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Understanding your home’s heating system

By | Home Maintenance Tips | No Comments

As our Central Texas days and nights turn cooler, you may find yourself reaching for the thermostat dial to turn on what we so dearly avoid most of the summer: heat. Although some homes are heated with radiators, boilers or heat pumps, the most common residential heating source is a furnace. In preparation for winter, here are a few things you should know about your furnace to ensure it runs in tip-top shape all season long. If you run into trouble, understanding the basics of how your furnace works could save you time and money down the road.

A furnace uses gas to heat air in one area of your home, and then forces warm air through other areas via ductwork and vents. Acting as your home’s central nervous system, the thermostat sends a signal to the furnace when you adjust the temperature setting. From there, the furnace gas valve opens, igniting a burner and regulating the amount of heat. The heat circulates through the tubes of the heat exchanger, converting the heat to air. The blower then moves the newly created heat through your home’s ductwork and out through vents. The combustion gases are vented out of your home through a flue pipe, leaving comfortable, cozy, clean air to heat your casa

Before you turn your furnace on for winter, it’s a good idea to have your system inspected. In addition to ensuring your system is working efficiently, a professional can inspect the pilot light, ventilation system and look for cracks that can allow dangerous gas to seep into your home. If you smell gas, often described as having an odor similar to rotten eggs, evacuate your home immediately and call your utility company. Do not reenter the home until a professional gives you the green light. Test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors monthly as an extra precaution.

Understanding how your furnace works can save money on rising utility bills, and give you an added sense of pride in your home. Visit our preferred vendors list for a heating professional you can trust. Stay warm, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest home maintenance tips, updates on upcoming events and other news.

Trick or Treat: It’s Halloween!

By | Home Maintenance Tips | No Comments

With the coldest Halloween in decades looming, you are likely preparing to dole out candy within the next two days. Do what you can to ensure this is a safe and happy Halloween for everyone by following these simple tips:

Clear your driveway, walkways and yard for any tripping hazards, including large sticks, rocks or toys. Eager children often let their stomachs override their eyesight, and may run through these areas without looking for obstacles. Make the evening easier for them (and yourself!) by eliminating any unnecessary barriers.

Turn up the ambiance and the lights! Aid trick-or-treaters with a well-lit pathway to candy distribution.

Let Fido have a restful evening. Despite the rise of adorable pet costumes, Halloween is not ideal for pets. Be sure your pets are housed in a safe location to reduce the likelihood of escape from the combination of a constantly ringing doorbell and opening door.

Lock your doors. Although it may be tempting to leave your door open as neighborhood children come by in a steady stream, the adage “better safe than sorry” rings true here. Unfortunately, burglaries often take place without forced entry, where a door or window is unlocked. On this holiday, avoid unwanted ghouls in your home.

Go flameless. Jack-o-lanterns are an iconic decoration for any home, but unfortunately pose a fire hazard risk. Get the same effect with a lot less worry by using flameless candles, which now come in a variety of colors and even flicker!

From the entire Barfield team, we hope you have a boo-tiful Halloween, full of tricks and treats. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest home maintenance tips, and updates on upcoming events and other news.

Clean your gutters this October to protect your home

By | Home Maintenance Tips | No Comments

Gutters are easily one of the most forgotten components of your home’s exterior. Homeowners tend to forget about them, until they’re not working. The trouble is, gutters play a vital role in your home’s maintenance and longevity.

Simplistic by nature, gutters play one primary role: they protect your home from water damage. Gutters collect rainwater and use downspouts to divert the water from your home’s foundation. When your gutter system works properly, it averts these dangers:

• Water damage to your roof, which can cause rot, deterioration or mold in shingles, soffit, fascia and masonry
• Moisture in windows that can damage sills or interior walls
• Water along the foundation, which can quicken erosion, damage your foundation and landscaping, and even cause basement flooding

Like any functional tool, gutters need regular maintenance to work properly. Falling leaves and other debris can build up in your gutters, preventing them from working effectively. Even though we haven’t seen much rain in Central Texas, your home needs gutters. Take advantage of the end of our dry season to clean your gutters before winter and cooler temperatures set in.

To clean your gutter system, you’ll need:
• A ladder
• A bucket
• A hand shovel
• Gloves to scoop out leaves and other debris

While removing your gutters from buildup is the primary goal, use this as an opportunity to inspect for leaks. Leaks typically start around joints or seams, and can be repaired caulk or sealant. Once you’re finished, give our team a call. We are happy to come out and inspect your work, and make recommendations about any necessary repairs.

Maintaining your gutters can protect the longevity of your roof, foundation and home. Utilize a few hours this fall to ensure they are in good working order before winter, and if you need a hand, give us a call! Before you get started, reference these ladder safety tips from OSHA and remember to be safe up on the roof.

Following these tips should help to protect your home from cooler weather and water. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more year-round home maintenance tips.

Join us for our Fall Homebuying Happy Hour

By | Home Maintenance Tips | No Comments

Believe it or not, fall has begun! Although temperatures are still above average, so is performance in the local real estate market. Randy and the team at Barfield Home Inspection have just the answer to help you cool off and wrap your head around the biggest questions facing Austin home buyers and real estate agents alike: happy hour!

Mark your calendars and join us for our FREE Fall Homebuying Happy Hour, Thursday, October 3 from 4–6 p.m. You’ll hear from local real estate industry experts Randy Barfield of Barfield Home Inspection, Joani Ferris of Movement Mortgage, and Phillip Gunter of Farmer’s Insurance as we cover the latest trends and challenges in the marketplace, and what not to do when buying a home.

This is a great opportunity to network with Austin’s leading experts who can guide you through the home buying process, and the best part is that the advice, food and drinks are completely free! Enjoy delicious food, courtesy of grill master Randy Barfield, and drinks while our expert panel walks you through the what, when, how and whys of home buying. We will also hold a raffle to help get your home in tip-top shape for fall.

Realtors and home buyers are welcome to attend. Reserve your seat now. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and  Instagram for more events and year-round home maintenance tips. We hope to see you next Thursday!

Prepping your home for fall football

By | Home Maintenance Tips | No Comments

You waited patiently through a mild winter, quick spring, and relentless summer, and it was all worth it, because tonight the NFL kicks off the 100th season of football pandemonium across the United States. Whether you are a professional or college football fan, or are just looking to spruce up your home a bit for the cooler relief of fall, here are a few tips to help you get kick started:

1) Throw a home football party. Clean your grill in time for kickoff and prepare to have a great time (as long as your team is winning). A clean grill looks better, is safer to use, and works better all around. Check out these tips from Popular Mechanics for regular cleaning, and deep cleaning, which we recommend performing twice each year.

2) Hang up your gardening hat for the fall. Make extra room in your backyard by putting away your gardening tools for the season. Before you store metal tools like rakes and shovels, scrape away any remaining soil, and spray exposed metal with a shot of WD-40 to promote longevity.

3) Clean your driveway and prep for selling this fall or winter. A good pressure wash can do wonders for your driveway and sidewalks. Just as dust can collect and create layers in your home, the same thing happens with dirt and grime in your driveway. Remove that layer of gunk for an entryway that creates an inviting appeal to your home. If you don’t own a pressure washer, home improvement stores usually rent these out for reasonable prices.

Following these tips should help to prepare your home’s exterior for fall and football weather. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more year-round home maintenance tips. Go team!

Maintain curb appeal and boost your home’s value

By | Home Maintenance Tips, Seasonal Home Maintenance | No Comments

When preparing to sell your home, few things rank higher on the priority to-do list than enhancing curb appeal. Homeowners take pride in the exterior appearance and health of their home, and it is often the initial selling point for buyers. According to HomeLight, a well-landscaped home is likely to sell  at 5.5 to 12.7% more than one without landscaping, and 99% of realtors believe a home’s curb appeal is important in attracting a buyer.

Thankfully, our regional landscaping boasts native plants and grasses that tend to thrive in hot, dry Texas summers. However, August’s steady stream of triple digit heat poses threats to even the hardiest of plants and most scrupulous homeowners turned landscapers. Here are a few tips to help your lawn look its best through the end of the season, thanks in part to the local expertise of Central Texas Gardener:

  • Wait to plant, if you can. Extreme heat and dry soil team up to create an inhospitable welcome for new plants and seeds. If you must plant, be sure to provide shade and water daily.
  • Grow to new heights. Set your mower to a high setting, ideally two to three inches, to provide a layer of protection for grass roots. Leave clippings behind to offer an extra layer of protection and fertilization.
  • The best defense is a good offense. Guard your lawn against weeds by performing regular maintenance. From mowing the lawn to spot treating weeds when you see them, you can minimize the spread of weeds. Be sure to use a hand sprayer, and avoid “Weed and Feed” products that can cause damage to other plants and potentially fertilize weeds they don’t control.
  • Check for bugs. Ever noticed a waxy film on your crape myrtles and other flowering trees? Honeydew secretions left behind by aphids and other insects can create sooty, black mold. Blast this off with water on a regular basis.
  • Water smarter, not harder. While we live in a drought prone area, plants need water to survive. Water your lawn every three to five days, and plants according to their individual needs, during the early morning or late evening. Allow plants to dry out between watering so oxygen can reach the root system and promote new growth.

Following these local tips should help keep your landscape in tip-top shape through the most rigorous months of Texas summer. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more year-round home maintenance tips. Stay cool and remember to drink lots of water while maintaining your home’s curb appeal!

New home starts in ATX suburbs near record pace driven by road construction

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Looking ahead to fall, there seems to be a new housing trend on the rise. More and more people are moving to the ‘burbs! Thanks to improvements in infrastructure and new roads, the suburbs are becoming increasingly more accessible. Not to mention, living outside the city means more wide-open space and less hustle and bustle.

Although construction around town can be irritating, these improvements are paying off for the Austin and its surrounding areas. Check out the article below from CBS Austin to learn more about the rise in ATX suburb homes.

New home starts in ATX suburbs near record pace driven by road construction
CBS Austin | By Fred Cantu
(Originally published on July 25 on CBS Austin News)


Just like a typical Central Texas summer, the local real estate market continues to be hot. And the forecast for new home sales for the rest of 2019 is expected to end up comparable to 2018, but with more sales happening outside Austin. More people are choosing to buy their new homes outside Austin, not just because there are still wide-open spaces out there but because there are wider freeways to get you there.

New home sales in Central Texas are so strong right now developers can’t keep up with demand. Vaike O’Grady, Austin regional director for MetroStudy, adds, “We had a spike in home closings which is really interesting because it shows a strong demand in Austin.”

Areas developing as fast as they can include the communities of Liberty Hill, Cedar Park and Leander in Williamson County. O’Grady explains, “Williamson has really grown the most, and part of the reason for that is because they really invested in transportation in Williamson County, and people will go where they can find an easy commute.”

And you’ll get no argument from Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell. He says, “Williamson County I think is the most forward leaning county in Texas when it comes to the infrastructure that helps residents move from point A to point B.”

Hays County is also working to improve access to the interstate… and it’s paying off. Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra notes, “One of the biggest development areas in Hays County are the cities of Buda and Kyle in our I-35 corridor. So it’s no accident people want to live near where they can get on the roadway.”

Even with all the demand, builders had a 7% drop-off in the number of new home starts. But they say it was due to a shortage of available lots, a problem that they say has been addressed. O’Grady explains, “We had record lot deliveries during the quarter, so this supply problem is likely short term because developers worked really hard on to put lots on the ground. And the good news is those lots are going in where we really need them.”

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Talking Foundations with Randy: What to Expect

By | Home Inspection Reality Show, Home Maintenance Tips, Seasonal Home Maintenance | No Comments

Watch as Randy Barfield, founder and owner of Barfield Home Inspection, takes on this house’s foundation. In this video, you will learn how a home inspector looks at foundation and how he makes sure your house is level. You will also gain tips on how to keep up maintenance of your foundation so that it stays healthy.

When you need home tips, look no further than Texas’ own Randy Barfield–telling it like it is since 2003.

Thanks for watching!

Grillin’ and Chillin’ for July 4th!

By | Just for Fun | No Comments

Happy fourth of July everyone! Get ready for some grillin’ and chillin’ for the holiday. Randy will be cooking up his famous brisket so we thought we would share the celebration with you.

When it comes to good Texas brisket, Randy knows the key is cookin’ it low and slow. Roast at 1 hr to 1:30 minutes per lb. at around 225 degrees, until the internal temperature is around 200-205 degrees. See below for a borrowed recipe from Epicurious. If you want Randy’s secret brisket recipe, you’ll have to ask him yourself!

YIELD: Serves 12

INGREDIENTS

For dry rub
1/2 cup paprika
3 tablespoons ground black pepper
3 tablespoons coarse salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 7 1/2- to 8-pound untrimmed whole beef brisket
For mop
12 ounces beer
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons minced jalapeño chilies
5 pounds (about) 100% natural lump charcoal
4 cups (about) oak or hickory wood smoke chips, soaked in cold water at least 30 minutes
1 cup purchased barbecue sauce (such as Bull’s-Eye)
1 tablespoon chili powder
PREPARATION

Make dry rub:
Mix first 5 ingredients in small bowl to blend.

Transfer 1 tablespoon dry rub to another small bowl and reserve for mop. Spread remaining dry rub all over brisket. Cover with plastic; chill overnight.

Make mop:
Mix first 6 ingredients plus reserved dry rub in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over low heat 5 minutes. Pour 1/2 cup mop into bowl; cover and chill for use in sauce. Cover and chill remaining mop.

Following manufacturer’s instructions and using natural lump charcoal, start fire in smoker. When charcoal is ash gray, drain 1/2 cup wood chips and scatter over charcoal. Bring smoker to 200°F. to 225°F., regulating temperature by opening vents wider to increase temperature and closing slightly to reduce temperature.

Place brisket, fat side up, on rack in smoker. Cover; cook until tender when pierced with fork and meat thermometer inserted into center registers 185°F., about 10 hours (turn brisket over for last 30 minutes). Every 1 1/2 to 2 hours, add enough charcoal to maintain single layer and to maintain 200°F. to 225°F. temperature; add 1/2 cup drained wood chips. Brush brisket with chilled mop in pan each time smoker is opened. Transfer brisket to platter; let stand 15 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool 1 hour. Wrap in foil; chill. Before continuing, rewarm brisket, still wrapped, in 350°F. oven about 45 minutes.) Combine barbecue sauce and chili powder in heavy small saucepan. Add any accumulated juices from brisket and bring to boil, thinning sauce with some of reserved 1/2 cup mop, if desired.

Thinly slice brisket across grain. Serve, passing sauce separately.

Recipe originally shared on Epicurious.com.