was successfully added to your cart.

Category

Seasonal Home Maintenance

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

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

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!

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

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

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!

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

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.

Keep your succulents happy this winter

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

Do you have trouble keeping your succulents alive during the cold winter months? Lucky for you, our home inspector Mike is a gardening pro when it comes to growing and maintaining succulents and cacti. And what better and more trendy way to keep your home beautiful in Texas than succulents? They make the best house plants and use very little water!

Here is some quick advice from Mike to keep your succulents happy this winter:

“I generally move my succulents inside when it is supposed to freeze,” shares Mike. “Believe it or not, most succulents, especially cacti and agave, are quite cold hardy.

Native species, like prickly pear, can tolerate very low temperatures. However, each species has its own cold tolerance, so it is important to do your research on your specific plant.

Generally, if temperatures are going to drop below 32 degrees it is time to bring them inside or into a heated area.”

Check out some of Mike’s succulent successes below:


Safely Decorate Your Home for the Holidays

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


As the holiday season kicks off in true festive fashion, so does one of the most notorious weekend warrior projects of the entire year: holiday home decorating. Here are a few tips and tricks to help your family traditions carry on safely:

Up on the rooftop 

  • Check your strands. Eliminate frustration by plugging in your indoor and outdoor lights before decorating even begins! Check each strand for cracks or frayed wires and be sure there is a functioning bulb in each socket. If any of your strands cannot pass the test, replace them with new ones and then let the decorating commence!
  • Prevent electrical overloads. We all know someone who goes Clark Griswold on their home each December, but that does not have to be you. Ensure you know the basics of circuit logic before you begin, then add or switch outlets as necessary to carry the additional load of holiday lights. Wherever possible, use circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI), which help to prevent shock by breaking the circuit. Use heavy-duty extension cords rated for outdoor use and set a standard of no more than three sets of lights per cord. Please do not carry the extension cords while plugged in. This could make for quite a shock if there is a nick in the cord. If you do find a nick or cut in the extension cord then repair or replace it.
  • Gain solid footing. Before you mount the ladder for your annual rooftop adventure, be sure to avoid any overhead power lines. This is also a great time to recruit a family member or friend to help secure a stable foundation for the ladder.
  • Avoid cord piercing. Use clips to attach lights to your home, in favor of hammering. This will contribute to lighting safety, and also avoid unnecessary wear and tear to your home’s exterior.

Sitting by the fireside

  • Do not touch the lights. As you prepare indoor lighting, be sure curtains, furniture and carpeting are a safe distance from all bulbs. Ensure all candles are also a safe distance from flammable objects, curious children and rambunctious pets!
  • Watch the cords. Reduce holiday trips and falls by placing cords in low-traffic areas. Use electrical tape when needed to secure cords and prevent twisting or crushing.
  • Turn out the lights. Although holiday lights at night provide unrivaled ambience, they also contribute to fire danger. Use automatic timers to alleviate the stress of turning out indoor and outdoor lights before going to bed, or if you will be away from home.

We hope these simple tricks help you safely decorate your home this season. If you run into any glitches in the plan, give us a call! We will be happy to point you in the right direction.

Quick Tips for Winterizing Your Home

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

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