Prepare Your Fireplace for the Season

With temperatures dropping, now’s a great time to prepare your wood burning or gas fireplace for the fall.
Most of the simple inspections and cleaning can be done by the average home owner, however, if you have any doubt at all, contact your local fireplace installer or chimney sweep, say the experts at Napoleon Fireplaces.

Wood-burning

Have the chimney cleaned before starting your wood-burning fireplace, stove, or insert. The leading cause of fires from wood-burning appliances is the result of creosote (unburned fuel) that has accumulated in the chimney.

Have any gasket material inspected and replaced as required, such as the gasket sealing the door, the door glass, and in some cases the ash dump. If an airtight appliance is operated without these gaskets effectively sealing the openings, excess air can leak into the firebox, creating an over fire condition, which may permanently damage the appliance.

If your wood-burning appliance has a blower, clean it. Unlike your furnace blower, these blowers do not have a filtering system to prevent the buildup of dust and hair on the blower.

Replace any broken or deteriorated brick lining in the wood -burning appliance. While cracks in the lining are not a concern, if the brick lining is deteriorated to the point that the steel body is exposed, the heat from the fire can cause permanent damage to the appliance.

Replace the batteries and test any smoke or carbon monoxide detectors you have in your home to ensure these defense monitors are operating properly.

Gas-burning

Have a qualified technician service the appliance, including having the airways of both the pilot and main burners cleaned to ensure they are operating correctly.

If your gasburning appliance has a blower, clean it. Unlike your furnace blower, these blowers do not have a filtering system to prevent the buildup of dust and hair on the blower. As the dust accumulates on the blower blades, the balance of the blower will change, causing premature wearing of the bearings. The dust also insulates the motor; preventing it from being cooled, and can eventually cause the motor to cease up.

Replace the batteries in any optional remote transmitters and in some cases, in the receiver as well. Even when not being used the power held in a battery is slowly depleted.

Replace the batteries and test any smoke or carbon monoxide detectors you have in your home to ensure these defense monitors are operating properly.

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/news/fireplaces-chimneys/tips-how-prepare-your-fireplace-season/#ixzz3HY18OrCZ

Quality Living From the Team that Cares

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Quality Living From the Team that Cares

Homes for sale increasing for central Ohio

There were 3,035 central Ohio homes and condos listed for sale in September 2014, which is a 6.8 percent jump from September 2013. The additional inventory brought the total number of homes and condos for sale to 9,408, which just trails August 2013 by 2.6 percent, according to Columbus REALTORS® Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

Traditionally activity starts to slow when kids are back in school and temperatures begin to dip. But last month, we saw more homes listed for sale than we’ve seen in September for the last several years,” Columbus REALTORS® 2014 President Milt Lustnauer said.

“Sellers are getting the message that it’s a terrific time to put their home on the market and sell. This is great news as we still have qualified buyers looking for homes.”

The average sales price of a home in September was $179,306, an increase of 2.5 percent from September 2013, marking the seventh month in a row for record high prices. The average price is the total volume divided by the number of homes sold.

Year to date (January through September 2014), the average sale price of a home in central Ohio is $183,944 – up 5.2 percent from the first nine months of 2013.

There were 2,349 central Ohio homes and condos sold in September 2014, an increase of 1.3 percent from September 2013. However at 20,432, year to date home sales are still trailing 2013 by 4.4 percent.

“Home sales are down because inventory has been down this year,” added Lustnauer. “But with the increase in inventory last month, we’ll likely see a similar increase in sales.”

“This also continues to be a great time to buy a home as there’s more inventory to choose from and interest rates remain at near their lowest this year.”

According to the latest Housing Market Confidence Index (by the Ohio Association of REALTORS®) 89 percent of central Ohio REALTORS® describe the current housing market as moderate to strong and 87 percent expect housing prices to rise over the next year.

Fifty-three percent of central Ohio REALTORS® indicated that the level of interest potential buyers have shown in purchasing their first home has increased. Fifty-nine percent report an increase in multiple offers.

Quality Living From the Team that Cares

Pumpkin Carving Tips

Pumpkin•Do not eat a pumpkin that has been carved as a jack-o’-lantern.

• Choose a large pumpkin. The larger the pumpkin, the easier it is to carve. Avoid any pumpkins with bruises or moldy stems as they will spoil much faster. Pumpkins with a lighter color tend to be softer and easier to carve.

• When cutting out the top, place the knife at a 45 degree angle so the the lid will have a place to rest when you replace it. If you cut straight down, the lid will fall through.

• When cleaning the pumpkin, save the seeds. Toasted pumpkin seeds make a healthy as well as tasty snack. Use a large, heavy metal serving spoon or ice cream scoop to scrape the insides. If you will be lighting the pumpkin, the back wall should be scraped as smooth as possible since this is where the light will be reflected. A 1-inch thickness of the pumpkin wall is optimum.

• For longer life, soak the cleaned pumpkin a couple of hours in a bleach water solution of 1 teaspoon bleach to 1 gallon of water. Dry thoroughly, then rub inside and out, including all cut edges, with vegetable oil or petroleum jelly to prevent shriveling. If the pumpkin begins to shrivel, repeat the process. The soaking time will depend upon how dried out the pumpkin has become.

• Beginners should select a simple, bold pattern. Once you master the simple patterns, you can move on to something more difficult.

• Print out or draw the pattern on a piece of paper. Use small sharp scissors or a razor knife to cut out the areas you will be carving into the pumpkin. Tape the template onto the pumpkin and use a marker to trace the carving lines. Cutting slits in the paper will help it to conform to the round surface.

• As an alternative, you can tape the outline to the pumpkin and use a nail or large pushpin to score the carving lines onto the pumpkin. Connect the dots as you carve.

• A long serrated knife or a pumpkin-carving knife with teeth will be necessary to cut through the thick flesh. Use a sawing motion and take your time cutting along the outside edge of the marker lines so there is no marker residue.

• Consider cutting off the bottom of the pumpkin, as well as the top. The pumpkin will be more stable and also easier to carve. If you plan on using a candle to light your jack’o’lantern, be sure the opening in the bottom is large enough to fit over the candle. Place the candle on a fire-proof base large enough to accomodate the pumpkin. You can then easily lift off the jack-o’-lantern to light the candle.

• If you will be lighting your jack-o’-lantern with a candle, be sure to leave the lid off to avoid any fire hazard. Use a votive candle in a glass holder or tea lights in a metal case. If you want to leave the lid on, carve a hole in the unseen back side of the pumpkin to act as a chimney. Never leave a candle-lit jack-o’-lantern unattended for any length of time.

• A small battery-operated flameless candle is a safer choice than traditional candles for lighting your jack-o’-lantern.

• Sprinkle the bottom side of the pumpkin lid with ground cinnamon , nutmeg , and/or cloves to let your jack-o’-lantern do double duty as an air freshener.

• Place the jack-o’-lantern in a plastic bag and refrigerate when not in use.

• Try making an uncarved jack-o’-lantern by painting designs with royal icing. You can enjoy a decorated jack-o’-lantern but still use the pumpkin when Halloween has come and gone.

Quality Living From the Team that Cares

 

How to Insulate a Garage Door

Check out this article from HouseLogic on how to insulate your garage door.

Garage door insulation can make your life warmer, cooler, and quieter. It lowers energy bills, acts as a barrier between you and street noise, and brightens an otherwise dreary space.

Garage door insulation is an easy DIY project; it’ll cost you about $200 to insulate two 9-foot-wide doors.

Types of insulation

Any insulation type will increase the energy efficiency of your garage door. Here are the most popular types to apply to the back of garage doors:

  • Batt insulation. This flexible insulation, often found stuffed into exterior walls, is commonly made of fiberglass. It’s usually backed by paper or foil, which act as vapor and air barriers. Insulating values are R-3 to R-4 per inch of thickness. Cost is about 30 cents per sq. ft.
  • Foam board insulation. These rigid panels, typically made from polystyrene, provide a high insulating value for relatively little thickness. Panels most often range from ½ inch thick (R-3.3) to 1 inch (R-6.5). Foam board often is faced with aluminum or vinyl. ($20 for a 4-by-8-ft. sheet that’s 1 inch thick.)
  • Reflective insulation. Rigid boards and rolls of reflective insulation have highly reflective aluminum foil applied to one or both sides of insulation materials, such as cardboard and polyethylene bubbles. This type of insulation reflects radiant heat, making it a good insulation choice for garages that heat up in summer or hot climates. Its approximate R-value is 3.5 to 6, depending on the way you apply it. (A 4-by-25-foot roll is $42).

Matching insulation to your garage door

The goal is to match your garage door to an insulation that’s easy to install and appropriate for your climate.

  • Steel garage doors. These doors can accommodate any type of insulation. Stuff the flexible insulation in the frames around the panels, with the fiberglass side touching the door. Or squeeze cut-to-fit foam board insulation into the frames.
  • Wood frame-and-panel doors. Cut and fit rigid insulation into the recesses between the door frames. For extra climate control, install two layers of foam board.
  • Flat garage doors. Foam board or reflective insulation is the best fit for garage doors without panels. Glue or tape the insulation to the garage door.

Insulation kits

Even though buying and cutting insulation isn’t hard, garage door insulation kits make it even easier. They contain:

  • Insulation — rolls or boards — cut closer to the size of garage panels than if you bought these yourself, though you’ll still have to trim.
  • Fasteners or tape to hold insulation in place.
  • Higher-end kits throw in gloves and/or a utility knife.

Kits to insulate a 9-ft. wide garage door cost $50-$70.

Heads up!

Adding insulation to a garage door adds weight. Extra weight isn’t usually a problem with 9-ft. wide doors, but can strain the opening mechanism of larger doors. Your garage door’s spring tension might have to be adjusted — a job best left to a garage door professional.

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/insulation/how-to-insulate-a-garage-door/#ixzz3G22XBMwR

Quality Living From the Team that Cares

8 Easy Ways to Seal Air Leaks Around the House

1.  Insulate Around Recessed Lights

Most recessed lights have vents that open into the attic, a direct route for heated or cooled air to escape. When you consider that many homes have 30 or 40 of these fixtures, it’s easy to see why researchers at the Pennsylvania Housing Research/Resource Center pinpointed them as a leading cause of household air leaks. Lights labeled ICAT, for “insulation contact and air tight,” are already sealed; look for the label next to the bulb. If you don’t see it, assume yours leaks. An airtight baffle is a quick fix. Remove the bulb, push the baffle up into the housing, then replace the bulb.

2.  Plug Open Stud Cavities

Most of your house probably has an inner skin of drywall or plaster between living space and unheated areas. But builders in the past often skipped this cover behind knee walls (partial-height walls where the roof angles down into the top floor), above dropped ceilings or soffits, and above angled ceilings over stairs.

Up in the attic, you may need to push insulation away to see if the stud cavities are open. If they are, seal them with unfaced fiberglass insulation stuffed into plastic garbage bags; the bag is key to blocking airflow. Close large gaps with scraps of drywall or pieces of reflective foil insulation. Once you’ve covered the openings, smooth the insulation back into place. To see these repairs in action, consult Energy Star’s DIY guide to air sealing.

3.  Close Gaps Around Flues and Chimneys

Building codes require that wood framing be kept at least 1 inch from metal flues and 2 inches from brick chimneys. But that creates gaps where air can flow through. Cover the gaps with aluminum flashing cut to fit and sealed into place with high-temperature silicone caulk. To keep insulation away from the hot flue pipe, form a barrier by wrapping a cylinder of flashing around the flue, leaving a 1-inch space in between. To maintain the spacing, cut and bend a series of inch-deep tabs in the cylinder’s top and bottom edges.

4.  Weatherstrip the Attic Access Door

A 1/4-inch gap around pull-down attic stairs or an attic hatch lets through the same amount of air as a bedroom’s heating duct. Seal it by caulking between the stair frame and the rough opening, or by installing foam weatherstripping around the perimeter of the hatch opening. Or you can buy a pre-insulated hatch cover kit for stairs or doors.

5.  Squirt Foam in Medium-Size Gaps

Once the biggest attic gaps are plugged, move on to the medium-size ones. Low-expansion polyurethane foam in a can is great for plugging openings 1/4-inch to 3 inches wide, such as those around plumbing pipes and vents. A standard 12-ounce can is good for 250 feet of bead about 1/2-inch thick. The plastic straw applicator seals shut within two hours of the first use, so to get the most mileage out of a can, squirt a lubricant such as WD-40 onto a pipe cleaner and stuff that into the applicator tube between uses.

6.  Caulk Skinny Gaps

Caulk makes the best gap-filler for openings less than 1/4-inch wide, such as those cut around electrical boxes. Silicone costs the most  but works better next to nonporous materials, such as metal flashing, or where there are temperature extremes, as in attics. Acrylic latex caulk is less messy to work with and cleans up with water.

7.  Plug Gaps in the Basement

Gaps low on a foundation wall matter if you’re trying to fix a wet basement, but only those above the outside soil level let air in. Seal those with the same materials you’d use in an attic: caulk for gaps up to 1/4-inch wide and spray foam for wider ones. Use high-temperature caulk around vent pipes that get hot, such as those for the furnace or water heater. Shoot foam around wider holes for wires, pipes, and ducts that pass through basement walls to the outside.

In most older houses with basements, air seeps in where the house framing sits on the foundation. Spread a bead of caulk between the foundation and the sill plate, and along the top and bottom edges of the rim joist.

8.  Tighten Up Around Windows and Doors

In the main living areas of your home, the most significant drafts tend to occur around windows and doors. If you have old windows, caulking and adding new weatherstripping goes a long way toward tightening them up. Bronze weatherstripping lasts for decades but is time-consuming to install, while some self-stick plastic types are easy to put on but don’t last very long. Adhesive-backed EPDM rubber is a good compromise, rated to last at least 10 years. Nifty gadgets called pulley seals  block air from streaming though the holes where cords disappear into the frames.

Weatherstripping also works wonders on doors. If a draft comes in at the bottom, install a new door sweep.

Before Working in the Attic, Take Some Precautions

Try to do attic work on a cool day. Wear protective gear: disposable clothes, gloves, and a double-elastic mask or half-face respirator. Bring along a droplight, plus at least two pieces of plywood big enough to span two or three joists to support you as you work. To save trips up and down a ladder, try to move up all of the materials you need before you get started.

One warning: If you find vermiculite insulation, hold off until you’ve had it checked for asbestos; your health department or air-quality agency can recommend a lab.

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/insulation/home-air-leak-seal-tips/#ixzz3Fg3xjKfl

Quality Living From the Team that Cares

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