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Home Maintenance Tips

Quick Tips for Winterizing Your Home

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By: Randy Barfield

It’s that time of year again, folks. The last thing you want to happen is frozen or damaged plumbing systems. To prevent this from happening to you, here are some quick tips for winterizing your home:

  1. Insulate any exposed exterior plumbing pipes and hose bibs. A nice foam cover from the local hardware store will work well. If you don’t have time to go the store, then 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! If you don’t have any of these items laying around, use that old sweatshirt you’ve been meaning to get rid of as a short-term fix.
  2. Drip the hot and cold faucets. This only applies when temperatures are going to drop below freezing. We don’t want to waste water if we don’t have to.
  3. Open the cabinets under the sinks so the warm air from the house can help keep the pipes warm enough to prevent freezing.
  4. If you live in an older pier and beam home with a crawl space, your pipes should be wrapped. If not, I would consider hiring a certified contractor to insulate the pipes for you. In the meantime, use the faucet dripping technique.

Other things you can do to make your home comfy and cozy:

  1. Reverse ceiling fans so the warm air that rises to the ceiling can be pulled back down to the living area.
  2. Don’t forget to wrap or cover your plants or bring them inside if possible.
  3. If you have a fireplace and want to use it, first get a flashlight and take a look up in the flue if possible. Make sure you don’t have any obstructions and your damper is open before you start the fire. Also, if you look up in the flue and see it is heavy with soot creosote, then I recommend calling a certified chimney sweep contractor to clean and further evaluate your fireplace. Finally, don’t forget to keep your fire screen or fire doors closes while using the fireplace.
  4. If the exterior door feels a little drafty at the bottom, then place a rolled-up towel at the threshold for a quick fix. If the doors are really drafty, then it is likely time for some new weather gaskets.
  5. Don’t forget about your HVAC filter. These need to be replaced often, not just in the summer months, but all year round. Take a look at yours. If it looks dirty or clogged, then it is time to replace it.
  6. Check your smoke alarms and give them a test. If you haven’t replaced the backup batteries in the last 6 months, then it is probably time to change those. I also advise having at least one carbon monoxide (CO) detector for each level of the house, especially if you have gas-fueled appliances.

Hope this helps and stay warm, y’all.

Thanks,
Randy Barfield
Barfield Home Inspection Services

Protect your home from rattlesnakes

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There are many things homeowners and home inspectors alike do not want to see, and at the top of that list are snakes. After an especially long, hot summer it is important to know how to protect your home from snakes seeking an area to nest during the winter. Here are a few tips from our inspectors:

  • Understand the basics. Although snakes typically hibernate during winter, rattlesnakes remain active when temperatures are warmer than 60 degrees Fahrenheit. For Central Texans, this means snakes are out and about for a large part of the year. Due to the warmer temperatures, snakes enter brumation rather than hibernation, a period in which their body temperature lowers, metabolism slows, they become less active and eat less.
  • Make your yard resistant to snakes. The best way to keep these creatures out of your home is to keep them off your perimeter. A snake-proof fence with no gaps, buried at least three inches is ideal, but costly. Keeping your grass cut, controlling rodents and debris, and removing wood, leaves and other ideal nests for snakes goes a long way to ward off snakes.
  • Eliminate food sources. When a snake wanders onto your property, chances are it is looking for food, water, or shelter. Avoid leaving pet food outside for extended periods, and be sure to clean up immediately after outdoor meals.
  • Watch for leaky water sources. In addition to general home maintenance problems, leaky faucets and sprinklers create a haven for frogs, rodents and other small animals that attract snakes. By fixing the leak, you may well eliminate a snake problem before it even exists.
  • Close the gaps. While a snake in your yard may instill fear, for many people a snake in the house will incite panic. Inspect your foundation for unsealed conduits, or basement windows and doors that do not tightly close. Openings near the ground level are most inviting to snakes.

If you should find a snake, remember to stay calm and try to monitor it without coming into contact to ensure it does not wiggle its way further into your home. More than likely, the snake will find its own way off your property without injury. If you believe you have been bitten by a venomous snake, call 911 immediately.

Although these tips should help keep snakes away from your home, we would be honored to help protect your home. Give us a call today to schedule your home inspection!

Why Barfield Home Inspection?

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If you are new to the Austin area or new to the homebuying process, you may not know much about local home inspectors. You might get recommendations from friends and family or look through hundreds of home inspection companies online. To make your home inspector search easier, let us tell you why Barfield Home Inspection is so unique:

  1. We are in the business of helping people. We do not simply check the boxes and leave. Our goal is to help our clients as much as possible. It is not our decision whether you should by a house or not, but it is up to us to prepare you with information to make an informed and confident decision.
  2. Randy Barfield, owner and founder of Barfield Home Inspection, has worked in every aspect of home building from construction to repair. With a lifetime of experience, he knows houses from the inside out. That means, our home inspectors are trained by the best. We deliver thorough home inspection reporting and provide an in-depth explanation of our reports.
  3. In addition to expert reporting, our team is available for follow-up questions. We go above and beyond to ensure all question have been answered and clients feel confident.
  4. We are home inspectors who take the time to care about you as a homeowner. When you work with Barfield Home Inspection, you not only get experienced inspectors, you also get a personable and friendly real estate partner you can trust for every home transaction.
  5. We are always up to date on the latest tools and techniques in the housing industry. Whether you are looking at an older home or a piece of new construction, we have the knowledge and devices to deliver a thorough and accurate report.

When it comes to buying a home, Barfield home inspectors understand that this is one of the most important and expensive decisions you will ever make. That is why we take the time, care and effort to make each client experience as helpful and reassuring as possible.

If you are in need of an honest, reliable home inspector, look no further than Barfield Home Inspection. Let us help with your home. Schedule your home inspection today!

Save money on utility bills this summer

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If you are from Texas, you know a thing or two about high utility bills in the summer. A/C units work overtime and  lawns need extra hydration. Whether you own a home or rent an apartment, there are plenty of tools and hacks to save money during these hot summer months in Texas.

When it comes to air conditioning, our home inspector Randy Barfield recommends adjusting the thermostat to around 78 – 80 degrees when no one is home to help save money on your electric bill. Another way to make sure your A/C unit is working as efficiently as possible is to perform regular maintenance, which includes changing filters and cleaning the A/C condenser and evaporator coils.

As you bump up the temperature before you leave each day, also remember to turn off lights and unplug appliances that are not being used.

Austin Energy is a great resource for finding ways to use energy efficiently. Here are a few of their summer saving tips:

  • Install LED light bulbs. LEDs use 90% less electricity, generate less heat, and last 10-25 times longer than regular incandescent bulbs, and five times longer than Compact Florescent Lightbulbs (CFLs).
  • Close shades/curtains on windows hit by direct sunlight. This helps to prevent heat from getting indoors.
  • Provide shade for outside AC units. AC units shaded by trees or structures work more efficiently and use up to 10% less electricity.
  • Avoid turning on the oven during the hottest time of the day. Using a microwave or a slow cooker produces less heat.
  • Let someone else pay the energy bills. Go to a library, shopping center or community center and take advantage of climate-controlled activities away from home.

When it comes to water bills, not only is it vital to conserve water this time of year in Texas, it also helps you save. We can all make an effort to take shorter showers, turn off the sink when brushing our teeth, run the dishwasher less, and water our lawns less. Beyond these simple daily adjustments, make sure to:

  • Replace shower heads (so they work more efficiently)
  • Check for leaks and fix leaking faucets
  • Check the city website for designated watering days: http://www.austintexas.gov/department/water-conservation
  • Perform regular maintenance on your irrigation system
  • Replace old appliances

Incorporating these simple changes into your daily or weekly routine is an easy way to cut spending and save more money each month. Fall weather is just around the corner, but in the meantime use these tips make it through this blazing summer!

Keeping Your AC in Shape for Summer

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During these hot summer months, it is important to keep up with your air conditioning (AC) unit maintenance. In addition to changing the return air filter in your HVAC system, try cleaning the AC condensate drain line to make sure your AC unit is running at its best. By simply pouring a cup of bleach or white vinegar down the line, you can prevent algae and dirt from blocking the drain line and interfering with air quality. In most cases, this is a relatively easy process. However, some AC units may be more difficult than others and require a professional. Check out the video below from Today’s Homeowner for a quick tutorial on how to do it yourself!

Home maintenance tasks such as this are always a good investment. Regular home maintenance can save you money, prevent things from breaking, add value to your home, and overall keep your home running efficiently.

Tuning up your irrigation system is a must-do this summer

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Summer in Texas means water restrictions, which is why it’s important to make sure your irrigation system is working efficiently. A regular checkup can help conserve water and save money on your water bill. There are many things to consider when inspecting a sprinkler system, so it is best to hire a professional. However, here are a few simple tips to maintain your system between seasonal checkups:

  • Make sure sprinklers are placed effectively for even watering across your yard.
  • Set a proper watering schedule depending on the season and keep an eye on it. Make sure the system is running as scheduled and remember to change the clock during daylight saving time.
  • Install a rain sensor to make sure your sprinklers aren’t interfering with mother nature.
  • Keep an eye out for missing, broken, plugged or sunken sprinkler heads.
  • Check for plants or objects blocking the sprinkler’s path.
  • Schedule seasonal check-ups and adjust sprinklers each month.

Lastly, check the austintexas.gov website for up-to-date water restrictions and assigned watering days and times.

Most importantly, don’t forget to water yourself! It’s hot out there, so stay hydrated and lather on that sunscreen.

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!