Should You Replace or Paint Your Vinyl Siding

Should You Replace or Paint Your Vinyl SidingVinyl siding is an extremely popular material that is used all over the country to cover the walls of homes. In many cases, brick will be used on the front of the home and vinyl will be used on the other three walls. It is very durable and retains its color for many years. Just the same, the colors do fade after many years and home owners who want their home to look great must make a decision. Should You Replace or Paint Your Vinyl Siding?

Assuming that the vinyl is still in good shape physically, i.e. no holes or broken pieces, consumers can definitely consider painting the vinyl. If you do have to make repairs i.e. add a new strip of vinyl, it will be virtually impossible to match the colors. Your vinyl will have faded and changed color over the years so it is not possible to obtain an exact match. Painting becomes a very desirable solution. Although we always encourage consumers to obtain quotes for both scenarios, to confirm that it is less expensive to paint than replace, we feel that painting is less expensive and it is something you can do yourself.

Should You Replace or Paint Your Vinyl Siding – Steps to Follow

  • Complete Repairs – remove and replace any broken or cracked pieces.
  • Clean the surface of the vinyl from a build up of dirt and chalky substance that may have built up over the years.
  • Remove any mold from the siding especially under the eaves.
  • Ensure you have a dry day with low humidity and light or no wind, especially if you will use a sprayer to paint the vinyl to avoid paint drift onto other surfaces.
  • Use paint as close to the original color as you can. Avoid darker colors. Vinyl absorbs heat especially with dark colors and will expand and contract a great deal causing the vinyl to overheat and possibly warp.
  • Use paint that is specifically made for vinyl siding. This paint is made to stretch and contract with the vinyl as it heats and cools.
  • Spray painting works the best, however brush or roller painting works well especially on corners etc.
  • Allow the paint to completely dry before applying a second coat.
  • Follow the instructions of the manufacturer to ensure that your paint application will last many years.

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How to Stop Mildew Forming in Showers

how to stop mildew forming in showersWe are confident that almost all consumers have had to contend with mildew forming in showers. Mildew or mold is a common problem for many consumers and once it takes hold, it is very difficult to remove it. In our next post we will discuss how to remove it. However for our first post about we thought we would focus on how to stop mildew forming in showers in the first place. Mold or mildew needs two things to live and grow. Moisture which is obviously a problem in the shower and bathroom area. the second thing is food, such as soap, oils and skin cells from our bodies and other products we may use. There are easy methods to control mildew growth.

How to Stop Mildew Forming in Showers

Let’s first deal with the moisture issue. Consumers should always use a fan when running the shower. If you do not have a shower fan, like us, leave the shower door open when not in use. Air circulation will absorb the moisture and dry out the shower. Secondly always squeegee the tiles, door or curtain after you shower. You want to remove as much of the moisture and soap as possible from the walls etc.

Using a squeegee also removes the food that the mildew needs to live. But that is definitely not enough. At least every two weeks consumers should  clean the walls, door or curtains to remove all soap buildup and other material. Washing with vinegar is one of the best ways to clean the tiles etc.

We had mildew forming on our ceiling like the one in the picture. Once we started leaving the door to the shower open it stopped forming. We then sanded the ceiling and repainted the ceiling with a mold resistance paint.  So far it has lasted a year without more mold or mildew forming. Remember moisture and food. That is what you need to control to keep mildew from forming.



How to Remove Mildew From Tiles in Showers

Our last post discussed how to prevent mildew and mold forming in bathrooms on shower tiles. This focuses on how to remove mildew from tiles in showers once it has formed. The first recommendation is to keep your shower clean and dry if you want to avoid mildew and mold in the first place. Once it has formed, you will need strong cleaners to remove the stains. There are many products on the market. Some work, some do not. We are not recommending any one particular product. Vinegar works well as does bleach, however you need lots of ventilation and protective gloves. Be careful of your clothes as well to avoid stains from the bleach.

Remove Mildew From Tiles in Showers

This picture clearly shows lots of mold on the grout. Consumers need to remove all soap scum, calcium stains etc from the tiles. It is going to take some time and elbow grease to remove the stains. Using bleach or vinegar, spray the tiles, let it soak for awhile and then scrub the tiles. Wash with water. Repeat the process until the tiles are clean.

The soap scum on the grout is much more difficult to remove. Scrubbing and application of vinegar will remove the surface material. If the grout was not sealed in the first place, the soap scum will come off. A high pressure steam cleaner can be used to clean the grout as well. This works well although again your need to use a lot of elbow grease to clean the grout.

The worst case solution is to use a grout removal tool to get all of the grout material out of the joints. Re grout the joints and seal the grout joints.

Once you have your shower tiles nice and clean follow the steps outlined in the previous post to prevent further damage from mold and mildew. Keep your shower walls dry and clean your shower every two weeks.

Mulch Beside the Foundation

Mulch Beside the Foundation When placing mulch beside the foundation there are several issues to consider. Consumers want to avoid future problems. Although it may look nice, if leaks, deterioration of the foundation, mold etc develop you will regret the day you placed the mulch. The main consideration is always about the presence of water, drainage of water and moisture remaining in place. Whenever there is water present in liquid form or dampness, there is a chance that your foundation will pay a price. This means it will cost you money at some point in the future. We will explain further.

Mulch Beside the Foundation

As landscaping of any kind is considered, the following rules should be considered to avoid future problems:

  • Ensure that there is always a gentle slope away from a foundation to channel water away from the wall
  • Always keep the ground level at least 9 inches below the top of the foundation.
  • Always avoid earth or mulch touching a wood wall or siding. Water will penetrate and begin rotting your joists.
  • Using stones instead of mulch against the wall would be a better solution than mulch
  • The ground will often settle next to the wall over time due to water washing down the wall and into the weeping tile that surrounds your foundation. This is a natural process and should be topped up so that water will channel away from the wall
  • Lack of eaves troughs allows water to fall next to the wall and the foundation. Install eaves trough and channel the water away from the wall.

By following these steps you should be able to avoid leaks in your basement, damp  basements and deterioration of supporting wood structures sitting on top of the foundation. For other maintenance information concerning your home, click here.


Rent or Buy Your Furnace and Air Conditioner

Rent or Buy Your Furnace and Air ConditionerOur furnace just quit working and our air conditioning unit is 27 years old! Amazing life cycle and it still works. The furnace is only 14 years old and we are trying to figure out if we should rent or buy your furnace and air conditioner or just repair it. Most people would just say replace it.

After all the AC unit does not owe you anything and it will likely quit sometime soon anyway. We could perhaps just repair the furnace and hope for the best. However we wondered what the economics would be considering repairing the furnace or replacing both the furnace and the AC unit. Also a third scenario has been proposed and that would be to rent both units. The price would include all cleaning and servicing for as long as we paid the monthly payment. My initial reaction was to always purchase however when you do the math, there is a surprising answer.

Rent or Buy Your Furnace and Air Conditioner

We assumed a 15 year study life, a cost of $9500 to purchase the units, a cost of $25 a month to provide service and warranty once the manufacturers warranty was finished. We also assumed a cost of $700 for repairs which would last for one year. The rent scenario assumes $50 a month for the furnace and $45 a month for the AC unit including all servicing and warranties.

Using these numbers it makes sense to rent if you are planning on 12 years or less to rent. It makes sense to purchase if you feel that the units will last longer than 11 years which they should. However I need to find $9500 to pay for the installation and I still need to pay $25 a month for insurance.

I can finance the cost of the furnace etc.  Or I could use some of my savings to pay for these units and forego any income I might get from the current investments. I am fortunate to collect 3% on my investments at the present time. This is a real cost to me which I would save if I were to rent the furnace and the AC unit.

This income when factored in changes the breakeven period from 11 years to 20 years. This is probably more than the life cycle of these new units and longer than I plan to live in the house.

I still need to confirm all of the estimates with actual quotations. However I am definitely leaning towards renting and not making a purchase at this point.

For more maintenance ideas and ways to save money, click here.


Dryer Vent Ice Dam

Dryer Vent Ice DamIf you are having dryer vent ice dams or moisture forming under cold dryer vents, you should make repairs immediately. All of this moisture dripping on to the floor or the wall is going to cause deterioration of the wood through rotting and worse. Mold can cause health issues. We will discuss how these situations occur and what the solution is for a situation like this. Starting with this pipe shown in the picture which is the worst pipe that can be used for a dryer vent that exits to the outside.

Dryer Vent Ice Dam – How does it Happen

Basically warm moist air flowing through a cold pipe is going to cool quickly causing moisture to condense on the side of the pipe. It then run to the bottom of the pipe and drip out of the joints in this particular pipe. If it is cold enough on the outside of the pipe the water will freeze and them melt later when the weather warms up. This water can cause extensive damage to underlying floors and walls including rotting wood and mold. If it is cold enough the moisture can actually freeze in the pipe causing an ice dam inside the pipe as well as outside.

Dryer Vent Ice Dam – Solution

Change the pipe to a single continuous pipe with no joints or seams. If there is a seam along the length of the pipe, make sure you install it with the seam on the top. In addition surround this pipe with insulation so that the pipe is kept relatively warm and avoids freezing the moisture in the dryer exhaust.

Any time you have icicles on your roof or forming from a dryer vent, there is a problem somewhere. Homeowners need to pay attention to these kind of issues immediately to avoid much more expensive repairs in the future.

Window and Door Screens

Window and Door ScreensIt is a cold day in January and you might wonder why we are writing about window and door screens at this time of year. Turns out this is one of the best times to arrange for new windows and door screens to be installed on your home. If you need a window replaced, the window repair companies are offering great deals at this time of year to keep their business going during the slower months of the year. You can easily ask for a 10% or more discount and get it because they are hungry for business. Winter time is a slow time of the year for them and to keep their people working they are willing to negotiate discounts.

Some consumers are concerned about heat loss while the window is being replaced. Yes you do have some heat loss, however it can be minimized by closing the door to the room that is being worked on. In addition the window is only out of the window opening for 5 or 10 minutes before the new one is in place. The amount of heat you lose and the corresponding cost will be less than $5.00 worth so there is little to be concerned about.

Window and Door Screens

Whether it is new window and door screens, many consumers like to have screens on their windows particularly for the warm summer months. Open the windows, let the fresh air in  and keep the bugs out. There are a variety of screens. Some are sliders like the one shown in the picture, while some fit over the window and stay in place when the window is opened. They can be removed to wash them, which should be considered once per year. Washing screens is pretty easy. All you need to do is remove them, take then outside, brush them with soap and water and then spray them with the garden hose to clean off all of the dirt and soap. Do it on the lawn so the water and soap nourish the lawn. then just let them dry in the sun for an hour and reinstall them in your window frames. While they are drying you can wash the inside of the windows as well.

Your choice of window screen or door screen will pretty much be determined by the type of window you select. New screens come with new windows. If you are installing a new door, you may want to install a second door with a screen. In all cases make sure that the window screen or door can be locked to prevent access. Even though someone can easily break the screen, it prevents the opportunist from entering your home without actually having to break it. It also alerts you to a break in when they smash through the screen.

For more information about routine maintenance around your home, click here.



Painting a Room – Steps to Follow

Painting a RoomHaving just spent the last couple of weeks painting several rooms in our home, I thought it would be interesting to write about what I learned. And cover some of the steps to follow when painting a room in your home. We have baseboards along the floor which is standard in all homes, hardwood floors and popcorn ceilings. There are several windows and doors with closets. This means there is lots of trim to deal with. In addition these rooms have not been painted in a while so there are nail holes in the walls that were used to hold up pictures, mirrors and small paintings. There is even the odd nail pop and other imperfections to deal with.

In addition, to painting my wife has decided that all of the door hardware etc is going to be changed along with the window coverings. You get the idea we hope of what the typical room is like and what needs to be done.

Painting a Room – Preparation

Proper preparation of a room before you actually start painting can save you a lot of time. For example all of the furniture should be removed from the room or at the very least moved into the center. Everything should be taken off the walls. Any nail holes or nail pops should be sanded and plastered. There will be dust on the floor and on the corner round. Make sure you vacuum up all of all of the dust and then wash the floorboards and corner round. The last thing you need to do is to apply tape on the floor against the wall to protect the floor from any paint while you’re painting and doing edging. Some people will also tape the windows to keep paint from getting on the window panes, however I just use a steady hand and a high quality brush.

Painting a room – painting

The next step is to actually paint the room. Start by cutting in all of the edges along windows and floors and ceiling. You can use a one and a half inch brush that has that is high-quality. When cutting in make sure you paint from the edge out at least 3 inches from the wall or window. Once all the cutting in is completed, you can then use a roller to paint the walls. Never start at the edge, always start at least one roller width from the edge of the wall or the last point that has been painted. Roll back towards the area that has been painted.

This allows you to overlap and distribute the paint evenly. Roll slowly so that you don’t have paint splatter. If using latex paint you can usually paint again the second coat within a few hours however I’d like to wait at least 24 hours before adding the next coat.

Give all of your trim a new paint job as well. We painted all of the window trim, door trim and doors with white paint  to provide a contrast against the paint that we placed on the wall.

Painting a room – replacing hardware

If you are replacing the hardware on the doors for example remove the old hardware first before painting, complete all of your painting and then install new hardware. Hardware includes hinges as well as door knobs or handles. Following this approach will avoid paint getting on any of the new hardware.

Painting a room – clean up

Once you have completed painting the room it is now time to clean up. You will want to remove all of the painters tape that was placed on the wall and windows. You may also need to do some touch ups here and there if you found that you missed a few spots. If by chance you got any paint on the floor now is the time to scrape it up and clean the floor. Vacuum first and then wash all of the floors to complete the job.

While this sounds like a lot of work, it is the best way to ensure a high quality job.


Stain Removal from Fences and Decks

pressure washerUsing a pressure washer to remove stain or paint from a deck is a great time saver and does a fantastic job if completed properly. Compared to sanding and scraping, which is a lot of work and very tedious a pressure washer can reduce the job to hours instead of days. You may have to do some sanding after you have finished removing the old stain to ensure a smooth surface, however this is much easier compared to sanding to remove the old stain. In addition you can also remove stain out of the nooks and crannies which sanding will never be able to remove.

Operators need to be careful that they do not remove the wood or cut holes in the wood if the water pressure is too high and the stream of water too tight. Practice on some areas that are out of the way and not seen or on a separate piece of wood to get the hang of it before you use it on the real thing.

Stain removal from the deck made easy

We suggest that you set the nozzle of the pressure washer to its widest adjustment. This will provide you with a 1 inch to 3 inch spray of water that will not damage your deck while at the same time lifting off any loose paint or stain from the wood of your deck. Consumers need to be careful that they do not remove any of the actual wood.

We suggest that you begin in an area that is not visible at the back of the deck to experiment and learn to use the pressure washer. You will find that you may have to vary the distance of the end of the wand from the deck to vary the actual force of the water. The closer and tighter the spray, the more damage you can do to your wood. Start from a distance of at least two feet and determine from how much closer you need to go to get the results you are looking for.

Safety is always a concern with using a pressure washer

Consumers using a pressure washer should always use safety goggles to avoid any debris from getting into your eyes. Be very careful where you point the water jet to avoid damage to your person, other people or inanimate things that could be damaged by the high pressure of the water. If you follow these steps and those above, stain removal can be very easy.

Never ever point the pressure washer wand in the direction of another person or pet. This high density high speed stream of water can easily damage and hurt someone very badly. Flying debris can also damage eyes and hurt small children, so be very careful when you are using a pressure washer around the home or on a work site.

For more practical information about maintenance issues around the home, click here.



How to Use a Pressure Washer

Pressure WasherA Pressure Washer can be a very useful tool around the home when used properly. It can also be an extremely dangerous tool if not used properly. we believe in safety first and urge readers to also read their instruction manuals paying particular attention to the safety aspect of the instruction booklet. We are not encouraging readers to purchase any particular type of Pressure Washer, however we do encourage consumers to use them carefully. I was originally against buying one of these tools, since I thought it was kind of frivolous and just a gimmick until I borrowed a neighbors. Then I realized just how useful a tool it actually was. Since we purchased it, we have used it for many different projects, that have been made much easier than it would have been other wise. If you are considering purchasing one, just do it. They are really quite good.

Pressure Washer – Safety

The basic rule is never point the wand at anything that you do not want damaged. This includes other people, yourself and anything that could be damaged by a high pressure stream of water. We have seen a jet of water cut right through wood, cut plantss in half, pierce the skin and remove paint from a car.  Used incorrectly they can be both dangerous and cause a lot of expensive damage. Read all of the instructions and experiment first on something that you do not mind damaging to get used to using a pressure washer.

Pressure Washer – Adjust the Water Jet

The wand is designed to allow operators to adjust the concentration of water exiting from the wand. It can deliver a really tight stream of water which is useful to cut things with, get at hard to remove paint on a cement wall and remove stain from wood in hard to get to places. Adjusting the wand so that the stream is wider is also convenient to reduce the pressure of the stream and use to remove paint from walls or stain from wood. We found that it was excellent for removing loose paint and stain from wood.

When we wash the car, the wand is set to deliver as wide a stream of water as possible. Make sure you stand well back to make sure that there is little chance of removing any paint from our car. If your car is rusty or has loose paint, it is going to come off leaving some damage on your car that you may not be expecting. Standing back about three feet so that the wand is at least three feet from the car is usually enough to ensure that the paint will not be damaged by the pressure washer. If there is loose paint or rust on the car, even at this distance it is probably going to come off if you point the pressure washer at it.


Electric Chain Saws

Electric Chain SawsElectric Chain Saws can be a great tool for many home owners. They will save you a lot of money and they are easy to use. Also do not require gasoline or oil to mix with the gasoline if it is a two stroke engine. They are electric and all you need to do is plug them in and they are ready to use. They are also relatively easy to use as long as you have an electrical outlet, which can be a problem if you need to cut trees and small shrubs in the bush. We will discuss a few more items about electric chain saws which may help you in your decision to purchase an electric powered saw vs. a gas powered saw.

Electric Chain Saws – Maintenance

Maintenance is pretty simple. Usually all that is required is oil for the chain in the reservoir to keep it lubricated and the occasional sharpening of the links on the chain. There is not much else on a regular basis that you need to do with these saws. You do not need to mix gas and oil for two stroke engines and there is no carburetor to tune up once and a while. Electric chain saws are really easy to use, just get a long extension cord of sufficient gauge and plug it in and you are ready to go.

You will need to make sure that you are using a heavy gauge electrical extension cord to ensure that sufficient power is delivered to the saw so that it will operate at peak efficiency. Review the manufacturers guidelines to make sure that you are using the correct extension cord. If you use to light a gauge chord, there is a risk of the motor not generating enough power and over heating due to the voltage drop over the length of the chord.

Electric Chain Saws – Safety

Just like the gas powered versions these are dangerous tools which can do a lot of damage if not handled properly. Always use the emergency shutoff to avoid kickbacks and damage to yourself. Make sure that your chain is always sharp. if you are falling a large tree, wear a hard hat to avoid being hit on the head by falling branches that might be dead and ready to fall. Make sure that the falling direction of the tree is free and clear of any people, pets and buildings to avoid any potential damage.

Use gloves when handling and using any chain saw. Also wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from flying debris.

Review the manufacturers safety instructions to ensure that you are using this device safely.

Yearly home maintenance

Yearly home maintenanceAs we travel around the country we see so many homes that are run down and have not been looked after. We also see a lot of homes that are in perfect condition and we wonder what the difference is between people who look after their homes and those that do not.

It does not take a lot of work to maintain your home, and especially if you do it yourself you can control the cost and really keep your expenses to minimum. Of course you can hire a contractor to maintain your home including lawn care services, shrubbery and flowerbed services and to do basic repairs that are required from time to time. The driveway may need repairs and the house may need to be painted as well, especially around the windows to ensure that the wooden window frames are not exposed and begin to rot.

Yearly home Maintenance

Annual maintenance of a home should include basic outdoor activities as well as indoor activities. You want to make sure that all of the windows are secure, painted and not deteriorating. Also check to make sure that your roof is in good shape and not allowing any water to penetrate. You may also want to check that rodents cannot get in to your attic through the roof. They can cause considerable damage leaving a mess as well and even a strong odor.

Anytime you see any water leaks, it should be repaired immediately to avoid further water damage. Taps that are Dripping, Water underneath Your Sink, and Showers That Are Leaking into the Room or in the Floor below Should Also Be Repaired Immediately. Water damage can be extensive and the mold that usually follows water damage can be detrimental to your health as well. Deal with water leaks promptly to avoid these issues. Better yet repair your roof and windows before water leaks get started.

Water Damage Can Also Leave or Cause Mold to Appear causing health issues for people living in the home. Deal with these issues quickly so that they do not get worse and create thousands of dollars of expensive repairs that will need to be done.

Yearly home Maintenance – Furnace

Your furnace falls into a special category. You may not even realize that there is anything wrong with your furnace until it suddenly stops working.  Worse, if it is producing carbon monoxide, it can kill you and your family. We suggest that you have your furnace checked properly once per year and have any repairs made to it promptly to avoid any  problems that might occur.

While no one wants to have their furnace red flagged, i.e. meaning it must be shut down and repaired before it can be used, this is far better than having it spewing carbon monoxide into your home and possibly killing you and your family. Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless and cannot be detected without a special monitor. Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home to ensure that you are also protected in this manner as well.

You may also want to have your water heater checked if it is also running on gas or some other kind of fuel other than electricity.


General home maintenance

General home maintenanceAnyone who owns a home knows that they really need to spend time on general home maintenance almost every month of the year. Your home is one of your largest assets and at sometime you may want to sell it. Any buyer is looking for a well maintained home that does not need major repairs. The best way to avoid major repairs regardless of how long you plan to live in your home is to keep up with general home maintenance and make sure that repairs are completed quickly to avoid further damage. Even if you have to pay someone to do the work for you, it is definitely worth it to maintain your home since your home will decline in value if you need to sell it.

Also savvy home buyers are going with home inspections and they are going to pick up on all of the little things as well as the major items that you may have ignored. If you want full price for your home keep up with maintenance.

What General Home Maintenance Is Needed

The following is a general list of maintenance steps that all homeowners should consider. Your home may have specific items that are needed and you may want to add this to this list.

  • Check, caulk and paint all windows
  • Paint your garage door
  • Tighten all bolts on your garage door
  • Ensure that water drainage is guiding water away from your home to avoid leaks
  • Empty all eaves troughs of leaves and debris in spring and fall
  • Maintain your lawn and shrubs
  • Ensure your fence if you have one is will maintained
  • Seal your driveway if it is asphalt
  • Repair and seal your interlock driveway
  • Repair all leaking taps in sinks
  • Check your roof on a regular basis
  • Paint and update rooms in your home to keep it looking fresh
  • Clean all floors and complete repairs especially for hardwood floors

While this is not a complete list, it does cover all of the major items that most home owners need to be aware of. You may want to do an inspection if you have not been maintaining your home properly to determine what is required immediately to avoid any damage. Your roof and windows are good examples of something that should be checked. If there are leaks of any kind, water damage can cause a great deal of damage and add mold to your home which can be harmful to anyone sensitive to mold.

Walls can be damaged, floors can be damaged by water leaks from the window leaks. In addition your home is not going to look great if your windows are not painted and looking great.


Mold on shower ceilings

Mold on shower ceilingsAnother maintenance project for do-it-yourself people and consumers is painting the shower ceiling whenever it becomes tired looking or worse like ours. Mold on shower ceilings. The picture that we’ve taken and included in this post is the picture that shows how bad our shower ceiling was after about two years, since the last time that we painted the shower ceiling. Before we talk about removing the mold, we want to emphasize that if you leave the bathroom door open and let the shower dry after each use, there will be far less mold to contend with.

This is a small maintenance job that anyone can perform.

Mold on shower ceilings – steps to Follow

The steps needed to repaint the shower ceiling are as follows:

Remove the light

Sand your ceiling to make sure that it is smooth and all mold is removed. If the mold is really bad you may want to wash the ceiling with a combination of water and vinegar.

Lightly brush the ceiling to remove any dust that might remain.

Paint your ceiling with semigloss or glossy paint. The paint should be able to deal with high moisture situations.

If you use regular Low sheen or flat paint that paint will not resist the moisture that routinely it is exposed to whenever someone takes a shower.

This is just a simple thing that one can do to keep your house looking great and will cost virtually nothing other than the cost of paint.

Allow the paint to dry at least 24 hours before the shower is used. You want the paint to really harden so that moisture cannot penetrate. Even if the instructions say that the paint will be dry in less time, wait for at least 24 hours.


One caution, if you’re using a step ladder in your shower always protect the feet of the ladder, so that it does not scratch the bottom of your shower. You can use a couple of old towels placed on the bottom of the shower. If there’s some concern about the stepladder slipping, you may want to have someone hold it for you.

We always use latex paint, since there is  less smell and it is easy to clean up. If you use oil based paint, make sure there is lots of ventilation to clear the air. It can become over powering if there is no ventilation. Open a window, use a fan etc to move the air from inside the shower where you are working.

Bathroom Fan

In our particular situation, there is no fan to draw the moisture out of the bathroom to expel it outside when people are taking hot showers. There probably should be a fan, and the builder should have put a fan in the bathroom however it was not done. There are fans in all the other bathrooms, even the one which is just a two piece.

If you happen to be a new homeowner, who’s having a home built, this is one of the things to look for. Make sure that there are exhaust fans installed in all bathrooms.

How Much to Budget for Home Maintenance

Budget for Home MaintenanceBudgeting for home maintenance is difficult to be exact, however to make sure that you have close to the right amount set aside for home maintenance so that it is not a burden to you when the time comes, is relatively easy.  As your home gets older, there is always going to be something to replace or repair. Take a look at the things that are nearing their end of life and obtain quotes for replacement and / or repair. Decide if you will do the work yourself or hire someone. This makes a huge difference in terms of how much you will need to budget for home maintenance.

Budget for Home Maintenance – Assess your home

The first step is to asses your home and look at all of the big items that will need some sort of work done in the next 20 years. These typically include the following items – roof, driveway, furnace, water heater, air conditioner, windows, flooring, window treatments and garage door.

The next step is to figure out the cost of replacing all of these items and timing of when each item will need replacement. We are talking about average years to replace and the cost today to replace the item. You can allow for inflation as well, which is a good step to take especially if the item in question will last for another 20 years.

Some work will be do it yourself jobs, but many of the larger jobs must be completed by skilled professionals or businesses with the right kind of equipment. E.g. replacing your driveway. Decide which jobs will be done by yourself and which ones will not, make sure the full cost of material and installation is included.

Repairs and replacements don’t always happen as planned. For example a furnace that should last another 10 years might only last 10 years while the water heater will last for 20 years. At least if you are setting money aside you will have some of the money saved if the furnace for example quits early.

Divide the cost to replace the item by the number of years that you expect them to last and the result is the amount that you need to save every year.

Upgrades, renovations, improvements

These items are another area to include since they are more discretionary. They can also involved big bucks. For example if you are planning to replace your carpet flooring with hardwood, the cost will be in the thousands of dollars. Again decide when it will be done, ask for several estimates and then decide how much you need to save to ensure you have sufficient funds to pay for whatever you are improving.

Improvements can include new floors, landscaping, adding a pool or hot tub and so on. The more you can do yourself the more you will save and reduce / control your overall cost.

Once you have all of the estimates and the cost for each item, the timing of each item figured out, you can arrive at a total number that will indicate how much you need to save for all of your plans and home maintenance costs. Depending on your income, there may be a need to make adjustments to your plans. For example the landscaping you planned may need to be delayed for a couple of years until you have enough money saved.

Average Home Maintenance Costs

Home Maintenance CostsCondos have condo fees for a reason. There is a lot of maintenance and upkeep that needs to be done for any building whether it is an apartment building or a town house style of home or a regular single family home. The difference with condo’s is that you are paying a management fee to someone to manage the building and you are paying labor costs for all of the work that needs to be completed, much of which most people can do themselves e.g. cutting and trimming the lawn.

Management fees are a set fee that the management company will charge just to manage the property. Their job is to collect the money, hire contractors and make sure that the work gets done according to the instructions they receive from the condo board. When you are in your own home, no one needs to pay management fees, you are the owner and the manager and you get to do the work, providing a huge savings.

Labor fees are another factor that come into play when you have your own home vs. a condo. In a condo you get to pay labor costs for everything at the going rate, while in a home there are many things that home owners can do themselves  from raking leaves to planting flowers to fixing leaking faucets. This is a huge savings for anyone who can do the basic level of work. The larger jobs you can contract out or hire someone to help you. Before this post begins to sound too much like a condo vs. single family home post, we just want to say one thing more. A homeowner can shop around for materials and take advantage of sales for material, while a contract buys material, may get a discount for quantity and may or may not pass the savings along to the condo!

Home Maintenance Costs

Maintenance is regular things you have to do every year while repairs are something that needs to be fixed after it has broken or stopped working. Keeping your lawn healthy and trimmed looking is maintenance. Fixing broken fences or fences that have lasted beyond their age is something that needs repair. All of these things most people can do themselves as long as they are not afraid of a bit of hard work.

Set aside money for big jobs

There are a number of large jobs that you will have to contend with particularly if you stay in a home for any length of time. We suggest that you set aside money for these things because they can cost a great deal and most people do not have that kind of money just sitting around. Here are a few examples of some of the things that people may want to consider saving for.

New roof – $4000 to $10,000 or more depending on the size of the home
Furnace Replacement – $3000 to $6000 again depending on the size of the furnace and features
New windows – $15,000 to $40,000 depending on how many windows and the type of windows
New driveway – $4,000 to $20,000 depending on size, asphalt or interlock
Upgrades – kitchen upgrades, bathroom upgrades, family room, basement etc can be high
Renovations – usually smaller jobs, but still expensive such as rug replacement, hardwood floors etc

A rule of thumb is to take the job you are going to do, figure out the cost of the job, decide when it will be done and divide by the number of years to get the amount you need to save each year. For example if your roof is already 10 years old and has another 15 years of live, and th estimated cost to replace it is $5,000, then you need to save $5000 divided by 15 each year in order to have enough saved when the roof needs replacement. Apply this approach to all of your items and you should end up with enough money in your maintenance pool to pay for all of your repairs!


Regular House Maintenance

Regular House MaintenanceRegular house maintenance is something that all of us need to pay attention to if we want to protect our investment and make sure that our home goes up in value over the years along with our neighbors houses. One of our neighbors thinks that his house is worth $600,000 because he has a large home and he has a large lot which is on the surface very attractive. In fact there are homes in our neighborhood that are worth amounts in that range.

He has not maintained his house that well and so it needs a lot of work. Someone who would like to buy his home would look at it and then look at all of the money he would have to spend. for example it is a 2500 square foot home and all of the carpets and the linoleum ( who has linoleum in their kitchens now) would have to be replaced. Most people would put in hardwood and tile. The cost can vary  a great deal, but let’s assume the cost would be $20,000. The entire home would also have to be painted which would cost another $10,000 approximately. He has a three car wide, 2 car deep driveway that would need to be repaved, which could cost another $8000.

Regular House Maintenance

The windows should also be replaced and there are a lot of windows and these could cost up to $30,000. While they are at it they would probably want to update the bathrooms and update the kitchen which can cost  anywhere from $40,000 to as much as $70,000. the sky is the limit of course and it could be done on the cheap or nothing at all could be done. Excluding the cost of the kitchen and the bathrooms, the total comes to $70,000 and most people would want to something to the kitchen and bathrooms so let’s allow a total of $30,000 for that which takes it to $100,000 in maintenance expenses.

We have not even touched the outside in terms of things such as landscaping etc that needs to be done. The point is that a what should be a $600,000 home might only be worth $500,000 or less depending on what the comparable are and how much competition there is from other homes on the market.

The point we wanted to make with all of this is that consumers need to complete regular house maintenance in order to maintain the value of their homes. This man has lived in his home for over 25 years and could have completed some of this maintenance over time without it all adding up in the manner that it has.

Maintenance Activities

Here is a brief list of maintenance activities that will help to maintain the value of your home provided that repairs are completed when identified.

  • Check your eaves trough and make sure it’s clear of leaves during the spring and again in the fall
  • Check all of your windowsills to make sure they are not rotting and are well sealed, paint them every year or two
  • Repaint your window frames if necessary, especially if the paint is flaking off
  • Replace your air filter on your furnace at least once every 3 months and more often if your home is dusty
  • Make sure there is no debris around your air-conditioner, other wise it will overwork and burn out
  • Trim all of your trees and shrubs, to keep them looking great and also not block windows
  • Add fertilizer spring summer and fall to your lawn
  • Remove all leaves and debris from the lawn and gardens in late fall and early spring to protect your lawn
  • Check all exterior walls and the roof for any damage from the wind, rain or snow


Routine Home Maintenance

Routine Home MaintenanceBy doing routine home maintenance, consumers can save themselves thousands of dollars in major repairs. For example by making sure that the down pipe from the eaves trough is delivering water onto the lawn instead of around the foundation can avoid major leaks in your basement.

Routine Maintenance List

The following is a list of routine maintenance items that we consider important to help ensure that major repairs can be avoided, which will save you thousands of dollars. Of course each situation is different and should be evaluated in the context of your own home and weather environment. Here we go:

  • Routine maintenance should include the following kinds of things –
  • Check your eaves trough and make sure it’s clear of leaves
  • Check all of your windowsills to make sure they are not rotting and are well sealed
  • Repaint your window frames if necessary
  • Replace your air filter on your furnace
  • Make sure there is no debris around your air-conditioner
  • Trim all of your trees and shrubs
  • Add fertilizer spring summer and fall to your lawn
  • Remove all leaves and debris from the lawn and gardens in late fall and early spring
  • Check all exterior walls and the roof for any damage from the wind, rain or snow
  • Have your furnace checked on an annual basis
  • Change the oil in your lawn mower  and snow blower at least annually
  • Reseal wooden decks as needed whenever you see sealant chipping off or exposed wood
  • Seal your asphalt driveway at least every two years
  • Evaluate when you should replace the shingles on your roof

We could probably add more to this list, however we think we have captured the major issues that home owners need to deal with to ensure that they do not end up with a major expense. We will expand on one of them to give you more detail.

Clean all Leaves etc out of the Eaves Trough

This small maintenance step should be completed in the spring and the late fall. Basically you want to have all of the leaves removed from the eaves trough to ensure that the water flows easily and does not sit in the eaves trough. Heavy water sitting in the eaves trough will cause them to sage and even fall down over time. If you live in a cold winter environment, the water and leaves will freeze and block the flow of water when it does thaw. Water can back up under the shingles due to ice dams and cause leakage into your home causing all kinds of water damage. Keep the eaves trough open and clear will help to reduce this kind of issue from occurring.


Routine House Maintenance

Routine House MaintenanceEvery home needs home maintenance from time to time regardless of where you live and the size of your home. Completing this home maintenance work can mean the difference between spending a few dollars and some time vs. major repairs because you just did not address these issues fast enough.

This post was really originated by something that I observed that my neighbor is not doing. I have mentioned it to him several times, however he either forgets, ignores what I am suggesting or just does not care. I know that he does not like to do maintenance around the home and he will likely pay for it sometime in the future.

He spent several thousand dollars having his front yard landscaped. It looks great and he had the landscapers install shrubs and flowers in his gardens as well. The landscapers installed and underground drain from his down pipe from the eaves trough into the lawn. There is a reservoir under the lawn with an overflow tap that pops up in a situation where there is a heavy rainfall.

In the fall you remove the down pipe from this underground pipe and redirect the water out over the garden towards the lawn. We get very cold weather and this prevents a lot of ice buildup around his foundation in the winter time and helps dissipate the water away from his foundation.

In the spring you are supposed to reattach the eaves trough to the underground pipe so the water will once again flow underground out onto the lawn. He has done neither of these things and now the water just flows down the drain pipe onto the ground beside his foundation. This water has no where really to run so it filters down along the foundation and the weeping tile take this water away.

I am concerned that eventually the weeping tile will eventually become plugged or the water around the foundation will freeze and cause the foundation to crack sometime in the winter. His basement is finished and I am worried that this potential leak in the future will cause a lot of damage to his basement. This is one example of something that only takes a few minutes to correct which could prevent a larger maintenance issue for my neighbor sometime in the future.

Routine House Maintenance

There are many other things that are routine and should be completed every year during specific seasons. Cleaning the eaves trough of any debris that has built up will allow the water to drain away properly from the roof and prevent back leaks into the house. Changing the filter on your furnace is another that will provide you with clean air.

Painting your windows on a regular basis will also help to prevent them from flaking and the wood rotting. Many of my neighbors have spent thousands of dollars replacing their windows because they were beginning to leak due to the seals giving way. A little paint would have prevented having to spend thousands of dollars replacing all of these windows.

Changing the oil on your lawn mower and your snow blower annually is another example which would make sure that these engines last a long time. Lubricating various items on these machines following the manual is another great thing to do to keep them running well.

Updating Your Roof

Another big item is replacing the shingles on your roof. Once they are over 15 years old watch for missing shingles or the ends of the shingles beginning to roll up. This is a sure sign of a problem waiting to happen. In both cases leaks can develop which can ruin the insulation underneath as well as ruin paint on walls and even your floors if it is bad enough. Any roof that has standing water on it is a potential problem waiting to happen.

Same goes for standing water around your foundation or on your lawn. If you have this situation make sure that you fill in the depression in such a manner that it drains away properly. This is easy to do and just part of the general maintenance activities that are needed around a home. Most people do not like mowing the lawn, or placing fertilizer on the lawn or grass seed on the lawn to thicken it up. A strong healthy thick lawn fights off weeds and looks healthy, while a lawn that is not doing well, has thin places etc is a perfect magnet for weeds. Keep it healthy to have a great weed free lawn.

Our site has a variety of posts about various tasks that should be followed that will cost little but can save you thousands of dollars in repairs.


Northern Climates – Spring Home Maintenance

Northern Climates - Spring Home MaintenanceMany areas in the northern half of the USA and most of Canada are just emerging from the annual deep freeze of winter. We posted on our blog a check list covering this subject back in March. We thought that it would be a good idea to repeat this post or at least reference it again.  Consumers all through the northern areas of North America and even northern Europe are just now thinking about all of the home maintenance  things they need to do to get their homes ready for the summer time. Most people focus on their yards and the planting of flowers, trimming some shrubs and cleaning up garden beds. But there are many more things that should be considered as part of the spring home maintenance.

A link to the post is – Spring Home Maintenance.  We have a long list that consumers should find helpful as they go about the job of getting their homes ready for the summer.

If you are the type that does not like to do this type of work, consider hiring someone to do this work for you. Even though it will cost a bit of money, this is a far better thing to do than to let things go. You will eventually have to spend a lot more money repairing various items around your home  than if you just keep everything maintained. This is where you can really save a lot of money in the long run around your home. Small regular maintenance bills are far easier to handle than one large repair job that took place because you did not do the regular maintenance activity.

Spring Home Maintenance – First Steps

The first step that we believe all home owners should consider is to take a walk around their home outdoors and assess if there are any improvements that need to be completed and if there any repairs that need to be completed. Repairs should be at the top of the list to avoid further expense.  For example if there is a piece of siding missing or cracked, it will let water, animals and insects into your home. Take note of these items and repair them as quickly as possible depending on the potential for more damage to your home if they are left un-repaired. In the next paragraph, we discuss an example of what we mean by this statement.

Clearing Eaves Troughs

This is a good example of saving money in the long run. Lets assume that you do not bother with the eaves trough and just leave them full of leaves and other material. The trough will be full of water most of the summer, with the material in the trough rotting away and creating an acidic mixture that over time will eat away at the eaves trough. You will need to replace them far in advance of when they normally should be replaced.

In addition this constant moisture will cause your shingles to deteriorate a little faster in this area. In the fall when it freezes, you now have a heavy weight on the trough due to the snow and ice which over time will cause them to sag. They are now beginning to look ugly and you will have to either replace them or at the very least spend money repairing them.

A few hours a year will avoid this entire cost and aggravation. In addition during a heavy rain, the water coming off your roof will flood your eaves trough and overflow onto the ground below. This totally defeats the purpose of having eaves troughs in the first place. You could even have leakage into your basement if there is a lot of water standing around your basement walls. Water in your basement especially if it is finished, can cause a great deal of damage.

We will keep this post short , but we want to draw your attention to the spring home maintenance list that we prepared a few months ago. A link to the post is – Spring Home Maintenance.

Add your comments. Our readers will appreciate your comments and suggestion of home maintenance that you need to follow-up on.



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