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Year Around Home Maintenance by: Jim Neidner!
What if you never changed the motor oil in your car; I wonder how long your engine would last? Now if anyone has done this and your car is still running - please write me!
Our homes also have to be maintained and serviced year around just like everything else that has motion, or can be effected by our environment. Here are some tips that might save you some money and help you maintain your home better.
Lot drainage: When was the last time you walked your lot to make sure it's draining properly? You never want water to pond next to your foundation. Water ponding or penetrating our homes can cause us major damage and certainly support the growth of mold and mildew which is harmful to your health, not to mention potential foundation problems. Also planting a tree like a 5 gallon tree closer then the height it will reach at maturity is asking for foundation problems 10 to 20 years later.
Water Heaters: When was the last time you drained your hot water heater? Did you even know you should drain it once a year to remove sediment in the bottom of the holding tank, which also restores better hot water volume? Additionally, your hot water tank will last longer with a yearly cleaning. If you need instruction on "how-to" flush your water heater feel free to email me or send a request through our request page on this website.
T&P Valves: What about replacing the temperature pressure-relief-valve once every three to four years? Most hot water heater manufactures warn about (T&P)pressure relief valves and how they could clog up due to rust and minerals in your water and should be replaced after so many years.
When the pressure-relief-valve stops working your hot water builds pressure inside the tank and if the pressure can't escape through the relief-valve it could exploded. Water softeners/filters can help keep the T&P valves from clogging. However, if you have one installed you might be OK, but I still suggest that you test the T&P valve to make sure it's working property. Testing the T&P valve is a simple test. Just pull the lever on top of the valve-up and this allows the hot water to escape. Be very careful doing this test because this is really hot water. Also if your unit is old and not piped from the T&P valve to the outside, you could get scalded.
Today most pressure-relief-valves at the water heater are hooked up to a drain line so you won't see the water coming out, however, you will be able to hear it running. On older water heaters many find after performing this test, the valve might began to drip. If so, just replace it. If you've never flushed your hot water heater and you hear it making cracking and popping sounds, this is why. It's probably packed at the bottom of the holding tank with sediment.
Note: If you have not performed any flushing programs and the unit is 9 to 11 years old, I would not start now. It's getting close to being replaced anyway, so wait until you install your next water heater then get into a yearly maintenance program and see how much longer your hot water heater will lasts.
Washing machine hoses: Another simple home care thing one can do that's real important is replacing your rubber water hoses from the back of your washing machine. If you still have the old rubber hoses, I would strongly suggest that you stop into your local hardware store and replace them with the stainless steel-flex-water hoses or equal. The rubber hoses don't last and always seemed to bust at the worst time. You're either out of town or it's late at night while you're asleep. You would be surprised how often water hoses bust on a national basis and the tremendous cost to the insurance companies on claims due to the failure of a cheap water hose. Today when you turn in an insurance claim it really works against you the next time you need homeowners insurance.
Roof: Check for missing shingles on your roof or pour condition of shingles due to ware and/or hail storms. Check the step flashing at your fireplace. If you don't feel safe climbing on the roof get a pair of binocular and look your shingles and flashing over. Again you don't want water penetration.
Gutters: Clean your gutters several times a year if you have a lot of hardwood and pines trees. Stopped up gutters can really let water into the soffit areas, which can run down your perimeter walls and allow moisture inside the wall cavities. When this happens your
insulation could get wet and support mold and mildew growth.
Siding: Look for split, bucked or cracked siding, repair as needed then caulk and repaint using top-of-the-line paints.
Mold and Mildew:
Clean before you paint or re-paint siding with a Bleach mixture to remove any mold and mildew. Mix 1/3 bleach to 2/3 water and keep the area refreshed for aleast 30 minutes to kill the mold and mildew. Most people think once the mold and mildew turns white it is killed. Wrong! Then brush the infected area with dish washing soap and water. Let dry and repaint.
Overhead doors: Garage overhead doors seem to always come off the tracks at the worst time. Keep them oiled properly and tighten any lose screws and nuts.
Furnace and A/C: Don't forget to have your furnaces and A/C serviced once a year. Get in to a habit during the hot summer months to replace the air filters once a month. This helps keep your unit cleaner,lasts longer and keeps dust down inside your home. Also have service man check for crack heat exchanger if your unit is over 10-years old.
Fireplaces: Fireplace chimney should be professionally cleaned after you burned 1 to 2 cords of wood, this is real important. See the new DraftStopper to help save you money on air leakage. Go to www.ihomeline.com/stairway.htm
Caulking around tub and in showers: When you noticed
something has changed on the exterior or interior of your home, don't wait, investigate and repair it quickly. Like caulking that has fallen out between the tile joints, tub surrounds or in your shower stalls. Also check caulking joints at the floor areas if you have vinyl or tile next to the tub or shower. Again, moisture penetrating our homes is one of our worst enemies along with termites. Have your home professionally checked every year for termites. Do your home care and maintenance on a monthly or yearly basis and keep-out of trouble. I promise, if you take care of your home; your home will take care of you by saving you money. Tune-in Jim's radio shows in radio archive see below.
Stucco: It's normal for real stucco to have hair line cracks. I find that the color embedded really does not last, so one day you will have to paint your stucco. Use top on the line flexable paint on stucco like "Durantion" and be sure to fill the hair line cracks first. Bleach can remove color on stucco so always color test when cleaning stucco.
Stamp Concrete: When you color concrete using the dark colors be prepard to do some up keep. Lighter colors work better then dark colors like black. However, if you want the concrete to look new again once a year you should apply the Tinted Sealer to the concrete surfaces.
In Houston you can call MMG Stone Supply Company for more information at 281-447-6575 to help you with your fading colored stamped concrete patio, driveway or sidewalks.
Good news is this can be a
Inspect and organize your home for re-sale By Jim Neidner
The old saying “If it’s broke-fix it,” is really important if you’re getting ready to put your home on the market for re-sale. The summer is the hottest time of the year for selling and buying a new home on a local and national basis. Schools out, vacation time here and people are relocating. So if you’re one of the thousands considering selling your home here are several tips that might help you.
Most buyers today hire a professional home inspector to check your home for minor and major repairs before they will close. So if you happen to miss something when you’re getting your home ready to sell, don’t worry the professional inspector will probably find it and that really helps you too. I know you would hate it if something came up after you closed and the new buyer came back to you and said, “We did not know that your shower pan was leaking." The bad news is, you didn’t know it either, in fact you had filled out the “seller’s disclosure statement” and it was not listed because you didn’t know!
That’s why a home inspector can help the seller too, no one wants an unhappy buyer or surprises at the time of closing. If fact-on my radio show I have always suggested to the caller when the question comes up about selling their home to get a home inspection before you put your home on the market.
It never seems to fail; something always comes up right before closing on home inspections and everyone is in a state of confusion when it does. I’ve even seen several transactions fall apart over a home inspection. Sometimes it’s really sad because the seller has moved and their home has been on the market for some time and if they had only known there was a problem, they would had fixed it. Keep in mind, one inspector might find something another missed so it’s not a fool-proof approach, but it’s sure a step in the right direction when you get a pre-home inspection before selling your home.
Things to do:
There are so many simple things we can do that will make a huge difference and help our home shine for re-sale. Cleaning windows inside and out. When was the last time you cleaned your windows? For most of us-it’s been years
What do I see standing at the curb and looking back at the home I’m thinking about buying that might concern me?
What are the areas outside that need fixing or changing that might give this home a better curb appeal? Maybe add some shutters or repaint the front door a different color or repaint the outsides of the home.
Is everything working inside and out?
Are the painted wall colors matching well overall with rest of the interior designs?
Do the ceilings or wood trim need to be repainted or touch-up?
Is the carpet clean and bright looking or are there stains that need attention?
What about you’re landscaping does the flower beds need re-mulching, trees need dead wood removed or should I plant new shrubs?
Are there any leaks or water problems in the home?
Are there any bad odors in the home?
It is important- to walk your home inside and out making a list just like are prospective buyer might do and be tuff on yourself. Normally when were ready to sell our home we want it to sell quickly. We are not placing our home on the market to get attention from our neighbors. We want to sell our home and again we want it to sell fast.
Here are several other tips from “home inside organizer” Debbie William’s that might help you.
For most organizing projects, you have four choices: hang it, put it in drawers, store it on the floor or shelve it. One of the key rules in organizing and decorating is to utilize vertical space. Often we place furniture around the room with nothing above it, forming a nice horizontal line. There is a ton of unclaimed storage and visually appealing space right about the furniture line!
Up off the floor? Use multi-level rods for hanging items. Bins and shelf dividers keep folded items stacked. They are inexpensive to buy and can usually be found in discount stores or home stores. The time you save sorting through things on the floor or in drawers for purses and accessories will be well worth the small investment. This will not only free up valuable drawer space, but can eliminate the need for chest or drawers altogether.
When organizing your closet, keep all blouses together. Sort by color, casual or dressy, long sleeved or short sleeved. Do the same for skirts, dresses, slacks and jeans.
Kitchen Counter Space:
Since counter space is at a premium, don’t display all your knickknacks on the countertop, hang framed prints rather than resting them on easels. Consolidate fridge photos with a magnetic mat, or adhere a magnetic sheet to each picture creating your own photo magnets. Store tall utensils in pottery or your favorite pitcher. This makes your favorite things do double duty, creating more drawer space and reducing countertop clutter.
If you have a two-story home, upstairs toys are not dragged downstairs; they stay in the bedroom or playroom. Keep a few toys on a small shelf, in a wicker basket or toy bin downstairs in the family room. These must be cleaned up each night before bedtime. Downstairs push or riding toys must stay downstairs and off the steps. I know Jim wrote a great story for this newspaper about “home accidents” and keeping things off the steps, if you did not get chance to read it I suggest you call him for a copy.
Try the three-toy rule. The child can only play with three toys at a time, and then it’s time to put them away before dragging out another one. It works well with puzzles, books and other like items. If you start young, they may continue this “clean as you go” rule throughout life.
By using some of these organizing tips allow you to reclaim storage space and cut down on clutter in your home. Use the basic principles of clutter containing for each area in your home. By containing clutter, your home will show much better and help you towards a faster home sell.
Jim Neidner former national radio home host, national, state and Houston award-winning remodeler/builder is on-line to help you. Go to www.iHomeline.com and email at (firstname.lastname@example.org) Jim your home questions or concerns.
When Disaster Hits by Jim Neidner
When a natural disaster hits our home we are never prepared, even if we think we have done all of our homework. Houston seems to always be in the national news when hurricanes and flooding occurs. For years on our radio home show (Homeline Talk Radio) we warned homeowners to get flood insurance even if their home was high and dry during past storms. We invited Elton Bomer, the former Texas Insurance Commissioner, to discuss the importance of flood insurance. Flood insurance is vital because areas that never flooded are now starting to flood. Another reason to purchase flood insurance is because it is so inexpensive, especially if you’re in an area that’s above the 100-year-flood-plain. Damage from flooding can range from $20,000 to over $100,000 dollars, not to mention the mold remediation cost.
When flooding occurs it brings in bacteria associated with sewer water and the potential for growth from mold and mildew. Another problem area that could be over looked for mold growth is wet insulation canceled inside the wall cavities. Once the rising water has receded, you need to cut out the water damaged sheetrock, remove wet insulation, door jambs, any wood flooring, baseboards and cabinets. Failure to properly remove and treat water damaged materials allows harmful mold to grow which is hazardous to your health.
Another area of home disater concern, is a home fire. When was the last time you cleaned your wood burning fireplace? Did you know you should have your fireplace cleaned by a professional after burning two cords of wood to prevent chimney-flue-fires? Also have the top of your fireplace crown inspected for cracks and loss brick.
When was the last time you had a yearly gas furnace inspection for a cracked heat exchanger?
Last question, which could be the most important. When was the last time you updated your homeowner’s insurance coverage? If it’s been several years, construction replacement cost today is very expensive, I suggest that you call your insurance agent and make sure you have enough replacement coverage.
Now’s the time to plan for a disaster, don’t procrastinate like old Harvey always did. In fact, Harvey wanted to form a "Procrastination Club" to help others just like himself. He was even going to be the club President. However, it never got started because Harvey decided to wait.
No one wants a home disaster and we sure don't want a disater we could have avoided, so don’t wait like old Harvey and “Procrastinate!”
Jim Neidner, of Neidner Construction/Remodeling Inc. is a national award-wining remodeler and former national radio home host and is on-line to help you www.ihomeline.com
Tub or Shower water problems by Jim Neidner
Questions often ask on my radio home show, “My tile is loose around my plumbing fixtures and I can literally pull it off the wall, what’s going on?” Or this question, “I’m getting water on my ceiling when my children take a bath upstairs, do I need to call a plumber?”
My response is, “When was the last time you caulked around your plumbing fixtures or at the bottom of the tile were it meets the tub? Or, what about the main intersecting tile walls inside the tub and shower? Notice any hairline cracks or grout missing? What about at the floor if you have tile or vinyl, do you see any cracks in the grout joint or the vinyl floor peeling up where it meets the tub?
Water entering the small hairline grout cracks can cause havoc, especially if you have a bathroom upstairs, you will noticed water spots on the downstairs ceilings. Surprising, it only takes a small amount of water penetrating to do damage if it’s not corrected. Your wood sub-flooring rots and can deteriorate ceiling joist and studs. Mold and mildew can also be present.
Shower pans also fail. Lead shower pans over-time can rust out. Today plumbers are using a rubberize material for the pans and it seems to be working well. Another area to watch out for leaks are at the tub overflows. Be sure you have an inspection door in the next room behind the tub valves.
Only tubs have inspection doors so it harder to locate leaks in a shower stall. However, as I mentioned I have found most tubs and shower leaks are caused by hairline cracks in caulking or where caulking is missing. Regarding a shower stall leaking, another area that is always a concern is the shower floor pan. To check this out, remove the drain cover and wrap it in plastic sandwich bag then screw it back on to the drain, lay a rag on top of the drain then turn on the shower filling the shower floor up to about 3” from the top of the curb at the shower door. Don’t spray the walls you only want water to hit the floor. Let the water stand for about 10 minutes and see if you’re still getting seepage outside the shower or on the ceiling below. This will identify a shower pan problem or drain problem so it’s time to call the plumber.
If your going to be remodeling or getting ready to build a new home make sure you install products like “Duro-Rock” or “Wonder Board” or better yet, do it the old fashion way and use metal lath and plaster mortar around the tub and shower stall walls.
I don’t like “Green Board” sheetrock for my walls, if water is penetrating behind the tile and is not noticed the Green Board breaks down over time and the tile becomes loose. When the tile starts to come lose around the plumbing fixtures or at bottom of the tile walls where it meets the tub, or intersecting walls, then it has to be replaced. In most cases when trying to match your tile you will find that it has been discontinued, so you end up replacing the entire tile job if you did not save extra pieces of tile.
However, you can try removing the tile in the lose areas then remove the deteriorated Green Board if it’s present and cut-in by repair patching with Duro-Rock and Wonder Board. Then reinstall the tile. If the areas are small that needs repair and you can grind off the thin-sit on the back of the tile, this will save you money regarding re-doing the total job. I suggest that you get 3 bids to make sure which way to go. I’ve found that once you start patching tile walls, you really end-up better off to just replace the total job if Green Board is present.
Bottom line with tile on tubs and shower walls, there are many grout joints where water can enter behind the tile and again break down the Green Board sheetrock over the years. Green Board was fine when used on Tile tub surrounds as long as you only take tub baths, however, most tub’s also double as a shower stall and that’s a lot of water hitting the tile walls.
Remodeling or building new be sure to read and follow the installation carefully using Duro-Rock or Wonder Board. Regardless of which product you choose, do your home maintenance and make sure all your tile grout joint’s stay caulked. Even with lath and plaster or Duro-rock, water can enter and leak downstairs if not properly caulked. However, if water happens enter, using the cement-type backer-boards mentioned you would at least not experience tile falling off the walls and major costly replacement repairs.
Do your home maintenance and don’t let someone tell you, all you have to do to correct any tile wall water problems is seal all your grout joints. Wrong, that just puts a bandage over the problem. Have a professional checkout where and why you’re getting lose tile or water leaks. Green Board is sill being used today nationally; I just would not suggest it when there are better products on the market. If you are not sure about what someone is telling you, feel free to call me, I grew up in the tile business.
Jim Neidner is a national award winning remodeler and custom builds on your lot. Also a national radio home host and for more information log-on to www.iHomeline.com. Also if you are thinking about buying or selling your next home Jim has 30 years real estate experience to help you in Colorado or Houston area. See Jim's mountain Colorado Property for sale
Remodeling Trends by Jim Neidner
Whether it’s in the cool Colorado Rocky Mountains or the hot humid flat lands of Houston, Texas people select similar remodeling and up-dating projects. If your carpet is worn-out and needs replacing, out the door it goes. If the family lifestyle has changed and you no longer need the forth bedroom, converting the fourth bedroom into a large master suite or study has become a big remodeling trend. Master bathroom and kitchen remodeling will always be on top of wish list.
One trend I find interesting is a rise of allergy or asthma and families are starting to replace carpet with hard surface floorings. Also another is the baby-boomer starting towards retirement and now thinking about handicap accessibility, wider hallways, roll-in showers and roll-under-counter sinks.
People remodel and up-date their home for many reasons. When asked on my radio home show a question like, “What are some of the remodeling trends for the 21st century and can you offer any suggestions?”
It’s really a difficult question to answer because we see it ranging from simple remodeling projects to the subline. However, this year we had several conversions of gamerooms, where the pool table never got used, to full-blown Media rooms. From surround sound speakers with huge TV entertainment centers to everything including the popcorn machines. Thousands of homes were built in the late 60’s to 80’s with a walk in wet bar located in the family room as a focal point and now make a super media conversion. Even the small preacher bars with doors are being converted to media centers.
Remodeling is hot because people like where they live and don’t want to move. Friends, shopping, churches, mountain views are all the things they have lived with for years that’s what holds them to the area and to remodel. New home buying is expensive and in most cases the lots are smaller than the one they already own. So to remodel a new bathroom, kitchen and even family room or bedrooms allow the owner to stay right where they are and still have the feeling of a new home.
Kitchens will always be on top of the list in remodeling trends. Families are entertaining more and the kitchen is a family gathering place. So removing walls that separate the kitchen from the family room is a big trend.
When you open the kitchen up to the family room the big concern is a noisy dishwasher. With technology advancement there are several appliance manufactures like KitchenAid and Whirlpool featuring whisper quite dishwashers that you can barley hear running. This type of dishwasher should be a trendsetter for 21st century.
Of course the slab granite counter tops are still hot and the 12” x 12” granite tile is running a close race do to the price savings. Hardwood floors are still in, tile floors in the large 16” x 16” tile with diamond in-lays are going strong and bold wall colors with white trim will be continue to be big trendsetters.
Exterior products that seem to still be a hot trend in the market are the cement fiber sidings like “Cemplank and Hardi-Plank” just to mention a few. People are tired of replacing rotting wood, consumers want something that will stand the test of time and still have a real wood look. Backyard views are still a big trend and that’s where the new direct-vent fireplaces really make a difference. Your fireplace does not have a chimney and you can place a window above the firebox and mantel as well as on each side of the fireplace. Also the outdoor kitchen under a patio cover is trendy. Family and friends like entertaining outside and taking advantage of the summer weather. Keeping up with the remodeling trends can truly assist you at re-sale and might even offer you better pay-back values on your real estate investment.
Jim Neidner is a national award winning builder/remodeler and radio home host. He is also a local Realtor/Broker and marketing property in the Colorado and Houston area. If you have a home question or concern email Jim at email@example.com or log-on to .iHomeline.com award winning web site.
Hot water heaters can last longer then you think. By Jim Neidner
Seems like it is most noticed late at night when you’re just about to fall asleep when suddenly you hear something making cracking, popping or bubbling sounds. At first it startles you and you want to investigate so you try to wake up your spouse to have him (or her) investigate the noise, but no one will get out of bed to find out where the loud noise is coming from.
The nose is probably coming from your old hot water heater and I bet you have never flushed your water heater. Well, don’t feel bad neither have thousand of others. We don’t seem to give it much thought; if the heater goes out will just buy another one. However, when the old hot water heater-holding tanks rust-out it can do a huge amount of home damage. I have always been baffled at the hot water heater manufactures; they don’t encourage home owners to perform annual maintenance on their hot water heaters by a simple flushing. Maybe they like us spending our money buying a replacement water heater much sooner then its necessary?
Here are several reasons why you should flush you hot water heater! Flushing will save you money on energy cost. Additionally, the sediment in the bottom of the tank displaces your hot water volume, so you have less available hot water not to mention the calcium, scale, rust, dirt, and iron in the tank bottom. Bacteria can also grow in the older tanks and you sometimes smell sulfur or rotten egg smell.
Once you perform the first flushing you might reconsider making hot tea or hot chocolate directly from the hot water tap. This dirt coming out of the bottom of the water tank is pretty ugly.
I’ve seen as much as eight inches of sediment in the bottom of a 15-year-old hot water heater and the family always complained of not having enough hot water! Flushing your tank can also help the unit last longer and by cleaning the unit on a yearly basis you will notice any future rusting on the outside which could tell you it’s time to replace the unit and prevent flooding your home.
There are several ways to flush your tank however here’s what works for me.
Electric water heaters be sure to turn the power off at the main service entrance box (circuit breaker or fuse box) if its gas turn the red temperature dial to vacation. At the top of the water heater tank is the cold water-inlet-valve. Turn it off. At the bottom of the tank is a hose bib or (drain cock) hook up your garden hose and take the other end outside and away from your flower beds.
If you have a floor drain place the end of the hose in the floor drain. Keep in mind the water coming out of the tank is real hot so caution others in the area.
At the top of the water heater and coming from the cold-water-inlet line is normally a flex hose that’s connected to the top of the hot water heater letting the water into the tank. Using plier’s un-screw the flex-hose connection at the top of the water tank and just flop it over out of the way. This relieves the water pressure in the water supply line and tank, which also allows air to enter the tank and drain easily.
After the tank is drained once, I then re-fill it about ˝ full and drain it one more time. Now you have cleaned your unit and you are ready to close it back up. Make sure you have the flex-hose on tight again and no drips at the top of the tank. Have some pipe-dope on hand just in case any drips appear. Also while the tank is empty now is a good time to make sure its level and if not, shim and make the tank level before you refill with water.
If you have noticed bad odors coming from your water, smells like sulfur, or rotten eggs it could be bacteria inside the hot water holding tank. Add one gallon of bleach using a funnel and pouring it in at the top of the water heater at the inlet opening. First re-hook the inlet connection line and allow the tank to re-fill at least half-full before you add the bleach, then add the bleach and completely fill the tank allowing it to set for about 30 minutes. This should kill any bacteria in the tank. Then 30 minutes later go to each plumbing fixture and turn on the hot water side and let it run for about 15 minutes. This should remove most of the bleach in the tank and you’re good to go for another year.
If you have to replace your water heater don’t buy the cheapest hot water heater. You might be saving money going in but it will cost you more in energy consumption later. Also read the “Energy Factor” on the tank labels, the higher the numbers the better the fuel efficiency. If you have really hard water you might want to flush your system twice a year or consider a water softener. Water softener’s can also help with not having to flush the unit as often. As I mentioned in one of my previous articles, check your T&P valve (temperature pressure relief valve) and make sure it’s working. Pull the level and it should allow hot water to escape. If T& P valve is not working, replace it immediately. Also it’s recommended that the T&P value should be replace about every 3 to 4 years for you’re safely. Last comment, water heaters in garages should be placed on a platform at least 18” off the garage floor in case gasoline should spill or other combustible products. Be safe and take care of your hot water heater it will last longer then you think.
Jim Neidner, is a national/state and Houston award-winning remodeler/ builder, radio home host and Realtor. If you have home questions email firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to visit Jim’s state of Texas award-winning web site at www.iHomeline.com for more home help also www.neidnerconstruction.com
What’s Hot and What’s Not, by Jim Neidner
The home building/remodeling industry is an ever-changing industry. New products are coming on the market everyday, from African wood floorings to wood look-a-like in the laminate floating floors; counter tops in all the latest styles and colors to even the newest interior and exterior paint colors. One question I get often, "How does one know what products to buy or what not to buy?" My answer is always the same; you have to do your research.
Ask a lot of questions from the manufacturer, and of friends and family that recently purchased a product you're considering. Check consumer product reports. I also suggest that if you're talking to a flooring dealer, ask the manager for customers' names and phone numbers that have installed same product you're interested in and give them a call.
One of the most often asked question on my radio show was about the callers toilet not flushing right and what can they do. The big three-gallon water tank gushers are long gone and now we only have the 1.6 gallons of water to flush our toilets. Biggest complaint is the new toilets have to be flushed 2 and sometimes 3 times. Wow - this is really saving water isn’t it? Here’s a tip; I have been pleased with the manufacturer of the toilet "TOTO." It’s a reasonably priced unit and for the most part only takes one flush.
What about wood siding and facial boards? Are they on their way out? The high county area still prefers the real wood. However, before you build or replace your siding, check out Hardi-Plank and/or Cemplank fiber cement sidings and facial boards. These products are hot and sweeping the market on a national basis. Several local builders are starting to use them. HardiPlank and Cemplank look like wood when painted, won’t burn (which should be a big factor in our remote areas) and won’t split, crack or buckle due to the weather conditions. Some manufacturers even offer a lifetime warranty. Remember that you will have to paint or apply a paint stain, so the natural wood look is forfeited for product durability and a lifetime warranty.
Speaking of paint, one thing for sure that’s not hot, is cheap paint. Always buy the top-of-the-line paint. Don’t cut corners on paint quality. I have a real good interview in my radio archive at my web site on paint application and advice.
Slab granite counter tops are still hot nationally in the upper-end markets. However, the more affordable granite (12"x 12") tile granite is running a close race. Unfortunately the tile granite does not come with a bull nose trim so you either grind the outside edges or you apply a wood trim for the finished edge.
Another thing I like about the granite tile, if you break or crack a piece it’s nothing to fix. If you crack or break the slab granite counter top, you might be replacing the total section, and that’s expensive.
A tip I mentioned on my radio show was to be sure to save one full box of tile or granite for the counter tops and floor tiles. Tile gets discontinued all the time or they change the dye-lots, so for any repairs you will at least have some material on hand.
Plastic laminate manufacturers like Wilsonart International are bringing out new colors and designs this year for the counter tops. They even offer granite look-a-like at affordable prices. This seems to be hot.
More new product that are hot are the pre-cast fireplace surrounds and the culture stones. Pre-cast fireplaces look like real limestone fireplace surrounds, however they are less expensive and install for about 1/3 of the cost of real stone labor and material.
Back to the original question. "With all the choices how does one know what to buy and what not to buy?" The best tip again is to shop and research. Also feel free to email me your questions at email@example.com I will be happy to give you my opinion on other product options that might save you some money.
Also if you’re embarking on a large remodeling project or building a new home, hire a good interior designer. A designer who listens to what you like in colors and designs and who will ask you a lot of questions about you and your family’s lifestyle. A designer who communicates with you and will offer suggestions if your colors are getting "off the chart" somewhat and will remind you to consider possible resale.
Good interior designers can truly save you money. Not only by keeping you out of trouble if you're trying to stay in budget but can also help you envision your selections better and try to show how it will look before it hits the floor or walls. Decorating mistakes, once installed, such as removing tile, changing wood floor colors, or even changing wall paint and wallpaper, all add up and can cost you a lot of money to do a second time around.
Jim Neidner is a national award-winning builder/remodeler and radio home host. He is also a Realtor/Broker and can help you in Houston or Colorado. If you have a home question or concern email Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Jim’s award-winning web site at www.iHomeline.com or give him a call 281-578-3581.
Major Power usage are
Heating and cooling Systems
Electric Water heaters
Lights, washer, dryer, cooking,
My tips are as follows:
Replace your light bulbs to Compact Fluorescents. Saves up to 75% over regular light bulbs and drops the heat gain in your rooms. Just be careful not a break them. Some have Mercury in them.
Turn Lights,computers and TV off when not in use.
If you live in the Southern Regions Plant Shade Trees around your home blocking the direct sun light at windows and doors. Not ever green trees.
Spray inside your attic at the roof decking a Product called “E-Barrier” from Sherwin Williams, this will reduce the heat transfer into your attic and lower utility expense. This can be done DIY.
Block out the Sun at your windows by using Sun block-out Curtains (white is best), Solar films/Screens, V-Kool or if your windows don’t face the front yard - use Aluminum Foils if nothing else is affordable.
Building a new home-design your home around covered porches, as many porches as possible covering your windows. This is one of the best tips I can offer to lower your utility cost if you live in the Southern regions of America.
New construction use window wraps to seal around all windows to stop air leakage. First plywood the total home exterior than apply Tyvek, lastly window wrap.
Ceiling fans work best when you are in the room, turn them off when your not, they cool skin and not rooms.
Check your attic insulation. Southern zone use R-30 to R-40. I would rather have too much insulation then to too little. Colder places in the US find out what’s recommend and add 6 inches more.
Change A/C Filters every time you pay your power bills. The system runs under less pressure when filters are clean saving you money.
Buy programmable thermostat. Save money.
Try to set you’re A/C unit to 77 degrees while in the home and 80 when your away.
Heating while at home around 65 degrees and away set it to 54 degrees.
Check you duct lines for leaks and holes once a year. They can break loose and rodents get into attics.
Remove your A/C Registers and caulk around joints where the duct lines meet the sheetrock. This will stop pulling in any hot, dirty air from the attic into your home.
Have your A/C and Heating system checked and serviced once a year or every other year. Dirty coils build-up mold and mildew inside the unit and is unsafe for your health. Also gas heating systems can develop cracked heat exchangers over time and leak Carbon monoxide in to your home. Building new the A/C and Heating Company should run heat loads on your home, make sure to ask for a copy of their heat loads for your files.
Check weather stripping around all doors and windows for air leaks.
What’s a good (SEER) Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating? - 14 SEER up I think is good, let the A/C and Heating salesperson guide you. If your equipment has a low SEER 8,9,10 and older then 10 to 15 years old, consider replacing to better energy efficiency equipment.
Make sure you match the equipment.
Gas furance is better than electric, gas burns hotter. Get rid of older A/C and Heating units as soon as possible, new systems really do drop your power cost.
When buying new Windows check for the label on the windows “National Fenestration Rating Council label. Means windows performance is certified. (Low-e) means low emissivity.
Colder regions, the Lower the U-Value the better the insulation. Discuss this with the window sales person. U-Value means the total window unit including trim/glass with the best energy saving value. The 0.35 and lower offer best values for U-Values on cold transfer reduction.
Pools and spas pull lots of power so look-out when you have one or thinking of adding them.
Gas Hot Water Heater. Turn to vacation when you leave town. Also if your unit is 10 years or older replace with new high energy saving water heater.
When leaving town turn-off your water coming into your home in case of a pipe burst.
Make sure you have good attic ventilation using ridge vents and not the powered ventilators. Best to add soffit vents if you don’t already have them all the way around your home at the overhang-eves.
In closing, renewable energy products are now starting to come available just be sure to do your homework some will work and some won’t.
New construction using the foaming of exterior walls and attic rafters are a great energy saver, just expensive going in, however, in the long run can pay for them selves and save you money on power expenses. The ICF wall Block construction is also a good product to check out along with Windmill and solar panels.
Bottom line, we must get off of our oil dependency, sooner than later.
Good luck, save money and hope this check-list and suggestions are helpful.
Visit Neidner’s website for more home tips www.neidnerhomes.com and www.ihomeline.com or give Jim a call 281-831-1554.
Also visit our radio shows at www.youtube.com/neidnerjim and our radio show in radio archive 24/7 to tune in at www.blogtalkradio.com/Jim-Neidner
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