Ever wondered what a day in the life of a home inspector looks like, or how you get there? Hear the story behind Barfield Home Inspection, telling it like it is since 2003.
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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Take a lap around the house. Move wood or debris away from the house to prevent pests from getting in.
- Clean the grill. For food safety, give the grill a good cleaning before cooking. Your guests will thank you!
- Pressure wash the driveway and sidewalks. You’d be surprised what a difference a clean driveway can make on your curb appeal.
- 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!
Just as we are thankful for a healthy housing market across central Texas, we also celebrate the growth of small businesses across the nation. National Small Business Week is May 5 – 11, 2019, and we are proud to share that nearly half of all Americans own or work for a small business, including our team at Barfield Home Inspection.
Small businesses help to develop local economy and increase connections within a community. Additionally, small businesses like ours account for two out of three new jobs in the U.S. each year. That’s nothing to sneeze at! In addition to running our business, we partner with Austin-area realtors and vendors who help homeowners in the process of buying, selling and maintaining homes. Many of these partners also represent the small business population, and to them, we say hats off for a job well done.
Here are just a few of the reasons we choose to operate and work with small businesses:
- Master of all trades. Small businesses rely on fewer people to accomplish tasks and meet deadlines. That means team members usually have expertise in a variety of areas and wear many hats.
- Personal touch. Working with small businesses means you are more likely to develop one-on-one relationships and have a personal connection. Your business really matters to us.
- Well managed. Small businesses understand the value of customers, and generally are quick to correspond. Additionally, smaller teams may be more flexible when it comes to timelines and budget line items than larger enterprises that are unable to negotiate.
In short, small is mighty! We value your business and are happy to serve you with honesty and integrity, just like we’ve been doing since 2003. For more tips and helpful information from our home to yours, follow us on Facebook and Instagram @barfieldhomeinspection.
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 with hvac companies in Chicago.
- 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.
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
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.
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.
Is your toilet always running? Does it make hissing noises? This may indicate a toilet leak. In addition to increasing your utility bills, a leaky toilet tank can cause costly water damage to your flooring. Before spending money on a new toilet, try this quick trick to test for leaks:
Step 1: Remove lid and add red food coloring to the water in the tank.
Step 2: Sit back and wait – give it about an hour.
Step 3: Check the water in the toilet bowl. If the water is pink, then you have a leak. This means it is time to replace the flappers in the tank.
Catching this leak can save you from replacing your toilet and costly damage. Sometimes leaks can sneak up silently, so it is important to test your toilet periodically.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Open the cabinets under the sinks so the warm air from the house can help keep the pipes warm enough to prevent freezing.
- 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:
- Reverse ceiling fans so the warm air that rises to the ceiling can be pulled back down to the living area.
- Don’t forget to wrap or cover your plants or bring them inside if possible.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Barfield Home Inspection Services
There are many things homeowners and home inspectors alike do not want to see, and at the top of that list are snakes. After an especially long, hot summer it is important to know how to protect your home from snakes seeking an area to nest during the winter. Here are a few tips from our inspectors:
- Understand the basics. Although snakes typically hibernate during winter, rattlesnakes remain active when temperatures are warmer than 60 degrees Fahrenheit. For Central Texans, this means snakes are out and about for a large part of the year. Due to the warmer temperatures, snakes enter brumation rather than hibernation, a period in which their body temperature lowers, metabolism slows, they become less active and eat less.
- Make your yard resistant to snakes. The best way to keep these creatures out of your home is to keep them off your perimeter. A snake-proof fence with no gaps, buried at least three inches is ideal, but costly. Keeping your grass cut, controlling rodents and debris, and removing wood, leaves and other ideal nests for snakes goes a long way to ward off snakes.
- Eliminate food sources. When a snake wanders onto your property, chances are it is looking for food, water, or shelter. Avoid leaving pet food outside for extended periods, and be sure to clean up immediately after outdoor meals.
- Watch for leaky water sources. In addition to general home maintenance problems, leaky faucets and sprinklers create a haven for frogs, rodents and other small animals that attract snakes. By fixing the leak, you may well eliminate a snake problem before it even exists.
- Close the gaps. While a snake in your yard may instill fear, for many people a snake in the house will incite panic. Inspect your foundation for unsealed conduits, or basement windows and doors that do not tightly close. Openings near the ground level are most inviting to snakes.
If you should find a snake, remember to stay calm and try to monitor it without coming into contact to ensure it does not wiggle its way further into your home. More than likely, the snake will find its own way off your property without injury. If you believe you have been bitten by a venomous snake, call 911 immediately.
Although these tips should help keep snakes away from your home, we would be honored to help protect your home. Give us a call today to schedule your home inspection!