Monday, July 21, 2014

The plumbing in your home - an overview

Residential Plumbing System Overview
Plumbing refers to the entire system in which water enters a home, travels to the sinks, tubs, showers and appliances and then leaves once it has been used.
How Water Reaches the House
In general drinking water comes from surface water or ground water.  It is piped to the treatment plant where the water is treated to remove contaminants.  In a typical community water supply system, water is transported under pressure through a distribution network of buried pipes.  Smaller pipes, called house service lines, are attached to the main water lines to bring water to the house. 
The water meter can be located underground and is identified by the water meter cover in the yard.  Water meters can also be found on the inside of a home.  A valve at the meter can be turned on and off by the city. 
Once the water line reaches the house, the main water shut off valve allows the homeowner to shut off the water for repairs.  The main water shut off valve is typically located in the basement or crawl space on the wall closest to the street.



After the shut off valve the water line will branch off.  One branch supplies water directly to the cold water side of your fixtures and the other branch supplies water to your water heater.  Water is piped into the water heater, heated, and then piped back out to the hot water side of the fixtures.
Used water inside the house is sent through the drain and sewer system.  The sewer line is located in the basement, crawl space or in the cement slab foundation.  All sewer and drain pipes connect to the main sewer line which eventually connects to the public sewer line that runs under the ground.
Note: The supply branch and shut off valve for a sprinkler system is normally located immediately after the main water shut off.  (Sprinkler systems require seasonal start up and shut down to prevent freezing and broken lines.)

Sump Pumps In some areas of the country you will find sump pits and pumps in the basements or crawl spaces of homes.  A sump pump is a pump used to remove water that has accumulated in a sump pit. A sump pit is a hole that collects water from a foundation’s perimeter drain or ground water, if the basement is below the water table level. Water collecting in the pit is pumped out and away from the foundation. Since a sump pit may overflow if the pump stops working. A backup system is important if the electrical supply to the pump will be interrupted for any length of time.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Is it worth it to remodel?

Have you been thinking about remodeling and wondering whether or not it's worth it?  First you might want to do a cost-benefit analysis. This analysis is simply a compilation of the costs of a project compared to the benefits you will receive once the project is complete.

The costs of a project are mostly objective, it's the cost of the material and labor required to complete a project.  The benefits, however, are both objective; How much increase in value will my home see as a result of this remodel?, and subjective; How much will this remodel benefit me and my family in terms of convenience, enjoyment or comfort?

Only you can determine the subjective value of a remodeling project but the folks at Remodeling magazine have done a great analysis of the objective cost of a variety of projects for you.  You can download your copy of the Denver report here, Cost vs Value Report, for other areas of the country go here, www.costvalue.com

Here are a couple examples:

A remodeling project like replacing the siding on your home with cement fiberboard siding may not provide you or your family a big increase in comfort, convenience or enjoyment BUT according to the Remodeling 2014 Cost vs. Value Report (www.costvsvalue.com), it has a great return on investment.  If you choose to replace your existing siding with high quality cement fiberboard siding you will spend $13,250 and increase the value of your home by $13,560 which is a 102.3% return on investment!  So if your siding is in need of replacement this choice is easy.

Finishing your basement will likely provide you and your family a significant increase in enjoyment, convenience and comfort.  According to the Cost vs Value Report a basement remodel will cost you $62,131 and will increase the value of your home by $49,082 which is a 79% return on investment (for every $1 spent you get $0.79 in return).  If you're planning on staying in your home for a while, need additional space to accommodate a growing family or want a more comfortable home, the decision to remodel the basement is likely a good one.  If you're planning on putting your home on the market in 6 months, you might want to reconsider.



Check out the report to see how remodeling might benefit you.

“© 2014 Hanley Wood, LLC. Complete data from the Remodeling 2014 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded free at www.costvsvalue.com.”

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

3 Things to do immediately after closing on your new home.


You've closed on your new home and you're all moved in. I know you'd like to take a break but there are 3 things you should consider doing right away.
Change the locks on your exterior doors.  I am a very optimistic and trusting person, however, there is no way for you to know how many friends, neighbors and other strangers may have a key to your new home.  Especially if the previous owner lived there for a long time. Safety First!

Here's a link to an article on how to change door knobs and dead bolts.
Find the shut-offs for all your utilities and fixtures.Make sure you and everyone in your home knows where the shut-offs are located and how to operate them. 
  • Main water shut-off
  • Main electrical shut-off
  • Main gas shut-off
  • Gas supply shut-off valves for water heater, furnace, gas fireplaces and any other gas appliance
  • Water shut-off valves for all sinks and toilets.
Start saving for home maintenance.  I know you feel like you've spent every last dime you have to get into this house but you will be happy in the future if you set aside 1% of the cost of your home each year to use towards home maintenance costs.  If you're home is more than 20 years old, make it 2%.  If you're wondering how much things will cost like replacing a water heater, use this handy reference tool.

How to repair & replace your screens

How to Replace a Window 

Pry out the old spline with an awl or a narrow-tipped screwdriver. Throw it away— spline gets hard and brittle as it ages and shouldn’t be reused.

Lay the new screen material over the frame. It should overlap the frame by about 1 to 2 inches around the entire perimeter.. Cut each corner at a 45-degree angle just slightly beyond the spline groove. The cuts keep the screen from bunching in the corners.
 

Using the convex (rounded edge) side of the screen rolling tool, press the screen material into the groove in the frame.

Begin installing the new spline at a corner. Using the convex (grooved edge) side of the screen rolling tool to push the spline into the groove. Continue around the frame. If wrinkles or bulges appear, remove the spline and reroll. Small wrinkles should tighten up as you get back to the starting corner.

Trim excess screen material using a utility knife with a new sharp blade. A dull blade will pull the material, not cut it. Cut with the blade on top of the spline and pointed toward the outside of the frame.