Category Archives: Home Maintenance

10 Fall Home Maintenance Tips That Will Slash Your Energy Bill

The two “extreme temperature” seasons – winter and summer – are the ones that tend to cost homeowners the most when it comes to their energy bills. In winter, homeowners use their heating systems more often, and that’s a major reason why their energy consumption goes up.

However, it’s crucially important to evaluate how well your home retains heat once you’ve spent the time and money to warm it up. That’s why most fall home maintenance tips that will slash your energy bill are aimed at improving your home’s energy efficiency.

10 Fall Home Maintenance Tips That Will Slash Your Energy Bill, by Mid-Atlantic Home Improvement

Use These Winning Strategies to Reduce Home Energy Costs This Fall

Here are 10 proven ways to make small changes and fixes around your home that can add up to big energy savings:

  • Install a programmable thermostat. These inexpensive devices allow you to create custom home heating programs that warm your home to precise levels at peak times while saving energy when extra warmth isn’t needed. And remember, for every degree you lower the thermostat during the heating season, you’ll save between 1 and 3% of your heating bill.
  • Add/upgrade insulation in key areas (including attics, basement ceiling, exterior walls and around electrical sockets) can help reduce your heating costs by keeping a more warm air inside the home and inhibiting thermal transfer. Attics, basements, and walls adjacent to your home’s exterior should all be carefully checked to make sure they’re adequately insulated. If they’re not, valuable heat will just leak right through.
  • Check your caulking and weather-stripping. Cold air seeping in and warm inside air leaking out accounts for major energy waste – simple leaks can sap home energy efficiency by 5% to 30% a year. Weatherizing your home seals off drafty areas around doors and window frames, where cold air can leak in and warm air can escape. Seal off drafty doors with rubber strips, or install new storm doors to help energy efficiency.
  • Tune up your heating system. Annual furnace tune-ups keep your heating equipment running as efficiently as possible, which means they do a better job of generating warmth while using less energy. Replace filters monthly during heating season – dirty filters restrict airflow and increase energy demand. Replacing them regularly will improve your furnace’s efficiency and longevity saving your money along the way. Have a licensed technician perform a check of your furnace to make sure it’s operating as efficiently and safely as possible and is equal to the challenge of keeping your home warm all winter. Keeping your furnace clean, lubricated and properly adjusted will reduce energy use, saving up to 5% of heating costs.
  • Seal cracks, gaps and leaks. Fireplaces, ridge vents, electrical outlets, light fixtures, eaves, ducts, fans, vents, and wall penetrations for plumbing infrastructure are all common culprits when it comes to cracks, gaps, and leaks. Check these areas and seal the leaks. You could cut your home’s energy usage by as much as 10 percent.
  • Dial down your water heater. By default, water heaters are usually set to 140 degrees. That’s far hotter than you’re ever likely to need, and it also creates a safety hazard. Instead, dial it back to 120 degrees to save 6 to 10 percent on your water heating costs. You can also wrap water heaters and exposed indoor pipes that transport hot water with insulation to help prevent any energy loss.
  • Use window treatments strategically. Thick curtains create an added barrier that traps warmth in your home during the winter, just as they ward off heat gain during the summer.
  • Upgrade your windows and doors. Energy Star-rated windows and doors can also go a long way toward inhibiting heat transfer. If your windows and doors are old, thin, and drafty, chances are it will make more financial sense to replace them.
  • Change the direction of your ceiling fans. Make sure your ceiling fans are set to rotate clockwise during winter. This will push warm air down, helping it circulate through the lower reaches of the room more easily. Changing the direction of your ceiling fans will circulate the air pooled near the ceiling back down – cutting your heating costs as much as 10%. Try out this tip in rooms with high ceilings and you’ll see a major difference without adjusting the thermostat even a single degree.
  • Get a home energy audit. This is the most comprehensive way to get a complete view of where you should focus on making improvements. Home energy audits, as conducted by professionals, detail exactly how and exactly where energy is being used – and wasted.

Most of these tasks can be completed in just a short time, and many don’t require any specialized knowledge or advanced DIY skills. However, for best results, leave the demanding tasks to certified local professionals. The small investment you make today can add up to sustained savings tomorrow, and for many winters to come.

If you need help preparing your home for winter, call Mid-Atlantic Home Improvement. We are a family owned and operated Virginia home improvement contractor with over 40 years of experience.

Call (804) 647-0649 or (800) 852-4142 or Request Your Free Quote below

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10 Fall Maintenance Tasks You Should Start in Summer

DIY experts say fall and spring are the two major home maintenance seasons, with the former being especially important – if you overlook your autumn maintenance tasks, you risk leaving your home vulnerable to the many problems that wild winter weather can bring. These problems can be very expensive to repair, to say nothing of the inconveniences they can cause.

The smart move is to get a jump on your fall maintenance during the summer, when the days are still long and the weather warm.

10 Fall Maintenance Tasks You Should Start in Summer by Mid-Atlantic Home Improvement

Get Started in Summer with These Essential Fall Home Maintenance Tasks

Here are 10 high-priority fall maintenance tasks you should start during the summertime:

  • Inspect your roof. Check your roof carefully for signs of wear and tear, like missing or damaged shingles. If you don’t feel comfortable climbing onto your roof, grab a pair of binoculars and use them to inspect all visible parts of your roof from a distance. Or call a roofer.
  • Service your furnace. Have a professional technician come in and perform seasonal heating system maintenance. Most home heating specialists aren’t busy in summer, meaning it should be easy to book an appointment. Your furnace will run more reliably and economically if it’s properly serviced, so this is an investment that can pay dividends.
  • Clean your chimney. If you’ve got a fireplace, now is the time to make sure the remnants of last winter’s fires are all cleared out. It’s also a good idea to get a head start on restocking your firewood, especially if you cut it yourself.
  • Insulate exposed pipes. Pipe bursts are one of the most feared wintertime home mishaps, as they are a nightmare to clean up after. A key way to avoid them is to insulate your exposed pipes so trapped water won’t freeze and cause a burst.
  • Prune your bushes and trees. Well-trimmed trees, shrubs and hedges don’t just look better – they also grow better in the long run. By pruning now, you’ll give them the advantage of continued health through the rest of the growing season and put them in great shape to come back strong next year.
  • Check your snow removal gear. Is your snow blower functioning properly? Are all your snow shovels in ship-shape and ready for another winter? Now is the time to find out.
  • Check your weatherstripping. Quality, properly applied weatherstripping adds a vital layer of protection around windows and doors, helping keep heat inside during the winter. Give yours an upgrade before fall arrives, since you never quite know when you’ll need to turn your heat on for the first time.
  • Clear your gutters. You’ll need to do this again in the late fall to clear out autumn’s remnants, but a preliminary cleaning effort now will make that task less time-consuming.
  • Measure your slope. If you haven’t done so in a while, check your property’s grade rate to make sure it is adequately sloped to guide water away from your home when the snow melts in springtime. Erosion can affect property grading over time, so if it’s been a few years, you’re better safe than sorry.
  • Check your detectors. Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order and have fresh batteries. During the winter, your windows are closed and your combustion appliances are on more often. That’s part of the reason it’s especially important to make sure your CO2 detector is functioning properly.

Take care of these tasks while the weather is still warm and sunny and your home will be in great shape heading toward winter.

If you need help preparing your home for winter, call Mid-Atlantic Home Improvement. We are a family owned and operated Virginia home improvement contractor with over 40 years of experience. Whether you need your furnace serviced, gutters repaired, or water damage handled, we’re here to help!

Call (804) 647-0649 or (800) 852-4142 or Request Your Free Quote below

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Home Water Damage: 5 Major Causes and Prevention Tips

Water damage is a major headache that often necessitates costly repairs. Aside from immediate damage it creates, it can also lead to serious problems later on, including toxic mold and problems with your home’s structural and foundational elements.

However, the good news is that most types of water damage are preventable. You can even take action to reduce the chances of suffering serious damage as the result of something you can’t prevent, such as a flood or backed-up city sewer.

Home Water Damage: 5 Major Causes and Prevention Tips

5 Most Common Types of Water Damage and How to Prevent Them

Water damage can be dangerous and expensive, so preventing it is an important part of home maintenance. No matter the type of damage, there are numerous things your can do to protect your property.

#1. Floods

Floods caused by natural events such as major storms are among the leading culprits when it comes to home water damage. While nobody can control Mother Nature, there are several things you can do to safeguard against storm-related flooding:

  • Keep valuables off the basement floor. Most storm-related floods affect basements. As such, it’s not a good idea to keep valuable items, like high-end furniture and electronics, in these areas of your home. This is particularly true if you live in a flood-prone geographic region.
  • Raise your electric sockets. Flood damage will wreak havoc on affected parts of your home’s electrical system. One strategy is to elevate the position of the electric sockets in your basement. Instead of placing them near the floor, move them higher up on the wall.
  • Install a basement sump pump. A battery-powered basement sump pump will help you clear water in the event of a flood.
  • Put indoor/outdoor carpeting in basements. Use stone, tile, sealed concrete, waterproof wallboard and other water-resistant building materials in areas prone to flooding.
  • Seal foundation cracks. Water in the foundation can cause serious damage to your home’s structure. Make sure that the grounds around the house slope away from the home to keep water from the foundations and basement.

#2. Burst pipes

Burst pipes can be a major problem, especially during the winter months. Water can freeze inside the pipes, causing expansion that can lead to a burst…and thousands of dollars’ worth of water damage. The good news is there’s an easy three-step method to avoid such a situation:

  • Set your water thermostat to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius)
  • Turn on your faucets ever so slightly, so any water in your pipes will drip out
  • Once your pipes are empty, insulate all exposed pipes to help trap heat inside so water will not freeze.
  • Fix and replace leaking pipes, clogged drains, and malfunctioning drainage systems immediately.
  • Check washing machine and dishwasher hoses to make sure that they aren’t cracked.

#3. Water heater failures

Water heater failures usually result from slow leaks or bursts inside the water tank. Performing regular routine maintenance is the best way to avoid these problems.

  • Have your water heater regularly serviced by a qualified technician, and flush out built-up sediment on a regular basis according to manufacturer guidelines. Consult your owner’s manual for specifics.
  • Replace your aging water heater – if your water heater reaches its life expectancy, the risk of a slow leak or sudden burst increases.

#4. Roof leaks

Roof leaks are another common culprit of home flooding, and you can avoid them by being vigilant about possible problems with your roofing and performing regular maintenance of your roofing system.

  • Every spring and fall, you should perform a detailed inspection of your roof, noting any areas where shingles or roofing elements show signs of wear. Have them repaired promptly.
  • Replace shingles that are coming loose, and pay extra attention to areas around the chimney and vents.
  • Do the same if you notice leaks coming from your roof, even if you didn’t notice signs of damage during your inspection. Something may have eluded your eye, and a professional can help diagnose and solve these problems.
  • Use galvanized or stainless-steel nails and fasteners.
  • Make sure that gutters drain water away from the house, and that all the joints are all properly sealed.

#5. Toilet and drain backups

Finally, beware of toilet and drain backups. Regular inspections and preventative maintenance will help you avoid problems with your toilets and drains.

  • Check your toilet’s supply valve, supply line, and flush valve at least once a year, and replace any components showing signs of wear.
  • Act promptly if any of your home’s toilets stop functioning normally.
  • With drains, do periodic checks to make sure water isn’t clearing unusually slowly. If it is, something is likely clogging your drain. Drain cleaners are readily available at home improvement stores, and they’ll help in most situations.
  • For persistent problems, or for issues that you can’t readily solve using frontline techniques, contact your local plumber.

If Water Damage Has Occurred…

If you have water damage in your home, there’s a series of steps you need to follow to solve your problem. These include identifying the source of the damage, fixing that problem and then dealing with the water damage itself.

If you’ve been affected by water damage, you will be dealing with your homeowner’s insurance. Here are few tips:

  • call your insurance agent right away,
  • list all of your damaged property before beginning the cleanup process, including pictures if possible,
  • keep receipts for all of your cleanup supplies and any services that you hire,
  • know that flood damage is not covered under homeowner’s insurance, you will need flood insurance purchased separately,
  • additionally, not all water damage is covered by insurance, especially if the damage resulted from lack of proper maintenance or was ongoing but ignored.

In the aftermath of water damage, hiring a quality contractor is the best way to ensure your water damage gets fixed right, the first time, every time. For immediate help, call Mid-Atlantic Home Improvement, a family owned/operated Charlottesville & Culpeper VA home renovation contractor with over 40 years of experience. We are experts at insurance restoration and offer 24/7 emergency service to our Virginia customers!.

Call (804) 647-0649 or (800) 852-4142 or Request Your Free Quote below

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