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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!

Prepare to weather the storm

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

If living in the wake of a pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that you can never really be too prepared. Understanding health risk factors and stocking our homes with supplies (but not piled high with a hoard!) have become front and center for nearly all Americans during the last several weeks. In the spirit of proactive preparation, it’s time to prepare ourselves and our homes during tornado season.

First things first, while we typically think of tornado season as spring and summer in Texas, these storms do not adhere to a rule book. Meteorologists advise having a plan in place year-round. In 2019, more than 1,500 tornadoes were confirmed in the United States. While making an emergency weather plan may not be your favorite pastime, we recommend every homeowner, buyer and renter has a strategy.

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

• Know the threat. The National Weather Service recommends tracking severe storms on local news or a weather radio. Many stations now offer detailed weather apps with notifications for severe weather to help residents track storms regardless of location. Remember to turn off your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” function if you need to receive alerts overnight.
• Create a plan. Every strategy starts with a good communications plan. Everyone in your home should know where to go in the event of a severe thunderstorm or tornado. Storms develop quickly and may not allow for time to plan in-the-moment.
o Identify a safe room near the center of your home in a storm cellar, basement or on the ground level with no exterior windows.
o If you live in a mobile home, identify a nearby safe building where you can quickly and reliably seek shelter.
o Consider how everyone will get to your safe room, especially if you have small children or pets that will need assistance.
o Prepare your safe room with necessities for a severe weather event. In a tornado, you will need to wear shoes and cover yourself with a blanket, mattress, or pillows to protect from flying or falling debris.
o Wait for the storm to pass before you emerge from your safe space. If service allows, track the storm on your phone or weather radio to ensure the danger has lifted.
• Practice the plan. Once your plan is in place, practice it from start to finish. You may consider taking precautions during severe storms to ensure everyone knows the drill. If time allows, remember to grab your cell phone and your keys, as you may need these in the aftermath.
• Protect your home and belongings. While no methods are fail-safe in severe weather, it is a good idea to secure loose items in your yard or driveway that may become airborne. In preparation for storms, it is a great idea to ensure your roof and gutters are in good condition, as they create the first lines of defense for your home.

Remember that your personal safety is most important during a severe weather event. Although we hope you never need to put these tools into practice, you should be prepared to weather the storm. Our biggest takeaway from 2020 so far is to prepare for the unexpected. For more home buying, selling and maintenance tips, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Stay safe and healthy out there, Central Texas!

Spring forward to sell your home

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Daylight saving time kicks off this weekend, and although we aren’t excited about the loss of precious sleep, we are looking gratefully forward to longer days, bright sunshine and warm Texas spring weather. While you’re busy checking your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, this is also a great time for sellers in Austin’s competitive real estate market to ready their home for buyers. Although it’s still a bit early to plant flowers, here are a few tips to spring forward in your home sale:

  • A clean, sparkling home will invite buyers and direct attention to all the right spaces. Start by cleaning your windows, inside and out, and wash your blinds to make an instant eye-opening difference. While you’re poking around the eyes of your home, be sure to inspect the weather stripping and caulking, which may be in need of repair.
  • Showcase the exterior of your home by mowing the lawn. A fresh cut will help remove leaves and other debris, leaving your yard clean and fresh. This is also a great time to cut back hedges around your home to maximize bright sunshine indoors. Visit the Central Texas Gardener for specific tips and tricks that can help boost your home’s curb appeal this spring.
  • Lower your gaze and take a long, hard look at your floors. The appearance of your floors can leave a lasting impression on prospective buyers, and you want to be sure it’s the right one! Start by vacuuming and mopping, but consider a professional cleaning or refinishing if needed.

In Austin’s hot market, buyers need to be as amply prepared as sellers. Here are a few tips for those looking to move into a new home this spring:

  • Know your credit score and budget. Our friends in the mortgage lending business will tell you this is a crucial part of the process. If you need help finding a lender, give us a call – we know excellent professionals who would be delighted to help you along your home-buying journey. Be sure to factor in closing costs, property taxes and insurance.
  • Once you are committed to buying in the upcoming months, contact your lender to get preapproved for a mortgage loan. While this is not a commitment or rate guarantee, getting preapproved will speed up the process down the road (which could give you the edge in a competitive market!).
  • Know who you want to work with. The right real estate agent and mortgage lender can make the process much less stressful and more enjoyable. Be sure to work with individuals who understand your needs, wants and priorities. When you’re ready to purchase a home and need an inspector you can trust, call Randy Barfield and the Barfield Home Inspection team. We’ve been telling it like it is since 2003 and would love to help you into the home of your dreams.

For more home buying, selling, maintenance and inspection tips, follow us on Facebook and Instagram and tune into our new podcast “Under the Roof with Randy Barfield,” now streaming on Spotify and Stitcher!

Under the Roof with Randy Barfield: Podcast coming soon!

By | Home Maintenance Tips, Podcast | No Comments

We’re proud to present “Under the Roof with Randy Barfield,” streaming on a device near you in early 2020! This monthly podcast will cover home buying, home inspections, home maintenance, home selling and everything you need to know about homes, especially in the booming Austin market.

Take a listen now for more about what’s to come, and stay tuned for new monthly episodes airing soon!

Why the GFCI?

By | Home Maintenance Tips | No Comments

If you’ve ever woken up to a coffee pot that didn’t brew to its programmed specifications after an overnight storm, you know the frustration of a tripped outlet. While you may reset your ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet automatically and wait impatiently for your first cup of morning joe, ruminate on this: That GFCI may have just saved your life.

An electrical system can experience a number of different faults. Simply put, a fault is any abnormal flow of electricity. A ground-fault occurs when there is a break in the low-resistance grounding path from a tool or electrical system and the electrical current takes an alternative path to the ground. The danger comes in when a person enters the path of least resistance from the electrical current to the ground. Unfortunately, this can result in a serious shock or in extreme cases, death.

Before we get too grim, push pause on the panic and turn your attention to the GFCI. The GFCI, commonly found in residences, is a fast-acting circuit breaker designed to shut off electric power in the event of a ground-fault within as little as 1/40 of a second. It works by comparing the amount of current going to and returning from equipment along the circuit conductors. When the amount going differs from the amount returning by approximately 5 milliamperes, the GFCI interrupts the current.

According to OSHA,
“The GFCI is rated to trip quickly enough to prevent an electrical incident. If it is properly installed and maintained, this will happen as soon as the faulty tool is plugged in. If the grounding conductor is not intact or of low-impedance, the GFCI may not trip until a person provides a path. In this case, the person will receive a shock, but the GFCI should trip so quickly that the shock will not be harmful.”

Additionally, the GFCI protects against fires, overheating and destruction of wire insulation. Here are a few tips to help ensure you GFCI outlets stay in good working order:

  • Check the operation of all ground-fault circuit interrupter outlets by pushing the “test” button. The “reset” button should pop out indicating the receptacle is operating properly.
  • Check the GFCI safety breaker in your electrical panel. The buttons are typically white, yellow, or purple. Once the breaker has been tripped, move the breaker all the way to the “Off” position and then flip to the “On” position. If any breakers or outlets do not reset, contact a licensed electrical contractor to further evaluate.

While you may be shocked to learn the importance of your GFCI outlets, we hope this information is helpful and keeps you from experiencing an actual electrical charge. For more tips and tricks, follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Happy circuit testing!

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!

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!