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Home Maintenance Tips

Clean your gutters this October to protect your home

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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

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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

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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!

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

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

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.