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Home Maintenance Tips

Join us for virtual home inspections as Austin residents stay-at-home

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Dear friends,

We hope this message finds you safe and healthy. These are unprecedented times. Barfield Home Inspection is here for you and we understand the feeling of uncertainty and the difficulties those in the real estate industry face. We are here to support you. As you may have seen, today Mayor Adler’s shelter-in-place orders take affect in Travis and Williamson counties through Monday, April 13.

Barfield Home Inspection will remain open to serve as many home buyers and sellers as possible during this critical time. ABOR advises no showings in Travis County and limited showings in surrounding areas to avoid in-person interaction as much as possible. Closings should continue as scheduled. In light of these orders and out of an abundance of caution, we are taking extra steps to safeguard you as realtors, sellers and buyers from in-person interaction with our team. The good news is business can continue. Here is how my team and I are conducting home inspections amidst COVID-19:

• Limiting and/or eliminating person-to-person interaction with a VIRTUAL HOME INSPECTION. Homeowners, buyers, and real estate agents do not need to be present at the time of inspection. In an effort to comply with social distancing and offer an added layer of safety for our clients, our team will proceed with the inspection inside the house without occupants inside the house at the time of inspection (approximately three-hour timeframe). Residents are welcome to spend time outside the home in the backyard or take a drive during the inspection.

At the end of the inspection, we will conduct a virtual meeting via FaceTime or Google Duo to recap the inspection and answer any questions. We will then vacate the premises and save the handshakes for later! We are proud to embrace the technology at hand to continue serving home buyers and sellers during this challenging time.

• N95 particulate respirator masks, boot covers and gloves worn at each inspection. We continue to wash and sanitize our hands thoroughly and often. Before and after each inspection we thoroughly wipe down and sanitize all equipment used.

The Barfield Home Inspection team also understands the importance of respirator masks for the medical community who face a shortage. Luckily, as home inspectors, we have this type of equipment on hand. We have reserved the few masks we need for home inspections and have donated the rest to those facing the front lines of the crisis. If there are other ways we can be of service, please contact me directly via text or call (512) 350-0123.

On behalf of the entire Barfield Home Inspection team, thank you for your partnership, your business and your trust. We are honored to continue to serve the Austin real estate community and appreciate your support. We will get through this and be stronger for it. Stay in touch and look for updates from our team by following us on Facebook and Instagram @BarfieldHomeInspection. In the coming weeks, we plan to provide additional resources for you and your clients as we all hunker down at home. Home improvement here we come!

Feel free to get in touch with any questions, and stay healthy out there,

Randy Barfield
Owner, Barfield Home Inspection
(512) 350-0123

Under the Roof with Randy Barfield: Podcast coming soon!

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We’re proud to present “Under the Roof with Randy Barfield,” streaming on a device near you in early 2020! This monthly podcast will cover home buying, home inspections, home maintenance, home selling and everything you need to know about homes, especially in the booming Austin market.

Take a listen now for more about what’s to come, and stay tuned for new monthly episodes airing soon!

Recovering from winter’s wrath

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Whether you experienced a little snowfall, sleet, or just a lot of rain, Central Texas has officially absorbed a lot of precipitation recently. Now that the stormy winter weather is behind us, we can’t wait to soak up the sun. Before you start celebrating, here are a few items you may want to assess around your home now that the rainwaters have subsided:

  • Wind damage. Major forces are not necessary to cause upheaval on top of your house. Moderate wind, downed trees and limbs can impact the structural integrity of your roof and gutters.
  • Hail damage. “Maybe those were just really large raindrops” are words uttered by many a hopeful Texan. Unfortunately, Texas sits at the top of the hail damage list in the United States, and Weather Underground reports that since 2008, $10 billion in hail insurance claims have been filed each year. When heavy hailstones rocket toward your home with tremendous speed and force, disaster can strike for your shingles and gutters.

The amount of damage from rain, wind and hail can vary greatly depending on a few conditions:

  • Wind direction
  • Hailstone size and density
  • Building materials (For example, hailstones can ding aluminum, crack asphalt or even puncture the roof).
  • Protection from natural barriers like other structures and large trees

When you need someone to inspect your roof and assess the damage, call Randy at Barfield Home Inspection. At Barfield Home Inspection, we’ve been telling it like it is since 2003. When you’re buying a home, we would love to be the trusted voice that can help. Give us a call today at 512-350-0123 and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates from out in the field.

How Groundhog Day Could Affect Your Pipes

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

The fate of Central Texas’ “winter” of 2020 all comes down to one day: February 2. On Sunday, Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Phil will emerge from his burrow to look for his shadow. If he sees it, we can prep for six weeks of cold weather, but if he doesn’t see his shadow (due to a cloudy, shadowless day), bring on spring! While this iconic holiday is built on the pillars of American legend and lore, the team at Barfield Home Inspection want to ensure your home is prepared, just in case winter strikes!

With a careful eye on the forecast, February is generally the coldest month in our region. This is a great time to double-check the insulation on your pipes to ensure your water stays hot and your pipes stay open. Pipe insulation can help to save energy all year, and avoid plumbing catastrophes that can result in flooding and mold.

Check out this helpful guide from the folks at Home Depot for installing fiberglass pipe wrap and tubular insulation (pipe sticks):

To help ensure the highest quality of insulation, be sure to disconnect exterior garden hoses and use caulk to seal any cracks or holes near water pipes.

Have a great Groundhog Day and stay warm, regardless of what that Phil says! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest tips, tricks and real estate news from the Austin, Texas area.

Why the GFCI?

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If you’ve ever woken up to a coffee pot that didn’t brew to its programmed specifications after an overnight storm, you know the frustration of a tripped outlet. While you may reset your ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet automatically and wait impatiently for your first cup of morning joe, ruminate on this: That GFCI may have just saved your life.

An electrical system can experience a number of different faults. Simply put, a fault is any abnormal flow of electricity. A ground-fault occurs when there is a break in the low-resistance grounding path from a tool or electrical system and the electrical current takes an alternative path to the ground. The danger comes in when a person enters the path of least resistance from the electrical current to the ground. Unfortunately, this can result in a serious shock or in extreme cases, death.

Before we get too grim, push pause on the panic and turn your attention to the GFCI. The GFCI, commonly found in residences, is a fast-acting circuit breaker designed to shut off electric power in the event of a ground-fault within as little as 1/40 of a second. It works by comparing the amount of current going to and returning from equipment along the circuit conductors. When the amount going differs from the amount returning by approximately 5 milliamperes, the GFCI interrupts the current.

According to OSHA,
“The GFCI is rated to trip quickly enough to prevent an electrical incident. If it is properly installed and maintained, this will happen as soon as the faulty tool is plugged in. If the grounding conductor is not intact or of low-impedance, the GFCI may not trip until a person provides a path. In this case, the person will receive a shock, but the GFCI should trip so quickly that the shock will not be harmful.”

Additionally, the GFCI protects against fires, overheating and destruction of wire insulation. Here are a few tips to help ensure you GFCI outlets stay in good working order:

  • Check the operation of all ground-fault circuit interrupter outlets by pushing the “test” button. The “reset” button should pop out indicating the receptacle is operating properly.
  • Check the GFCI safety breaker in your electrical panel. The buttons are typically white, yellow, or purple. Once the breaker has been tripped, move the breaker all the way to the “Off” position and then flip to the “On” position. If any breakers or outlets do not reset, contact a licensed electrical contractor to further evaluate.

While you may be shocked to learn the importance of your GFCI outlets, we hope this information is helpful and keeps you from experiencing an actual electrical charge. For more tips and tricks, follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Happy circuit testing!

What to expect from the Austin market in 2020

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With the holidays in our rearview mirror, we remember all we are thankful for and are reminded to celebrate on a daily basis. Living and working in the bustling mecca of Austin, Texas is at the top of our gratitude list.

While home sales, and thus inspections, tend to experience a lull in the winter months, that has not been true in 2019. In fact, December was one of our busiest months this year! We are elated to share that with the help of amazing real estate experts across Central Texas, we inspected nearly 1,000 homes in 2019. We extend heartfelt thanks to everyone who trusts our team with your business and your home. We look forward to working with even more agents and homebuyers in 2020. If you’re in the market, here’s what we might expect as the new decade begins:

  • Austin is number one. It comes as no surprise that Austin will be the top market in real estate in 2020, according to the annual Emerging Trends in Real Estate report. Although traffic and affordability are issues noted in the report, Austin also took home the highest local expectation of investor demand.
  • Will the market continue to rise? Short answer: YES. According to Mashvisor, a thriving young population, talented workforce, economic growth and tourism account for Austin’s rise in popularity. As property prices continue to rise above the national average, the metro area has the population and economy to warrant it, with no bubble in sight. Mashvisor projects an increase demand for single family homes with the possibility of a shift toward a buyer’s market.

So, what does this all mean for us? The Austin real estate market is HOT and only getting hotter as we usher in a new decade. As you prepare to sell or buy a home, we hope you will trust our team with your inspection. We’ve been in the game since 2003, and Randy Barfield was one of the first inspectors in Texas to become state licensed. We value you, your business and will always tell you like it is.

We look forward to working with you in 2020. For the latest tips, tricks and real estate market information, follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Cheers to a happy and prosperous new year!

Protect your pipes to winterize your home

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

The time has come for us all to face the facts: winter is coming. With the first day of the season right around the corner, this is an excellent time to prepare your home for the coldest months of the year.

The biggest threats to your home during winter come from water. Water expands as it freezes, which puts tremendous pressure on metal or plastic pipes. Expanding pipes, such as those that are exposed to severe cold and your home’s exterior, and in unheated areas like basements, crawl spaces, garages and kitchen cabinets are most susceptible to breaking under pressure.

Here are a few tips for winterizing your home this month and preparing for the freezing temperatures ahead:

  • Insulate any exposed exterior plumbing pipes and hose bibs. Pick up a nice cover from the local hardware store. Alternatively, you can use duct tape, newspaper or paper bags work for a temporary fix. Duct tape is good for just about any kind of wrapping job. I even use it to wrap my wife’s presents!
  • Keep the outside valve open so that any remaining water in the pipe can expand without breaking the pipe.
  • Drip the hot and cold faucets. When temperatures dip below freezing, allowing water to trickle through exposed pipes will help prevent the pipes from freezing.
  • Open cabinets under your sinks so the warm air from the house can help keep the pipes warm enough to prevent freezing. If you have pets or small children, be sure to remove harmful chemicals before leaving the doors open.

These quick fixes can help keep your water flowing freely throughout the winter. For more tips and tricks, follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Happy insulating!

Decorating your home for the holiday

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With Thanksgiving behind us, it is safe to say we are officially in the holiday season! If you’re like the majority of Americans, you already have or soon plan to decorate your home with a tree, ornaments, and lights. Before you tear out the ladder, lights and tinsel, check out these tips and tricks that will help you save time, energy and help keep you and your home safe amidst all that sparkle this holiday season:

• According to the American Christmas Tree Association, 77 percent of Americans will decorate their home with a Christmas tree this year. Whether you prefer a natural or artificial tree, be sure to keep it away from all heating sources in your home. Enough said.

• Keep a fire extinguisher handy. From trees to candles, as well as extra garland and tinsel, your home is likely filled with more décor than usual. Keep fire extinguishers in accessible locations throughout your home, and ensure everyone knows how to operate it if necessary. Most fire extinguishers operate using the following P.A.S.S. technique:
PULL the pin. This will also break the tamper seal.
AIM low, pointing the extinguisher nozzle (or its horn or hose) at the base of the fire.
NOTE: Do not touch the plastic discharge horn on CO2 extinguishers, it gets very cold and may damage skin.
SQUEEZE the handle to release the extinguishing agent.
SWEEP from side to side at the base of the fire until it appears to be out. Watch the area. If the fire re-ignites, repeat steps 2-4.

• Turn all candles off before you turn in. A holiday favorite, candles provide ambient lighting and the fragrances of home. But if you’re likely to forget blowing these out on a nightly basis, turn to flameless instead.

• Whether you’re going full-on Clark Griswold or have something more tasteful in mind, you may find yourself on a ladder this month. Be sure someone stays at the ladder base to help stabilize and give you a hand if needed.

• Unfortunately, the most popular holiday plant, the poinsettia, is also toxic for pets and children. Be sure to keep these decorative displays out of harm’s reach.

We hope you have a wonderful time making your home warm, cozy and bright this holiday season, and that these tips go a long way to ensuring your safety in the process. For more tips and tricks, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

On behalf of the entire Barfield Home Inspection team, we wish you and yours a happy holiday season!

Understanding your home’s heating system

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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.