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Home Maintenance Tips

Maintain curb appeal and boost your home’s value

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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!

Safety tips and precautions for a carefree 4th of July

By | Home Maintenance Tips, Just for Fun, Seasonal Home Maintenance | No Comments

With our nation’s 243rd birthday upon us, you are likely making plans to celebrate the fourth of July in style. Before you take off for the lake or open your doors for the biggest barbecue of the summer, here are some considerations for your home:

Leave fireworks to the professionals. According to ADT, nearly 50,000 house fires are caused by fireworks each year. Never make your own fireworks or let children handle explosives. In case you did not know, it is illegal to use or sell fireworks within the City of Austin. If you are in an area where you can set off your own display or if you use novelty items like sparklers and glow worms, remember never to point fireworks at any one, and only light these items in areas that are fire resistant.

Keep your extinguisher handy. Per your family’s fire safety plan, you should have a working fire extinguisher. Be sure to place it within arm’s reach, in addition to a bucket of water or your water hose. If you need to purchase a fire extinguisher, now is the time! Visit your neighborhood home maintenance store before the holiday.

Be the grill master, not a disaster. As you serve up your famous burgers, be sure your grill is at least two feet away from all surfaces. This includes fencing, decks, outdoor equipment, and yes, your home. Check propane tanks for cracks, holes and leaks which can cause unwanted explosions.

By following these basic safety tips and taking easy precautions, you and your crew can enjoy Independence Day in carefree fashion. Stay safe and Happy 4th of July!

Bonus tip: It’s no secret that at Barfield, we love our pets and care about yours, too. That’s why we encourage you to leave your pets at home during the festivities, provide a safe space where they can find shelter during raucous celebrations, and keep glow sticks and fireworks out of their reach. For other great safety tips for Fido, visit PetMD. https://www.petmd.com/dog/slideshows/care/fourth-of-july-pet-safety-tips

Tackle house chores while catching a tan in the sunny outdoors

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House chores aren’t so bad when you can be outside on a beautiful day, catching a tan while you work! Why not kill two birds with one stone? We’ve compiled a list of home maintenance tasks to tackle while you’re spending time outside this summer. June is the perfect time to check these tasks off your list before it gets too hot! So, grab a hose, wrangle the family and get out there.

 

 

  1. Wash the outside of your house, including windows. That’s right, the outside of your house needs some love, too! There are several types of cleaning products made for spraying and cleaning the exterior of a house. Use a hose-end canister sprayer or a high-pressure washer to spray.
  2. Inspect your irrigation system. While you’re out throwing the football, look around for leaks or broken heads. Also, make sure to keep an eye out for water restrictions and program your system accordingly.
  3. Prune trees and shrubs so that branches do not come into contact with your house. Oak trees are an exception. Due to oak wilt, these trees should be pruned before February 1 and after June 30.
  4. Clean your deck. Summertime is the time for grilling out with friends. Make sure your deck is in shape for company! Sweep off grass, dirt and pollen and use a scrub brush to remove any clumps.
  5. Take a lap around the house. Move wood or debris away from the house to prevent pests from getting in.
  6. Clean the grill. For food safety, give the grill a good cleaning before cooking. Your guests will thank you!
  7. Pressure wash the driveway and sidewalks. You’d be surprised what a difference a clean driveway can make on your curb appeal.
  8. Mow the lawn. Pro tip – Keeping the grass cut longer can help prevent roots from drying out as quickly in the summer.

Have a great summer, y’all!

 

 

 

Invest your tax return on home maintenance

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In addition to blooming wildflowers, festivals and an early taste of warm weather to come, spring brings a monetary delight for many: tax refund season. If, like the majority of Americans, your refund plans include making an investment, paying off debt or making a large purchase, here are some considerations for funneling that surplus into your home.

According to HGTV, saving one to three percent of your home’s purchase price for maintenance is a wise annual choice. Conveniently enough, the average tax return for 2018 is $3,000 which could account for a sizeable lump sum deposit for the median homeowner. Once you have a plan to stock up your reserve, here are some common household maintenance items you can expect to attend to throughout the year:

  • Texas limestone can leave you with hard water, leading to stained sinks and itchy skin. Install a water softener and maintain your salt levels regularly. Clean mineral deposits from your faucets.
  • Spring weather often means heavy rains and strong winds. Inspect your roof for missing or damaged shingles and leaks, then contact an expert roofer from our preferred vendors list for help.
  • Assess your home’s air conditioning quality and consider having your system serviced. Change your air filters regularly, and while you’re atop that ladder, check your smoke detectors as well!
  • Account for any damage left from cold weather contraction by evaluating your door and window seals, as well as locks and door handles for wear and tear. Replace or repair weather caulking where needed.
  • Prepare for a beautiful summer and add curb appeal by investing in landscaping and fertilizer for your lawn. Check your irrigation system and reference our preferred vendors for assistance.

You can also maximize your home maintenance budget by conserving water and electricity, and thereby reducing utility costs. Finally, save your hard-earned funds by considering a do it yourself (DIY) project, where time and experience allows.

Making routine improvements and adhering to regularly scheduled maintenance is an investment you can make in the life of your home. For more expert tips and advice, follow us on Facebook and Instagram at @barfieldhomeinspection.

Tell mosquitoes to buzz off this spring!

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While we do appreciate the return of warm weather and sunshine, spring temperatures also mark the beginning of mosquito season in central Texas. If you have experienced mosquito season in Texas before, you know these pesky creatures can really ruin a good time. Not only are they annoying, but also dangerous. They can transmit diseases to both humans and pets. In Texas, mosquitoes can sometimes stick around until early winter. In the meantime, it is important to protect your home and your family.

Start off by sealing up your house. Keep your doors and windows closed in the evening and install screens as an extra precaution. If you already have screens, make sure to repair any holes or tears this month.

According to the Austin Public Health Department, the best way to fight mosquitoes is to remember the four D’s:

  • Dusk and dawn
  • Dress
  • DEET
  • Drain

DUSK TO DAWN is the most active time for mosquitoes. If you can avoid being outdoors during this time, you are less likely to have an encounter. However, summertime means backyard barbecues and lots of time outside on the porch, so if you are outside, remember to DRESS appropriately. The more covered you are, the better. If your skin is exposed, be sure to use insect repellent that contains DEET. Check out these myths and facts about DEET from OFF!® if you have questions about the effectiveness or safety of DEET.

Finally, DRAIN any places with standing water, which can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Clean your gutters, fix any leaks, remove debris from your yard, and replace your pet’s water bowl often.

April is in full swing which means now is the time to act against mosquitoes! Remember the four D’s and check out the city of Austin website for more information on preventing mosquitoes and protecting your family from viruses.

Under the Roof with Randy Barfield: The Ground Level

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Do you know what’s happening on the ground level of your home? Is the foundation level? What happens when the soil shifts? Don’t worry, we have answers for you.

Last month, we visited construction expert and building manager Casey Strickland with Drees Homes to analyze a home from the ground level! Check out the video below to hear Randy and Casey dive into questions about foundations, post-tension cables and the importance of a third party inspection.

Fire safety reminder!

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Whether you are looking to buy or sell a home, or are happy where you are for years to come, few things are more important than protecting your family, home and belongings. According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 355,400 home structure fires per year, resulting in 2,560 deaths and $6.5 billion in property damage. Although this news is alarming, three out of five fire deaths result from fires in properties without working smoke detectors.

When it comes to fire safety, do not leave the security of your home and loved ones to chance. Here are some quick tips from the U.S. Fire Administration to ensure smoke detectors in your home are in good working order:

  • Choose interconnected smoke alarms, so when one sounds, they all sound.
  • Put smoke alarms inside and outside each bedroom and sleeping area. Put alarms on every level of the home.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms work. Your family is not safe if they can’t hear the smoke alarms.
  • Test smoke alarms every month and replace 9-volt smoke alarm batteries at least once every year.
  • Smoke alarms do not last forever. Get new smoke alarms every 10 years.
  • When you hear a smoke alarm, you may have less than two minutes to get everyone outside and safe.

In addition to your monthly smoke alarm test, create a clear fire escape plan and discuss with everyone in your home. A good plan includes two ways to get out of any room in your home, and your family should practice the plan twice every year.

Ideally, your smoke detectors only get put to use when a batch of cookies stay in the oven too long. However, having a strong plan and working smoke detectors can help everyone in your family understand what to do in case the unthinkable happens.

Test your smoke detectors today, and stay safe!

Brunch & Learn: Keys to selling you home before it hits the market

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We are teaming with Ryan Kelly with Ryan Kelly Group and Ruby Cloutier with Vazzo Spaces for an exciting event this spring! Mark your calendar for Saturday, March 2, 10:30 a.m. to noon.

Join us at the Keller Williams Southwest Market Center (directions here) for breakfast tacos, coffee, and a detailed discussion on how to prepare your home for sale before it hits the market. We are bringing together the finest in the industry to talk about preparing your home for sale. Panelists include: Our own Randy Barfield, Owner of Barfield Home Inspection and expert home inspector; Ryan Kelly, Realtor with Ryan Kelly Group – Keller Williams Realty, investor, and real estate enthusiast; and Ruby Cloutier, interior designer, home staging specialist and Founder of Vazzo Spaces.

This event welcomes homebuyers, homeowners and realtors to brunch and learn. The best part is that it’s not only educational, but free to attend! We’ll share an analysis of the current real estate climate, identify buyers biggest objections and how to overcome them, why you should consider a home inspection before you list, how staging can make you more money, and more. There will also be giveaways including a Nest thermostat, staging consultation, and discounted pre-home inspection. RSVP today!

Test your toilet for leaks

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Is your toilet always running? Does it make hissing noises? This may indicate a toilet leak. In addition to increasing your utility bills, a leaky toilet tank can cause costly water damage to your flooring. Before spending money on a new toilet, try this quick trick to test for leaks:

Step 1: Remove lid and add red food coloring to the water in the tank.

Step 2: Sit back and wait – give it about an hour.

Step 3: Check the water in the toilet bowl. If the water is pink, then you have a leak.  This means it is time to replace the flappers in the tank.

Catching this leak can save you from replacing your toilet and costly damage. Sometimes leaks can sneak up silently, so it is important to test your toilet periodically.