Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Do It Yourself Energy Audit

You can easily conduct a home energy audit yourself. With a simple thorough walk-through, you can spot many problems in any type of house. When auditing your home, keep a checklist of areas you have inspected and problems found. This will help you prioritize your task list.

I. Identify Potential Air Leaks

The potential energy savings draft reduction may range from 5% to 30% per year, and the home is generally much more comfortable afterward.

Make a list of common indoor and outdoor air leak locations some examples are: Windows and doors, baseboards, electrical outlets and switch plates, fireplaces, attic access panels, wall or window mounted A/C units or evaporative (swamp) coolers, outdoor faucets (hose bibs), penetrations through exterior walls such as: electrical, plumbing, phone and cable lines, dryer vents, etc.

II. Locate Air Leaks

Simple

Using a stick of burning incense or the dampened back of your hand check each of the locations you noted on your list. Cold air will make the smoke from the incense waver or you will be able to feel the cold air on the back of your hand.

Alternative

If you’re having trouble finding leaks you can do a simple ‘pressurization’ test by using the following steps.

1. Close all exterior doors, windows, and fireplace flues.

2. Turn OFF all combustion appliances such as gas burning furnaces and water heaters, gas fireplaces, etc. (Remember to turn them back on when you are done with the test.)

3. Turn on all exhaust fans (generally located in the kitchen and bathrooms) or use a large window fan to suck the air out of the rooms. This increases infiltration through cracks and leaks, making them easier to detect.

4. Use a burning incense stick or your damp hand to locate these leaks. Moving air causes the smoke to waver, and you will feel a draft when it cools your hand.

High Tech

If you want a high tech way to check for leaks check out this Thermal Leak Detector from Black and Decker (http://www.blackanddecker.com/ProductGuide/Product-Details.aspx?ProductID=20626) available at Ace Hardware Alameda Station

Ace Hardware - Alameda Station

417 South Broadway

Denver, Colorado 80209-1517 USA

Phone: (303) 733-3200

Hours of operation:

Monday through Saturday 8:00am to 8:00pm

Sunday 9:00am to 6:00pm

III. Locate Other Air Leaks

Windows and Doors – If doors or windows rattle or are loose in their frames you can expect air leakage. If you can see daylight around door and window frames, then the door or window leaks.

Out side - On the outside of your house, inspect all areas where two different building materials meet. For example: inspect all exterior corners; where siding and chimneys meet; and areas where the foundation and the bottom of exterior brick or siding meet.

A future post will discuss various methods for sealing different types of leaks.



Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Update on Toxic Chinese Drywall

The CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) has come out with a statement today regarding the current status on the investigation into reports of 'toxic chinese drywall'.

The following is an excerpt from the report issued today:

Executive Summary of November 23, 2009 Release

Overview
Released today is additional information from the investigation of problem drywall including the results from three preliminary scientific reports: a fifty-one home indoor air study; an electrical component corrosion study; and a fire safety component corrosion study. Most significantly, the fifty-one home report released today finds a strong association between the problem drywall, the hydrogen sulfide levels in homes with that drywall, and corrosion in those homes. The two preliminary component corrosion studies support this finding. The fifty-one home study also provides some basic tools necessary for development of processes to identify and remediate affected homes, and advances the Interagency Task Force’s investigation to a new phase focused on these objectives.

For more detailed information please go to this site http://www.cpsc.gov/info/drywall/index.html

Some specifics from the report that may be of interest to you:

States Reporting Problems:

The majority of the reports to the CPSC have come from consumers residing in the State of Florida while others have come from consumers in Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Consumers largely report that their homes were built in 2006 to 2007, when an unprecedented increase in new construction occurred in part due to the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005.

Common features of the reports submitted to the CPSC from homes believed to contain problem drywall have been:
  • Consumers have reported a "rotten egg" smell within their homes.
  • Consumers have reported health concerns such as irritated and itchy eyes and skin, difficulty in breathing, persistent cough, bloody noses, runny noses, recurrent headaches, sinus infection, and asthma attacks.
  • Consumers have reported blackened and corroded metal components in their homes and the frequent replacement of components in air conditioning unit.

Read and download a copy of the press release or get much more detailed information at the CSPC website specifically set up to address this issue.

http://www.cpsc.gov/info/drywall/index.html

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Life Expectancy and Replacement Costs

This article is intended to provide a homeowner with some general information about the typical life expectancy and estimated replacement costs for the major systems and components in your home.
The information regarding life expectancy was taken from a study completed in 2007 by the National Association of Home Builders. The detailed report can be downloaded at: http://www.nahb.org/page.aspx/generic/sectionID=152 . The study indicated that the figures are average findings that took into account quality of product and installation, level of maintenance, weather, intensity of use and changes in taste and technology.

The information regarding replacement costs was taken from "Residential Construction and Remodeling Estimates" compiled by Pillar to Post

The following items address the components and systems I am most frequently asked about during home inspections. If any of the component or systems in your home are nearing the typical life expectancy listed below I recommend you start budgeting to replace the item. This information gives you a guideline for budgeting purposes.












Monday, November 9, 2009

Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Handywoman or Man :)

This is a somewhat random list of products that you might find interesting. I haven't personally used all of these yet but a few are definitely being considered for my Christmas List :)

Ryobi (sold exclusively at Home Depot) has come out with a line of cordless "household" tools that are powered by a single 4-volt rechargeable battery. Some items include: Rugged digital camera, cell phone charge, LED flashlight, headphones and more. Visit www.ryobitools.com/tek4 All this stuff is rugged and can be used outside or in a workshop.


Handmade custom vinyl wall decals. It looks like you have a hand painted mural on your walls. For those of us a bit 'artistically challenged" http://www.etsy.com/shop/leenthegraphicsqueen



1 year subscription to The Family Handyman magazine. This is on I can personally recommend! It is published by Readers Digest and has some great tips, advice and recommendations along with some fun stories in the "Great Goofs" column in every issue. http://www.rd.com/family-handyman/

Power Hammer by Craftsman. This one gets mixed reviews on-line but I think it's worth a try if you have issues that don't allow you to swing a hammer like you used to. At least you'll get a full refund from Craftsman if you don't like the product. If you buy one, let me know what you think.
Auto Hammer Link

I'll be posting again on some great stocking stuffers for the Handyman or Handywoman in your life.
Merry Christmas!















































Friday, November 6, 2009

Holiday Light Recycling Program - Ace Hardware

Between November 23rd and February 10th Ace Hardware - Alameda Station will be recycling incandescent light strings when you purchase replacement L.E.D. strings. You can receive $3 off the regular retail price of L.E.D. strings when you bring-in your old strings for recycling (limit 3 discounts per customer). Ace Hardware is partnering with Lights For Life, a non-profit organization that recycles the used lights and sells the copper components to raise money for children with cancer. Last year, Lights For Life collected nearly three tons of lights.

Ace Hardware has a wide selection of beautiful, energy-efficient holiday L.E.D. lighting options in-stock today. RED HOT BUYS this month include:

50 light M5 string (9116346) $7.99
60 light C6 string (9115312) $9.99

Bring your old light strings in for recycling and have their helpful associates help you upgrade to L.E.D.s today!

Ace Alameda Station
417 South Broadway,
Denver, Colorado 80209
Map
303-733-3200

Monday, November 2, 2009

Holiday Lighting Safety Tips

Most of these recommendations are common sense, please be safe and enjoy your Holidays!

General Safety Tips
  1. Choose lights that have been tested and approved by a reputable testing laboratory such as UL. Approval will be indicated on the packaging.

  2. Holiday lights are NOT intended for permanent installation or use.
    Consider using the new LED lights which are cooler burning, use 90% less electricity and last up to 100,000 hours. Recycle your old lights through Ace Hardware’s holiday light recycling program.



  3. Inspect all of your lights for the following: damaged or frayed wires, cracked or broken sockets, damaged or broken plugs or any loose connections. Recycle any old or damaged lights at your local Ace Hardware Store. Never replace the plug on a string of holiday lights. The plugs contain special safety devices which are not available in replacement plugs from the hardware store.

  4. Be careful on ladders. For a reminder of important ladder safety tips, please read my previous post on ladder safety.
  5. Do not overload your electrical circuits. An overloaded circuit will cause the breaker to trip. If you experience nuisance tripping of breakers because of an overloaded circuit, DO NOT replace the existing breaker with one of higher amperage. The limitation on electrical circuits is a result of the wire size not the amperage of the breaker.

  6. When you leave or go to bed at night, turn off your lights.

Outdoor Lighting

  1. Use lights that are designated for outdoor use. The packaging will indicate whether the lights can be used indoors, outdoors, or both.

  2. Plug outdoor lights into a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) protected circuit. If one is not available, or if you are unsure if the circuit is GFCI protected, then consider using a portable GFCI protected power cord.


  3. Use extension cords properly. Outdoor cords can be used inside or outside. Do not overload extension cords - they can get hot enough to burn.
  4. Stay away from power lines or feeder lines (these go from the pole to the house).
    Secure outside holiday lights with insulated holders (never use tacks or nails) or run strings of lights through hooks.

Indoor Lighting

  1. Never put lights on metal trees. It is not only a shock hazard but can cause a fire, too.

  2. Use mini-lights or LED lights especially on live trees. Both types of lights do not get as hot as the larger traditional lights.
  3. Verify the manufacturers instructions regarding the maximum number of strings that can be connected continuously (usually 3 is the maximum).

  4. Do not mount or place lights near gas or electric heaters, fireplaces, candles or other similar sources of heat.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fireplace Safety Tips

One of the best things about winter and cold weather may be snuggling up in front of a warm fireplace. Proper maintenance and safety practices are essential to prevent a tragedy, please be careful this winter.

Wood Burning Fireplaces

  • Before you use your fireplace each season take the time to visually inspect the fireplace. Using a strong flashlight look into your chimney to check for cracks, obstructions (such as bird’s nests and debris) and creosote buildup. Creosote is created during the burning of wood, it starts out as a liquid and condenses on the inner walls of the chimney or flue, as it dries it hardens. Failing to remove creosote can cause chimney fires. Contact a professional chimney sweep to have your chimney serviced and cleaned if you see any potential problems.
  • Use dry wood. It is best to split wood and let it dry for a year before you use it. Dried wood creates less smoke and burns more evenly. If you’ve ever built a campfire with wet wood and had the smoke burn your eyes, this suggestion will make sense.
  • Never use painted or pressure-treated wood or particle board. These woods are treated with chemicals which could be released into the air.
  • Place a screen in front of the fireplace to stop sparks from entering the room.
  • Make sure the damper is open before staring the fire and keep it open.
  • A fireplace requires a large amount of fresh air to burn properly. If there is not enough fresh air it could create a reverse draft which could draw carbon monoxide fumes from furnaces or other gas fired appliance such as water heaters into the house.
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and keep a fire extinguisher handy.
  • Never leave a fire unattended.
  • Be sure no embers are still burning when disposing of ashes. Put the ashes in a fireproof (metal) container with a lid and store them on a non-combustible (concrete) floor away from anything that might catch on fire.

For more detailed information about fire safety visit the US Fire Administration Website.
http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/citizens/all_citizens/home_fire_prev/heating/fireplace.shtm


Gas Fireplaces

  • There is no reason you should smell gas. If you do, immediately shut off the gas valve leading to the fireplace and have your fireplace serviced.
  • Know where the gas shut off valve is located and verify that it works.
  • Annual servicing of a gas fireplace is recommended especially for units 5 years or older. Be sure that servicing includes a gas leak and carbon monoxide test.
  • Any discoloration around walls or mantels of the unit indicates a safety problem.
  • Any discoloration of glass indicates a problem.
  • Never operate a sealed unit without the glass securely in place
  • If your pilot continually goes out, there is a reason! Have it serviced.
  • Always check the manufacturer's manual for specifics about log placement, secondary air, and termination.
  • Never make alterations to the burner tube, pan or firebox without direct permission from the manufacturer.
  • Never turn up gas pressure to get a better flame.
  • Never replace your gas fireplace logs without first calling the manufacturer.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Remodel your bathroom for less than $250!

You may be thinking, “Remodel my bathroom for under $250, how can that be possible?" Okay, so it’s not a complete remodel but with a few basic DIY (Do It Yourself) skills and a little bit of money you can give that tired old bathroom a face lift without having to dip into the kid’s college fund. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how a few simple changes can make a huge difference.

Here are 6 simple things you can do give your bathroom a fresh new look. (Links to products are are at the end of this article)

  1. A new coat of paint is one of the easiest but most dramatic ways to change the look of a room. You can find some helpful painting tips here: http://www.acehardware.com/paintingtips/index.jsp

  2. Install a new faucet - for as little at $30 you can buy a new bathroom sink faucet and with some basic tools and skills you can install it yourself. If you don’t know how to install a new faucet you can learn how to do it in Workshop for Women’s “Do You Hear Water” (Plumbing 101)
  3. Replace your toilet seat – a new toilet seat is less than $20 and takes less than 20 minutes to install. This is a simple change that can make a lot of difference. The toilet seat is attached to the bowl with 2 screws.

  4. Replace those old polished brass pulls (handles) with an updated look. If your cabinetry doesn’t have any pulls why not install some? You can buy new cabinet pulls for as little as $1.50 each. If you’re installing new pulls you’ll want to spend a few extra $$ to buy an installation template. This handy little gadget will help you get everything lined up perfectly.

  5. Replace your old towel bar and toilet paper holder and add a towel ring or two. Need some advice on how to get that towel rack to stay in place and not pull out of the wall? Learn all you need to know about hanging things on your walls and ceilings in Workshop for Women’s “My Screws are Loose” class.
  6. A new shower curtain, bath mat and accessories will add the finishing touches.

Links:

Workshop for Women http://www.workshopforwomen.com/

Ace Alameda Station http://www.acealamedastation.com/

Learn to install a faucet - Do You Hear Water? (Plumbing 101)

Learn to hang a towel bar - My Screws are Loose (Hanging Things on Walls & Ceilings)

Ceiling and Wall Paint - Paint and Painting Tips- $50

New toilet seat at Ace Hardware - $ 20

New sink faucet at Ace Hardware - $ 30

New cabinet hardware (drawer pulls & knobs) - $ 30 Installation Guide $10

New towel bar at Ace Hardware - $ 25

New Shower Curtain and Bath Mat and Accessories - $25

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

10 Tips to get the most from your home inspection

As a Certified Home Inspector with Pillar to Post Denver I often run into situations that remind me that the home inspection process has room for improvement. My job as a home inspector is to be the buyer’s advocate during the process and to assist them in making an informed decision about the purchase of a home. The entire process is more effective and efficient when communication is a priority.

With that in mind here are 10 tips for you to consider:
  1. Get several referrals - If you don’t personally know a home inspector ask your Realtor, friends or neighbors for recommendations.
  2. Attend the entire inspection - If at all possible it is in your best interest to be present at the inspection and to accompany the inspector throughout. If you cannot be present have a personal representative, other than your Realtor, attend in your place.
  3. Share information - Before the inspection starts share all the information you have regarding the property. Remember, this is not a contest to see if the inspector notices everything. If you see a problem or have a concern, notify the inspector so that he or she can further investigate the issue.
  4. Understand the limits of your home inspection – A home inspection does not cover building code issues, nor does it offer a guarantee of future performance. Ask if you don’t know the limits of your inspection.
  5. Ask relevant questions - Don’t be afraid to ask the inspector questions about the home before, during and after the inspection. It is important that all of your questions are answered and that any concerns you may have are addressed.
  6. Don’t ask irrelevant questions - The Standards of Practice, and commune sense, do not allow home inspectors to give advice on topics outside of their personal expertise. For example: don’t ask his or her opinion about home values, neighborhood, city, schools or d├ęcor.
  7. Don’t rush your inspection. A thorough inspection of a typical 2000 sq ft home with a basement should take from 3 to 4 hours. Plan your time accordingly.
  8. It’s YOUR report – Home inspectors focus on the major components of a home and won’t necessarily concern themselves with aesthetic issues that do not affect performance. If you want something added to your report regarding aesthetics ask your inspector to have it included in the report. If you don’t ask, it may not be noted.
  9. Review your report carefully – If possible review your report at the completion of the inspection and again when you have more time. Contact your inspector immediately if you have any questions or concerns. This may be your last opportunity to get issues resolved before closing on the house.
  10. Remember inspectors are human and can make mistakes – if you move into your home and find a problem that you think your inspector missed notify them immediately. Give them an opportunity to review the issue and respond to your concerns. Unfortunately, it is not unheard of for sellers to hide defects to prevent them from being discovered in an inspection.

If you have any questions about the home inspection process feel free to contact me at judy.browne@pillartopost.com

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Closet Organizing - 5 tips for a successful project

It’s amazing the amount of storage space you can gain by organizing your closets, pantries and sheds and installing a shelving system that uses the space more efficiently and effectively.

If you’ve decided it’s time to organize your closet space. You’ll want to consider a few things before you head off to the hardware store to ensure a successful project. Here are some great products you can install yourself Easy Track and interMETRO or you can come up with your own system using standard shelving and supports.

1. Planning is everything! “Measure twice, cut once” is an old carpenter’s saying and one it will do you well to remember. Before buying your product you’ll want to document as much about the space you’ll be working with as possible and consider the following:
  • What are the measurements of the space? ( length, width and height)
  • What ‘obstacles’ are in the way? (door, windows, outlets, switches, etc)
  • How will I attach this to my walls and/or where are the ‘studs’ (see tip #2 for finding a stud)
  • What material are my walls? (drywall, brick, lathe & plaster, etc.). If your walls are wood framed they will be covered with either drywall or lathe & plaster depending on the age of your home. Homes built after WWII are typically drywall and before lathe & plaster.

  • Use a planning work sheet. Here is one supplied by Easy Track that may help.

2. Find and mark all your studs (wood framed walls). If you don’t have a stud finder you should buy one they are inexpensive and easy to use. I suggest purchasing an electronic stud finder. Some simple tips to make finding your studs easier:

  • Locate an electrical outlet (receptacle) in your wall. There should be a stud on one side or the other of that receptacle, use your stud finder to verify.

  • Measure 16 inches from the location of the first stud and use your stud finder to verify the next stud. If you don’t find one at 16” inches, try 18” then 24”. Once you’ve found the 2nd stud you will know the spacing or layout of your studs for the rest of the wall. They will be evenly spaced apart at the distance you determined.
  • Find and mark all the studs in the space you are working within. I suggest using blue painter’s tape.

3. Gather all your tools. Here is a typical list of tools that are used when installing closet systems and shelving.

  • Power drill/screwdriver
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • 2 ft level
  • Hammer
  • Chalk line
  • Step ladder
  • Hack saw

4. Choose the right anchors or fasteners. The pre-designed systems will include all the anchors and fasteners you will need to install the product but if you’re creating your own space you’ll need to plan ahead. Here are some suggestions for you to consider:

  • Wood screws – these will be used to attach supports directly to the wood studs. Be sure to choose the appropriate length. 1 ¼ to 1 ½ should be long enough for most projects
  • “Molly Bolts” – these are great for installing supports between the studs in a wood framed wall. They are easy to use and provide good strength.
  • “Red Heads” or masonry anchors. If you’re installing your shelving into brick, concrete or block walls you’ll want to buy these specialty anchors.
  • Toggle Bolts – these are ideal for heavy duty support and if any attachments need to be made to ceilings.

5. Level & Plumb, you’ll be glad you took the time. Take some extra time when installing your supports to be sure everything is level (horizontal) and plumb (vertical).

Bonus Tip – Still unsure? Then consider taking the Workshop for Women class “My Screws are Loose – hanging things on walls & ceilings” You’ll learn all you need to know about anchors, fasteners, finding a stud and more.

Enjoy your new space.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Why your home needs to breathe

A student recently told me he had his house evaluated by an Energy Analyst who told him that attic ventilation wasn’t important. After my outburst of ‘that’s a load of *&#! I explained the importance of attic ventilation and decided it would be the topic for my next blog posting.

I spend a lot of time reading and studying about residential building systems as a home inspector, handywoman and teacher to other homeowners. It is important to understand that there must be a balance between attic ventilation and the other systems in the house. It is not necessarily a more is better situation. The key is adequate ventilation.

The following information contains facts about the importance of ventilating your attic space as related to energy efficiency, indoor air quality and structural integrity.

Ventilation and cooling efficiencies.
Cooling your home is one of the more difficult systems in your home to control. The cost of cooling your home can differ significantly from your neighbor’s home simply by virtue of a few simple things. One of the most important is your roof and attic space. In the book, Residential Energy (cost savings and comfort for existing buildings), it is noted “ Homes with reflective roof coatings, at least R-19 insulation and good attic ventilation, may experience two-thirds less solar heat gain than those homes with darker roofs, little insulation and poor ventilation.” The less solar heat gain the less cooling costs incurred.

Indoor Air Quality
There are a number of things in our homes that contribute to polluting our indoor air; combustion by-products such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide; volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) from solvents, cleaners, paints & furniture; Biological particles from pets, plants and other critters in our homes. The only way to handle this indoor air pollution is to have proper ventilation of our living space to allow regular air exchanges with outdoor air. One of the key components to this air exchange system is the ventilation in our attic space.

Structural Integrity
Ventilation in an attic is very important to maintaining the structural integrity of our roofing system. The ventilation allows moisture that accumulates in the attic from bathing, cooking and other activities in to dissipate. It also reduces heat buildup during the summer months. If the attic is inadequately ventilated moisture can cause numerous problems including delaminating of wooden roofing materials, water streaks on interior walls, peeling and flaking of paint and damage to insulation and other components. The heat and moisture build up in the attic space can also cause premature wear of the roof covering severely reducing it’s life.

Sources:
Residential Energy – cost savings and comfort for existing buildings – John Krigger, Chris Dorsi
The Complete Book of Home Inspections – Norman Becker P.E.
Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation http://www.cmhc.ca/en/co/maho/index.cfm

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Do It Yourself Home Safety Tips

Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors - A smoke detector should be installed in every bedroom and one on every floor of your home. A CO detector should be installed within 15 feet of each bedroom.


Test your GFCI receptacles monthly - GFCI, or ground fault circuit interrupters, are the outlets typically located in your bathroom, kitchen and garage that are intended to protect you from electrical shock. These outlets have 2 buttons, one that says ‘test’ and one that says ‘reset’. To test press the ‘test’ button and verify that the electrical current has been stopped by plugging in any electrical device and verifying that it doesn’t turn on. Press ‘reset’ to restore power. Replace them if the don’t work.

Have several well stocked first aid kits – a well stocked first aid kit should be readily available in your home and garage or workshop.


Protect yourself when using power tools - When using power tools be sure you are plugged into a GFCI protected circuit or purchase and use a GFCI protected power cord.


Correct unsafe stairways and landings - Repair treads that are uneven, too narrow, sloped or loose. Install good lighting on landings and stairways. Repair or replace railings that are missing, loose or too low.


Use your ladders safely - ladders are involved in over 100,000 injuries each year. Be sure your ladder is set up properly, is in good working order and that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe use.


Locate your water and gas shut off valves – Look for your main water shut off valve near the wall closest to the street on the lowest level of your home. Individual water shut off valves should be located at each sink and toilet and at your water heater. Individual gas shut off valves should be located at every gas fired appliance (i.e. dryer, stove, water heater, furnace, fireplace, etc.)

Learn all about home maintenance, safety, home improvement and repairs at http://www.workshopforwomen.com/


July 2009 Classes


Basic Home Maintenance Click Here
Wed July 8th 6:00 pm
or
Thu July 9th 9:00 am


Drywall Repair Click Here
Wed July 15th 6:00 pm
or
Thu July 16th 9:00 am


Plumbing 101 Click Here
Sat July 11th 1:00 pm


Electrical Basics Click Here
Sat July 11th & July 18th 9 am

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Making Color Choices

Making Color Choices

Welcome to the eighth of a series of short articles about color: Learning about color, choosing colors, living with color, and color around the world. This month: Considerations in making color choices – color doesn’t exist independently!

STANDING AT THE ENTRANCE of a room and asking ourselves what color it should be is like sitting in a restaurant and looking at a too-big menu. Why do we think we should know what color to pick without doing some serious perusing first?

Selecting the colors we want for our homes becomes easier when we take into account a few things designers know and other people rarely think about. First, color does not exist independently. It coexists with scale, lighting and overall proportional interconnection, or what is often referred to as a hierarchical system. Let’s consider these three elements one at a time.

Scale is not just how big the furniture should be. It is the sensation our bodies feel in the spaces surrounding us. Lighting, more than a collection of lamps, is the balance of all the sources of illumination—indoor and outdoor, natural and man-made—modulated by pools, shadows and sparkle, adding up to the overall ambience.

A hierarchical system is the proportional underpinning that connects all the elements throughout a house. That includes the ratios among shapes, volumes and planes, of moldings to walls, of hallways to bedrooms, of doors to ceiling heights, of areas of wood to areas of plaster. You might think of a hierarchical system—the rhythm of proportional relationships—as the music of architecture. And it is these architectural elements that help tell us what colors best serve.

In order to make good color choices it is useful to gather information about scale, lighting and hierarchical systems.

Most people think they want every room to be light, failing to comprehend the nest-like pleasure of darkness. But unless you live in a one-room apartment, inevitably you will have both darker and lighter spaces. You might imagine that a darker room should get the lighter color. But by adjusting the paint values to match the actual values and scale ratios of the rooms, an impression of light and space can be created. Paint a small foyer darker than the larger adjoining room, and the larger room will seem even grander. Give a darker room the darker color, and both spaces will intuitively feel right. Astutely distributing color is a great way to play with scale.

A sense of scale is determined in part by intervals of value—that is, by the size of the steps from light to dark. The difference between a light white and a darker off-white, for example, can clarify the relationships between ceilings of different heights. If a house has higher and lower ceilings mixed throughout (usually more of the lower ones are on upper floors), painting all the higher ceilings darker than the lower ones creates a connective tissue and provides a subliminal balance even though we never see all the ceilings at once.

We always need to be on the lookout for the possibility of using colors on common elements throughout a series of rooms. Then the uncommon elements become more telling. Ask yourselves if the house needs more than one great white, neutral, or color. Why have a second or third color - do the rooms and architecture ask for it? Does the trim really have to be lighter than the wall? Exercising discipline makes every color count.

Colors need a reflective surface in order to be visible. This is a phenomenon of nature. In the same way that we see a clear sky as blue because the light is stopped in its path and scattered by air molecules and water droplets, all the color we see in our homes is a result of the way light is altered by the architecture of a room’s walls and trim. The planes, corners, edges of door frames and every high-low difference cause light to be interrupted and to create various shades of color in the shadows. Even if everything were painted the same color, variations would persist.

Identifying where boundaries stop and start provides crucial information. To become more sensitive to the ways these boundaries interrupt light and cause light to reveal its color messages, you might try tracking a surface with your eyes as if they were a brush applying paint. Do this and you may notice how difficult it is to stop a color once it gets started. Trim can be especially hard to contain. Imagine a baseboard in an entry hail heading toward the living room. If the passage is an opening without a door, as is often the case, it’s easier to let the two spaces share a common molding color. Otherwise, you need to decide which of the two different shades belongs on the inner surface of the portal. Does the putty-colored entry trim stay in the entry, for example, or merge into the marigold living room? For better or for worse, “paint break” issues can sometimes control an entire color scheme.

Tracking the surfaces visually as if your eyes were a paintbrush can also tell you a great deal about how spaces work. This exercise is particularly revealing when applied to crown molding. For example, picture the same white paint on both the crown and the door and window frames. That would seem to promote continuity…but, if the ceilings are low and the crown is small and undistinguished, the molding might look too bright and narrow. A subtler and more successful transition could be achieved by carrying the wall color up over the molding.

Everyone has a wide range of tastes and disparate architectural preferences, yet one goal is common is to make spaces feel luminous. In manipulating color to create light, we have to remember that, like color, perceived luminance is relative. It has nothing to do with how much candlepower there is but rather with how we adjust the range of brightness.

Have you ever noticed that darker spaces often seem dingy when painted white?

Most people assume that to make a dark space feel light, they need to paint it white. Actually, though, making a space appear full of light is different from making it light. Have you ever noticed that darker spaces often seem dingy? But paint the same room yellow, and it feels sunny. We instinctively imagine a space is full of light when we are surrounded by yellow. This isn’t only because we’ve come to read yellow as sunshine but because our eyes’ receptor cells need more light to see warmer colors than they do to view cooler ones. Conversely if that same dimly lit room is painted a blue that’s no darker than the yellow, the space automatically feels darker. For that reason, many people rightly believe blue bedrooms induce sleep.

Spaces can be made to feel lighter without using lighter colors. Obviously, light beige creates a lighter room than dark beige would, and because it absorbs more light, forest green makes a library moodier than if it were painted apple green. Yet people are rarely conscious of another dynamic at work: Warm colors appear to be sources of light.

Yellow isn’t the only hue that seems to send out its own light. All warmer colors evoke this sensation. For instance, a dark coral can make a room with scant illumination appear to glow, while a pale neutral in a room with twice as much candlepower may never signal a feeling of brightness.

The essential fact of color is that it doesn’t exist independently. Or to put it another way, color depends on context. If you allow yourself time to notice the elements around you—if you ask yourself, What am I seeing, those elements will reveal the answers. Paradoxically, the most effective and pleasurable way to select colors is to put off your decision-making and just experience the space.



__________________________________________________________________________________________

Future topics of interest …
Color and Art
Color around the world

Cynthia Peacock is a professional Interior Designer (member of the American Society of Interior designers, ASID) and Principal of her own design firm, PEACOCK Interior Design, LLC. Cynthia has worked on a wide variety of outstanding projects (residences, offices, hotels, ships) in her 16 year career as an Interior Designer, and finds that color is the constant challenge, joy, and reward. If you are color-challenged, and need gentle guidance, Cynthia may be contacted
cynthia@peacock-interiordesign.com

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Barbeque Safety

For many homeowners, nothing symbolizes summer quite like getting outside and grilling up some tasty treats on the barbeque. As we dust off our hamburger flippers and prepare for another grilling season, however, it's important to remember that when used or maintained improperly, barbeques can cause serious damage to property and to people. Here are a few simple recommendations to help keep your family safe as you enjoy your barbeque this summer:

Positioning the Grill


  • Position your grill a minimum of five feet away from the house and any flammable objects in your yard.

  • Make sure your grill is stable and on level ground, so there is no risk of it toppling over.
  • Grills or stoves should be situated far enough from the windows and doors so that smoke from cooking will not waft inside.

  • Burning charcoal produces carbon monoxide which is highly toxic, so never burn charcoal in any kind of enclosed area.

    Proper Use & Maintenance:

  • Check for grease build-up and clean your dripping pan frequently, as excessive grease can cause unexpected flare-ups.

  • If you have a gas grill, remember that propane tanks require sophisticated valve equipment to keep them safe for use. To check your hoses and connections for gas leaks, spray them with soapy water and look for bubbling.

  • Remember to close the tank valve when you're finished using it.

  • Check for rusted and corroded burners. These parts wear out quickly, but they are easy to replace.

  • If your grill bottom has vent holes, be certain that it also has an ashcan to catch hot embers that might fall through onto the surface below.

  • Embers and coals should be completely extinguished before disposal. Coals can smolder for hours and can cause fires if thrown away with flammable materials.

  • Always store propane tanks outside in a well-ventilated area.

Learn basic home maintenance skills and safety in our "The Morning After...Closing" class. Next classes are Wednesday July 8 th 6 p.m. or Thursday July 9 th at 9 a.m.
Visit
www.workshopforwomen.com for more information or give Judy a call at 303-284-6354.

To learn more tips on how to keep your home safe this summer, please visit
www.pillartopost.com/denver or call 303-456-6789.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Do's and Dont's of Tiling

Laying out your tiling job before starting is the KEY to a perfect tile job. Follow these few simple tips and when you’re done, you’ll be glad you did.

A portion of this information was excerpted from the Feb 2008 issue of The Family Handyman

DO mock up and measure a row of tile on the floor to determine the layout. Be sure to use the spacers in between tiles before you measure. Make adjustments to get wider tiles in corners.

DON’T leave a skinny strip of tile in the corners or along the edges.

DO treat each of the 3 walls separately.

DO draw level (horizontal) and plumb (vertical) lines on the walls to guide you during installation.

DO adjust your vertical layout (center of the back wall of the tub) to leave the widest possible, same sized, tiles at each corner.

DO locate the starting level (horizontal) line above the tub surface a distance equal to the height of one tile minus 3/4”.

DON’T start the first row of tile by resting it on the tub or shower. This will cause problems keeping your tiles lined up since most tubs and showers surfaces are not level.

DO screw a straight board to the level line and start tiling by stacking tiles on the board.

DO tile above the board then remove the board and cut the tiles for the first row. Leave 1/8” gap between the top of the tub and the first row of tile to allow for caulking.

DON’T stop tiles even with the end of the tub on the side walls. This leaves the wall on outside of the tub vulnerable to water damage.

DO plan the tile layout so a column of tile extends past the end of the tub at least 2 or 3 inches.

DON’T tile directly onto drywall for tub and shower walls. Replace drywall with “FiberRock” or concrete backer board.

Other Hints:
# Keep tile clean as you go, don’t let mortar dry on the face of the tile.
# Clean up if you will be off the job for more than 30 minutes.
# Wear gloves when applying grout.
# Use only a damp sponge when cleaning tiles after grouting. Water is not good for grout.
# Wait at 12-24 hours after laying tile to begin grouting.
# Fill your tub with water before caulking; this will prevent cracking of the caulk.
# Use the experts at your local tile shop to answer questions and give advice.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cleaning & Money Saving Tips for Summer


Here are some simple things you can do yourself to get ready for summer entertaining and also save a little money along the way.

1. Install a programmable thermostat
According to Energy Star the average household can save $180 each year in energy costs by installing a programmable thermostat and setting it to 70 degrees for 6 hours a day and 62 degrees for the remainder. Programmable thermostat prices range from $25 -$100 dollars http://www.energystar.gov/

2. Install motion sensor switches.
Do you keep your porch light on for safety reasons? What if the kids leave the basement light on for days at a time? In Denver a light bulb costs about 7 cents a day to stay lit, it may not seem like much but it can add up quickly. Buy a simple conversion switch that will fit in any light socket for as little as $10

3. Turn down the temperature on your water heater
According to the US Department of Energy you can save from 3 – 5% on your energy bill by simply turning the temperature on your water heater down to 120 degrees and it costs you NOTHING! http://www.energysavers.gov/

4. Clean your outdoor furniture
Whether you’re getting your outdoor furniture out of storage or you’ve left it out all winter it probably needs a good cleaning. I recommend you use a product specifically designed for outdoor furniture. I like the CLR brand of outdoor furniture cleaner (http://www.jelmar.com/CLRoutdoor.htm). It can be used on everything from wood, to vinyl, to rattan and wrought iron. It can also be used to clean your cushions and covers. It also has UV protectants which will protect your furniture from the fading and discoloration caused by the sun.

5. Organize your garage
If you’re spending more time looking for things in your garage than you are using them it’s probably time to get organize. Before you dive in go through all your items and sort them by category. Some suggestions are: Auto Care, Painting, Lawn & Garden, Sporting Equipment & Tools (plumbing, electrical, etc.). Once you have everything in a category put small items in a clear storage tote and label. When storing your items be sure you store all the items in a category together. Be sure items you need to access frequently are easy to get to. You’ll be ready to go for your next project. Take all the items you no longer need and donate them to your local Habitat for Humanity Home Improvement Outlet. http://www.habitatoutlet.org/

6. Fix those leaky faucets.
A faucet that is leaking just 5 drops every 30 seconds wastes 300 gallons of water a year. Currently a gallon of water in Denver costs $1.91 that’s $573 a year or $47.75 a month! A complete faucet repair kit at Ace Hardware is under $15.00.

7. Replace the caulk around your tubs and showers
The caulk around your tub and shower prevents water from leaking and damaging the walls and floors. Often you won’t become aware of a problem until the damage is extensive. A decent caulk gun and tube of caulk will cost you less the $20 but a call to a plumber to figure out the problem and a handywoman to repair the damage can easily add up to $200 or more.
Learn to do all this yourself!

Learn to repair your faucet in our upcoming Plumbing 101 class, offered Tuesday June 16th from 9 am – Noon and again on Wednesday June 17th from 6 pm – 9 pm. Learn how to install a motion detector switch in our Electrical Basics class, offered 2 Tuesdays June 9th & 23rd from 9 am – Noon and again on 2 Wednesdays, June 10th & 24th from 6 pm – 9 pm.

Workshop for Women, LLC, Workshop for Women offers fun hands-on classes in basic home improvement skills especially designed for women. If you’d like register for a class or more about our other classes give Judy a call at, 303-284-6354 or visit our website http://www.workshopforwomen.com/.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ladder Safety - READ THIS!

Did you know that at least 300 people each year die in simple falls from ladders and that ladders account for about 100,000 injuries each year? It has been documented that ladder safety is one of the biggest safety issues in our homes.

As springtime arrives, it’s time again to take care of many home maintenance tasks that involve getting to places that require a ladder: cleaning gutters, maintaining cooling systems, trimming trees or cleaning windows. Ladders are often one of the most mis-used tools in our homes and it is important to understand the proper use of ladders to ensure your personal safety.

Set up

· Select the right ladder for the job - when using a ladder; make sure it is long enough to work from to avoid any hazardous leaning or stretching.

· Inspect the ladder or step stool prior to use - be aware of any loose hardware that may cause the ladder or step stool to collapse or not work properly.

· Check that the ladder or step stool is fully open prior to use. NEVER use a step ladder in the folded up position.

· Be sure that all ladders and step stools are placed firmly on level, dry ground or flooring.



· 4 to 1 Rule for Extension Ladders – When setting up an extension ladder be sure the angle of the ladder is neither too steep nor too shallow. For every 4 feet that the ladder is extended you should be 1 foot away from the wall.

Use

· Do not exceed the working load for ladders or step stools. Most ladders are designed to support only one person plus materials and tools.

· Always face the ladder or step stool when climbing up or down. Keep body centered between side rails and always face the ladder when you are ascending or descending.

· Never stand on the top step

· When working from a ladder never lean to reach your work. Use your bellybutton as a gauge. When reaching to work, your bellybutton should never be outside the side rails of the ladder.

Learn these and other tips at Workshop for Women’s Basic Home Maintenance class, “The Morning After….Closing”. Our next session is Saturday June 6th at 9:30 am. Register Today! Click Here

Judy Browne is the creator and founder of Workshop for Women, LLC. Workshop for Women offers fun hands-on classes in basic home improvement skills especially designed for women. Classes include: Home Maintenance, Power Tools, Carpentry, Pluming, Electrical, Drywall Repair and more. Visit http://www.workshopforwomen.com/ for more information or give Judy a call at 303-284-6354.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Beware Roofing Scam

There have been several reports very recently about a company, Claim Specialists International, scamming Colorado homeowners. Check out this article in the Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/ci_12350546.

In short this company contacts homeowners and asks them to sign a 'standard' waiver to allow them to inspect their roof. The waiver actually gives them the authority to act on your behalf regarding insurance claims. If your claim is approved they will take your insurance check and not perform the work.

Here are some tips:
1. Never respond to any unsolicited offers to inspect your roof or any other part of your home.
2. Do NOT sign any type of waiver, agreement or contract with any company unless you've read and understood the entire agreement.
3. Contact the Better Business Bureau before agreeing to hire any contractor.
4. Google is your friend, search the internet to find out what other's are saying.

If you'd like more information about your roof and other home maintenance tasks register for my upcoming class, The Morning After Closing - Basic Home Maintenance. Saturday June 6 th at 9 am.
To register call 303-284-6354 or go to www.workshopforwomen.com

Friday, May 1, 2009

How Long Will it Last? Typical lifespans

The following list will give you the typical life expectancy of the major systems and appliances in your home.

Roofing
Standard Asphalt Shingles - 12 to 15 years
Premium Asphalt Shingles - 15 to 30 years
Wood Shingles - 10 to 20 years
Concrete Tile - 20 to 40 years
Slate Tile - 40 to 80 years
Roll Roofing - 5 to 15 years
Metal - 60 years

Heating
Forced air furnace - 10 to 25 years
Water boiler (welded steel) - 15 to 30 years
Water boiler (cast iron) - 30 to 50 years

Cooling
Central Air - 10 to 15 years
Window air conditioning - 10 to 20 years

Plumbing
Galvanized water pipe - 20 to 25 years
Water Heater - 5 to 15 years
Sewer pump - 5 to 10 years
Well pump - 10 years

Appliances
Dishwasher - 5 to 12 years
Garbage disposal - 5 to 12 years
Oven - 15 to 20 years
Washer - 5 to 15 years
Dryer - 10 to 25 years

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Color By Design - Checklist of Color Steps and Common Problems

Welcome to the seventh of a series of short articles about color: Learning about color, choosing colors, living with color, and color around the world. This month: A Checklist of Basic color steps and Dealing with Common Color Problems. This is a great reminder of pulling a scheme together, and a real quick summarization of previous articles.

A Check List of Basic Color Steps

LIST FACTORS THAT WILL INFLUENCE YOUR COLOR SCHEME:
* Physical
* Orientation and extent of windows or other daylight source
* Type and location of artificial light used
* Hours that the space will be used and for what purposes
* Atmospheric
* Mood - calm, restful, stimulating, dignified, playful, other…
* Your personal color preferences.
* Geographical
* Climate
* Regional preferences in color usage

ESTABLISH THE CHARACTER OF THE COLOR SCHEME

* Choose among warm, cool, or neutral
* Select the color scheme (based on the color wheel - analogous, complementary, etc.)
* Decide on the dominant hue or hues to be used.
* Gather color samples, photos of existing interiors, or other color materials (textiles, tile, wood, etc.)

SELECT COLORS FOR ONE OR MORE LARGE MAJOR AREAS:

* Floors
* Ceilings
* Walls

NOTE AREAS OF PREDETERMINED COLOR

* Existing furniture that will remain in the space
* Material of a known color: brick, stone, natural wood, etc.

ADD COLOR FOR SECONDARY ITEMS AND AREAS

* Large items of furniture
* Window treatments, such as curtains, draperies, shades or blinds.
* Floor treatments, such as area rugs

ADD SMALL AREAS OF ACCENT COLOR

* Strong values of an already selected color or of a contrasting color – art and accessories
* Materials of a special nature that will impact the total scheme: metallics, tinted glass, mirrors, etc.

Dealing with Common Color Problems

Problem - Color choices appear random.
Solution - Relate color to a carefully thought out plan – develop an overall scheme and stick to it!

Problem - Colors are too many or too varied.
Solution - Use restraint in the number of colors, particularly the number of strong colors.

Problem - Color in the large areas (floors / ceiling / walls) is too intense.
Solution – Select a softer hue and confine the intense colors to small areas and to areas used only briefly.

Problem - Color in a large room / space has too much contrast.
Solution - Let one color only dominate, not both; restrict one of the two contrasting colors to a smaller area.

Problem - Color is drab and monotonous.
Solution - Use strong color accents to liven up the restrained scheme – in your art and accessories.


__________________________________________________________________________________________


Cynthia Peacock is a professional Interior Designer (member of the American Society of Interior designers, ASID) and Principal of her own design firm, PEACOCK-Interior Design, LLC. Cynthia has worked on a wide variety of outstanding projects (residences, offices, hotels, ships) in her 16 year career as an Interior Designer, and finds that color is the constant challenge, joy, and reward. If you are color-challenged, and need gentle guidance, Cynthia may be contacted cynthia@peacock-interiordesign.com

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

2009 Women Build House Starts May 7th

Help Build the 2009 Women Build House

Construction on the 2009 Women Build starts on Thursday, May 7th and will continue through the middle of September. Volunteers are needed to help on weekdays during May and June volunteer opportunities will be posted in the upcoming weeks. To sign up for volunteer opportunities please visit Habitat's Online Registration System.

Meet the 2009 Women Build Family

Rodolfo Reyes and his daughter currently live in his mother’s house in Denver with his siblings. Rodolfo works at Metco Landscape Inc. and is a Colorado native. He has always aspired to purchase his own home in Denver and today his dream has come true. Rodolfo’s Habitat home will be only two doors down from his sister’s home. Rodolfo is extremely grateful to Habitat for helping him achieve the dream of home ownership and adds, “I am proud to be able to work on my home and I thank God for this blessing.”

Evaporative (Swamp) Cooler Rebates from Xcel

This post was copied directly from the Xcel Energy Website

Evaporative Cooling

With up to $500 cash back, Evaporative Cooling Rebates from Xcel Energy help make purchasing a high-efficiency evaporative cooler (a.k.a. swamp cooler) more affordable! You’ll increase your home’s energy efficiency and stay cool and comfortable all summer long.

Rebates available

Option 1
ISR Air FlowRating = 2,500 CFM
Rebate Up to $200*
* Purchase and install a qualified Evaporative Cooling unit from our $200 rebate list with a minimum airflow of 2,500 CFM to receive a rebate of $200 or the purchase price of the evaporative cooling unit, whichever is less.

Option 2
Media Saturation Effectiveness > 85%
Rebate $500**
**Purchase and install a qualified Evaporative Cooling unit from our $500 rebate list with a media saturation effectiveness of 85% or higher, with remote thermostat control and periodic purge water control to receive a rebate of $500.
List of qualifying Evaporative Cooling units.

Program Requirements
Purchase a qualifying unit from a participating evaporative cooling retailer between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009***. We will only rebate according to the current approved list. Please be sure to check our qualifying unit lists prior to submitting your rebate to ensure your Evaporative Cooling rebate eligibility.

You may download an application or call 1-800-895-4999 to request rebate form #1524. Either way, please be sure to keep a copy for your records. Limit one rebate per household. You must purchase and install your evaporative cooling unit prior to submitting the rebate application. Look for your rebate check approximately six to eight weeks after we receive your completed application.

*** Customers are not required to purchase a qualifying unit from a participating evaporative cooling retailer or dealer to be eligible for a rebate. However, participating dealers are familiar with program requirements and typically have rebate applications available.
Please note: Rebates are not offered for ancillary equipment such as hoses, drain pans, etc. Xcel Energy reserves the right to end this program or withdraw this rebate offer at any time.
Questions?
Call our Customer Contact Center at 1-800-895-4999

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

10 Simple Curbside Staging Tips

  1. Make sure the front door is inviting. Paint if needed.
  2. Replace outdated light fixtures.
  3. Buy a new welcome mat.
  4. Add a colorful planter(s) with seasonal blooms and add a seating area with colorful accents that coordinate with the home.
  5. Buy new house numbers that buyers can see from the curb.
  6. Define front flower beds with mulch and or plantings to freshen and define areas.
  7. Power wash roof, siding, windows & walkways.
  8. Remove lawn ornaments & toys.
  9. Wash, stain or paint porch/patio. Fix cracks.
  10. Seed bare grass spots, fertilize and aerate to enhance the health of your lawn.

Jenny Kipp is the founder of CHARM http://www.charmhomestaging.com/ . She brings a prolific background to the table with a BFA concentration in textiles, paper and glass blowing which later funneled into a career as a professional artist. We can't forget to mention she also owned a studio conserving historical works of fine art for nearly a decade. Kipp keeps in stride with her passions, currently undergoing an Interior Design program to add to CHARM's level of services and fulfill her goals of renovating homes with modern touches. Call Jenny today at 303.485.9323

Mention Workshop for Women and receive 10% off any one service!

Your toilet is NOT a trash can

When it comes to home maintenance often it's a bad habit that causes problems as opposed to parts, products or systems that just stop working. In both my plumbing class and my home maintenance class I stress the point that you should never use your toilet as a trash can. Just because the packaging says it's 'flushable' doesn't mean it won't clog your drains.

Do NOT put hair, q-tips, dental floss, cleaning wipes, feminine products or anything other than toilet paper into your toilet.

Here is an article about the problems that dental floss being flushed down toilets caused for the city of Toronto. I can't make this stuff up.

Toronto Star Article

Monday, April 20, 2009

Women Build - Honor A Woman

Are you looking for a thoughtful, unique Mother's Day gift?

How about honoring the important women in your life by donating to the Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver, Women Build program.

Each year dedicated women from around the Metro Denver area join to build a home for a hard-working family in need.

This years Women Build house starts on May 7 th.

Click here to donate and have your Honor a Woman card arrive in time for Mother's day. Which is May 10 th :)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Colorado Spring Storms - a bonus for home maintenance!

It might seem counter-intuitive that bad weather is good for home maintenance but it provides a wonderful opportunity to check out the most important parts of a home to be sure they are in tip top shape. I’m referring to roof, gutters and downspouts.

Weather like Colorado has had in the past couple of days, wet, heavy snow is ideal for doing an inspection of roof, gutters and downspouts. Once the snow starts to melt follow these simple steps to gain peace of mind or the information needed stop a small problem from turning into a big one.

Inspect the roof from the inside
What’s needed: Step ladder, Flashlight, Digital Camera

1. Look into the attic. Closely inspect around vents, pipes and chimneys – anything that protrudes through the roof. If there are any signs of moisture it means there is a leak. Signs of moisture are: material (wood, insulation, etc.) which is damp to the touch; rust marks on metal vent pipes; staining on wood or insulation.

2. Take pictures of everything, whether there is an indication of moisture or not. This will provide a photographic record to track and monitor any future changes.
If evidence of moisture exists plan to either get up on the roof or to contact a qualified roofing contractor to make the necessary repairs.

Inspect your gutters and downspouts.
What’s needed: Digital Camera, Binoculars

1. When the snow starts to melt take the time to walk around the house and look for any signs of problems.

2. Inspect the gutters – gutters are intended to gather the water running off of the roof and direct it to the downspouts.

Look for any leaks, focusing on seams, corners and transitions.

Look for any water running over the front edge, which may indicate a couple things: If the gutters are clogged with debris it will prevent the water from reaching the downspouts and it’s time to clean them: If the gutters were improperly installed or are damaged the water can pool in low spots and spill over the edge. All gutters should be installed to slope towards the downspouts.

Look for any water dripping behind the gutters, which can mean several things; a problem with the flashing (the transition between a roof and the gutters): A problem with the brackets that attach the gutters to the house. Damaged brackets allow the gutters to pull away from the roof and the flashing; other damage to the gutters such as holes or cracks that may not be visible from the ground.

3. Inspect the downspouts - downspouts are intended to direct the water, running through the gutters, off of the roof and away from the foundation.

Look for any damage such as holes, cracks or sections that have become disengaged. These should be repaired.

Look for damaged extensions. Crushed, broken or disengaged.

It is recommended that the downspouts extend 4 to 6 feet away from the house but if the landscaping is negative (sloped towards the house) they may need to be extended even further.

Check underground drainage pipes. Check that the downspouts are directing the water into the pipes and that the water is not backing up because of clogs.

4. Take pictures of any perceived problems to provide visual reminders for yourself or your contractor to make the necessary repairs.