Is it Time to Replace your Windows?

Chances are slim that your windows will last the life of your home.  However, many of us are not familiar with the signs that we need to consider replacement windows.  Since this isn’t something that we do on a regular basis, it is understandable that most homeowners don’t really have a clue.  Still, this isn’t something you want to have catch your off guard as it could be detrimental to your home and your bank account.  With that in mind, look out for the following top three signs that you need to replace your home windows.

Your House Feels Drafty

This is more obvious in the winter months than during the spring and summer, so start looking for it now.  If you are ever walking in your home and you suddenly hit a spot that feels colder than the rest of the home, or you feel a slight breeze that shouldn’t be there, you have a window problem. I usually refer my friends in the Philadelphia area to Renewal by Andersen window replacement but they have these high quality windows for sale all across the country.  Sometimes these drafts can be cured without resorting to replacement windows.  However, there will also be times when they are absolutely needed.  If you notice drafts, consult a window contractor.

Windows are Not Moving Properly

This is a big one, but homeowners often just write it off as a quirk of their home.  If you have to use special tricks to get a window open or closed, it isn’t safe—especially if they are difficult or impossible to open.  Your windows do more than let in light or a cool breeze; they allow you and your loved ones to escape your home in the case of a fire.  If you are having the problems, replacement windows are needed.

You See Condensation Inside the Glass

If you have multiple window panes and you see condensation between the glass, this is a sign that something is wrong with the seal.  In minor cases, this could be an easy fix.  In others, you will need new windows.

Preparing for a hurricane in the 21st century

maysville_house_stormIf you know a storm is coming and that it’s going to be rough, be sure to find ways to stay safely inside to prepare for it. New technology makes it easier every year to make smart investments in your personal safety.

You know the usual things—have a flashlight and batteries, nonperishable foods with a can opener, bottled water, sanitary items and maybe a crank radio if you’re feeling old fashioned.

There are a couple of new tips for things you can do in this day and age. The first is being realistic. You can’t prepare for everything, so just be as flexible as possible and stretch what you have as far as possible.

If all your basics are covered, but there are still things like fully charged devices that don’t need a Wi-Fi connection that are just as useful as having books and reading devices to pass the time.

You never know how long a storm will truly last. Meteorologists can help predict it, but there’s no telling for sure when you will be able to continue your life like normal. Buy as many canned foods as you can and make sure to have enough water so that everyone can drink at least a gallon a day. Don’t skimp on the toilet paper, either.

The nice thing about all of these things is that they are able to enable you to survive without electricity. While useful, in the modern day, being without electricity is unacceptable.

While our ancestors had to do without electricity, heat and hot water, times are changing. Those things are no longer considered a luxury—they’re very necessary, and you can keep them around longer.

Being powerless is pretty uncomfortable, and potentially dangerous. Invest in a home generator. If you live in the Richmond area, try look into Master Electrical generator installation for your needs.

With a home generator, you decide what gets to stay on. You can keep your refrigerator running when the rest of the house goes off during the storm. It’s really the smartest investment you could make when it comes to preparing for the worst.

You also get to use it for leisure. Having a backup generator or even a portable generator means you don’t have to sacrifice your way of life just because a storm is causing some technical issues.

If you still have cell service, you can call and message your friends in a similar situation without having to worry about conserving energy for emergencies. You can cook a warm meal without starting a fire. There are no sacrifices because you can decide what is and isn’t going to be powered by the generator in your time of need.

In this day and age, it’s not as necessary to make sacrifices during a storm. As long as you’re safe and you have a roof over your head, you can wait it out with a peace of mind.

Investing in the Right Home

A Quick Guide of How to Shop for Your New Home

Buying a home for the first time can be one of the most intimidating decisions of your life. It’s difficult to gauge what you can afford, where you would like to live, what type of house you are interested in, and how much work you are willing to put into your new property. Everyone goes through the home buying process at a different pace, and it is important to plan ahead and take as much time as you need to feel comfortable with your final decision. Follow this guide to get you started on the search.

  1. The first step in buying a home is to determine what you can afford. There is no sense in shopping around to see what you like first, because you could get your heart set on something that is not financially realistic. Before even making an appointment with your bank or credit union, use some online calculators to get a ballpark price estimate of what is within your means.
  2. Compare home prices in different neighborhoods to get an initial feel of your price range and what is available for purchase. If you are looking to live within a specific school district, near a lake, etc., prices could fluctuate considerably. To some, the house itself is more important than its surrounding community. For others, the opposite is true. Zillow and other online searches are great ways to find more information on what is available without setting an appointment.
  3. Once you find the neighborhoods, house styles, and price range you are comfortable with, it is time to visit a financial institution. A bank or credit union will help prequalify you for a home loan. According to the Credit Union National Association, nonprofit credit unions in Richmond VA are gaining millions of new members each year. They are becoming increasingly appealing with exclusive eligibility, fair rates, and excellent customer service. Plan out your future with a bank or credit union that is trusted in your specific community.
  4. Now that you know what type of mortgage you qualify for, decide what your “needs” are and what your “nice to haves” are in your future home. Not every house will be perfect, and you will need to make some tradeoffs. For example, maybe having 3 bathrooms is an absolute deal breaker. However, although you would also like to have a Jacuzzi bathtub in the master bath, this will not determine whether or not you will buy the house. There may also be some features that you are willing to contract, build, or self-install.
  5. Make a list of these features (in step 4) and bring them with you each house showing. Touring multiple houses can make them run together, and having a solid list of what you liked and disliked about each house makes it easier to look back and narrow down your final contenders.

Congratulations, it’s time to strike a deal! The overwhelming stage of choosing a house is over with, and now it’s time to get into the negotiations, maintenance, repairs, decorating, and upkeep that follows. Owning a home is a huge responsibility and the process of buying and maintaining your house should be given the utmost attention to detail.

How to Take Care of Your Granite Counter-Tops

My granite countertops are one of the favorite things about my home that I plan on keeping around for a while. I had installed them in my Short Pump Richmond VA home about a year ago and they seem to be the spot where everyone gets together to drink, snack and chat. To keep them looking good I have comprised a short regimen of maintenance to follow.  It covers both daily tasks and seasonal tasks to keep my granite counters looking brand new.

granite counter-top clean up

There are many do’s and don’ts so I will try and go through all of them for you. As a daily cleaning practice make sure to take a damp warm cloth or sponge with just a little bit of antibacterial detergent. Wash the counter thoroughly and make sure to clean up the soap residue with clean water. Left over residue can result in a filmy look to your granite. When the soap is lifted, dry with another cloth to bring a shine out. If in the case that there is a spill, make sure to blot it up instead of wiping or circling. This prevents the spreading of the spill which could result in a larger stain. If the counter-top is sealed correctly the spill should be repelled.

For heavy duty cleaning make sure to use a proper stone degreaser so you can easily lift grease, grime and dirt. These chemicals are designed so no damage is done to your beautiful granite countertops. They usually come with their own instructions which you should carefully follow. If deep stains occur there is a poultice clay that you can purchase. It is very absorbent and can pull the mess from within the small crevices. You may need to re-polish afterwards.

Most granite comes pretreated with a resin treatment that seals the stone at the factory. This should last ten to fifteen years but if you feel your counters need another sealant make sure to choose a high quality solvent. These are sealants that resist both water and oil based stains. Follow the directions carefully then dry and buff leaving the stone to dry for about half a day.

When cooking, make sure not to put any hot pans or pots on top of you granite countertop. If there is extreme constant heat on them they may be damaged. Ceramic objects are also know for scratching the surface so make sure to use a mat or trivet underneath. Another don’t is using a knife directly on the counter. This is a quick and easy way to dull your blades.

Don’t stand or dance on your counter tops either. Stone is very strong but it’s not very flexible. Too much weight focused on one spot can cause your granite to crack.

These are the rules I go by to keep my granite counter-tops looking clean and fresh.  They have worked just fine for me and I hope they help you out too!!

Buy Andersen Windows For Energy Savings

insulating double hung windowWith rising fuel prices, it seems like everyone is looking for ways to save money. New technologies claim to be more energy efficient and this is absolutely true. But if you want to save money on your energy bill, you don’t need to invest in some expensive, new technological trend. All you need to do is make a simple investment. Your home is your biggest investment and this is where you stand to gain the most in energy savings. Make a smart choice and buy Andersen Windows from Denver Custom Windows or a dealer near you for energy savings. Here are a few reasons why you’ll save money with Andersen.

  • Good windows insulate well. In the wintertime, you want to minimize your loss of heat as much as possible. Andersen Windows will keep the heat inside where it belongs. The windows will also work in the hotter months of the year, too. Cool air will stay inside your house and keep you cool and comfortable. Overall, good windows will help your home maintain a constant temperature and avoid drastic fluctuations.
  • The best energy is free energy. Good windows allow sunlight to come into your house and this sunlight is free heat. You’ll get solar energy without an expensive solar panel! On those rare days in the winter where the sun is out, take advantage of the opportunity and soak up the free heat. When the sun goes down, your windows will hold the heat through most of the night. More heat from the sun means less work for your furnace.

Investing now in Renewal Andersen Replacement Windows for energy savings will help you tremendously in the long run. Great insulation in your house will not only save you money on your energy bill, but you’ll also add value to your home. An energy efficient home is attractive to any potential homebuyer so you would be smart to buy Andersen Windows for your home. Lower your carbon footprint and raise your home’s value today by investing in good windows.

The Benefits of Organic Carpet Cleaners

healthy clean carpetsWhether you’re looking for a carpet cleaning company to hire or you have one that you’ve been using for years, now’s a good time to look into all your options.  More and more people are switching to organic carpet cleaning methods, and for good reason.  Green carpet cleaning is not only void of harmful chemicals, something that should not be overlooked especially if you have pets or young children.  In addition to protecting your family in your home, you’re also protecting the environment when you choose a green carpet cleaning service that uses environmentally friendly methods.

Some harmful cleaning chemicals you want to look for when you go to hire a cleaner include pesticides disinfectants, fragrances, sodium hydroxide, and acids.  This is just a small sample of what you might find, on the ingredient list of common cleaning solutions. If you value having a healthy indoor environment for your family then I would recommend doing a bit of research on your own about the different cleaning methods used and asking before you let a cleaning company into your home. I would much rather have a dirty carpet and stay healthy than be exposed to unnatural cleaning agents that had the potential to make someone ill.green home clean

When I first began to realize this I switched from a traditional cleaner to a steam cleaning company thinking that steam was just hot water. Unfortunately, this is hardly ever the case. Even with steam cleaning for carpets, there is a lot more than water going down even if a lot of dirt is being picked up. Steam cleaning also puts down much more water than you need making your carpets damp for days or even weeks after the cleaning process. See a full comparison of carpet cleaning methods here.

Having a wet carpet is also unhealthy as it can be a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. Not to mention your carpets or rugs pick up more dirt from that time because it is attracted by the moisture.

What Exactly is HVAC?

If you are a homeowner it is important that you are smart when it comes to the products and services necessary to keep you home up and running. Heating and air systems are no longer viewed as a luxury feature in a home, but rather a necessity. We hear the term HVAC tossed around a lot when it comes to your air conditioning unit. But do you know what it all really means? We have broken down the acronym H.V.A.C. to help you understand what to look for when it comes to your heating and air conditioning repair in Baltimore.

H Stands for Heat

In Baltimore, Maryland about 4-6 months out of the year you are going to be utilizing your HVAC unit for heating purposes. There are a few things you want to keep an eye on when it comes to heating for your home.

-          Does your unit have enough capacity for sufficiently heat enough water for everyone to use?

-          Is your unit operating efficiently and cost effectively?

-          How often do you replace your system’s air filters?

-          Do you have any items obstructing your floor or wall vents?

-          Should problems arise, do you have a source for supplemental heat?

V is for Ventilation

This is one item that is often overlooked when it comes to your Baltimore heating and air conditioning unit. However, ventilation is one of the most important aspects of an HVAC unit because it reduces outside air infiltration while maintaining air pressure between the rooms in your home. That combination equates to proper air delivery, removal, and overall distribution. Ultimately, this is what keeps the entire HVAC system working.

A and C are for Air Conditioning

This is pretty self-explanatory, but with heat you want to check that your air conditioning properties are operating correctly as well. Here are some tips that we have to avoid costly air conditioning repair in Baltimore MD.

-  Use your landscape to increase efficiency: Shading your home from the sun will help to regulate temperatures in the hot summer months

-  Avoid additional heat generating activities: Need to run the dishwasher or run a load of laundry? Waiting until the evening to do these chores can take a strain off you’re A/C unit during the day.

-  Change the temperature: Turning up the heat 10-15 degrees in the summer or down in the winter for about 8 hours can have a substantial impact. Do this overnight while you are sleeping to let your system rest while you do too.

 

Other important heating and air acronyms to note include:

HSPF - This stands for “Heating Season Performance Factor.” This is a measurement of the level of your heat pumps efficiency. Note, that the higher your HSPF factor, the greater your system’s efficiency. You also may hear of a similar term interchangeably with SEER Rating. This is known as your “Season Energy Efficiency Rating.” Likewise, with this number the higher, the better.

COP – This represents “Co-efficiency of Performance.” This is a ratio that compares your heat pumps heating efficiency to the electrical resistance heating. You heat pump’s COP will decrease as outdoor temperatures become cooler. This means it is becoming less efficient and to a point where heating will need to be provided through electrical heat strips.

Senior Friendly Home Improvements

As we decorate and adorn our homes with trinkets and fond memories, our houses become a part of us. We hate to leave them behind, and moving can be an emotional experience. We especially, all want to live out our later years in the place that we have become the most comfortable. Unfortunately, aging into our senior years comes with certain requirements for a home. Even with 2 or 3 flights of stairs, there are still things you can do to make your home elder friendly. If you need even more help than these suggestions allow, call a home care service to assist you.

Let’s start with stairs while we’re on the subject. You have two basic options when walking up and down becomes too painful on the hips, knees, or other joints. Ramps work great outdoors and can even allow ease of access to wheelchairs and scooters. Indoor stairs seldom have enough length to allow for such a thing though. Electronic stair lifts allow you to sit in a chair and ascend and descend at the click of a button. They come with a price tag of $1,000 to $2,000 though.

Lighting should be abundant and easily accessible. Shower Safety Hand BarIt’s easy enough to bump your hip on a counter or stub your toe in the dark when you are young and able bodied. The health ramifications of these minor incidents can be amplified later on in life. Entryways and common nighttime routes like the hallway to a restroom should be well lit.

Baths and showers are our final safety tip. Grab bars are a must have in the shower, and putting them next to the toilet are incredibly helpful too. Another non-negotiable is non-slip traction surfaces for showers and baths alike. Slipping can result in broken hips and concussions in worst case scenarios. One of the final dangers that we often forget about is scalding from hot water. If possible, use a single lever temperature control system instead of dual hot/cold knobs for more consistent water temperature.

Residential Glass and Window Tinting

More homes are using an increasing number of window panels in their modern design to maximize day lighting. However, more window panels will mean more heat and UV rays entering the home. Therefore 3m Prestige Window Film is specially designed to allow visible light to pass through while cutting out the heat, glare an UV rays. Ultra Violet rays are a major cause of premature aging, skin cancer, fading of drapes, artwork, and even flooring. Window film can reflect away up 99.99% of the suns UV rays, thus providing excellent protection for you and your family, especially for the sensitive skin of babies and toddlers.Residential Window Tinting

3m Film window tint from Midwest Glass Tinters Chicago also reduces up to 97% of the sun’s infrared heat that comes through the windows, leaving your home cool, thus saving energy and money in utility costs. In addition, 3m window film is able to cut annoying window glare to it is useful for studying or computer and television viewing. As there is absolutely no metal in the construction of our window film, you will see no mirror images, reflected back from the interior of your home. Instead, you get a clear, uninhibited view of the nature or cityscape outside of your windows. You’ll be amazed how truer the colors are as well. Imagine going to the beach with a $200 pair of sunglasses with modern polarization. Now every window in your home or business can provide the same vivid visual experience.

Prestige window tinting film also is a great security addition to any home, as is made with microlayered technology that reduces the tear resistance of the film significantly. This makes the window shatter resistant, holding the glass together should anything or anyone try to forcefully push through the window.

Types of Home Siding

One great investment that is very common among home owners is replacement siding for their home. Depending on the type of material that is already installed on your home you could have a wide range of time is required for replacement. There are many different types of siding that you could choose for your home that include wood, vinyl, fiber-cement, brick or stone veneer. Each type of material has its perks and its advantages but it also has a price range difference.  If you are unfamiliar with the term fiber-cement siding then click here to view Arrow Exteriors website for great examples of this quality material. I believe that the other three types of siding are considered common knowledge and we can jump into the benefits of each without much explanation.

  1. Wood has a great traditional look for most homes but this material has some major downfalls. It is very easy to warp and absorb moisture which could lead to rotting wood. Wood siding is also more susceptible to bugs like termites.
  2. Vinyl is very versatile and an inexpensive product to install on your home. This is one of the most common types of siding in the United States although it does have some disadvantages. This material is not very durable during storms or high winds and can actually be damaged very easily.
  3. Fiber-cement is hybrid between wood and vinyl siding in the fact that it is very durable so it will hold up in high winds. The fiber cement is bug resistant, fire resistant, and damage resistant. This product also has a wide variety of colors and styles to choose from. The disadvantage of this product is that it is a little bit pricy compared to wood and vinyl siding.
  4. Brick or stone veneer is a different and great way to make your home stand out in the neighborhood. This product is very durable and has a great look to it but the disadvantage is that it is very expensive and needs to pass certain inspections.

Any type of replacement siding that you decide to put on your home will actually increase the value of your home. This is why we recommend replacement siding as a smart home investment for any home owner looking to increase the value of their home.