3 Important Areas to Focus on when Winterizing your Home

family-playingArticle courtesy of A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc.

Winter is a time of cold weather and snow, here are few things that homeowners need to know to prepare their homes for winter.

From the holidays to cold-weather fun like ice skating and skiing, winter promises its share of good times. Preparing your home for winter’s weather extremes can help ensure that you get the maximum enjoyment out of the season, while protecting your home’s vital systems and indoor comfort.

“Winter weather can take a toll on homes, so it’s important to take steps to protect systems like HVAC and plumbing before cold weather arrives,” says Emily Lewicki, brand manager with Luxaire(R). “Properly winterizing your home can help keep it more comfortable, prevent damage from cold and ice, improve efficiency and help reduce heating bills.”

Lewicki recommends vital winterization steps to get your home ready for the season:

1. Prepare your gas furnace.

During the summer, you probably didn’t think much about your furnace, but as winter approaches it’s important to make sure all elements of your home’s heating system are in top working order. If you haven’t already scheduled a professional service appointment for your furnace, now is the time. A professional technician is best equipped to ensure that furnaces are ready for winter.

Meanwhile, steps you can do yourself include:

* Remove any items that might have gotten stored near the furnace during the summer. Likewise, make sure air returns and vents are clean and not blocked by furniture or other items.

* Change the air filter. If you have trouble remembering when it’s time to replace filters, try setting reminders on your smartphone according to the furnace manufacturer’s recommended schedule.

* Update your thermostat’s programming to reflect your winter schedule. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, consider installing one; a properly programmed thermostat can reduce energy bills up to $180 a year, according to the ENERGYSTAR.gov website.

If your current furnace is more than 10 years old and frequently needs repair, consider replacing it before winter gets into full swing. Extreme cold can make a worn furnace work harder and possibly fail altogether when you need it most. High-efficiency gas furnaces like a Luxaire(R) Acclimate(TM) gas furnace can help ensure that you’re never without heat during the winter, while also saving money on utility bills. These ENERGY STAR qualified furnaces are 15 to 25 percent more energy efficient than standard models, meaning they require less fuel to keep your home at a comfortable temperature.

2. Protect windows and doors.

Up to a third of the heat lost from an average home escapes through windows and doors, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Before winter arrives, take these steps to protect windows and doors from air leaks, drafts and heat loss:

* Check weather stripping on doors and caulking around windows. If any are damaged or worn, replace them.

* Install storm windows to further reduce drafts.

* Use temporary measures like draft dodgers along the base of doors and removable insulation kits over windows to help keep cold air out and warm air inside.

3. Manage pipes and water sources.

Extremely low temperatures can cause water pipes to burst, causing a loss of water and possibly extensive damage to your home if flooding occurs. Uninsulated pipes can also cause heat loss, which increases energy costs.

To minimize winter’s impact on pipes and other water-related systems, take these steps:

* Place insulation on exposed pipes that carry hot water, especially if they are warm or hot to the touch. The Department of Energy says insulating pipes can increase water temperature by 2 to 4 degrees, allowing you to lower the setting on your water heater to conserve energy.

* Have outdoor water supplies like irrigation systems professionally drained and winterized to prevent freezing and costly damage.

* Flush the water heater to remove particles and sediment that collects inside the unit over time, hindering its efficiency. If you don’t have a gas-powered water heater, you can wrap it with insulation to improve its efficiency.

Finally, check on your home’s insulation in key areas like attics and basements. If your home needs more insulation, or the insulation you have is in bad shape, add more before winter arrives. The Insulation Institute offers an online guide to help you understand how much insulation you need.

“Winterizing is the best way to protect your home from cold-related damage, and ensure your home’s heating system operates at maximum efficiency throughout cold weather,” Lewicki says.

Tips! Winterize House for Winter!

A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc.A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc. has been providing Home Inspections, 4 Point Inspections, Wind Mitigation, Home Owners Network, Monthly home tips news, Water Quality Testing, Radon Testing, Lead Paint Testing and Mold Inspection to home buyers and home sellers in the following areas of Metro Orlando, Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake Country Polk, Sumter, Volusia, Brevard and all areas in between.

When you or someone you know needs the services of a quality home inspection company, we would truly appreciate you thinking of us. You can schedule right from our website or call our office (407) 218-6522. Thank You.

6 Tips To Make Your Bathroom Sellable, And Enjoyable, At The Same Time

cozy-bathroom-designHelpful information from A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc.

When it comes time to sell your home, not all rooms are created equal. Sure, potential buyers will walk through the entire house, but their opinion of a few primary rooms can ultimately determine whether they choose to offer or walk.

Your bathroom(s) — especially your master bathroom — are among these key rooms. As you prepare to put your home on the market, it’s time to take an honest look at these spaces. What do the bathrooms say about your house? Do they say “buy me now” or “no thanks”? If it’s the latter, then it’s time for a few home improvements that will turn the sale of your house from stale to sold.

A sound investment?

Yes, it is. In fact, bathroom remodeling projects are some of the most cost-effective improvements you can make to a home, according to HGTV. A minor bathroom remodel has an average return on investment of 102 percent at the point of sale. A major remodel returns 93 percent of your investment. That means your newly upgraded bathroom will actually help sell your home for more money in the long run.

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6 Fast Fixes For A Fresh, Cozy Home

a-complete-family-bonding-with-each- other-in-their-homeBrought to you by A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc.

As temperatures drop, you and your family will be spending more time living indoors — working, playing, relaxing and staying warm. More time indoors means it’s more important to keep your home fresh by staying ahead of the continual buildup of dirt, dust, and allergens. Plus, taking a few simple steps to prepare your home for winter weather will ensure your home is comfortable and efficient, too. Tackle these key areas now so your home will feel fresh and cozy throughout the winter.

Wash And Winterize Windows:

Washing away dirt and watermarks from your windows and screens gives you a clear view of the outdoors and lets in more natural light. It will also make your home feel lighter and brighter, keeping cabin fever at bay. And to help maintain a controlled climate inside the home, prevent air from leaking in or escaping by using weatherstripping or caulk around your windows. You’ll stay cozy inside and save money on your energy bill.

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Essential Maintenance Tasks To Keep A Clean Home Happening

woman cleaning her homeThe Article Courtesy of A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc.

Today’s typical family home is a buzzing hub of activity where meals are cooked, homework is done and family game nights are contested. In the background of it all: the home appliances that keep home life moving along. Focusing on a few maintenance tasks can keep home appliances performing efficiently and effectively.

Maintain Tools:

Keep appliances and cleaning tools running well so they continue to get the job done. Replace vacuum belts periodically to keep your vacuum cleaner running like new, and swap out lawn mowers’ spark plugs once a year to ensure the mower is easy to start. Stock up on extra batteries for cordless vacuums, leaf blowers or other lawn equipment used frequently.

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Top 5 Features Millennials Look For In A Home

couple-talking-and-lying-in-the-grassFrom your friends at A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc.

For generations, homeownership has been part of the American dream. For most Americans, it’s the largest, most significant investment they’ll make, and because homeownership is the best way to grow their wealth, the most important investment as well.

As the youngest generation of new homeowners, millennials are entering the housing market and are eager to get a home to fit their unique lifestyles. Just as every generation has its own music, its distinct style and look, the new generation of homeowners have different expectations than buyers did a few decades ago.

To shed some light on these evolving home trends, here are five of the most popular features millennials look for in a home.

1. It needs to be energy efficient. 

More than other generations, millennials are particularly concerned with their impact on the environment. As such, they want to be sure the home they buy will have a minimal carbon footprint. Some energy-efficient features that are a priority for homebuyers are UV-protected windows, programmable thermostats, efficient appliances and upgraded insulation.

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How Can Insulation Contribute To Home Repair Following A Hurricane?

home insulationFrom your friends at A.C.F. Home Inspections!

As we are all too aware, hurricane season is in full swing, and thousands of homeowners across the southern U.S. and Puerto Rico have been hit by mammoth hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

Nearly every year, the cost of damages that occur as a result of hurricanes or intense tropical storms making landfall in the U.S. numbers in the billions. Heavy rain, storm surges, and coastal flooding can all contribute to the destruction of homes and other buildings.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), flooding accounts for more than $3.5 billion in insurance claims annually. Flood waters due to storm surge, underperforming drainage or broken levees can induce physical deterioration of the building structure, perpetuate mold growth, contain contaminants, corrosive dissolved salts and/or raw sewage, saturate insulation and wallboard, carpets and furniture as well as contribute toward respiratory problems, allergies, infection and irritation of the eyes and skin.

In the aftermath of a hurricane, concentrated efforts are made to clean up and get families back to living in their homes. Repair work to replace damaged wood and drywall can help the home look like new, but what about the building materials behind the walls? Traditional insulation materials like fiberglass and cellulose are able to insulate the typical family home from the heat and cold that seasonal weather brings. However, it is not the primary function of traditional insulation to protect against flooding. So, if and when this occurs, insulation offers virtually no impediment to rising floodwaters entering the home. Traditional insulation often becomes laden with moisture and is usually unable to dry out quick enough to withstand damage. If not completely removed during the clean-up process following a hurricane or flood, excess moisture leads to the potential for mold growth.

FEMA has identified a number of flood-resistant building materials that are ideal for use in the reconstruction or repair of a home or building that has been impacted by a hurricane and flooding. Building materials that FEMA has identified include corrosion-resistant coated steel, pressure-treated wood, epoxy formed-in-place flooring as well as closed-cell spray foam insulation. These products fall into Class 4 or Class 5 of FEMA’s flood damage-resistance classification system. For FEMA to consider a building material to be flood-resistant, it must be able to withstand direct contact with floodwater for an extended period (72 hours) of time.

Spray foam insulation has long been known by those within the construction industry for its ability to help limit moisture-laden air from passing into buildings where it is installed, but a hurricane pounding at the windows is a completely different story.

It’s important to note that FEMA specifically identifies closed-cell spray foam insulation as a flood-resistant material. There are many things that make closed-cell spray foam insulation different from other types of spray foam. Unlike the spongy, flexible texture of open-cell spray foam, closed-cell spray foam insulation quickly becomes rigid. This rigidity can be a key element in homes situated in a hurricane-prone area. This is due to the insulation’s ability to add structural integrity to roofs, which can help reduce the risk of roof blowoff.

Closed-cell spray foam insulation, like that available from Icynene, applied in areas such as the basement or crawlspace can help reduce the risk of significant damage that hurricanes and the resulting floodwaters can potentially cause. This is due to closed-cell spray foam insulation’s ability to reject bulk water ingress.

Beyond the ability to help reduce the risk of floodwaters causing damage, as a long-term solution, spray foam insulation can also help play an important role in maintaining a comfortable temperature year round while helping to control monthly heating and cooling expenses. Thanks to spray foam insulation’s air-sealing qualities, homeowners can reduce the size of their heating and cooling equipment since less effort is required to heat or cool the home.

With the increase in the intensity of hurricanes over the past 30 years, having a home insulated with closed-cell spray foam insulation can be an effective way to ensure your home and family are better prepared for the next hurricane season. More information can be found at Icynene.com. – (BPT)

How to Insulate Walls and Ceilings

A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc.A.C.F. Home Inspections has been providing Home Inspections, 4 Point Inspections, Wind Mitigation, Home Owners Network, Monthly home tips news, Water Quality Testing, Radon Testing, Lead Paint Testing and Mold Inspection to home buyers and home sellers in the following areas of Metro Orlando, Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake Country Polk, Sumter, Volusia, Brevard and all areas in between.

When you or someone you know needs the services of a quality home inspection company, we would truly appreciate you thinking of us. You can schedule right from our website or call our office (407) 218-6522. Thank You.

5 DIY Home Upgrades Anyone Can Do In A Day

easy home office upgradeHelpful information from A.C.F. Home Inspections!

Do-it-yourself home projects are sweeping the nation, and it’s easy to see why. DIY is typically budget-friendly and fulfilling to complete; simply find the right project to match your skill set and needs.

To get started, here are five inexpensive projects that can be tackled by any DIYer, each of which will have an impact on the entire home.

  • Make a Hardware Swap

Replacing your kitchen cabinets changes the entire look of your kitchen — but it’s expensive and requires considerable skill. For a simpler, smaller project that can still have a big impact, replace the hardware on your cabinets instead. Select the hardware type first — knobs for doors and pulls for drawers, for example — then move on to style. Crisp, sleek hardware goes best with a modern kitchen, while more detailed offerings work well with classic, traditional kitchens.

  • Refresh your Space with a Fresh Coat of Paint

Repainting a wall or room is the perfect way to showcase your style, without breaking the bank. The Unity palette from Sherwin-Williams® 2018 Colormix Forecast offers unique color choices that pair together perfectly, making it easy for homeowners to create a cohesive look in their space. Try going bold with pops of a peacock on an accent wall, such as Sherwin-Williams 2018 Color of the Year, Oceanside SW 6496, or you use the palette’s grounded browns to put a new spin on traditional hues. It’s easy to recreate a space that reflects who you are, without making expensive renovations.

Illuminate a Simple Change:

It doesn’t always take a huge change to reinvent a room; it can be as easy as changing the light fixture. You could choose to repaint your existing chandelier, or you could give your ceiling fan a new look by replacing the blades. If you’re on the crafty side, try making your own shade for an existing lamp with some of your favorite fabric.

Invite People to Your Gallery:

Can’t decide on the one perfect image for your wall? Then why not go for several? Gallery walls are a great way to show your favorite prints and photos artistically. Pick the wall and apply a fresh coat of paint before building your gallery — after all, this wall will now be part of the exhibit. Once the wall is ready, pick your photos or prints and set them in frames you love. Now the fun part lay your works of art on an open floor space and rearrange them until you find the perfect layout. Once you’ve found it, grab your hammer and nails and bring your gallery wall to life.

Bring a New Vibe to Your Existing Furniture:

If a chair or loveseat is starting to show its age, reupholstering it is a great way to give the piece fresh life. Remove the current fabric and replace it with a new fabric of your choosing. Apply staples or stitching to hold the new fabric in place, and that old piece of furniture will have a distinctive new look. – (BPT)

 

Clever Upgrades To Make To Your Home

A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc.A.C.F. Home Inspections has been providing Home Inspections, 4 Point Inspections, Wind Mitigation, Home Owners Network, Monthly home tips news, Water Quality Testing, Radon Testing, Lead Paint Testing and Mold Inspection to home buyers and home sellers in the following areas of Metro Orlando, Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake Country Polk, Sumter, Volusia, Brevard and all areas in between.

When you or someone you know needs the services of a quality home inspection company, we would truly appreciate you thinking of us. You can schedule right from our website or call our office (407) 218-6522. Thank You.

3 Steps To A Healthier, Happier Home

a happy babyBrought to you by A.C.F. Home Inspections!

Today, people are more focused on health and wellness than ever before. You know this because you are constantly flooded with advice on what to eat, how (and how much) to exercise, and what to ask your doctors.

All of these things are important but what about the vital role the home plays in your healthy lifestyle? As you prepare for another season of indoor living, it’s time to ask: how can I improve the functionality, efficiency, and health of my home?

A healthy, safe and comfortable home is essential for those you love. When winter weather keeps you indoors, it’s even more important.

Tackle a few home-health tips now and your family and guests will be comfortable now and any time of year. Review and handle these must-dos, happy home style, today!

Adhere To A Maintenance Schedule:

Your body requires continuous maintenance to be at its best; the same is true for your home. Simple tasks, done on schedule, can make your home a safer, more enjoyable place to live. Important items on your to-do list:

  • Shut your exterior faucets off before the winter.
  • Check the batteries in your smoke detectors each month.
  • Clean your gutters.
  • Test your sump pump each spring.
  • Clean the coils under your refrigerator.
  • Make sure your attic, bathroom, and kitchen fans are in working order.

These maintenance tasks are easy to tackle. Once done, they will help reduce dirt on your floors and decrease any future mold risk.

Clean Up Your Air:

Did you know indoor air can be five times dirtier than outdoor air? Did you know it can include respiratory irritants and common allergens like mold spores, fungus, pollen, mites and pet dander? Fortunately, these unappealing airborne invaders can be removed continuously by your home air filter. All you need to do is change the filter regularly, about every one to three months depending on your system. The problem — research shows up to 58 percent of us forget to do this regularly or simply don’t!

Canopy, a new subscription-based air filter service, addresses this clean air concern by providing its subscribers with the specific size and qualification air filter they need. These filters are provided on a specific schedule to save homeowners time, energy and money and to avoid a trip to a big box home care store. To learn more about how Canopy can help you improve the air quality in your home, visit canopyair.com.

Make Cleaning A Family Affair:

A clean home is a happy, comfortable place everyone deserves but you don’t need to do it all by yourself. Encourage your entire family to work together instead. Children of all ages can help out with chores matched to their skill level. Set family rules that maximize home care and minimize cleaning chores. For example: no food outside of the kitchen, picking up towels and wiping down surfaces after a shower and removing shoes upon entering from outdoors. Your home is your sanctuary and it should feel that way all the time. Apply the tips above today, and your home will be a happier, healthier place in no time. – (BPT)

 

Have A Happier Home With These 9 Habits

A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc.A.C.F. Home Inspections has been providing Home Inspections, 4 Point Inspections, Wind Mitigation, Home Owners Network, Monthly home tips news, Water Quality Testing, Radon Testing, Lead Paint Testing and Mold Inspection to home buyers and home sellers in the following areas of Metro Orlando, Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake Country Polk, Sumter, Volusia, Brevard and all areas in between.

When you or someone you know needs the services of a quality home inspection company, we would truly appreciate you thinking of us. You can schedule right from our website or call our office (407) 218-6522. Thank You.

4 DIY Tips To Save Money And Get Your Home Ready For Winter

getting ready for winterFrom your friends at A.C.F. Home Inspections!

Many people look forward to the cooler weather. The brisk autumn winds and colorful leaves signal that once again it’s time to take out the sweaters and scarves. There are the hot soups and pumpkin-flavored drinks to keep one warm as the weather gets cooler, but for the conscientious homeowner and dedicated DIYer, it’s time to start winterizing your home.

Sealing out pesky drafts around your home helps save energy while also making your home more comfortable. It also prevents water damage from rain, ice or snow and blocks out pests that might be trying to find a warm place to spend the winter.

As you’re deciding where to get started, here are four projects that will go a long way to save you money and make your home ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at it this winter.

1. Create a thermal barrier. 

The best way to keep your family warm and toasty while the wind, snow and sleet rage outside is to ensure your home and its building envelope — the thermal barrier between the interior of a home and the exterior environment — is properly sealed. How well the “shell” of the building (walls, roof, and foundation) is sealed against the exterior environment directly impacts the amount of energy required to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. Maintaining a well-sealed building envelope means you’ll use less energy to heat and cool your home, saving you money. Take the time to check for and seal the following common air leaks around your home, both inside and out:

  • Interior windows and doors: Slowly move a lit incense stick around the edges. If the smoke drifts to the side, it indicates an air leak that needs to be sealed.
  • Interior baseboards and trim: Check for cracks and gaps where walls meet floors and ceilings.
  • Exterior windows and doors: Check for gaps and cracks where the frame meets the wall. Replace cracked or missing sealant around frames with an exterior grade sealant.
  • Pipes and vents: If there is a gap between the pipe or vent and the surface it goes through, it needs to be sealed.

2. Seal air leaks.

Most cracks and gaps less than a half inch in width and depth can be filled with a sealant like DAP Extreme Stretch. Designed to stretch over 600 percent, Extreme Stretch can withstand the elements as your home expands and contracts, plus it is easy to apply on virtually any interior and the exterior surface such as windows, trim, pipes, vents, and siding. It will not crack or lose adhesion, saving you money and preventing nasty drafts. And remember, before you apply, make sure to remove any old sealant that remains to ensure the new sealant can adhere properly.

3. Move beyond window wrap. 

We all know that a traditional way to seal in the heat and keep out the cold is to insulate your windows with plastic film. This is an unsightly solution and leaves your home looking shrink-wrapped. A more effective and less obtrusive method is to use DAP SEAL ‘N PEEL, a temporary, removable weatherstrip caulk that’s great for sealing up windows for the season. It applies easily to a caulk around windows, doors, attic hatches, pipes and vents to keep out drafts. Once spring comes, it easily peels off to let in the fresh air.

4. Seal off a room. 

If you live in a large house and have a room or two that you don’t use, consider sealing it up for the winter. Simply turn off the heating vent or radiator in the room to avoid paying to heat a room you aren’t using. Then use a door draft stopper or decorative long pillow along the door floor to prevent any drafts.

Whether you like the cold weather or not, the coming winter is a great opportunity to check up on your home and prepare it for winter. For the novice or the die-hard DIYer, it’s an important time to assess and address your home’s defenses against winter weather. – (BPT)

 

Tips to Get Your House Ready for Winter

A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc.A.C.F. Home Inspections has been providing Home Inspections, 4 Point Inspections, Wind Mitigation, Home Owners Network, Monthly home tips news, Water Quality Testing, Radon Testing, Lead Paint Testing and Mold Inspection to home buyers and home sellers in the following areas of Metro Orlando, Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake Country Polk, Sumter, Volusia, Brevard and all areas in between.

When you or someone you know needs the services of a quality home inspection company, we would truly appreciate you thinking of us. You can schedule right from our website or call our office (407) 218-6522. Thank You.

The Sound Of Silence: How To Design A Quiet Home Office

home officeThe Article Courtesy of A.C.F. Home Inspections!

In today’s increasingly digital world, it’s no surprise that more employees are opting to work from home. While there may be a shift of physical locations — from the office building to the home — productivity is still paramount, making the need for quiet home workspaces more important than ever.

“As urbanization continues, builders and developers are focused on optimizing available land, which results in more homes, apartments, and condos built near highways and airports,” says Mark Montgomery, vice president of marketing for leading window manufacturer Ply Gem Windows. “The convergence of telecommuting and higher noise levels means there’s a growing need to enhance homeowner comfort with noise reduction technology.”

If your workspace needs a sound makeover, consider the following tips. For even more information on home improvement solutions, check out websites like www.plygem.com.

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