Cracked House: Tuckpointing vs. Foundation Repair

Major cracks in a foundation are an obvious sign that foundation problems exist. However, there are subtle signs that people miss or that they ignore hoping they won’t worsen. Foundation problems should not be ignored because over time they will become worse. Search your home for both interior and exterior signs. Subtle signs include small cracks in walls and basement cracks inside that go from the floor to the ceiling.

 

Other interior signs are sagging floors, doors that stick, and puddles of water near a basement slab. An extremely wet crawl space, strange smells in a basement, high indoor humidity, and a very musty smelling basement are all subtle signs of a foundation problem. With a brick home, if there are stair-step cracks leading from the foundation, this is a sign of a foundation problem. Over time, this type of crack spreads eventually compromising the structure of the brick. Interior signs are drywall and plaster cracks that run diagonally along the wall and windows. Paneling that has separated from the wall can indicate an issue. Long-running cracks in hard surface flooring can be an indication of foundation issues. Gaps that occur between the floor and baseboard trim are usually interior signs that there are underlying foundation problems. Additional interior signs include fireplace cracks and uneven or sloping floors. Cabinets that separate from the ceiling and floor are interior signs of underlying foundation problems plaguing a home.

 

During severe drought conditions, the soil underneath and around a home can shift and cause problems with the foundation. This condition causes cracks in the cement foundation resulting in severe vertical and horizontal cracks in the walls of a home. Deep cracks can run up the walls and across the ceiling. The process of swelling and shrinking soil can bow brick veneer and cause the brick ties to pull away from the framing. Separating and cracking brick mortar is an exterior sign. This, in turn, causes the exterior brick veneer to pull away from the home. The brick veneer will separate around windows and door frames creating visible cracks.

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Another exterior sign is when a patio or porch separates from the home. If the chimney leans and the roofline is uneven, these are exterior signs. Eventually, expensive framing, plumbing, and roof problems will occur which begin with serious foundation issues. Poor soil compaction causes foundation cracks. Plumbing leaks and water under the foundation slab will lead to additional problems. Foundation problems occur with older homes and they can happen with poorly constructed newer homes. With new houses, foundation problems can occur within a five-year period. Hiring licensed reputable contractors to lay a solid foundation can help with avoiding future foundation and structural issues.

 

Some foundation problems are superficial and repairable. Other problems run deeper and are more severe. They require an in-depth foundation review and the help of foundation repair experts. Before hiring a foundation repair company, obtain several written estimates and check all references. Check their reputation with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).


Pest Control: What to Do in the Fall and Winter

Seasonal change impacts humans as well as pests. When the weather turns cold, pests seek a warm home. They will invade your home and pose a health risk to your family. Avoid sharing your cozy home with rodents and insects. Several methods of eliminating pests include using chemicals and organic or natural methods to eradicate them from your home. If you choose a DIY pest control method, take proper precautions to avoid exposing yourself to harmful chemicals. Try using organic or natural methods to safely remove pests from your home. The best method involves using a certified pest control service company to remove pesky pests.

 

Common pests that seek a warm place in the cold months include mice, rats, cockroaches, and spiders. Take steps to prevent pests from sharing your home during the fall and winter months. Choose a safe pest control method that will not harm humans and pets. Remember children and pets are inquisitive so remove harmful chemicals from their reach. Don’t leave chemical bait traps where children and family pets have access to them.

 

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Helpful steps to use to prevent pests from invading your home.

 

  • Remove standing and stagnant water from inside and outside of your home because it draws bugs. Keep the basement and garage dry. If necessary, use a dehumidifier. Pests, i.e., bugs, are attracted to moisture.
  • Repair leaky pipes and poor drainage systems. Fix gutters and downspouts and move water away from your home’s foundation. Clean out drains that are in the basement and outside the home.
  • Keep the home well ventilated and dry. In the winter, maintain a relative humidity level of 40 percent.
  • Remove paper, old rags, and unwanted items, i.e., clothing, materials, and clutter. Rats, mice, squirrels, and other rodents like to chew on paper, material, wires, and even plastic. So remove clutter from attics and basements. This also removes fire hazards from your home.
  • Remove weeds, shrubbery, flowers, and trees. Keep them away from the foundation of your home.
  • Move firewood away from your foundation and keep it 25 feet away from your home. Move items away from the foundation and your home’s entrances.
  • Seal cracks inside and outside to keep bugs from entering your home. Seal around utility pipes where mice and bugs can enter your home through very small spaces. If you have brick on your home, seal damaged mortar to prevent bugs and mice from entering the home. It will keep out cold air as well.
  • Replace worn door seals and weather-stripping with new seals. Repair damaged window screens and replace screens on vents and chimney caps.
  • Regularly remove garbage from inside and outside the home. Keep garbage in tightly closed containers.
  • Store food in sealed containers. Bugs and rodents like to invade the pantry and cupboards.
  • Keep the countertop and appliances clean and remove traces of sugar and oil which attracts pests.
  • Watch your pet’s food dishes. Rodents and bugs will invade those, too.


Wood Fencing: All You Need to Know

Below are a few items to consider when purchasing, installing and maintaining a wood fence.
Installing a wood fence:

The DIY fence installation will require tools, materials, physical labor, and possibly hiring helpers to complete
the job. Make sure the helpers are covered by their own insurance policy. Before you begin the job, check with
your insurance agent to ensure they are covered. Until the job is complete, you may need to purchase
additional insurance coverage. Before the installation begins, check with the local building codes and check the
property lines to ensure you are within your legal rights of fence placement. Hiring a service company to install
a wood fence requires checking for licenses, insurance coverage, references, and business reputation. Check
with the Better Business Bureau before hiring a fence installation company.

Cost of installation: Depending upon the style and material grade of the wood material chosen for the fence,
the cost will vary. Add to that the amount of material needed, length, and height of the fence will affect the
overall price. However, the average cost of material for a four-foot to six-foot tall wood privacy fence will be as
much as $10 to $30 per linear foot. For the lowest grade and least expensive route, the cost will average $7 to
$15 per linear foot. Depending upon the weather, season, regional area, and market price, the cost of
installation will average $10 to $30 per linear foot. Considering price variation, personal need, and style choice,
the cost may run as much as $30 to $100 per linear foot and higher for materials and installation. Before
making a purchase and beginning a fence project, obtain several quotes for materials and labor.

Commonly used steps to maintain a wood fence:

Most wood fences are constructed of wood comprised of cedar, spruce, and pine. Depending on the species of
the wood, cedar should last from 15 to 30 years. Spruce will last for approximately four to seven years. Fences
constructed using pine will last for about five years to twelve years. Staining or painting the fence may provide
protection and increase the lifespan of the fence. Manufacturers recommend staining the fence because stain
penetrates deeper into the wood than paint which chips and flakes. Stain just fades but it allows the wood, such
as cedar, to breathe. Either method will protect the fence against rot, insects, and inclement weather.

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Periodically, check the stability of the fence structure. If necessary, refinish or paint the fence to keep it looking
nice and in good shape. Repair damaged boards and wood panels and replace damaged hardware. Use
general automotive grease for the locks and hinges. Use a brush to apply the grease. You may need to
disassemble the hinges or altogether replace them. To prevent the wood from rotting, keep the fence clear of
leaves and other debris. Perform a regular inspection and clean the fence with a broom or a pressure washer.
To increase the fence lifespan, and improve property value, use a good fence maintenance plan.


How to choose the best home service?

How to choose the best home service?

Keeping the home clean must be priority of each and every homeowner. Even though it consumes time and requires a lot of effort, it is imperative to keep the house in top-notch order. This can be done by you. However, it is recommended to hire a professional service in order to get the house in a clean order.

Given the large number of services, it has become difficult to choose the right one. Here are some of the main factors that must be taken into account before hiring a professional home service:

1. Company’s status

Company’s status

It is advisable to check the status of the home service before selecting a company. You need to walk in to their main office and check how the company was established. It is also important to check since how long they are working in the field. It is recommendable to hire an experienced home service. This can be done by communicating with them and get all the relevant details.

2. Services offered

Cleaning is not as simple as it sounds. There are several things associated with cleaning services. It is vital to understand all of them and ensure that complete cleaning services are offered by the professional you are hiring. From domestic cleaning to sanitation services, get to know about all the stuff they do. You must hire a company that offers diverse services in order to get all the work done in one go. It will prevent you from hiring different services again and again.

3. Trained staff

A professional home service will comprise of a number of staffs. They all may have different level of experience and a distinct set of expertise. It is imperative to look out for how much trained they are in this field. A well-trained professional will be able to pull out better cleaning services compared to those who are new to the field. Look out for their experience and choose the right professional cleaning services.

4. Read customer reviews

This is one of the most effective ways to choose a good home service. It is important to get insights into actual customer experience. This will help you choose the right service. Reviews can provide and actual reflection of what the company is capable of. However, beware of fake reviews. Nevertheless, reading through reviews can help homeowners to make a well-informed decision. Go through the client testimonials as well in order to get a better idea about their performance.

5. Rates

Professional cleaning services would come at a range of prices. It is essential to ask the service how they set their rates. Ask them whether they charge per hour or the number of employees. The cleaning service must be asked for an estimate in order to have an idea about the price. They can base their estimate on the condition of property and the varying needs to the homeowner. Nevertheless, get to know about the final price and then make your decision.