Improving Attic Ventilation Installing soffit vents By Merle Henkenius of Today’s Homeowner

STEP TWO // Improving Attic Ventilation

Cut parallel lines

cutting the two parallel lines with a portable circular saw
PHOTO BY MERLE HENKENIUS
Next, bore a 3⁄4- or 1-in.-dia. hole through the soffit right between the lines and measure the thickness of the soffit panel (probably 1⁄4 or 3⁄8 in.). Then set your circular saw to that depth and cut along the chalk lines. Cut the two parallel lines with a portable circular saw. Set the blade depth to barely cut through the thin soffit material.

Connect the two cuts

connecting the two cuts with a sharp chisel
PHOTO BY MERLE HENKENIUS
When you near the end of the soffit, stop short and connect the two cuts with a sharp chisel or sabre saw. Once all cuts are made, use a thin pry bar to remove the 2-in. plywood strip. Pull any nails that remain in the soffit framing with a cat's paw. Then inspect the length of the vent cutout. If there's any insulation clogging the slot, pull it out or shove it back up.

Raise the vent up to the soffit

raising the vent up to the soffit and center it over the cutout slot
PHOTO BY MERLE HENKENIUS
Next, lay the strip vent down on a flat wood surface, such as a plywood sheet or long 2 x 4, and drill 1⁄8-in.-dia. screw holes through both flanges. Space the holes 12 to 14 in. apart. With the help of an assistant, raise the vent up to the soffit and center it over the cutout slot.

Attach the vent to the soffit

using a cordless drill/driver to secure the vent to the soffit
PHOTO BY MERLE HENKENIUS
Use a cordless drill/driver to secure the vent to the soffit with ½-in.-long No. 4 sheet-metal screws. Continue installing additional strip vents until you reach the far end. Trim the last vent to length using aviation snips.

Remove any insulation from the new vent

raking back blown-in insulation from the new soffit vent
PHOTO BY MERLE HENKENIUS
The soffit vents are now installed, but you still need to make sure there's no insulation blocking the new vents. If the attic is insulated with fiberglass batts, just pull back any that are blocking the flow of air. If there's blown-in insulation, like ours, rake back the fluffy stuff with a 3- or 4-ft.-long 1 x 6, or use a garden rake or hoe.

Install the ventilation baffle

stapling a ventilation baffle to the plywood sheathing
PHOTO BY MERLE HENKENIUS

Finally, to ensure that the airway to the vent remains open, staple a ventilation baffle to the plywood sheathing in each rafter bay. The molded polystyrene baffles, available at home centers and lumberyards for about $1 each, form channels that hold insulation at bay and direct incoming air upward.

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How to Change a Furnace Filter

furnace filterFamily Handyman

When to change a furnace filter

If you’re thinking that you only have to change your filter once a year, you may well be shortening the life of your furnace. Actually, you should check your filter monthly and often change it monthly, depending on the type of filter you use. To determine if it’s too dirty, remove the filter and hold it up to the light. If you can no longer clearly see light, change the filter (see photo). Many costly repairs can be avoided with regular filter changing. If you don’t change the filter, lack of airflow through the furnace will cause it to overheat and shut down. Similarly, a dirty filter can cause an air conditioner to shut down because the coils freeze up when airflow is inadequate. Both events stress the system. Filters are designed to protect the blower motor from dirt. When buying filters for this task, an inexpensive glass fiber filter will do the job. But if you want to reduce airborne dust in your home, you could start with the best of the inexpensive 1-in. disposable filters—the standard pleated filter—which costs a bit more. Better yet, to remove even more small particles, install an inexpensive, electrostatically charged fiber filter. 3M Filtrete is one common brand.. Just make sure to check the filter monthly and change it when it’s dirty (not just every three months as recommended). All other options, from a 4-in. thick mechanical air filter to an electronic filter plate system, involve electrical or ductwork changes by heating/cooling contractors. They remove more particles, last longer and cost more. Finally, whatever filter you use, make sure you reinstall it correctly, with the arrow on the filter edge pointing toward the blower motor. Putting it in backward decreases the filter’s efficiency.
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How to Sell Your House in 2019 from Redfin

Interior view of home - How to sell you house in 2019

So, you have found yourself at that point of selling your house and moving on. Maybe you’re downsizing to a smaller house because the kids have finally left the nest, or you got a job in a new city and need to relocate, or finally, you retired and want to head south to warmer climates. Whatever your reason, you’re ready to sell your home. Luckily for you, we put together a comprehensive guide for first-time and seasoned home sellers. Continue reading to find out how to sell your house this year.

1) Hire a Home Inspector

You’re probably thinking wait, isn’t that what the buyer is going to do? You’re not wrong. When a buyer has made an offer and you’ve accepted it, the buyer will most likely hire a home inspector of their own. So, why would you hire a home inspector? First, if a home inspector turns up something that’s in need of repair, wouldn’t you prefer to resolve it long before entering into negotiations with a potential buyer?

In fact, if you end up needing to make repairs expected to take weeks to fix, you may lose that buyer altogether. Hiring a home inspector is a proactive approach to getting your home ready to sell. Known as a pre-listing home inspection, you can find out the exact condition of your property, what repairs need to be addressed beforehand, fix them, then focus on the next task to get your home sold fast.

Also, knowing the condition of your property will further assist you during the negotiation phase with potential buyers.  As you may already be aware, since you’ve already bought a home yourself, buyers often use their home inspection as a way of getting concessions from sellers, such as asking you to drop your list price. If you’ve already addressed any repairs that turned up in an inspection report, it is less likely that any new repairs will come up and impact your position during negotiations.

2) Make Repairs and Small Upgrades to Your Home

After your inspector makes a comprehensive list of repairs you should make, it’s time to get started either making the repairs yourself or contracting the right person to do them. This is may also be a great time to make small upgrades to your home that will help your house to sell fast. You don’t need to renovate your kitchen or anything, but that red accent wall that was extremely popular a decade ago might need a fresh coat of paint more neutral in color.

Understand Your Homes Selling Points First, try understanding your home’s selling points and then try to highlight those features to make them really stand out. Not sure what those features are in your home? Just think about what sold you on your home when you first toured it. Was it the kitchen, the open floor plan, or that personal studio space? These are the features you want to concentrate on because they are most likely to sell your home again.

Brighten Your Home You also want to think about ways to brighten your home and improve your curb appeal. Simple ways to brighten your home is painting your ceilings white and choosing a wall color that is brighter and more neutral. Though you may have enjoyed that accent wall, not everyone has the same taste as yourself. You want to make your house appeal to the largest audience possible to not only sell your home fast but to also invite more offers.

Improve Your Curb Appeal Furthermore, improving your curb appeal is crucial for future homebuyers. You only make a first impression once, and the curb appeal of your home is the first impression of your home for potential buyers. Though you may not necessarily have to paint the exterior of your house to impress homebuyers, simple things like trimming your hedges, freshly mowed lawn and making sure any exterior lights aren’t burnt out can go a long way. Even freshly laid beauty bark and newly planted flowers can really make your yard pop!

Though this can be a lot of work, you will be happy that you did it because homes often sell faster and for more money when these small upgrades are done. If you don’t want to do all that work yourself, don’t know how to, or just don’t have the time, there are concierge type services that can do it all for you. This way you can focus on moving to your next home.

3) Declutter and Prep Your House to Sell

There’s an expression in real estate, “clutter can cost a sale.” Decluttering and prepping your home is something you want to really focus on. Especially if you’ve lived in your house for five years or more, there is a good chance you’ve collected a lot of stuff. Don’t worry it happens!

Renting storage units are becoming an increasingly popular method to decluttering one’s home before selling it. The idea is to limit the amount of stuff in your house so that potential buyers can envision themselves (and their stuff) in that space. Even removing photos is a great way to allow people touring your home to think about what they would hang on those walls or what they’d place on that fire mantel. Basically, you’re trying to present your house as a canvass from which potential buyers can create the next chapter of their lives.

Furthermore, by eliminating the majority of your stuff in your house earlier you can start deep cleaning your home more easily. And yes, you want to deep clean your home. If you sold your car to someone (not a dealership) you would probably wash it and vacuum the inside of it before you let someone test drive it, right? Well, the same goes for selling your house. You want to present your home in its best possible light so that it sells fast and you get competing offers.

Also, don’t just focus on deep cleaning just the inside of your home. You can use a pro wash to clean the outside of your home as well. These products typically attached to your garden hose and then you just spray your house down. It’s kind of like washing your car, just without the scrubbing.

4) Find a Real Estate Agent

Finding a real estate agent is easy, finding a great real estate agent can be more of a challenge. Getting referrals and reading online reviews is a great way to start narrowing down your options, and hopefully, you’ll end up with a couple of good potential candidates to interview.

You’ll want to understand what you’re looking for when hiring a real estate agent to represent your best interests. Here are some questions to consider asking any potential candidate:

  • How many clients have you served this year?
  • Has a client ever filed a complaint against you?
  • What is your fee?
  • What services do you offer beyond negotiations and escrow?

These are just a few questions to consider asking while interviewing real estate agents. A more comprehensive list of interview questions can be found here.

After you decide on a real estate agent, you and your agent should come up with a plan of action. This plan should include a timeline, from the pricing of your home and getting it listed on MLS to open houses. It should also include when a price reduction strategy needs to take effect to get your home sold. You and your agent should be on the same page at all times and a plan of action will help ensure that.

5) Price Your Home to Sell

Now is the time to find out what price you should list your home! You can start by using online tools to help you get an idea of what your home is currently worth. This is a great starting point to get an idea of your home’s worth, but you should never set your sights on a single number and expect it to happen. Market conditions change all the time and so too does buyer behavior. Being open-minded about pricing your home as well as adjusting price is key to get your home sold.

Another option that many homeowners do to get a list price for their home is to hire a home appraiser. Home appraisers are licensed professionals that will assess the value of your house based on the state of your property and overall housing market conditions. They will look at the size of your property, the interior and exterior conditions of your house, any upgrades, additions or home improvements you’ve done, and then calculate your home’s worth based on the local market conditions.

Looking at comparables of recently sold homes in your area will also help you settle on a price with your real estate agent. These homes should be similar in size, location, and sold within the last few months. Anything outside of those parameters would not be considered true comparables and could give you false information for pricing your home.

Furthermore, you want to be strategic about your pricing. You want your house to sell fast while being competitive for current market conditions. Instead of lumping the price of your house in with others in the area, strategize your pricing based on your home’s selling features. In other words, if there are three houses for sale in the same area as your own and priced at $350,000, you might be able to justify $360,000 or more because you have a larger lot size or maybe you’re located in a popular neighborhood.

6) Get Professional Photos Taken of Your Home

Nothing sells a home faster than professional photos. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. They are searching online, looking at every home that comes up for sale within their filtered interests the moment it’s listed. If your house is being represented online by poorly shot photography, your listing will see very little traffic. Not to mention, it has been widely observed that listing your house with professionally shot photos, on average, sell for more money than other listings.

Furthermore, 3D walking tours of homes have become increasingly popular with buyers looking online. Many agencies include these types of services as a component of their overall services to you as a seller, however, you should ask while interviewing your real estate agent what services are provided so you don’t find yourself paying out of pocket later.

7) List Your Home to Sell

Your real estate agent will get your home listed online on MLS (Multiple Listing Service), in order to l start showing up on real estate search platforms to potential buyers.

You may be wondering when is the best time to list your home? If you’re thinking about waiting for a specific season, then you might be waiting for nothing. In 2016, Redfin analyzed more than 7 million home sales to identify specific seasonal trends in homes being sold. What was determined was that though spring was slightly better for homes that sold within 30 days and for above asking price, winter was surprisingly a close second. What plays a bigger role in a house being sold quickly and/or above asking price has more to do with current market conditions than the season a house is sold.

Also, don’t limit the marketing of your house to your real estate agent and online search. Market your house yourself! Spread the word through your family and friends, share your listing on social media, send out emails asking people to share your listing with others, and even advertising with online ads are ways of getting your house in front of more people and increase the chance of selling your home faster.

8) Have Open Houses and Personal Showings

Your first open house is what you’ve been working towards and now it’s about to happen. It’s time to step up your game and stage your home to sell. Here is a list of things to consider that will really help you make your house shine:

  • Clear the clutter: You may have already transferred most of your belongings to a storage unit by now. Focus on just cleaning up the clutter that gets left out on countertops and tables. Put away newspapers, mail or magazines, or if you have children help them pick up their toys.
  • Deep clean your house: Nothing turns off a buyer more than an unclean bathroom. That could also be said about the rest of your house. Now more than ever is that time to wash your windows, window sills, and scrub your grimy glass shower doors.
  • Add white accents: White accents such as flowers or towels in the bathroom create a sense of welcome cleanliness.
  • Arrange furniture: You don’t have to necessarily rent furniture to stage your home. You can most likely use what you have. The key is to limit the number of furniture pieces in any one room and then arrange them in a way that’s inviting to people as they enter the room.
  • Bring in light: Think about removing your curtains or keeping them drawn back to allow as much light into your house as possible. If you have rather large elaborate curtains, consider storing them away until you get to your next home.
  • Showcase your floors: Floors are key feature homebuyers are looking at, especially if you have wood floors. Show them off by removing any rugs or unneeded furniture so that more of your flooring can be seen. If you have wood floors, think about getting them polished to really make them pop!
  • Create a welcoming ambiance: You may have heard about that old trick of lighting a candle that smells like freshly baked cookies? Well, it’s not wrong, but a single candle might not do the trick. Focus on reducing odors in your home. If you have a mudroom, or a cat or dog, use a neutralizing spray for a few days before an open house to limit any odors that you may not actually realize are there.
  • Organize all closets and drawers: Homebuyers touring your home will most likely look in your closets to determine space and, frankly, to see if their stuff will fit in there. Also, they will likely open kitchen drawers and cabinets as well, so make sure everything is nice and tidy.
  • Dust: Concentrate on all the areas that you’ve most likely have turned a blind eye to for some time, like ceiling fans, baseboards, on top of doorways, appliances, etc.
  • Make your entrance inviting: If the exterior of your house has outdated light fixtures or worn out address numbers, consider replacing them along with your welcome mat. A new mat is always inviting to people touring your home.
  • Secure your valuables: If you didn’t already store your valuables away in the storage unit you rented, you’ll want to make sure that these are not kept in plain sight. In fact, if you have a safe of some kind, that would be a perfect place to store your valuables while open houses and home tours are taking place.

Unlike open houses that are planned in advance, personal showings can happen at any point during the home selling process. The key is to be flexible and maintain your home’s cleanliness to make it easier on yourself in case of unexpected tours that may just pop up at moment’s notice. You want to make a great first impression every time!

10) Have a Plan in Case Your Home Doesn’t Sell Quick Enough

You and your real estate agent should have already gone over this beforehand, but not every house sells after the first open house. There are many factors at play and depending on the condition of the housing market for your area, your real estate agent may have to use some other strategies in their arsenal to get your house sold.

If it’s lowering the price of your home or holding more open houses, you’ll want to agree on what the next steps should be in case your house isn’t seeing any offers.

11) Negotiate the Selling Price of Your Home

One thing to consider is that the buyer is trying to get the absolute best price they can, while you’re doing the exact same. There will be multiple factors to consider as each home sold and purchased is different. For example, if it’s a buyer’s market that means the buyer has the upper hand because there are multiple listings with fewer offers being made. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to make huge concessions in order to sell your home.

This is where your agent really steps up. They will help you navigate the negotiation process, and will give you their advice on how to proceed when offers are being made. Luckily, you interviewed and hired the right agent, so you know they have your best interests in mind. There are several factors and tactics to consider when entering this phase. Your agent will help you every step of the way as you navigate through the negotiation process.

You most likely have made many great memories in your home. Your children may have grown up in your house and marks of their heights years past still scar the wall near the kitchen. It’s difficult, but try to separate yourself – emotionally – from your house. Whatever your memories may be, just remember they are not lost, but they also have no place in negotiations. Try to remain objective during this process and rely on your real estate agent for advice and how to proceed.

12) Sign and Close

This is the moment you and your agent have been working towards. You’ve agreed on a price with the buyers, any and all inspections and appraisals of your home have been completed, and you are now signing the papers to sell your house. Congratulations, you’ve done it!

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Furnace Included: Free 90 Day Home Inspection Warranty

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Free 90 Day Home Inspection Warranty includes oven, range, dishwasher, built-in microwave, trash
compactor, and garbage disposal, heating/air (HVAC):
furnace, air conditioner, and thermostats.

No matter how thorough the inspection, issues come up after the sale from time to time with previously owned homes.  It’s not the inspector’s fault, nor the agents or new homeowners.  That’s why Home Detective offers a FREE 90 Warranty with any home inspection we do.  Some buyers and agents have used it over the years, ALL with positive reviews.  Every party to the transaction leaves it with peace of mind. For appliances, all claims must be received within 90 days of the inspection or within 22 days of closing, whichever comes later.* For added peace of mind, you can extend it for 18 months.  Seller’s selling old homes, buyers buying old homes love this option.  It often makes deals happen that seemed lost. Schedule a Complete Home Inspection To schedule a home inspection, contact Reed today online or call (763) 434-3155.  Home Detective is certified by over 4 leading trade organizations as a home inspection expert, such as the Midwest Association of Home Inspectors (MAHI)American Home Inspection Training (AHIT)American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). Buyers Home Inspection Brainerd | Buyers Home Inspection Rogers | Certified Home Inspector Brainerd | Certified Home Inspector Rogers | Home Inspection Brainerd | Home Inspection for Sellers Rogers | Home Inspection Rogers | Home Inspector Rogers | Radon Inspection Brainerd | Radon Inspection Rogers | Radon Inspection St. Michael | Radon Inspector Rogers | Radon Inspector Brainerd | Radon Inspector St. Michael  
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The “Price is Right” Distressed Home = Get an Inspection

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No heat, toilet burst

As a rule of thumb, all home buyers should get a complete home inspection before they agree to close on a purchase agreement.  But distressed homes, often times marketed as “fixer-uppers,” are usually vacant or have been for some time, lender/bank owned, and sold “as-is.”  This means there is almost no information or seller disclosure available to the buyer to know what “known” issues may have or is currently affecting the property.  As a result, there is an extra burden on the buyer to find out.  Although fixer uppers/distressed properties are often sold at an attractive price and can be a great opportunity for many would-be homeowners, home buyers should partner with a professional like Home Detective to perform a complete home inspection. In the picture above, the property was obviously vacant with no heat, and the water in the toilet froze and burst.  This will certainly be cleaned up by the listing company, but what else went on there?  What about the water pipes?  Is there a potential for mold?   The questions are endless and Home Detective is professionally certified to help you answer them.

Free 90 Day Home Warranty-Appliances Included

Caveat emptor is Latin for "let the buyer beware” because the principle has been around for centuries.  Buried in small print on most “as-is”
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A vacant home, no heat burst pipes

documents is a version of this “hold the seller harmless” language.  In addition to providing peace of mind with a complete home inspection, Home Detective also provides a FREE 90 DAY Home Inspection Warranty, appliances included, with all of our home inspections*.

 Schedule a Home Inspection

Home Detective is certified by over 4 leading trade organizations as a home inspection expert, with rigorous knowledge and experience requirements that a jack of all trades can’t possibly offer, such as the Midwest Association of Home Inspectors (MAHI)American Home Inspection Training (AHIT)American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). These certifications along with years of experience will ensure you have peace of mind after you purchase your home.  In addition to our credentials, Home Detective offers a Free 90 Day Warranty for all the home inspections we do with the option for an 18 month extended warranty. To schedule your home inspection today or for more information, contact Reed at (763) 434-3155.  Buyers Home Inspection Brainerd | Buyers Home Inspection Rogers | Certified Home Inspector Brainerd | Certified Home Inspector Rogers | Home Inspection Brainerd | Home Inspection for Sellers Rogers | Home Inspection Rogers | Home Inspector Rogers | Radon Inspection Brainerd | Radon Inspection Rogers | Radon Inspection St. Michael | Radon Inspector Rogers | Radon Inspector Brainerd | Radon Inspector St. Michael
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Guide to Choosing & Changing HVAC Air Filters

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Selecting the correct type of Furnace Filter is important

Routinely changing the air filters for your furnace is an important home maintenance task.  This article discusses: why you should change your air filter; how often to do it; how to choose the right filter; and how to do it yourself.

Why Is It Important To Change Your Furnace Air Filter?

 
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Setting a date to change the furnace filter

Changing your furnace’s air filter is important for two reasons: 1) A dirty air filter makes your furnace’s blower motor work harder, which wastes energy.  Changing your air filter can save you up to $50/year in energy savings; and 2) Over time, your furnace’s air filter gets clogged with the particles that it is made to take out of the air, and as such, as it gets dirty it can’t do its job of cleaning the air in your home.

How Often Should You Change Your Furnace Air Filter?

The frequency of when you should change your air filter can range between once every month, to once every 3 months, and for your particular home it will depend on several factors:
  • If you have someone in your family that has respiratory problems, such as allergies or asthma, then you will want to change your furnace’s air filter more often.
  • If you have a high level of particulates from pets, smoking, construction projects, etc., then you will want to change your air filter more often.
  • The recommended frequency will also depend on the efficiency of the filter that you use.  Higher efficiency filters do a better job of removing smaller particles from the air, but they also get clogged faster and therefore need to be changed more often.
 

How To Choose the Right Furnace Air Filter?

Similar to how often you should change your filter, the choice of the right air filter for your particular home and living situation depends on a number
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Periodically check the furnace filter before is gets like this

of factors. The first thing to consider in choosing the right filter is knowing its size. To find the size of the filter you need, just check on the side of the current filter that is in your furnace. Most filters will have the size written right on them (see types, costs, and reviews of furnace air filters).  However, if you have any doubts as to whether the correct size was originally installed, then it is best to check with your furnace’s manufacturer. The next thing to consider in choosing the right filter for your home is the MERV rating of the filter.  Merv ratings are used to rate the ability of an air filter to remove dust, pollen, mold spores, bacteria, etc. From the air as it passes through the filter.  Merv ratings range from 1 to 16, and the higher the MERV rating, the smaller the particle that the filter can trap. Some of the most common filters found in residential use only have a MERV rating of between 1 to 4.  These are relatively inexpensive, but they do NOT do a good job of filtering the air, because they will not stop particles smaller than 10 microns.  Filters with MERV ratings of between 5 to 8 are a better choice, and these filters will catch particles as small as 3 microns.  Filters with a MERV rating of 9 to 12 will stop particles in the 1 to a 3-micron range, and these filters are a great choice for homeowners who want the best particle control possible.  And finally, the most efficient filters have MERV ratings of 13 to 16 and will stop particles as small as .3 microns. These filters are used in hospitals and other super-clean environments. IMPORTANT: If you decide to use a high-efficiency air filter with a MERV rating of 9 or higher, then it is very important that you remember to check the filter each month (which is easy to remember if you have signed up for your free reminders from Home-Wizard.com!).  And replace the filter if it looks dirty, otherwise, it can become blocked and cause your furnace blower to have to work harder, which will cost you more energy to operate it. So don’t get higher MERV rating filters unless you are sure that you will be replacing them often. The various types of filters include electrostatic, pleated, HEPA and activated carbon. Some are disposable and some are washable. But what really matters is the MERV rating, as described above.

How To Do-It-Yourself?

Replacing your furnace air filter is one of the easiest do-it-yourself tasks there is, once you learn how.  Here is a short YouTube video that shows the typical location of your furnace filter and how to replace it: replace the furnace filter. And here are the steps to follow for replacing your furnace filter: Step 1: Find out where your existing filter is located and read the size that is written on the side of it. Step 2: Decide what MERV rating is appropriate for your home situation (see above). Step 3: Purchase your filter. You might want to consider buying enough to last you the entire year, so you have them available as needed, without having to make extra trips or online orders. Step 4: Turn off your furnace. This is best to do right at the breaker, but you can also do it at your thermostat. Step 5: You will want to check the existing filter to see which direction the “airflow” arrow is pointing on it, as you will want to install the new filter in the same direction.  Most filters will have an airflow arrow printed right on it. However, if you are not 100% sure the direction is correct (for example if you have just moved into the home), then you can do what is called the “string test”: tie a string firmly to your finger, then turn your furnace blower on; next, bring your finger with the string on it near the opening where your filter opening is, and see which direction the air causes the string to flow. . . this is your air flow direction.  Just be sure to tie the string FIRMLY to your finger, so it doesn’t get sucked inside your furnace! Step 6: Remove your old filter. Step 7: Install your new filter, with the proper air flow direction. Step 8: Write the current date on the side of the new filter (in case you forget when it was changed). Step 9: Clean up any dust, debris, etc. Around your furnace. Step 10: Turn your furnace back on. Hopefully, this article has helped you understand why you should change your air filter; how often to do it; how to choose the right filter; and how to do-it-yourself.

For a Home Inspection

Home Detective is certified by over 4 leading trade organizations as a home inspection expert, with rigorous knowledge and experience requirements that a jack of all trades can’t possibly offer, such as the Midwest Association of Home Inspectors (MAHI)American Home Inspection Training (AHIT)American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). These certifications along with years of experience will ensure you have peace of mind after you purchase your home.  In addition to our credentials, Home Detective offers a Free 90 Day Warranty for all the home inspections we do with the option for an 18 month extended warranty. To schedule your home inspection today or for more information, contact Reed at (763) 434-3155Buyers Home Inspection Brainerd | Buyers Home Inspection Rogers | Certified Home Inspector Brainerd | Certified Home Inspector Rogers | Home Inspection Brainerd | Home Inspection for Sellers Rogers | Home Inspection Rogers | Home Inspector Rogers | Radon Inspection Brainerd | Radon Inspection Rogers | Radon Inspection St. Michael | Radon Inspector Rogers | Radon Inspector Brainerd | Radon Inspector St. Michael
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Air Registers: Better Air Quality & Saving Energy

Buyers Home Inspection Brainerd, Buyers Home Inspection Rogers, Certified Home Inspector Brainerd, Certified Home Inspector Rogers, Home Inspection Brainerd, Home Inspection for Sellers Rogers If you have air registers in your home for either air conditioning or heating, then you have what is called "forced air ventilation ductwork" in your home. And with this comes special issues for saving energy and ensuring healthy air quality. This article discusses what you can do to save energy and improve your indoor air quality from the forced air ventilation systems in your home. Your forced air ventilation ductwork has two types of systems: 1) distribution; and 2) supply. The supply system of ductwork draws air from places around your home, and delivers it to either your furnace or your air conditioner . . . Or in some homes, to both. The distribution system of your forced air ventilation ductwork takes the cooled (or warmed) air and sends it to other places around your home. When your air conditioning or heating system is running, you can put your hand over an air register and tell if it is supply or distribution duct by feeling which direction that the air is flowing.

SAVING ENERGY

Home Inspection Rogers, Home Inspector Rogers, Radon Inspection Brainerd, Radon Inspection Rogers, Radon Inspection St. Michael, Radon Inspector Rogers, Radon Inspector Brainerd, Radon Inspector St. MichaelTo save energy with your forced air ventilation system, you should check the unfinished areas of your home (for example in your attic or basement), and see if any of your ductwork connections are leaking any air. Any air that is leaking is air that is not getting distributed properly for your home and is wasting energy. Instead of using duct tape to seal these duct leaks, instead use duct mastic, which is more effective and permanent (see cost and review of duct mastics). And while you are reviewing your ductwork, you should also check to see if there is any loose or missing insulation, especially in your unfinished areas. Without proper insulation, you will be again wasting energy. You will also want to be sure that none of your air registers (either supply or distribution) are being blocked by furniture, drapes, rugs, blankets, etc. Obstructing these vents prevent proper circulation of the air into or out of your room, and as a result, you have to run your air conditioning or heating system harder, which wastes energy. On the other hand, if your forced air ventilation ductwork is ONLY used for heating or cooling, then you will want to consider seasonally blocking the registers off completely when the system is not being used, especially if your ductwork goes through unfinished areas of your home. This helps keep out hot air in the summer, and cold air in the winter. And if you want to get a really tight seal on your registers, then in addition to closing the registers, you can also cover them with magnetic covers, or by even taping cardboard or paper over the registers. If you notice that some rooms in your home are too hot or too cold, you can "balance" the system by adjusting registers and duct dampers. An unbalance forced air ventilation system can waste energy by getting you to run your heating or air conditioning system too hard to serve the areas that are being “starved” for capacity. And of course, you can also save energy by frequently changing (or washing, depending on the model) your system's air filters. A dirty air filter means your blower has to work harder and therefore wastes more energy.

HEALTH

Especially if someone in your family has allergies or asthma, then you will want to properly care for your forced air ventilation system. First, you will want to routinely clean inside of your air supply registers with a vacuum extension and remove any objects or debris that may have fallen in floor registers. Next, you will also want to vacuum the area around where your air filters are installed. If you put your hand around where your filter gets inserted, you will likely feel air being drawn into the spaces around the filter. If your furnace or air conditioning unit is in a dusty, unfinished area of your home, then dust that builds up in the area around your filter can get drawn into your ductwork and distributed around your home. And this is why you will want to routinely vacuum the dust and dirt from these areas. You can also improve the air quality in your home by upgrading the type of filter you use to one that is higher-efficiency, which will capture more pollutants and pollen. Filter efficiencies are measured by their MERV ratings, and you can read more about selecting the proper MERV rating filter in our article here: Guide to Choosing & Changing Your HVAC Air Filters And finally, you can improve the air quality in your home by having your ductwork professionally cleaned to remove dust and mold. For a Home Inspection Home Detective is certified by over 4 leading trade organizations as a home inspection expert, with rigorous knowledge and experience requirements that a jack of all trades can’t possibly offer, such as the Midwest Association of Home Inspectors (MAHI)American Home Inspection Training (AHIT)American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). These certifications along with years of experience will ensure you have peace of mind after you purchase your home.  In addition to our credentials, Home Detective offers a Free 90 Day Warranty for all the home inspections we do with the option for an 18 month extended warranty. To schedule your home inspection today or for more information, contact Reed at (763) 434-3155Buyers Home Inspection Brainerd | Buyers Home Inspection Rogers | Certified Home Inspector Brainerd | Certified Home Inspector Rogers | Home Inspection Brainerd | Home Inspection for Sellers Rogers | Home Inspection Rogers | Home Inspector Rogers | Radon Inspection Brainerd | Radon Inspection Rogers | Radon Inspection St. Michael | Radon Inspector Rogers | Radon Inspector Brainerd | Radon Inspector St. Michael
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Getting Rid of Winter Dryness

Buyers Home Inspection Brainerd, Buyers Home Inspection Rogers, Certified Home Inspector Brainerd, Certified Home Inspector Rogers, Home Inspection Brainerd, Home Inspection for Sellers Rogers, Home Inspection Rogers, Home Inspector Rogers, Radon Inspection Brainerd, Radon Inspection Rogers, Radon Inspection St. Michael, Radon Inspector Rogers, Radon Inspector Brainerd, Radon Inspector St. Michael

Itchy Skin from a Dry Home

During the wintertime, the relative humidity in your home can drop below 15%, causing a variety of health, comfort and woodwork damage problems for your home.  Itchy skin and bloody noses plus hardwood floors literally separating at the seams are common to a number of homeowners.  But, these side effects don’t have to be.  And prospective home buyers should be mindful of this when they purchase a home when they inspect it.  This article discusses options for increasing the humidity in the home you live in and/or in the one you are thinking of buying.
Home Inspection for Sellers Rogers, Home Inspection Rogers, Home Inspector Rogers, Radon Inspection Brainerd, Radon Inspection Rogers, Radon Inspection St. Michael, Radon Inspector Rogers, Radon Inspector Brainerd, Radon Inspector St. Michael

Dry Homes Can Cause Bloody Noses

In the wintertime, as the outside air temperature drops, air loses the capacity to hold water vapor, and as a result, the relative humidity level drops. And then when the air in your home is heated up, it expands, and therefore the relative humidity of the air in your home drops even further. Most people find a humidity level of between 30-50% to be comfortable, but when the relative humidity in your home is too low, it not only feels uncomfortable, but it can also cause a number of other problems that we will discuss below.

Increase Wintertime Indoor Humidity 
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Itchy Skin is Common with Dry Homes

If your home is too dry in the winter, here are some suggestions for ways to increase the relative humidity levels in your home:
  1. Rather than using your bathroom fan after a shower, instead use a room fan to push the damp air out into the other rooms of your home. In addition to adding humidity, this will save you energy both by not having to heat the air to replace the air which would have been going out of your home from your exhaust fan.
  2. Rather than using the drying cycle on your dishwasher, leave the dishwasher door open to air dry the dishes. It not only will add humidity to your house, but it will also save you energy.
  3. Rather than using your clothes dryer, hang damp laundry inside your home on laundry racks. You might even want to use a room fan to increase drying time and to spread the humidity faster around your home. Not using your dryer will both save you energy and increase your home’s humidity.
  4. Water houseplants regularly and keep them well sprayed with water.
  5. Place shallow pans of water near heating vents and sunny windows.
  6. Use a water spray bottle to spray the air in your rooms with a fine mist (see types, costs, and reviews of spray bottles). Be careful not to spray more than what can evaporate quickly, or else you may damage your carpets, furniture, bedding, etc.
  7. Purchase a room-style humidifier.
  8. Have a whole-house humidifier installed.

ROOM-STYLE HUMIDIFIERS

Room humidifiers are made for adding humidity to a single room of your house and require that you continually add water to them. You can see examples and cost for various types of humidifiers at Amazon.com: humidifiers. Find out Energy Efficient Way to Better Indoor Air Quality. As you will see, there are 4 basic styles of room humidifiers: Evaporative Humidifiers: Evaporative humidifiers are the most common and simplest in design, and provide the most basic level of service and features. They have just a few basic parts: a reservoir, wick, and fan. The wick is an absorbent material that draws up water from the reservoir and provides a large surface area for it to evaporate from. The fan blows air onto the wick to aid in the evaporation of the water. Vaporizer: A vaporizer style room humidifier boils water, which thereby releases steam and moisture into the air. A medicated inhalant can also be added to the steam vapor to help reduce coughs. Vaporizers cay is healthier to use that evaporative style humidifiers because steam is less likely to convey mineral impurities or microorganisms from the standing water in the reservoir.  But of course, boiling water requires significantly more energy than other room humidifier styles. Ultrasonic or cool mist: An ultrasonic humidifier, or sometimes called a “cool mist” humidifier, doesn’t use a wick or steam but instead uses a small metal diaphragm vibrating at an ultrasonic frequency to break the water down into tiny water droplets. And then when they are blown by the fan, they become a fine vapor mist. These humidifiers are relatively quiet and use very little electricity. They also don’t require replacement filters if you use distilled water in them. Impeller Humidifier: An impeller humidifier uses a rotating disc that flings water at a diffuser, which then breaks the water into fine droplets that float into the air. Evaporative humidifiers are relatively inexpensive and easy to use, and these humidifiers can typically cover larger areas than other styles of room humidifiers. Steam vaporizers can be dangerous around children and pets because they can cause burns. They also have the highest energy costs, however, there are significantly less bacterial or mineral concerns with this style. Impeller and ultrasonic designs have low energy costs but raise two concerns. First, if the water gets stagnant, these designs will disperse bacteria into the air in your home. This is why it is so important to clean the tank regularly and refill it with clean water. Many high-end ultrasonic units, therefore, have antibacterial features built in, and some units use ultraviolet light to kill bacteria. The second concern with these style units is minerals in the water. Impeller and ultrasonic designs send these minerals into the air. As such, the EPA recommends using low-mineral water (such as distilled water) in your humidifier. And many ultrasonic models feature a demineralization cartridge that filters minerals out of the water. Typical problems that can arise with room style humidifiers include:
  • Since they use reservoirs, water may stagnate and give rise to mold and bacteria.
  • The wick may become moldy.
  • A vaporizer humidifier may be a source of fires if the heating element is poorly designed.
To keep room humidifiers operating properly, it is important to regularly clean the reservoir and wicks to deter the growth of mold and bacteria. It is also best to use distilled water so that minerals from tap water do not get dispersed into the air. And every week you should rinse the reservoir with bleach or white vinegar.

WHOLE-HOUSE HUMIDIFIERS

If your home uses forced air for heating or if you have central air conditioning, then you might want to consider using a whole-house humidifier. Whole house humidifiers are installed connected with your forced air heating or cooling system, and use your existing ductwork system to distribute the added humidity throughout your house. There are two basic type styles of whole-house humidifiers: reservoir and flow-through. Reservoir type: there are two styles of reservoir type humidifiers: “drum style” and “disc wheel” style. Drum Style: With a drum style reservoir whole-house humidifier, a pipe brings water directly to a reservoir (a pan) in a unit that is attached to your home’s ductwork. The water level in the pan is automatically controlled by a float valve, similar to the float system in the back of your toilet tank. The wick that carries the water is typically a foam pad mounted on a drum which is driven by a small motor. Hot air enters the drum at one end and then passes through the sides of the drum. The system turns off and on based on a humidity sensor which can be set at your desired level. Disc Wheel style: A disc wheel style of reservoir whole-house humidifier is similar in design to the drum style humidifiers, but this style of humidifier replaces the foam drum with a number of plastic discs with small grooves on both sides. This creates a large evaporative surface area without requiring a great deal of space. And unlike the drum style humidifiers, the disc wheel does not need to be routinely replaced. This style of humidifier is fairly low maintenance, is high output due to its large evaporative surface area, and can be installed in hard water situations. It also maintains its efficiency throughout its lifespan. Flow-Through type: There are two styles of flow-through type humidifiers: “bypass flow-through” style and “spray mist” style. Bypass Flow-Through style: In this style of a flow-through humidifier, a pipe brings water directly to an electrically-controlled valve at the top of the humidifier. Air passes through an aluminum "biscuit" which is similar to coarse steel wool. The biscuit has a coating of matte ceramic, resulting in a large surface area within a small space. When the humidity sensor calls for humidity, the valve is opened and causes a spray of water onto the biscuit. Hot air is passed through the biscuit, causing the water to evaporate from the pad and be carried into your forced air ductwork. This style of humidifier is somewhat higher cost, but it's advantages include less risk of mold formation (since there is no pan of stagnant water) and reduced routine maintenance requirements. Spray Mist Type: In this style of a flow-through humidifier, a small plastic tube brings water directly to an electrically-controlled valve in the humidifier. Water mist is sprayed directly into the supply air, and the mist is carried into your forced air ductwork by the air flow. These tend to be lower cost and are smaller in size, so it can fit in areas where other styles can’t. Like the bypass flow-through style unit, it has less risk of mold formation since it does not use a pan of stagnant water, and it is fairly low maintenance. However, the spray nozzle can get clogged if you have hard water. Because of the materials and machinery used in the drum style, you’ll have to regularly clean your water reservoir and change your belt in order to prevent mildew, mold, bacteria and mineral buildup. Flow-through systems address the problems of a standing water reservoir by using a rectangular foam or aluminum pad, but the pad can get clogged if it isn’t replaced or cleaned regularly. Regarding the reservoir style humidifiers, both the drum style and disc wheel style are relatively inexpensive to maintain. The foam drum in drum style needs to be replaced regularly, while the disc wheel does not need routine replacement. Disc wheel style humidifiers also have higher output due to a larger evaporative area and can be installed in hard water situations. As mentioned above, the flow-through style humidifiers do not use pans, and therefore the risk of stagnant water and mold is greatly reduced. Flow-through styles tend to use less electricity.

SUMMARY

During the wintertime, the relative humidity in your home can drop below 15%, causing a variety of health, comfort and woodwork damage problems for your home.  Hopefully, this article has helped you to understand the various options for increasing the humidity in the home you live in and/or in the one you are thinking of buying.

For a Home Inspection

Home Detective is certified by over 4 leading trade organizations as a home inspection expert, with rigorous knowledge and experience requirements that a jack of all trades can’t possibly offer, such as the Midwest Association of Home Inspectors (MAHI)American Home Inspection Training (AHIT)American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). These certifications along with years of experience will ensure you have peace of mind after you purchase your home.  In addition to our credentials, Home Detective offers a Free 90 Day Home Inspection Warranty for all the home inspections we do with the option for an 18 month extended warranty. To schedule your home inspection today or for more information, contact Reed at (763) 434-3155.  Buyers Home Inspection Brainerd | Buyers Home Inspection Rogers | Certified Home Inspector Brainerd | Certified Home Inspector Rogers | Home Inspection Brainerd | Home Inspection for Sellers Rogers | Home Inspection Rogers | Home Inspector Rogers | Radon Inspection Brainerd | Radon Inspection Rogers | Radon Inspection St. Michael | Radon Inspector Rogers | Radon Inspector Brainerd | Radon Inspector St. Michael      
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Relatives are Often Not Good Home Inspectors

Buyers Home Inspection Brainerd, Buyers Home Inspection Rogers, Certified Home Inspector Brainerd, Certified Home Inspector Rogers, Home Inspection Brainerd, Home Inspection for Sellers Rogers, Home Inspection Rogers, Home Inspector Rogers, Radon Inspection Brainerd, Radon Inspection Rogers, Radon Inspection St. Michael, Radon Inspector Rogers, Radon Inspector Brainerd, Radon Inspector St. Michael

Relatives are well-meaning but not a Certified Home Inspector

We all have them, well-meaning, a jack of all trades, a relative or close friend that is as excited as you are to be buying a home and they want to do your home inspection.  Home Detective doesn’t mind if they come with you, but for peace of mind, it is better to hire a professional to conduct your home inspection.  Home Detective is certified by over 4 leading trade organizations as a home inspection expert, with rigorous knowledge and experience requirements that a jack of all trades can’t possibly offer, such as the Midwest Association of Home Inspectors (MAHI)American Home Inspection Training (AHIT)American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) Does your Relative offer a Free 90 Day Home Inspection Warranty, Appliances Included? These certifications along with years of experience will ensure you have peace of mind after you purchase your home.  In addition to our credentials, Home Detective offers a Free 90 Day Warranty-Appliances Included for all the home inspections we do with the option for an 18 month extended warranty. To schedule your home inspection today or for more information, contact Reed at (763) 434-3155.   Buyers Home Inspection Brainerd | Buyers Home Inspection Rogers | Certified Home Inspector Brainerd | Certified Home Inspector Rogers | Home Inspection Brainerd | Home Inspection for Sellers Rogers | Home Inspection Rogers | Home Inspector Rogers | Radon Inspection Brainerd | Radon Inspection Rogers | Radon Inspection St. Michael | Radon Inspector Rogers | Radon Inspector Brainerd | Radon Inspector St. Michael
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