10 Residential Swimming Pool Maintenance Tips

On a scorching summer day, nothing is better than seeking respite from the heat with a dip in a cool pool. According to the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, about 10.4 million American households enjoy the perks of having a pool. But if you neglect to care for it properly, your pool can become a costly burden. Whether you’ve got an inground or above-ground pool, there is regular residential swimming pool maintenance you’ll need to perform.

 

Residential Swimming Pool Maintenance Tips You Need to Know

 

Follow these ten maintenance tips from the professionals at Inspect-It 1st to keep your swimming pool clean and inviting all season long.

 

  1. Skim Surface Debris

To keep your pool pristine, skim the water’s surface with a hand-held pool skimmer daily to remove leaves, bugs, and other unwanted debris. Surface debris will eventually sink to the bottom of the pool, making it harder to clean. Regular skimming improves the efficiency of your pool’s water circulation system, increasing its longevity.

 

Be sure to clean out your pool’s strainer weekly to improve filtration and other systems. Routinely emptying the strainer baskets also minimizes the amount of chlorine necessary to keep the water clean.

 

  1. Check Chemistry Weekly

swimming pool maintenance tipsCheck the chemistry of your pool water once a week with a testing kit. Most kits rely on a color-changing system to detect the water’s chemical balance. Optimal pH levels read between 7.2 and 7.8 and chlorine concentration should be 1 part per million (ppm). For more information on the chemicals your pool uses, consult this article from the U.S. Center for Disease Control.

 

  1. Maintain Water Level

A substantial amount of water will be lost over the course of the swimming season through evaporation and of course, cannonballs. If the pool loses too much water, its pumping system could be damaged. Use your garden hose to fill the up the pool if water levels fall below the center line of your skimmer or pool tile.

 

  1. Clean Your Filters

If your pool were a human body, its filters would be the kidneys. Filters remove impurities from the water. And if your filter is dirty, chances are your pool is too.

 

Pool Filter

 

At least once a week, clean out your pool’s filter. Turn the system off and remove the filter’s cap to access the basket and dispose of the debris that it has collected.

 

Pump Filter

 

You’ll also want to clean the pool’s pump filter as need. There are three different kinds of pool filters: cartridge, sand, or diatomaceous earth (DE). To clean your sand or DE filter, “backwash” the system. Cartridge filters simply need to be rinsed or replaced periodically. However, filters that are too clean won’t function properly. Check your pool’s manual for more information on caring for the filtration system.

 

  1. Vacuum Pool & Wash Walls

Vacuum your pool periodically for a deeper clean. When vacuuming, move slowly to ensure you do a thorough job. On average, the typical pool requires about 30 minutes of vacuuming.

 

After vacuuming, scrub down walls and tile to remove dirt and grime. Cleaning the walls of your pool will also eliminate algal buildup and calcium deposit, which can cause problems if left untreated.

 

  1. Clean the Pool Deck

Sweep and power wash the area surrounding your regular to make for an overall inviting space. Pressure washing a few times a season will rid your lawn chairs and deck of rust, dirt, and weather stains.

 

  1. Use a Tennis Ball to Absorb Oil

Whether from suntan lotions or hair products, oils will enter the pool. To combat the excess that inevitably collects in the water, toss in a tennis ball. The fibers of the tennis ball will absorb oil and eliminate the sheen that coats the water’s surface.

 

  1. Get on a Shocking Schedule

To eliminate unpleasant odors or murky appearance (both mean bacteria and organic contaminants have been allowed to build up for too long) you’ll need to ‘shock’ or superchlorinate your pool. Refer to your pool’s manufacturers’ instructions to determine how often your pool needs to be ‘shocked.’

 

  1. Winterize if Necessary

Depending on your local climate, you might have to winterize your swimming pool. When residual water is left in your pool’s pipes, it can freeze and cause damage. If your local climate experience temperatures that drop below freezing, then you’ll need to winterize annually.

 

  1. Receive Regular Inspections

Have your pool and its various systems serviced every so often to avoid having to repair or replace equipment. Inspect-It 1st offers comprehensive and customizable inspections services for residential pools and spas. While some inspection companies only attend to the mechanics of the pool systems, Inspect-It 1st covers components such as the external bonding of equipment, interior finish materials, decks, steps, diving boards, ladders and much more.

 

If you follow these ten tips from Inspect-It 1st, residential swimming pool maintenance will breeze. And when you’re in need of an inspection or buying or selling a house, contact your local Inspect-It 1st office. For over two decades, Inspect-It 1st has been the nation’s premier property inspection franchise, helping buyers, sellers, real estate agents, and others make smart decisions about their properties.



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Your Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

While you begin tackling your Spring cleaning list, don’t forget to inspect your home. Winter weather can be particularly hard on your home, and it’s important to ensure everything is still in great shape once the cold subsides. Assessing your home can certainly be overwhelming, but Inspect-It 1st is here to help with a handy Spring home maintenance checklist.

 

Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

spring home maintenance tips

Follow these tips below to help prepare your home for Spring.

 

Windows and Doors

When the warmer weather finally settles in, it becomes extremely tempting to open your windows and let in some fresh air. Before you enjoy the warm breeze, make sure to check the condition of the screens in your windows and doors. Ensure the screens are free of holes and properly fit in the window or door. Remember that a secure fit will keep bugs out and unwanted drafts away.

 

Siding

Your home’s siding is the first defense against inclement weather, pests, and more. Make sure it’s still in good condition after weathering through the harsh winter. Begin by giving your siding a thorough clean with a power-washer to remove debris. After power-washing, inspect the siding for any mold or significantly chipped paint. If chipped paint exposes any wood, be sure to sand the area, apply a primer, and repaint the area.

 

Lawn Care and Landscape

With little attention given to your lawn and landscape throughout the winter, it’s likely your yard needs a little TLC. Trim back any overgrown or unruly plants and begin prepping your yard for gardening. Take this time to ensure your outdoor water system is properly working. Be sure to inspect the entire system including pipes, faucets, hoses, and any sprinklers.

 

Deck and Porch

If your home has an outdoor deck or porch, make sure it’s in proper condition and ready for you to enjoy. Take a close look at the wood’s condition and ensure there are no signs of rotting, loose, or splintered boards. Once you inspect your deck’s integrity, decide if your deck or porch could use another coat of protectant or stain. As a general rule of thumb, you should treat your deck every 4-6 years or as needed.

 

Air Conditioning

The best time to inspect your air conditioning system is before you need to use it. Make sure your HVAC system is working properly before scorching summer days arrive. Generally, your HVAC system should only require light cleaning and maintenance, but if you suspect there are more serious issues present, don’t be afraid to consult a professional. To learn more about HVAC inspections, refer to this guide.

 

Receive a Full Home Inspection

When in doubt, it’s best to trust a professional. While a majority of homes only require basic maintenance and preparation for changing weather, it’s not unheard of to confront a major issue with your home. A professional home inspector will assess your home from top to bottom and give you the peace of mind that your home is in great condition.

 

Is your home ready for the Spring? With this Spring home maintenance checklist, you’ll be off to a great start on your preparations! However, for a more thorough inspection, rely on the experts at Inspect-It 1st. We’ll thoroughly assess your home and help ensure it’s ready for Spring. To get started, find your nearest Inspect-It 1st office here.



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Avoid These 8 Mistakes When Selling Your Home

Each year, hundreds of thousands of homes are sold in the U.S. Though the housing market is continuing its slow ascent from the economic downturn of the 2008 recession, the forecast for 2018 is bright. As the Millennial generation–who have been notoriously absent from the housing market thus far–age, experts are predicting that more will be purchasing homes this year.

 

What does this mean for homeowners? Well, if you’ve been contemplating selling, this may be the year to do it. But if you are a first-time seller, know that the process can be time-consuming and emotionally exhausting. Streamline the process and set yourself up for success by avoiding the following mistakes when selling your home.

 

Avoid These Mistakes When Selling Your Home

 

To obtain the highest return on your investment, it pays off to avoid the following mistakes when selling your home.

 

1. Not Hiring a Professional

With everything that goes into selling a house, the first mistake to avoid is attempting to sell it yourself. Unless you are a real estate agent or have sold previous houses this way, trying to sell your home by owner is usually more trouble than it is worth. You will have to invest a serious amount of time and effort into listing, showing, and negotiating. Though the price of an agent’s fee may seem hefty (on average, commission is usually 5-6 percent of your home’s sale price), their expertise is priceless. In fact, houses that are sold by owner commonly take longer to sell and fetch a lower price than those sold by a real estate agent.

 

2. Using Poor Quality Photos

As with most purchases, the first place buyers look for homes is online. If the photos that accompany your online listing are low quality, or, worse yet, you fail to include photos of your home, you are doing yourself a huge disservice. Good pictures are those that are taken in the daylight, focused correctly, and show off the best attributes of your home.

 

mistakes to avoid when selling your home3. Overpricing Your Home

There are many reasons people overestimate the price of their home, whether it’s emotional investment, misunderstanding the market, or relying solely on comps. The number one reason houses don’t sell is because of an unrealistic asking price. And often, the longer a home stays on the market, the lower the final price will be.

 

4. Skipping Prep Work

After deciding to sell, many homeowners rush to get their house on the market. But skipping over crucial prep work, such as cleaning, painting, and completing minor repairs, could cause potential buyers to pass on your home. If you decline to eliminate odors or declutter, buyers will wonder what other issues you haven’t addressed. The very last thing you want as a seller is for people to see your home in disrepair.

 

5. Failing to Disclose Major Issues

If you opt out of rectifying significant issues with the house or property, they will eventually become the new owner’s problems and must be disclosed. Attempting to hide property problems is a futile practice; the buyer’s inspection will always uncover them, wasting you time and money in the long run.

 

6. Showing an Empty Home

Showing an empty home is a big mistake because it doesn’t allow prospective buyers to imagine themselves living there. If you move out before the house sells, consider hiring a staging company to bring in furniture, lighting, plants, and other objects to give your empty home life.

 

7. Declining Proper Insurance

Because of the number of people who will be on your property attending showings and viewing the house, you’ll want to make sure you are properly insured. If someone falls or has an accident on the premises, they could sue you for damages. Be sure all hazardous objects such as an inground pool or cracked sidewalk, are removed or gated off. Talk to your insurance company to verify your coverage during the selling process.

 

8. Not Getting a Pre-Listing Inspection

One proactive step that could prevent mistakes when selling your home is to receive a pre-listing home inspection from an inspection company, like Inspect-It 1st. Pre-listing home inspections can pinpoint potential defects, giving you a full picture of what exactly needs to be repaired or replaced. Being able to market your home as ‘pre-inspected’ gives interested buyers confidence in their potential purchase. Plus, it also distinguishes your home among the competition.

 

Are you in the process of selling your home and in need of a pre-listing home inspection? Click here to find your local Inspect-It 1st! Our certified professionals can ensure that your home is up-to-code and ready for sale.



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10 Expert Painting Tips for DIY Homeowners

As a DIY homeowner, your to-do list is likely never-ending. And with so much to do and so little time to do it, you could find yourself rushing through the task at hand. You may even skip over steps that seem frivolous to new homeowners. But often, prep work and minor details can make all the difference when it comes to your finished product looking like it was done by a professional or an amateur. Prep work is especially important when it comes to interior painting projects. But that’s not the only key to success. Inspect-It 1st has rounded up ten expert painting tips for DIY homeowners so your next painting job will look like it was done by a pro.

 

The Painting Tips for DIY Homeowners You Need to Know

Don’t paint yourself into a corner, follow these tips to paint like a pro.

  1. Clear & Prep the Room

Before you begin, move everything out of the room you’ll be working in, from the rugs to the doors.  This also includes removing outlet covers, light fixtures, and hardware. If a piece of furniture is too big to move, cover it with plastic and move it to the center of the room. Put down canvas drop cloths to protect floors from drips and spills. Choose canvas over other materials because it is a thick fiber that will absorb paint drops and will stay put without tape.

  1. Find & Fix Cracks, Dents & Imperfections

Using a hand-held light, inspect every inch of the surface to find chipped paint, rough edges, cracks and scratches. Mark these blemishes lightly with a pencil so you can find them again. Use a lightweight spackling compound to fill in minor flaws and plaster of Paris on deeper dents. For wood trim and crown molding, use a painter’s putty or two-part wood filler.

  1. Sand for a Smoother Surface

Prior to painting, it is smart to hand-sand the surface of your project, no matter what shape it’s in. Sanding makes the surface smoother, feathers out chipped paint, and creates texture to provide a better bond for the coat of paint. Sanding is especially important on surfaces that have been painted with a glossy paint finish, like trim.

  1. Clean the Surface

After sanding, it is necessary to wipe down the surface with a damp cloth to remove dust and debris. Use your vacuum’s brush attachments on woodwork like window sills.

  1. Caulk Your Cracks

inspect-it 1st painting tips for diy homeownersNext, apply a thin layer of acrylic-latex caulk where the walls and the woodwork meet. For a professional appearance, cut the tip of the caulk tube smaller than your instinct tells you to and follow the adage, “less is more.” Caulking these seams will tackle drafts and makes your trim look brand new.

  1. Apply Painter’s Tape

Trust us when we say masking tape won’t cut it. Invest in the blue painter’s tape. Painter’s tape will allow for clean lines and peels off easily, unlike masking tape that leaves a sticky residue. Remove the tape before the paint is fully dry, so it doesn’t strip off dried-on paint.

  1. Select Quality Paint & Tools

When you go to purchase paint and brushes, it can be tempting to opt for the cheaper alternative. But there’s a reason why those tools are inexpensive– they produce low-quality results. Higher quality paint will go on smoother and provide better, longer-lasting coverage than cheap paints. Same goes for your painting tools; top-notch brushes and rollers contribute to a superior finish.

 

Make sure you have an angled brush for edging and a wool blend roller for large areas. Before loading your roller paint, use masking tape to remove excess fibers that could shed while painting, causing an unsightly appearance. And check out this guide to cutting-in, a crucial skill when it comes to edging, from This Old House.

  1. Proper Priming

Whatever you do, don’t skip the priming step. If the surface already has a coat of paint or is in fairly good shape, using a paint-and-primer-in-one is fine. But if you attempting to paint over a darker color or a difficult are such as wood or concert, use a stand-alone primer. Primer will cover flaws and give you a smooth starting surface for your final color.

  1. Work from the Top Down

Beginning with the ceiling, paint from the top down. Start with the crown molding, then move down to paint the walls and then the casement molding around the doors and windows. Paint the baseboard molding last.

  1. Expect Touchups

Don’t assume that your paint job will be perfect. After the paint dries, go back over your work. Use a sponge brush to blend touch-ups into the rest of the wall. Apply paint with a dabbing motion to mimic the look of a roller.

 

Before you get started painting, make sure that your house is in tip-top shape with a home inspection from Inspect-It 1st. Our certified team members can perform pre-listing and pre-purchase inspections, construction phase inspections, condo inspections and more. Find an Inspect-It 1st inspector near you and contact us today to learn about how we can assist you with property inspections.



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5 DIY Winter Projects for Your Home

tips for DIY winter projectsWith the weather getting colder, it’s time to shift your focus from outdoor home improvements to indoor upgrades. Use the upcoming winter months as the perfect opportunity to revamp your home’s interior. Utilize the following list of 5 DIY winter projects for your home this season.

 

 

5 DIY Winter Projects for Your Home

 

Get a head start on your home improvement goals by choosing one or more of these easy DIY projects.

 

1. Revamp Your Fireplace

 

Whether your fireplace is functional or not, it’s often still the main focus of a room. If your current fireplace is looking dated or dull, consider a quick DIY makeover to liven things up! Simple touch-ups including a fresh paint job, a new mantle, or adding accent plants and trinkets can give your fireplace a whole new look. For fireplaces that are not functional, consider swapping out traditional logs with candles for a cozy feel.

 

2. Draft Stopper

 

Instead of purchasing a store-bought draught excluder or draft stopper, create your own for a customized look. With significantly cooler air temperatures, it’s not uncommon to experience drafty doorways in the winter. With some fabric, cotton for stuffing, and a few stitches, you can create your own draft stopper. In addition to saving on purchasing a store-bought stopper, you may even find your new project keeps the heating bills down!

 

3. Closet Organization

 

Closets are often the go-to storage space for unnecessary clutter. Take the winter season as the perfect excuse to go through your closets and give them a cost-friendly upgrade. Depending on your budget, you can elect to build your own closet organizer with a few materials, or you can repurpose bins and storage containers to serve as added space. Measure your closet and refer to this guide for specific building instructions.

 

4. Shoe Rack

 

Somehow the number of shoes we own seems to multiply in the winter. With the extra boots and house guests, it can often seem like you just don’t have the space for everyone’s shoes. Consider making your own shoe rack for a budget-friendly solution. Repurpose wooden crates, or even build something from scratch depending on your skill level or budget. Creating a designated space for shoes that is both convenient and looks nice in your home will do wonders for your storage needs.

 

5. Final Touch-Ups

 

Take the days spent in your home to inspect every room for minor touch-ups and improvements you’ve been putting off during the warmer seasons. Search for chipped paint, dated outlets and light switches, old knobs and pulls, and any other small projects around your home. With a fresh paint coat and simple upgrades, your home will look refreshed and ready for the year.

 

While you tackle your own DIY projects for the winter, don’t forget the importance of a proper home inspection. For a complete inspection of your home, contact the experts at Inspect-It 1st! Locate your closest Inspect-It 1st office here.



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Important Tips for Mobile Home Maintenance

tips for mobile home maintenanceMobile and manufactured homes have many advantages over traditionally built houses, including affordability and mobility. These houses require regular maintenance just like any other home. But because they are constructed in a factory, they aren’t designed the same as site-built homes. Thus, mobile and modular homes have entirely different maintenance concerns. Read on for important mobile home maintenance tips from Inspect-It 1st.

 

5 Tips for Mobile Home Maintenance

Just like any other piece of property, mobile homes require vigilant upkeep to protect your family and investment.

 

  1. Keep Your Home Properly Leveled

 

One essential concern when it comes to mobile home maintenance is making sure your home is leveled properly. Though mobile homes are leveled during installation, over time, it will need to be adjusted.

 

Keep an eye out for doors that don’t close properly, and windows that don’t seem to fit right, as it may mean your home is unbalanced. If your floors are creaking or you notice cracks in walls or ceilings, that is another indication that your mobile home needs to be re-leveled. To verify, use a carpenter’s level at various places in your home.

 

While there are some do-it-yourself kits available, a lot is riding on a successful execution, and it may be best to call a professional.

 

  1. Maintain Your Home’s Skirting

 

Your mobile home’s skirting, or perimeter enclosure insulates the whole residence, protects the belly of the structure, adds curb appeal and promotes energy efficiency. If you notice holes in the skirting, repair them immediately so they don’t cause further damage.

 

The skirting needs to be secure but also requires adequate venting so humidity and mold can’t damage the home. Proper ventilation is no joke! There is even a formula to determine if your mobile home has proper skirting ventilation. The formula (1:150) is based on the square footage of your home. For every 150 square foot of space under your home, you need one square foot of venting.

 

  1. Know Your Home’s Plumbing

 

Understand that plumbing systems in mobile and manufactured homes differ slightly from that in traditional homes, but the overall concept is the same. In mobile homes, the plumbing pipes are located under the structure and are stubbed up through the floor, as opposed to within the walls, where they are located in conventional homes.

 

Frequently, mobile home plumbing systems are equipped with plastic or cross-linked polyethylene (pex) waterlines and PVC piping. In conventional homes, the system is likely to be made of galvanized pipe or copper waterlines.

 

In many areas, codes for site-built houses are quite strict and have changed very little over the years. Whereas manufacturers of modular and mobile are often the first to test and apply new technology.

 

Familiarize yourself with the system’s ventilation pipes and the main stop valve so you can shut off your water in the event of an emergency.

 

  1. Prioritize Roof Care

The roof is your home’s first line of defense against the outside elements. Mobile homeowners need to prioritize proper roof care to keep the property safe and sound. Due to the design of mobile homes, though, certain areas require particular attention.

 

Many mobile homes have flat roofs. Flat roofs—or nearly flat roofs—have special needs, especially in cold winter climates. Heavy snow can lead to property damage, and significant accumulations must be removed quickly. Repair and replace damaged roofing materials to mitigate problems.

 

You can extend the life of your roof by sealing it annually. Regular sealing can also prevent other issues from becoming worse. The type of roofing on your home will determine how often you need to seal it. Metal roofs, for example, require more frequent sealing than those with shingles.

 

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) urges homeowners to inspect their roofs at least two times each year, both in the spring and the fall.

 

  1. Perform Regular Inspections

As with any type of house, performing regular inspections—both inside and out—is a crucial responsibility of being a homeowner. By taking the time to check these key points of your home, you’ll be able to catch potential problems before they become costly headaches.

 

  • Masonry piers
  • I-beams
  • Wood floor framing
  • Anchors and straps
  • Roof

For a more thorough inspection, contact a home inspection service, like Inspect-It 1st. Our professional team performs inspections on all sorts of properties, from commercial buildings to mobile homes. To find an Inspect-It 1st location near you, click here.



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Household Chores Every New Homeowner Needs to Know

The excitement of being a new homeowner comes with a lot of uncertainty. If you purchased a fixer-upper, you might feel overwhelmed with the amount of work there is to do. And if you bought new, it’s only a matter of time before you’re going to have to flex your handyman’s muscle.

While some home maintenance tasks can seem—and are—too much for you to handle, you are completely capable of many other odd jobs. Below are ten common household chores every new homeowner needs to know how to do.

10 Common Household Chores Every New Homeowner Needs to Know

Purchasing a new home is one of the biggest financial decisions you will make. And unfortunately, the spending doesn’t stop once you move in. According to the National Association of Home Builders, after closing on the sale, the average homeowner spends more than $4,000 in the first two years, even more, if they’ve bought a new house. Cut back on expenditures by learning how to do these common household chores yourself.

Indoor Tasks

With a solid grasp on these indoor tasks, you’ll be able to make your house a home.

 

  1. Fixing Leaky Faucets

Leaking faucets can add up to a lot of lost money. A drip calculator from the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that a faucet that drips once per second can equal five gallons of lost water each day. Most likely, you’ll need a set of Allen wrenches, screwdrivers, and slip-joint pliers to repair a leaky faucet. Read this article from the Family Handy Man for a repair guide.

 

  1. Changing Air Filters

To maintain your home’s air quality, and keep your energy bills low, you’ll need to know how to change your furnace and air conditioner’s filters. And this is a chore you’ll need to do on the regular; at least once every 6-12 months, and more frequently if you have pets.

 

First, turn off the unit to prevent electric shock. Once you locate the slot where the air filter goes, remove the old filter. If it is a reusable filter, use a hose to rinse off dust and debris. If it is disposable, simply replace with a brand-new air filter.

 

  1. Locating Wall Studs

Common Household Chores Every New Homeowner Needs to KnowHanging anything besides light-weight picture frames will require the support of a wall stud. Wall studs run vertically behind your drywall and will be necessary when you’re mounting TVs, shelves, mirrors and more.

 

Wall studs are usually spaced between 16-24 inches apart. But to make your busy life even easier, purchase a stud finder tool at your local home improvement store.

 

  1. Paint like a Pro

It is likely, as a homeowner, that at some point you’re going to need to do some painting. Whether it’s touch-ups, trim work or whole rooms, the steps are similar.

 

Be sure to clear furniture, light fixtures, and other elements out of the way. Use painter’s tape to protect edges, trim or baseboards, and lay down drop cloths to cover floors. If you’re painting walls, use a trim brush to cut in, then use a roller to apply paint evenly in a zig-zag pattern.

 

  1. Stopping a Running Toilet

Running toilets are both annoying and wasteful. To stop the running, first, remove the lid of the toilet tank. Then check, repair and/or replace the most common offenders: the flapper, chain and float. Read more about easy diagnosis in this article from Apartment Therapy.

 

  1. Replacing Outlets

Replacing your outlets can spruce up a room. To do so, first, make sure you turn off the power to room your working in. Use a voltage testing tool to confirm you’ve done so properly before starting.

 

With a flat head screwdriver, remove the faceplate and unscrew the receptacle. Make note of where the wires were attached to the old outlet. Reattach the wires to the terminals of the new outlet and return it to the electrical box. Screw both the receptacle and cover plate back in place.

 

Outdoor Tasks

It’s not just the inside of the house that needs attending to. Knowing how to complete these common outdoor maintenance tasks will make you feel right at home.

 

  1. Cleaning Out Your Gutters

Common Household Chores Every New Homeowner Needs to KnowCleaning out your house’s gutters is a simple, yet important task. Prolonged clogged gutters can cause foundation damage which can cost upwards of $10,000 to repair.

 

All you need to complete this task is a sturdy ladder, a pair of gloves and maybe a face mask for overspray. Moving around your house, clear your gutters of leaves and other debris, paying particular attention to the joints that attach the downspout to the gutter.

 

  1. Power Washing

The outside of your home will shoulder a lot of wear and tear over the years. One handy tool to know how to use is a pressure washer. Power washing your siding, deck, patios, garage door, fence and more removes grime and buildup that may have accumulated with the seasons. Spray from the top down to prevent streaking. Be sure to spray cleaning agents or detergents off surfaces promptly. If the detergent dries before you have a chance to wash it off, it could cause discoloration and stains.

 

  1. Sealing the Driveway

An easy way to extend the lifespan of your driveway is through periodic sealing. Driveways are very expensive to replace so make sure you keep your current one intact for as long as possible.

 

First, check the weather forecast and choose a clear day to seal your driveway. Then using a broom or leaf blower, clear the driveway of debris and fill in cracks. Pour the sealant on your driveway, working with small batches, and use a specialty squeegee to push and pull the sealant into an even layer. Let the sealant sit for a full 24 hours before using the driveway.

 

  1. Tuning the Lawn Mower

Chances are your home came with some yard, which means you’ll need to mow it. At the start of the mowing season, service your lawn mower to keep it running properly.

 

If you have a gas-powered lawn mower, change the oil, and replace/clean both air filter and the spark plug. If you have push reel mower, check out these DIY maintenance tips from Mother Earth News.

 

For more tips and home maintenance inspection services, contact the professionals at Inspect-It 1st! We perform a variety of home inspections to give you peace of mind. Find your local Inspect-It 1st office here.



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Must-Have Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

The end of summer is the perfect time to catch up on maintenance for your home. With a whole summer packed with fun and relaxation, your chore list has likely begun to accumulate. Before the colder weather sets in, take advantage of these next few weeks to get your home in order with Inspect-It 1st’s fall home maintenance checklist.

 

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

fall home maintenance checklist

Follow these tips to make sure your home is in tip-top shape and ready for the changing seasons.

 

Check Your Roof

If trees surround your home, it’s important to inspect your roof and gutters before the leaves begin to fall. Check your roof for any damaged or missing shingles to ensure it stays protected during the impending cooler weather. While checking the status of your roof, keep an eye out for clogged or damaged gutters as well. Sticks, leaves, and other debris can pile up fast in gutters and require extensive time and work to clean them thoroughly. Consider installing leaf guards to help keep them clean and free of debris.

 

Prepare for Cooler Weather

Examine your windows and doorways for any gaps. Leaving space can not only let your warm air escape and cool air enter but also can leave your home susceptible to possible water damage. To fill any gaps, apply a fresh coat of caulk to keep things sealed shut. To further protect your home from escaping air or potential water damage, you can install weather stripping as well.

 

Remove Outdoor Hoses

If you live in an area where temperatures drop significantly, it’s a good idea to remove your outdoor garden hose. Freezing temperatures can cause the pipes and faucets to burst, leaving your home susceptible to minor leaks or serious water damage. To remove your hoses, be sure to drain them entirely and wind them in a coil for convenient storage indoors.

 

Inspect your HVAC System

While the temperatures are still pleasant, consider getting a professional inspection of your HVAC system. A technician can inspect your unit to ensure everything is in working order and prepared for the changing seasons. The best time to get an HVAC system inspection is before a malfunction occurs, so your home is never without cool air or heat. If you’d rather check your HVAC system yourself, refer to this guide for easy-to-follow steps.

 

Fireplace Maintenance

For homes with a wood-burning fireplace, it’s necessary to get a proper inspection done by a professional. During the inspection, a licensed technician can sweep the chimney, maintenance the flue, and check the overall condition of the fireplace. Chimney sweep companies often book many weeks in advance due to the increased demand in the fall season, so it’s best to schedule an appointment as early as you can.

 

For more tips on how to prepare your home for fall, contact Inspect-It 1st! We can help you develop a customizable fall home maintenance checklist to ensure your home is ready for the changing of the seasons. To get started, call us today at (877) 392-6278 or find your local IIF office online.



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How to Get Rid of Common Household Pests

eliminate common household pestsTaking pride in your household is one of the best parts of being a homeowner. And you should—you’ve created a safe, comfortable, clean environment in which to live. Unfortunately, these very reasons are attractive to other, unwanted visitors as well: common household pests.

 

Most Common Household Pests

What defines “common household pests” varies depending on geographic region. In the Southwest, homeowners keep their eyes out for bark scorpions and rattlesnakes; in the Pacific Northwest, residents battle Firebrats and Silverfish.

But there are some pests that homeowners will encounter from coast to coast and boarder to boarder. While they may be small, these pests can do some serious damage if not properly mitigated in a timely fashion.

 

  1. Mice and Rats

Rodents are drawn to your homes’ warmth as the seasons change, as well as garbage and food. Mice and rats burrow in walls, under floorboards, and in other sheltered locations like sheds, basements, and attics.

 

The Problem:

Rodents are notorious disease-carriers. These pesky pests harbor potentially dangerous infections like Lyme disease and typhus. Plus, they can contaminate floors and other surfaces with feces.

 

 

  1. Cockroaches

Cockroaches are ubiquitous, especially in urban areas. These ancient bugs love warm, humid spaces, such as bathrooms and kitchens, as well as drains and heating pipes.

 

The Problem:

Besides giving the illusion of an unkempt household, cockroaches are an extreme allergen, especially in children. Roches have also been known to transmit bacteria like Salmonella, parasitic worms and more.

 

  1. Earwigs

Another common creepy-crawler, earwigs are mostly just annoying. They are drawn to dampness and humidity, both indoors and out.

 

The Problem:

These bugs are attracted to light, as well as the aroma of food. Infestations can wreak havoc on plants. Also, earwigs’ pair of forceps can leave a stinging pinch.

 

  1. Carpenter Ants

Though relatively harmless, carpenter ants are a nuisance.

 

The Problem:

Carpenter ants do not eat wood, but they do carve out galleries by chewing tunnels. The galleries weaken wooden structures.

 

  1. Termites

Termites live in the soil beneath homes. While they are attracted to damp and decaying wood, they will happily eat dry lumber as well.

 

The Problem:

Voracious eaters, termites can decimate wooden structures, including houses. According to reports, termites cause approximately $750 million worth of property damage each year.

Ways to Keep Common Household Pests at Bay:

The most effective methods for pest eradication are preventative. Usually, once the infestation takes hold, the only course of action requires harsh repellants, sprays, and poisons, which are potentially hazardous to your household.

 

common household pests problemKeep Clean

Food entices most common household pests. To keep bugs at bay, be sure you are keeping clean when it comes to food. Clean up any messes or spills, store dry food in tightly sealed containers, and take your trash out often.

 

Stay Dry

As noted before, lots of pests are particularly attracted to water, so make sure to keep your house nice and dry. Eliminate stagnant water near your house, wipe up spills, and fix anything that is dripping water.

 

Quick Fix

It is important to repair any cracks, holes, and openings that may be allowing pests into your home. Caulk around windows and baseboards, patch your window screens and apply weather stripping for extra assurance.

 

If your pest problem has gotten out of hand, or you’re not sure where to start, call a professional for peace of mind, like Inspect-It 1st. In addition to performing pre-listing and pre-purchase inspections, we also offer pest and termite inspections. Contact your local Inspect-It 1st franchise to learn more.



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7 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Hurricane Season

prepare your home for hurricane seasonThe latest reports predict that the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season will be one for the record books. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts a 45 percent possibility of an above average season. A more active season can result in a higher number of tropical storms with the potential to develop into hurricanes.

 

Scientists and Meteorologists have pointed to the early start to the season, as well as other factors like warm water temperatures and weak El Niño current, for the predicted increase. For homeowners on the East coast, this serves as a warning. There is no guarantee there will be more hurricane landfalls in the U.S., but a little preparation during these months (June 1-Nov. 30) never hurt anything. Here, Inspect-It 1st has rounded up the most important ways to prepare your home for hurricane season. It’s better to be safe than sorry, as they say.

 

Prepare Your Home for Hurricane Season

Hurricane season can be hard on your home. Even if no tropical storms make landfall, off-shore hurricanes and severe storms can invite damage if you’re not prepared.

 

  1. Have an Evacuation Plan

First and foremost, make a plan for evacuation. If all else fails, or if a storm surge forces you and your family to evacuate, you need to know where to go. And quickly.

 

Check to see if your home is in the evacuation path, an area which the government mandates that residents must leave in the event of a hurricane. Even if you fall outside of the designated area, it’s still a good idea to plan for evacuation, just in case.

 

Consult local government websites and community boards for information about alert systems, evacuations, and departure routes. Keep in mind that those in mobile homes, stilt houses or high-rise buildings might have to evacuate sooner than others.

 

Make sure each family member is aware of the plan and walk children through step-by-step instructions to ensure their safety. If you own pets, consider a plan for them as well.

 

  1. Assess Your Insurance Coverage

Prior to hurricane season, review your insurance policy. Whether you are a homeowner or a renter, make sure the policy covers flood damage and rebuilding costs should damage occur. Often, homeowner insurance policies will cover one but not the other. You will need both in the event of a severe storm.

 

If you also own a car, it might be a good idea to check on insurance protections for the vehicle as well.

 

  1. Storm Guard Your Home

Another important precaution to take during hurricane season is safeguarding your home. Begin with a full inspection of your house to make sure that there aren’t any problems that would be exacerbated by a tropical storm.

 

Next, secure and seal your roof. As the home’s largest potential opening, strong winds and excess water can do severe damage if they penetrate the roof. Fix and replace all tiles and shingles that are missing, cracked, or warped.

 

After securing your roof, seal your doors and windows. Commercial caulk and weather stripping wear over time, so check their condition once a year.

 

Purchase plywood or install hurricane covers for windows and doors. Board up entrances for extra security if the storm begins to worsen.

 

  1. Take Inventory

It is important to take inventory of your home, belongings and other assets. Once a year, document all your possessions and how much each is worth. That way, in the case of damage, you’ll know what needs to be replaced and if it is covered under your insurance plan.

 

  1. Buy Supplies

It is smart to have a disaster supply kit ready to go in the house. The kit can include things like batteries, flashlights, first aid supplies, water, personal documents, prescription drugs, electronics chargers, and more. The disaster supply kit will accompany you in the event of an evacuation.

 

  1. Make Copies

Before hurricane season, make duplicates of your important documents including deeds and proof of ownership of assets. Back up your digital records on external hard drives or in cloud-based software as well.

 

  1. Final Moments

There is nothing more important than the safety of yourself and your loved ones. Heed calls for evacuation even if you have not properly prepared your property. But if you do have some time before an approaching storm reaches landfall, there are a couple of quick things you can do:

  • Clear your lawn of furniture, umbrellas, potted plants, and other items that could be picked up by strong winds.
  • Move your car to safety, whether it is the garage, or just away from trees and electric lines.
  • Shut off all utilities at their cutoff points, usually located near the meter.
  • Before you evacuate your home, turn off the main breaker in your circuit box.

 

If you are in need of a pre-hurricane inspection or have questions about how to prepare your home for hurricane season, contact the professionals at Inspect-It 1st. We have the industry experience and know-how to tackle the tough questions homeowners face. Contact us online or call us today at (877) 392-6278.



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Our home inspection company's history began in 1991 with the establishment of American Home Inspection. Over the course of the following seven years, a home inspection business prototype was developed that could be implemented anywhere in the United States. Our founders believed they had a unique methodology of providing homebuyers and sellers with consistent, professional and unbiased home inspections.

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