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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!

Landscape for form and function

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

While beautiful landscaping enhances curb appeal and is proven to increase buyer interest, it’s also important for the health of your home’s foundation. Since a stable foundation is critical to a good home inspection, here are a few tips this spring as you enhance your home’s natural beauty:

  • Don’t plant too close. It’s like we always say: Water is your home’s number one enemy. Trees, shrubs and other plants that require lots of moisture will direct that moisture to your home, which can result in long-term issues. Additionally, don’t establish too many plants that will require water. You want to plant evenly around your home so that as water expands, the soil distributes evenly.
  • Grade away from your home. Be sure that water isn’t running toward your home. Look around to see which direction stormwater flows. We recommend that homeowners create a grade away from your home to ensure a sturdy foundation. If you need help, check our preferred lenders list and have a foundation expert take a look.
  • Select plants that match your environment. Plants that thrive in your environmental zone will not only prove to be more healthy and beautiful, they can also impact the amount of water and time you devote to their existence. Be sure to use mulch around your trees and shrubs, as it acts like a sponge to retain moisture without requiring excess to keep plants healthy.
  • Mow regularly.  A fresh cut will 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.
    • Bonus – Clean yards deter pests such as insects and snakes, which can be particularly problematic for homeowners during hot Texas summers.

By tidying up your home’s exterior, you can protect your home’s foundation and avoid costly structural repairs. For more tips and tricks, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

 

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!

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!

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.

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.