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Home Maintenance Checklist
Fall Home Repair and Maintenance Musts
After years of working in the home repair business, I’ve whittled down the most common causes of expensive, yet preventable home repairs to a few basic maintenance categories. Just like the common wisdom of nutrition, sleep and exercise for our personal health, the following three items addressed in the fall will improve the long term health of your home. Check out this timely article with videos on three of the most important fall maintenance items: Three Fall Home Maintenance Musts
Trust ProMaster For My Home Maintenance and Repair
ProMaster Home Repair & Handyman of Cincinnati is a great choice for those who don’t have the time or inclination to perform their own home repair or maintenance projects. ProMaster staffs a skilled team of professional, Master Craftsmen who understand that attention to detail, artistry and precise craftsmanship are the keys to success in any home repair project.
Call (513) 724-0539
Before we discuss these spring home maintenance tips, we’d first like to offer our thoughts and condolences to those affected by the recent storms across the Midwest.
As we in Cincinnati have to consider the severe weather, we’d like to highlight 3 home maintenance tips that are essential this spring in order to protect your property against impending water leaks and energy losses. By tackling these 3 minor maintenance items before the rainy season comes, you can save yourself a ton of money and preserve the value of your home.
SPRING HOME MAINTENANCE TIP #1 – GUTTERS
Gutter Downspout Screen
We have talked before about the importance of gutter cleaning to ensure that excess water does not build up in your gutters and threaten to overflow or pull the gutters from your house. Overflowing water can cause serious leaks which allow water to get into your roof boards and cause rot and mold, while a gutter pulled from your house is obviously quite severe. But beyond cleaning your gutters every spring, you should also consider installing a downspout screen or gutter guard which both serve to trap leaves before they make it into your gutters and downspouts, thus reducing the required cleaning. So, with clean gutters and measures taken to keep them clean, the next home maintenance item would be to ensure that the gutters are working properly.
In Brief: Ensure Gutter Flow and Home Structural Integrity
- Go outside during the next heavy rain and climb (safely) on a ladder to check on the flow of the gutters or at least observe from below for overflow.
- Slow-flowing or stagnant gutters may need to be re-sloped or may need a larger downspout (the tube carrying the water from the gutters to the ground) or even additional downspouts. Both of these projects may be possible for an advanced DIYer, but we suggest contacting an industry professional to get it sorted out.
- Check the bottom of your downspout where the water empties out and make sure that it funnels into a drain or in some way empties at least 10 feet from your house.
The whole point of a downspout is to carry water away from your foundation because water near the foundation can cause serious water leaks and long-term damage. If the downspout is emptying close to your house then you should consider adding extensions which will carry that water further away. Adding an extension is a cheap and easy DIY project and can come in many forms depending on what material you want to use, how much you want to hide or expose the extension, and the layout of your home and yard. That is a long conversation, but if you decide to add extensions, it is easily done with the right resources.
Flowing Gutters and Downspouts Are Key to Preventing Soffit and Fascia Damage
SPRING HOME MAINTENANCE TIP #2 – WATERPROOFING EXTERIORS AND ELECTRICAL
In Brief: Check and Seal Exterior Electrical and Other Fixtures
Sealing Exterior Fixtures
Exterior electrical units like lights, outlets, switches, etc. and other fixtures such as windows or doors should be checked to make sure that they are sealed well from water intrusion. In order to do that:
- You should make sure that any sealant or caulk that was around these units has not weathered away in the winter.
- If any minor damage has occurred, then with a silicone caulking and a caulk gun you can at least repair minor damages and add a layer around the outside of these fixtures as a preventative home maintenance measure. This will help ensure that water cannot leak in behind these fixtures and cause serious problems.
- If you think there already is a problem such as water intrusion or damage, you can be certain by looking for the telltale signs that indicate leaking windows.
If there are leaks or issues already, you may be in trouble and admittedly a bead of caulk won’t help this; but a simple DIY seal job can go a long way as a preventative measure.
Also, you should make sure that all of your exterior electrical outlets (and even interior ones with the chance of coming in contact with water) have a ground fault circuit interrupt (or GFCI/GFI) which may not be the case for older homes. These are the outlets with the typically red and black buttons in the middle with “test” and “reset” that ensure that if by some accident electricity tries to run through you to get to the ground, the circuit will shut off. If these need to be installed, it is possible for the DIYer that has some electrical experience, but we suggest leaving this one to a professional.
SPRING HOME MAINTENANCE TIP #3 – INCREASED INSULATION
In Brief: Increase the Energy Efficiency of Your Home with Added Attic Insulation
Often people think that they lose the most money due to energy inefficiencies in the winter with drafty doors and windows. But the cool air from air-conditioners in your home during the spring and summer months can just as easily leave through poor insulation in your attic which can cost you. To begin, we always suggest an energy audit to figure out how you can prevent the money from flowing out of your house.
For those looking for a DIY project to increase home energy efficiencies this spring, one easy DIY tip is to add some additional insulation in your attic. Adding insulation to your attic is easily done especially for the old pink fiberglass batting that we are all used to. The discussion about the many other types of insulation, their specifications, and how they are installed is a topic for another time. If your Cincinnati attic only has about 6 inches of pink batting, then this will not suffice in keeping your home insulated. These insulation sheets are rated by their R-Value which is their resistance to heat transfer: a higher value = more insulated. 6 inches of the pink fiberglass insulation has an R-Value of only about 19 when really at least twice that is recommended (38+). So again, other types of insulation like spray applications should be left to the professionals. But if you’re installing additional pink fiberglass in fluffy panels, the process is easy:
- Be prepared with gloves, goggles, and respirator masks: these sheets are made of glass.
- When adding to existing insulation, you will want to buy un-faced/uncovered sheets (sheets without paper or vinyl casings of any sort on them, completely naked).
- Lay the new sheets on top of and perpendicular to existing sheets and covering wood floor beams. This will ensure that heat transfer through the wood will be limited.
- DO NOT pack the insulation under the ceiling rafters as they come down to the floor, leave some room at each end as airflow is very important for the integrity of the roof.
- We advise about 12″ or more of the fiberglass insulation for your attic.
Get out there DIYers! Some simple little home maintenance tips right now can go a long way to prevent water leaks from your gutters, windows, or fixtures and can help you save money on energy savings. Let us know in the comments or on Facebook with any questions or give us a call: (513)-724-0539.
Every year, Remodeling Magazine publishes a cost vs. value report in which they empirically compare how homeowners are investing in their properties and how these investments ultimately pay off in the resale of their house. While there are many reasons to invest in home repairs or remodeling jobs, there are ultimately projects that will be worth the investment in terms of resale value, and those that won’t be. Here we will dissect the data for the Cincinnati area and help you make good investments for 2012.
Make Wise Investments in Your Cincinnati Home
Home Improvements: Proceed With Caution
The return on investment for home construction projects reached a high nationally in 2005 at 85%. Now, obviously these projects vary, but essentially in 2005 if you invested money into fixing up your home, then you could reasonably expect 85% of that money back on average when it came time to sell the home. That number has dropped every year since 2005 and has now reached a 10 year low such that in 2011-2012, a home repair or remodeling project will likely only see a 57.7% return on investment. Grim to be sure, but do not be discouraged. Certain projects are still well worth the investment but are dragged down by grossly under-performing projects. So first, the projects to avoid in Cincinnati this year.
The Black List – Repair and Remodeling Projects to Avoid in Cincinnati
Project to Avoid #1
Home Office Remodeling = 36%* Return on Investment
Remodeling your home office is not worth it. Do you think realtors often hear this comment from prospective buyers: “I know it didn’t have enough bedrooms for us and that the kitchen was in bad shape, but did you see that office? I could spend so much time in there!” The answer, simply, is no. Offices are functional and convenient for the stay-at-home worker but are a luxury compared to an extra bedroom or a lightly remodeled kitchen. This will certainly vary depending on your neighborhood and situation, but as long as people are commuting to work in Cincinnati, a home office will not be worth it to a prospective buyer and thus not worth it for you as a remodeling project.
Project to Avoid #2
Complete Bath/Kitchen/Basement Remodels = 55.7% Return
While a home office remodeling job will be the biggest offender in terms of poor return on investment; remodeling your kitchen, bathroom, or basement will not pay either. We all want a beautiful kitchen space, but in Cincinnati a complete kitchen remodeling job will cost upwards of $109,000 and will only return $59,251 or 54%. Bathrooms and basements fare slightly better at 55.8% and 57.3%, respectively. With such a high initial capital investment, it is hard to conceive that these steep costs will translate into an equally higher home price when it comes time to sell.
Project to Avoid #3
Home Additions = 50% Return
When the going was good with the housing market, adding on to your house was a no-brainer. Increasing the overall square foot size of your home as well as adding on the utility of another bedroom, bathroom, or other more discretionary expenditures would have likely paid off. But in these more difficult times, that sale is not so easy. Home buyers now are much more conscious of the increased energy and maintenance costs that a home addition requires as well as the near $100,000 that the average home addition will cost in Cincinnati. Additions on the low end in Cincinnati will cost $87,491 and see a 51% return while on the high end will cost $121,696 and will see a 48% return which makes these projects real financial losers in the end.
The Good List – Projects Most Worth their Initial Investment in Cincinnati
Worthwhile Project #1
Attic Remodeling = 72.6% Return
Turning your attic space into a bedroom (and even then adding a bathroom) makes a lot of sense. You are adding utility to your home with an added bedroom and you aren’t expanding the footprint of your existing house which will cost more to maintain and supply utilities for. These projects do have a high initial cost and should be done with care (IE don’t ignore other maintenance items or neglect the rest of your house, this is all cumulative). At an initial cost of $50,205 (down from $51,029 last year) and with an expected resale value of $36,473; a 72.6% return makes remodeling your attic one of the best financial investments that you can make in a Cincinnati-area home.
Worthwhile Project #2
Exterior Repairs = 62.88% Return
Repairing your doors, windows, and siding will almost always be a better investment than any large remodeling project. Not only do these repairs improve the curbside appeal of your home, but they can also add to the integrity of your home against water damage and increase energy efficiencies which will pay dividends for you and any prospective buyers. This high return rate is due in large part to the fact that these projects require relatively low initial investments (less than $20,000) and so are not quite as difficult to recover in the end.
Roof maintenance is immensely important and under-valued; however, be careful with entire roof replacements in this context because such projects have a high initial cost ($40,000+) and are unfortunately not valued very highly as a selling point for home buyers based on this data (50% return). We suggest looking instead at roof repairs and regular maintenance.
Worthwhile Project #3
Kitchen Repairs = 65.7% Return
Repair projects have long outpaced remodeling projects in terms of return on investment, but this is especially true in the kitchen. With complete remodeling projects costing upwards of $50,000 in Cincinnati (and getting only a 54% return), smaller kitchen projects under $20,000 are expected to get more than a 65% return and are a much better investment. Such small repairs would include new counter tops, a tile backsplash, cabinet doors, minor plumbing work, and improving your hardware/appliances as opposed to a complete remodel or structural change.
Get Your Project Started
We’ve tried to outline what projects are worth taking from a financial perspective and which projects you should avoid as best you can. And while this information is true for the Cincinnati area; conditions will certainly vary by neighborhood, home, budget, and of course family. The best thing that you can do is contact a home repair professional that you trust to see what projects you can do and for how much and then compare (individually or with a real estate agent) this information against home sale data in your area to see if that type of investment is worth it in the long run.
*Percentage return is based on estimates for how much such projects will cost, and how much they will increase the sale value of the home as a result. So if you spend $100,000 on fixing your house, and this results in a $75,000 increase in the sale price of your home, that is a 75% return. All values are for Cincinnati, OH in 2011-2012, Remodeling Magazine Cost vs. Value Report 2011-2012.
If you need help with any project or want to talk more about this report please contact us or comment below:
Call (513) 724-0539
Fall Home Maintenance Items That You Can’t Ignore
After years of working in the home repair business, I’ve whittled down the most common causes of expensive, yet preventable home repairs to a few basic maintenance categories. Just like the common wisdom of nutrition, sleep and exercise for our personal health, the following three items addressed in the fall will improve the long term health of your home.
Gutters: Cincinnati, like most Midwest areas of the US, gets hit with frequent heavy rain showers from thunderstorms. Clogged, leaking, incorrectly sloped, or improperly routed gutters are responsible for a range of wood rot problems to water intrusion in lower levels and basements. Clean the gutters and have them inspected for proper flow and drainage. WATCH VIDEO: Gutter Cleaning is Critical for the Health of Your Cincinnati Area Home
Battery Backup Sump Pump
Sump Pump: Most of us in the Cincinnati area have a basement. Unless the basement was built with a gravity-drain footer, you’re likely to need to pump ground water out now and again to ensure your lower level doesn’t turn into a swimming pool. Regular followers of my blog know that I’m a huge advocate of battery backup sump pumps. If your basement would be significantly affected by water damage (i.e. it is finished) and you don’t have a battery backup system installed… well, I’ll just say it… you’re foolish. The cost for these systems are often less than an insurance deductible and provide tremendous peace of mind. WATCH VIDEO: Prevent Basement Sump Water Flooding with a Battery Backup Sump Pump
Door Frame Repairs
Caulking: Failure to prevent water intrusion into wood trim, doors, windows and other gaps in your home will eventually lead to wood rot and a variety of other water-related damage. One of the most overlooked areas to caulk is the door frame and threshold. Failure to do so leads to moisture penetration into door trim, sills, and framing, causing expensive door frame repairs. WATCH VIDEO: Door Frame Repair
Download a Home Maintenance Checklist
While the above items aren’t a comprehensive list of home maintenance items, if you are short on time and budget, at least address these three major items to improve tour chances of experiencing Home Repair Horror Story.
For a more complete overview of home maintenance items, down load my free checklist, Home Maintenance Checklist and Log .
Home Maintenance Checklist
Trust ProMaster For My Home Maintenance
ProMaster Home Repair & Handyman of Cincinnati is a great choice for those who don’t have the time or inclination to perform their own home repair or maintenance. ProMaster staffs a skilled team of professionals who understand that attention to detail, artistry and precise craftsmanship are the keys to success in any home repair or home maintenance project.
Our Master Craftsmen are professionals who have honed their skills by experience and a quest for perfection. Keep in mind that these craftsmen aren’t just “handymen.” Rather, they are skilled at all home repair tasks like drywall repair, concrete & masonry, drywall & paint, electrical, flooring & tile, plumbing and roofing. Our multi-skilled craftsmen represent a distinct advantage over other repair contractors due to their ability to perform numerous tasks associated with any home repair project.
Call (513) 724-0539
Don Kennedy – ProMaster Founder
Running a home repair business is analogous to being a cardiologist. Just like heart disease, most of the problems with expensive home repairs are preventable. Unfortunately we Americans aren’t known for being proactive. Every spring I get to see the evidence of this, as my phone rings of the hook from all the preventable damage that homeowners discover.
Spring Maintenance Items That’s You Can’t Ignore
I suppose you could ignore these items—for I’ll make more money if you do. Cardiologists certainly make more money from treating your heart attack than counseling you on diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle. I promise though, that these items will be much easier than dropping your cheeseburger habit or jogging three times per week.
The central theme in these items is water. Yes, water. Water damage is a home’s worst enemy, generally causing the most expensive, invasive, inconvenient home repairs. As you plan for spring home maintenance projects—whether you are a Do-It-Yourselfer or rely on a home repair or handyman service, here is what I want you to focus on:
- Gutters: Cincinnati, like most Midwest areas of the US, gets hit with frequent heavy rain showers from thunderstorms. Clogged, leaking, incorrectly sloped, or improperly routed gutters are responsible for a range of wood rot problems to water intrusion in lower levels and basements. Clean the gutters and have them inspected for proper flow and drainage. WATCH VIDEO: Gutter Cleaning is Critical for the Health of Your Cincinnati Area Home
- Roofs: I’ve seen a growing trend of improperly installed shingles, missing underlayment, incorrect flashing and homes with roofing damage. Get the roof inspected before the storms hit and be prepared to spend a few hundred bucks for roof maintenance and repair now to save thousands in water damage later. WATCH VIDEO: How to Prevent Roof Damage
- Sump Pump: Most of us in the Cincinnati area have a basement. Unless the basement was built with a gravity-drain footer, you’re likely to need to pump ground water out now and again to ensure your lower level doesn’t turn into a swimming pool. Regular followers of my blog know that I’m a huge advocate of battery backup sump pumps. If your basement would be significantly affected by water damage (i.e. it is finished) and you don’t have a battery backup system installed… well, I’ll just say it… you’re foolish. The cost for these systems are often less than an insurance deductible and provide tremendous peace of mind. WATCH VIDEO: Prevent Basement Sump Water Flooding with a Battery Backup Sump Pump
- Wood Rot: This one is my favorite because so much of our work is due to wood rot. Water intrusion around doors and windows often leads to deterioration of wood trim, framing and structural components. If you see gaps around windows or doors, make sure they are properly caulked and sealed. If you notice step cracks developing in your brick veneer, or misaligned siding in the vicinity of a door, this might be a sign of severe wood rot in the structural components underneath that door. If you notice damp window sills, mold growth, or discolored drywall and peeling paint near a window, this is a common warning sign of a window flashing or sealing problem. WATCH VIDEO: Wood Rot Repair Common in Cincinnati
- Decks: Deck maintenance is time consuming, but the cost of ignoring the deck wood can be far more expensive. Cracking, splitting, discoloration, deterioration and rot are common if you don’t clean and seal your deck at least every other year. Here are a few resources to help you with a deck repair, deck restoration, or deck cleaning and sealing. A few hundred dollars of deck maintenance each year can prevent thousands from the cost of prematurely replacing it. WATCH VIDEOS: Decks
Need Help with Spring Home Maintenance?
While I’d prefer you ignore your exterior home maintenance duties so that ProMaster can make more money from fixing wood rot, flooded basements, water-damaged drywall and decks, our craftsman seem just as happy as to help you prevent these nightmares from occurring in the first place. Give them a call at (513) 724-0539 or friend them on Facebook at facebook.com/promastercincinnati to complete your Spring Home Maintenance Checklist today!
Avoid Costly Winter Home Repairs with 5 Simple Steps from ProMaster of Cincinnati
By Don Kennedy, ProMaster Home Repair & Handyman of Cincinnati
Winter Home Repair
As a home repair and remodeling service provider, I am keenly aware of the damage that winter weather has on residential property. Ice, rain, snow and wind combined with rapidly changing temperatures and humidity wreak havoc on roofs, soffits, gutters, siding, windows, doors and other components of your home. When those components sustain water damage, they usually allow water and cold air to creep in. This cool air causes damage and deterioration to drywall, insulation, and wood. In addition, it may damage electrical, plumbing heating and cooling systems.
The good news is that many of these conditions are preventable. The following 5 steps might save you thousands of dollars in home repair costs… but only if you take action now.
- Prevent Ice Dams. What are ice dams, you say? When large amounts of snowfall accumulate toward the edge of your roof, heat rising from the interior of the home causes some snow to melt. As this water reaches the cold edge of the roof, it freezes and forms a damn. Once the ice damn becomes large enough, additional snow melt backs its way up the roof, eventually finding a gap in the sheathing of your roof, damaging everything in its path. Watch this video we did a while back on How Soffits and Fascia Are Rotted and Ruined.
- Protect Your Plumbing. No, I’m not talking about eating more fiber but how to keep those pipes from freezing! Both plastic and copper pipes are subject to freezing as outside ambient temperatures fall below 20°F, especially when positioned near the exterior of your home. When pipes freeze, they often burst not from the ice expansion as typically understood, but the increased water pressure caused by the ice blockage. If you need help winterizing your exterior plumbing, watch this video: How to Winterize Your Hose Bibb. Or, check out this great article over at Weather.com that offers excellent instructions on how to prevent frozen pipes.
- Prune Those Trees. When large limbs accumulate ice, they may break and come crashing down on your roof, take out a fence, or destroy your car. I find it fascinating that I rarely read about this hazard in most authors’ winter home preparation tips (except those from insurance companies… go figure), yet we end up doing much of this cleanup and repair work in the Cincinnati area. As the Emerald Ash Borer claims more trees in our area, damage to homes will only get worse from ice accumulation on dead or affected trees. My friend Ron Rothhaas, the Arbor Doctor, has some phenomenal information on tree care, so check out his site here.
- Pets In, Pests Out. Even animal lovers don’t want bats, squirrels, rodents, and other wild pests as house guests. Cold temperatures drive these creatures indoors in search of food and shelter. In the process of clawing, chewing or burrowing their way in, they cause unbelievable damage to homes. (Kind of like in this example). Such damage to soffits, siding, eves, and trim is usually discovered in the spring time, leading to costly home repairs on top of the bill from the wildlife removal specialist. Here is a great site from Perdue University if you’d like to prevent a conflict with your local wildlife population.
- Prepare for Power Outages. Let’s be honest: the power grid in the Cincinnati area is extremely susceptible to outages from winter weather. That is putting it tactfully. In my area, I typically have between 5 and 10 days per year without power. Any time an event like this occurs, we get a ton of calls at ProMaster for sump water backup and frozen pipes stemming from the power outage. For under $1,000, a homeowner can purchase a battery backup sump pump and small portable generator to keep their furnace running. Such cost is a cheap insurance policy to protect your home against the next power outage. While I’m not paid to endorse any particular product, we’ve had good luck installing The Basement Watchdog battery backup sump systems for our clients. You can install these systems yourself–just watch the video I made for you: Prevent Basement Sump Water Flooding with a Battery Backup Sump Pump. If you need some more information on household generators, check out this website: Electric Generators Direct.
If you heed these 5 Tips, you can save thousands of dollars in unnecessary home repairs this winter. For additional information on preparing your home for winter in the Cincinnati area or other home repair and remodeling project, we would be happy to help.
Call (513) 724-0539
Need a Roof Inspection?
I was listening to “At Home,” with Gary Sullivan on 55KRC this past Saturday, and Gary had a roofing expert on the show who recommends that we inspect our roof every 6 months. I found it fascinating that he walked his own roof every 6 months to spot damage or signs of trouble. Ironically, I do the same.
In this business, we see so much costly damage from neglecting to perform this basic home maintenance task. Roofing problems that are spotted now by an expert and easily resolved can avoid expensive repairs later. The most common of these problems include cracked, missing or loose shingles, damaged or loose flashing and failed vent boots or other roof components. Failure of these basic components allows water intrusion and hence, the resulting damage to wood, insulation, drywall and electrical components.
Take a minute to review this post over at Service Magic. It has some timely and prudent advice that every homeowner should heed… if they want to avoid an unnecessary roof repair. We are happy to repair major roof damage but are just as happy to inspect the roof and correct any minor deviations too.
From Matt Myers at Service Magic:
“The news that Mount Redoubt, after two months of warnings from the Alaska Volcano Observatory and U.S. Geological Survey, erupted on March 22 solicits only academic interest for anyone not living in the 49th state or planning to fly across the northern-most skies in the upcoming weeks and months. Yet, the warning mechanisms and the lessons of preparation closely parallel eruptions, collapse, and calamity of your home’s roofing system. Here are the warning signs and types of roofing damage that threaten to compromise the all-important peak of your home.” [READ MORE]
If you need assistance with a roof inspection, troubleshooting a leak, or simply need a minor repair, visit our web site at http://www.mastermylist.com or call us at (513) 724-0539.
So you’re wondering: “What’s that noise up in my attic?” Well, for this recent client, it was a raccoon. When exterior portions of the home deteriorate, they can become easy entry points for such “visitors.” As you can see from the picture above, wood rot from continual water exposure made the fascia, soffit and trim soft enough for the critters to chew through, making a grand entryway into the home. One of the simplest ways to prevent this sort of costly damage is to ensure the gutters of the home remain clean and functional, tree limbs remain clear of the structure, and that the roof is periodically inspected for signs of wear.