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Happy Holiday Decorating in 2020

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

Most of us can agree that we are looking forward to the holidays a little more than usual this year. After all, we could really use a reason to celebrate! Although yuletide festivities may look a little different than normal, it seems that many Americans have gone above and beyond in decorating their homes this season. Before you pull 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 sparkles this holiday season:

• Trim the tree. 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, to 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 light and comforting 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. Before you climb on board, check out Randy’s Ladder Safety Series and have someone stay at the ladder base to help stabilize and give you a hand if needed.

• Unfortunately, the most popular holiday plant, the poinsettia, can be harmful to 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!

Pressure Washing 101

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

Weekend warriors around the country have noticed one thing in common since March 2020: Regardless of business restrictions, one group that has stayed consistently busy (and perhaps even surged in demand) is home improvement. While Americans have more time at home to assess and enhance their surroundings, hardware stores have become the place to go as homeowners flock with mile long honey-do lists.

In case your list has run low or you’re looking for a way to make your home’s curb appeal shine even brighter, pressure washing is an excellent way to deep clean your home. Pressure washers utilize high-pressure water measured in pounds per square inch (psi) to remove tough stains from a variety of surfaces. They are available for sale and rent in both gas and electric, portable and stationary models. Once you find the pressure washer that’s right for you, familiarize yourself with the settings and safety operating instructions, as this is a significant piece of machinery.

When you’re ready to get started, here are a few ideas of projects you can accomplish at home with a pressure washer:

  • Blast years’ worth of dirt from your driveway in record time using a pressure washer. Whether you own or rent the equipment, be sure to read the safety manual and follow the proper operating procedures and precautions. Sweep the driveway and sidewalk before you start to remove surface-level debris that may become airborne. Hold down the spray handle and sweep back and forth in broad, overlapping strokes from one side of the concrete to the other. Your neighbors (and potential buyers) are sure to be impressed!

Pro Tip: Use the same method for your patio to stop tracking dirt inside the house!

  • Give your home a face lift with a good wash. While elbow grease is helpful, pressure washing can eliminate dirt, mildew, and grime from your home’s exterior in much less time. Whether your home is finished with brick, wood, aluminum, stucco or steel, pressure washing on a yearly basis is a great idea to keep it looking new! Before you begin, read the manual carefully to ensure you follow the settings for your home’s exterior, and then use a top-down method to wash away the gunk. While you’re at it, be sure to pressure wash your windows.

Pro Tip: If you are pressure washing in preparation for paint, be sure to give the home at least two days to thoroughly dry before you begin.

  • Refinish your fence. We all know good fences make good neighbors, but after taking a daily beating from the sun, wind, and rain, even the sturdiest of fences can look a little run down. Use detergent, medium pressure, and a sweeping fan pattern to restore your fence with a pressure washer. After two days, you can seal or paint your fence for the ultimate DIY makeover.

Pro Tip: Pressure wash your fence once a year to keep it looking new (annual painting not required!).

As we continue to spend more time at home, it’s great to cherish and take care of the spaces we love. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram @BarfieldHomeInspection for more home maintenance tips from the company that’s been telling it like it is since 2003. Stay safe and happy washing!

Tips to Keep Your Home Cool This Summer

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If you need a sign that summer is upon is, take one step outside! It’s June and heat has returned to Central Texas.

While keeping yourself, your family, and your pets (AKA furry family) cool should be top of mind, take a few minutes to consider how you’ll keep your home cool this summer. The weather almanac claims Austin and the surrounding areas top 100° F an average of 16 days per year; those of us who live here know it’s more, and often feels like much more than that! By following these easy steps, you can make your home a more comfortable oasis and save a few bucks while you’re at it:

    • Cover your windows. Although it’s tempting to let the summer sunshine in, it’s impossible to welcome the rays without the heat. Whether you opt for blinds, curtains, or solar screens, window coverings that reflect the light will also reduce the heat intake. Window coverings can enhance the beauty of your home and create a more tolerable living environment in the summer. Bonus: Because your rooms will be cooler, you may notice that blinds and curtains mean your AC runs less often.
  • Keep your windows tightly sealed. “In or out!” How many times did you hear that plea from cost-conscious relatives during the summer as a child? Well, they weren’t joking around. Keeping your windows and doors closed can make a significant impact on your home’s internal temperature and cooling costs. Check your windows and doors to see if any weather stripping needs to be repaired or replaced to ensure cool air can’t escape. Bonus: If you need to have windows repaired or replaced, check our preferred vendors list for local professionals who can help.
  • Employ ceiling fans. Embrace a force of nature in your home: wind. Paddle ceiling fans and portable fans cost much less to run than your air conditioner. Aspen Air suggest to set fans to run clockwise (when looking up) during summer months. Bonus: Because fans require that you feel the breeze, it only makes sense to run them when you’re in the room to feel the difference. Remember to turn off fans when you leave a room.
  • Conserve hot water. Large appliances like your dishwasher and washing machine create tons of heat and humidity that can take time to dissipate from your home. Along with hot showers and running other electronics, like your TV and PC, this all results in heat. Reduce these activities, especially during the heat of the day, and remember to run exhaust fans in your bathroom and utility room as necessary. Bonus: This tip affects not only your electric bill, but also monthly utilities.
  • Change those air filters! You knew we were getting here, didn’t you? Air filters truly are the heart and soul of your home’s AC system. Air filters purify the air you breathe, leaving behind an array of dust and contaminants in their folds. Because the air runs more in the summertime, filters fill up faster. Be sure to change these monthly to keep cool, clean air flowing. Bonus: If you are looking to sell your home this summer, your inspector will definitely check those filters, so it pays to keep them clean.

While these tips aren’t miracles, they will help reduce the time your AC runs this summer and by proxy reduce your cooling costs. As for staying cool outside, we recommend a nice shaded spot by the pool! For more home maintenance tips and tricks, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Stay healthy, cool, and safe out there!

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.