We finally bit the proverbial bullet and got some new replacement windows. I’ll warn you right up front that there’s about 65,000 different brands, installers, manufacturers and salesmen out there all vying for your money. Do your homework. Talk to a few folks who have had their windows replaced. And take your time deciding. I won’t name names here, but the company we chose did a good enough job. They represented themselves mostly honestly. And the quality of the windows is adequate. It may sound like I’m upset with them, but I think the best word is “underwhelmed.” I have to keep reminding myself that what comes out of a salesmen’s mouth is almost never what the actual end-result will be.
If you happen to be an honest salesperson and are offended by the above sentence, I’m sorry. It is the industry in which you work and maybe you are one of the good ones. My dad was in sales his whole life and I tell myself that he was honest and upfront in his dealings. If that sentence makes you mad enough to want to write me an angry letter, as the saying goes: “When you throw a rock into a pack of dogs, the one that yelps is the one that got hit.”
All that aside, the difference in the rooms where we replaced the windows is remarkable. The house itself is not particularly old (it was built in 1997) but the builder used super-cheap windows and the two decades of winters and wet seasons have taken their toll. The sliders on the front porch had visible spaces between the door panes and the casement windows would actually wobble back and forth during a strong windstorm. With just the few cold snaps we have had already, those rooms are clearly maintaining their heat much better, and my morning yoga on the floor in front of the slider is much more comfortable.
Last time we talked a bit about some fall projects you could tackle in the coming weeks. Today I’d like to focus on those projects that can keep you warm and dry and help maintain your home’s value. Certainly windows are one of those projects that will provide ROI, both for your enjoyment as well as the home’s value when it is time to sell.
Moisture is the enemy of all homes. Living in northern New England doesn’t make it any easier. Our springs are wet, our summers are traditionally humid, and winter is just plain white. When it comes to your home, simple maintenance tasks like cleaning gutters and downspouts can make a big difference. It is also a good idea (although a bit early right now) to make note of where the water goes once it leaves the roof or the downspout. It is not easy to adjust the grade around your home once you have a driveway, some shrubs and a lawn in place, but it is a vital factor in keeping the home dry. Do everything you can to get that water flowing away from your home.
Inside the home, be extra vigilant about water-related appliances. Our fridge has the (much loved) icemaker built into the door. Be aware that those extra features translate into lots of moving parts and lots of moving water. As much of a hassle as it is, I recommend pulling the fridge out of its hiding spot every year or two just to make sure there’s no hidden drips or leaks back there.
“One easy-to-miss spot for moisture is the laundry room,” notes Badger Realty agent, Janet Nickerson. “The washer is an obvious factor, but double-check the dryer vent as well. The moist air being expelled from the dryer can quickly build up in the walls and floor of that room and allow mold and mildew to creep in at an alarming rate,” she warned.
As winter approaches, another common culprit for moisture is the roof. Although the images of icicles dangling off a snow-covered roof are romantic and quaint, the reality behind the scene is far more dastardly (Cue the ominous music... I’m getting in the Halloween spirit early!). The “ice dam” that is lingering on the edge of your roof is blocking the snow and melted ice from dripping off the roof. It also tends to allow the moisture to creep back up under the shingles and inevitably work its way down the walls. While it may not necessarily find its way into your home, it is most certainly dripping behind the siding, bypassing the siding’s purpose and allowing the structure of your home to be wet.
One way to mitigate the creation of ice dams is adding some extra insulation above your ceiling in the living areas. This low-cost, high-impact project will take a huge step towards preventing ice dams on your home and keeping the heat inside where it belongs. Since you live in a cape (because we are in New England!), chances are you have access to the crawl space above the living area and can work some magic there without breaking the bank. You’ll save money on heating with the added insulation and prevent a wet house and compromised walls to boot!
Fall is a great time for projects in and around the house. My goal, these last couple of weeks, is to offer a few suggestions for projects that will not only increase your enjoyment of the home while you are living there, but will save you money in energy costs and improve the value of your home when you are ready to sell. See you at the hardware store!
If you happen to be reading this on Sunday, you’ll think I’m crazy. If you are reading this on Saturday, we’re good! Fall is a time of rollercoaster weather in the Northeast. One day you are soaking in the sun on an awesome bike ride or hike, shorts and T-shirt blowing in the breeze. The next day you’re packed under long johns and your favorite wool sweater, watching a high school football game huddled under a blanket. I just visited a friend in Boulder, Colo., and on Monday of this past week, helped him shovel 6 inches of snow off his front deck! It truly is the most amazing time of year.
My friend has lavender plants growing down below his deck and the wet heavy snow wreaked a bit of havoc on those poor unsuspecting bushes. It made me think of my own fledgling shrubs back home and wondered if this was the year I should protect them with some plywood teepees to shelter them a bit from the coming snows. It sounds like a great project and will afford me a trip to the hardware store. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even have to buy a new power tool!
Fall is a great time of year to tackle a few household projects that you’ve been ignoring all summer. Let’s be honest. This summer was pretty epic as far as weather is concerned. Chances are you’ve spent more time outside playing than you have maintaining your home. I’d like to review a handful of projects that could (should?) be tackled over the next couple of weeks. Yes, there will be some amazing weekend weather (like Sunday!), but there will be plenty of cooler weekends that are perfect for tackling these simple but important chores.
The first one is rather important and that is to clean out your dryer vents. The reason this is a bit of a chore is to do it correctly you will often need to move the dryer. Access the hose. Clean it out. Wait for it to dry. And finally get everything put back into place. For those of you with a longer distance between the dryer exhaust and the wall, this is even more important since you’ve got more nooks and crannies in which that lint can be caught.
The benefits of this are not only some peace of mind that you’re better protected against fires, but you will also notice that your clothes dry faster and more completely. If the dryer can “breathe” and expel that moist air, the more efficient it will be. While you are thinking about safety and fires, this is also a great time to change out the fire/smoke detector batteries. You can do this while you’re waiting for the dryer hose to dry from hosing it out. (My “Strange Brew” friends are thinking “Hose out the hose, hoser”!)
While visiting my friend, this mini snowstorm came as a bit of a surprise. We woke up to a couple inches of snow and were not the least bit prepared. On his deck sat the patio table and chairs and (more importantly) the corn hole boards! Before we get hit with the first dusting of snow, take care of your outside furniture to keep it protected. I’m lucky enough to have some extra space in the basement so we now have our stuff safe and dry down there. If you don’t have the spare space, invest in some durable covers for your furniture. The protection from sun, rain, snow and sleet will pay dividends down the road, as the paint won’t take such a beating all winter while it is not being used.
The same goes for your hose. While we do get some warmer weekends here and there, where you may want to wash the car, for the most part your hose is going to fare much better where it will not freeze. It can’t be good for the rubber and plastic the hose is made from and it goes without saying that water in the hose will cause it to crack and likely burst. Although I would enjoy watching you turn that ruptured hose on in the spring, don’t waste the money having to buy a new one and keep that thing warm or at the very least, empty.
I mentioned last week that I really do enjoy cleaning, but more-so the reward of a clean house. This time of year is a fantastic time to give the house a really good “spring cleaning” (for lack of a better phrase) to prepare yourselves for the coming season. We all know the house will mostly remain closed up for the next few months. Taking some time now to clean windows inside and out, sweeping under furniture, dusting tops of ceiling fans and even hoeing out the cat toys from behind the fridge will be very rewarding. You’ll feel better about having to shut the house up for the winter knowing that everything is starting fresh and ready for some new dirt!
“Cleaning the house in the fall, especially for sellers, is a very rewarding and beneficial chore,” notes Badger Realty agent, Don Lapointe. “You get to enjoy the benefits all winter and it takes the pressure off when potential buyers come calling. The house has already had a thorough cleaning and a quick touch-up is all that is needed.”
So, if you are reading this on Saturday, take some time today and tackle a couple of these tasks! Sunday is supposed to be much warmer and you can reward yourself with a hike or a bike ride. Come on, you deserve it!