500.00. Home Inspectors are not required to be licensed in most states; however, many are certified by ASHI, American Society of Home Inspectors.

Maintenance Tips for New (and not so New) Home Owners

Posted in Around Your Home, I Wish I'd Thought About That with tags , , on October 6, 2011 by Kevin Fox

As a new home owner, you are excited about getting your house in order — setting up furnishings, rearranging and decorating.  But once you have place for everything and everything in its place, it’s time to get a handle on the routine maintenance you’ll need to perform to help ensure that you and your family live comfortably in your new home for years to come.

Maintaining a clean home is one way to ensure its longevity. Here are some tips for properly maintaining some of the systems in your new home:

Heating and Cooling Systems

  • Late summer or early fall are the ideal times to do an annual inspection and cleaning of these systems.
  • Change or wash the filters every three months.
  • If you have a gas furnace, keep your pilot light burning during the summer to help keep the furnace dry and prevent corrosion.
  • Registers help regulate the flow of air and maintain the desired temperature in your home.  Keep registers closed in rooms you don’t use to save on cooling/heating costs.

Plumbing

  • Every member of your family should know where the shut-off valves are located.  Label each one.
  • If any of your appliances develop a leak, inspect your drain trap.  A partially clogged drain can cause overflow. Use a plunger or a plumber’s snake to unclog the drain. If you need to, use boiling water to help unclog a partially opened drain. Call a plumber if these techniques don’t work.
  • A worn washer, a loose part in a faucet or steam in a hot water pipe are generally the causes of a noisy pipe.  Do not hesitate to repair the noise — vibrations can follow the noise and lead to leaks.

Gutters and Downspouts

  • Clear away leaves, tree limbs and other debris from gutters and downspouts.
  • Turn the downspouts away from your home’s foundation.
  • Every four to six years, paint gutters that are not made of aluminum or vinyl to help prevent rust. 

Remember to read the instruction manual for every appliance in your new home.  The manuals provide recommended cleaning and maintenance schedules. Also familiarize yourself with any warranties you have on both the house and its systems. Some warranties may be voided if problems arise because of failure to perform routine maintenance.

For more information about taking care of your new home, visit www.nahb.org/forconsumers

This article is courtesy of the National Association of Home Builders

Gas vs. Electric Cooktops

Posted in Around Your Home, Lifestyle with tags , , , on August 1, 2011 by Pat Hansen

Each type of cooktop has features that appeal of different buyers. Your decision must be based on the amount of cooking you do and the qualities that are the most important to you.

Advantages of Gas Cooktops

  • Gas cooktops offer immediate heat as soon as the burner is turned on. No waiting time is involved. The flame is extinguished as soon as the element is turned off.
  • You can use most types of cookware on a gas cooktop
  • Gas cooktops offer a precise tuning, and can cook food at a very high temperature. This is why most professional chefs prefer cooking with gas.
  • While cooking, the heat level can be visually checked. Change of temperature is also instantaneous by reducing the flame.
  • Sealed burners offer easy cleanup. The grates are built to last, and can withstand falls and heavy weights.
  • In most areas, gas cooktops cost less to operate.
  • If there is a power outage you can still cook.

Disadvantages of Gas Cooktops

  • The open flame makes cooking on a gas cooktop more of a safety hazard. You must be cautious not to wear loose clothing and also to keep children away from the flames.
  • Gas cooktops are not as environmentally friendly an option as electric cooktops.  There is also a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if the appliance is not used properly.
  • Gas cooktops cost more initially and require both a gas line and an electrical connection to power the burner igniters.  This also means that both a plumber and an electrician are necessary for installation.

Advantages of Electric Cooktops

  • There are more options available in electric cooktops such as solid, glass surfaces, induction, and of course, the coil-type burner.
  •  The solid surface burners are sleeker than gas grates.
  • Electric cooktops are considered more environmentally friendly to operate.
  • Safety levels are higher without an open flame.
  • Cleaning is easier.
  • The initial investment is less than a gas cooktop with the exception of the induction cooktops.
  • Water boils much faster on an electric cooktop.

Disadvantages of Electric Cooktops

  • If there is a power outage, cooking is not an option.
  • Preheating time is slightly longer.
  • Less efficient than gas which increases the utility bill.

As a Builder and Remodeler, we at Robert R. Jones Homes are often asked about the pros and cons of gas and electric cooktops. It really comes down to what features are important to the homeowner and which appliance suits their lifestyle better.

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