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home improvement: When Should I Call In A Professional For A Home Repair? - 01/16/11 11:57 PM
When Should I Call In A Professional For A Home Repair? Most homeowners like to turn as many home improvements as possible into a DIY project. The economy has been tight, jobs and finances uncertain, and, let's face it, there is a fantastic feeling of accomplishment doing something to the house. But some tasks are simply too risky for a do-it-yourselfer. There are certain home repairs are dangerous to get involved with unless you have specialized training to safely complete them. Let's take a look at what qualifies as DIY, and what requires a professional. At least, in my opinion.
home improvement: Preventing (Or Dealing With) Ice Dams On Michigan Roofs - 12/26/10 08:18 PM
Preventing (Or Dealing With) Ice Dams On Michigan Roofs Most ice dams form at the edge of the roof, where it is colder. Approaching the top of the roof, the temperatures rise, heated by the warm air rising through the house, into the attic. In a house, heat moves through the ceiling and insulation by conduction (heat energy going through a solid) through the ceiling. In many homes, there is little space in regions like this for insulation, so it is important to use insulations with high R-value per inch to reduce heat loss by conduction. Convection (rising air) heat contributes (0 comments)
I love inspecting houses. I get to meeta lot of great people (and only rarely a not-so-nice person), and find "the story" behind many different homes. But I particularly enjoy inspections for first-timers. And most of the time, I am asked this question: What kind of tools do I need, at a minimum, as a homeowner? Here is my top ten list to that question. This is list is obviously not exhaustive, but it does cover the bare bones, at-the-very-minimum tool collection that every homeowner should be able to use -- regardless (3 comments)
home improvement: Bamboo Flooring: Environmentally Friendly, But How Good Is It? - 12/05/10 10:12 PM
Bamboo Flooring: Environmentally Friendly, But How Good Is It? Bamboo flooring is growing in popularity. If you head to the local Lowe's or Home Depot, you find it in their flooring section. Turn on HGTV and you can find it featured on several different shows. Bamboo is an eco-friendly alternative to traditional wood flooring. It is a grass, not a wood, and grows in tropical regions where hot, humid and rainy conditions exist year-round. And it can grow 24 inches a day, given the right soil conditions. These two factors make bamboo both a sustainable product and a naturally moisture-resistant product. (11 comments)
home improvement: When Do Home Repairs Require A Professional? - 12/05/10 08:56 PM
When Do Home Repairs Require A Professional? Most homeowners like to turn as many home improvements as possible into a DIY project. The economy has been tight, jobs and finances uncertain, and, let's face it, there is a fantastic feeling of accomplishment doing something to the house. But some tasks are simply too risky for a do-it-yourselfer. There are certain home repairs are dangerous to get involved with unless you have specialized training to safely complete them. Let's take a look at what qualifies as DIY, and what requires a professional. At least, in my opinion.
Be Aware Of (5 comments)
home improvement: Electrical Service Panels and Homeowner Safety - 12/04/10 01:20 PM
Electrical Service Panels and Homeowner Safety Electrical service panels are boxes that house circuit breakers, which are are safety devices that stop the electrical current if it exceeds the safe level for some portion of the home electrical system. Safety Many people, including experienced electricians, have been killed or seriously injured while opening electrical panels. Several years ago, a local electrician was killed while attempting to inspect a panel that had a faulty spring-loaded bus-bar assembly. Apparently, the bus-bar was moved while the electrician was opening the panel, causing an arc and a lethal electrical explosion. Oftentimes, two factors contribute (4 comments)
home improvement: Egress Windows In Michigan - 11/28/10 11:20 PM
Egress Windows In Michigan One of the houses I inspected last week was built in 2002. When I got to the basement, I was greeted by an area converted to a bedroom. Now, I'm not a code inspector, but I did see something wrong with this bedroom... primarily, there is no easy way to get out of Dodge in case of a fire. The window does not meet the emergency egress requirements.
Section R310 of the 2006 Michigan Residential Code covers emergency egress (the new code is due to be released in December). Here are some of the problems: (3 comments)
home improvement: Michigan Houses And Aluminum Electrical Wiring - 11/21/10 09:58 PM
Michigan Houses And Aluminum Electrical Wiring Many Michigan houses built from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s used aluminum wiring as a substitute for copper wiring. The price of copper was rising, so this made financial sense. And after all, a metal is a metal, right? And metals conduct electricity, right? So this shouldn't be a problem, right? Well, it isn't that simple, and after about ten years of this practice, we discovered aluminum wire wasn't a terrific replacement for copper. Aluminum simply doesn't work as well Properly maintained aluminum wiring is acceptable, but aluminum's physical qualities make it become defective (0 comments)
What causes different roof surface temperatures? Most ice dams form at the edge of the roof, where it is colder. Approaching the top of the roof, the temperatures rise, heated by the warm air rising through the house, into the attic. In a house, heat moves through the ceiling and insulation by conduction (heat energy going through a solid) through the ceiling. In many homes, there is little space in regions like this for insulation, so it is important to use insulations with high R-value per inch to reduce (4 comments)
home improvement: Tankless vs. Tank Water Heaters - 11/07/10 11:17 PM
Tankless vs. Tank Water Heaters One of the common questions I get during an inspection is: "what exactly is a tankless water heater?" After I give my answer, another question inevitably follows: "should I get one?" It isn't my position to tell people whether or not to make such a purchase, but I am always happy to explain the differencess: We are all pretty familiar with the traditional tank or storage water heater. The water heating system is installed in a special insulated tank. Cold water is supplied to the tank through an inlet pipe and is heated according to the (4 comments)
home improvement: What Causes Ice Dams? Part I - 11/07/10 10:42 PM
What Causes Ice Dams? Temperatures are dropping. On Friday, it started snowing as I drove off to pick up dinner. Granted, it didn't stick, but we all know winter is on its way. Every year I see Michigan homes damaged by ice dams. A lot of people have heard the term "ice dam," but don't really understand what it is, what it does, or how to prevent it. An ice dam is, essentially, a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof. It prevents melting snow from draining off the roof, causing water to back up behind the (1 comments)
"It's my property." "It's just a shakedown by the city." "Why should I pay an extra 'tax' to the city for the privilege of working on my own house?"
These are typical of the myriad of excuses I hear from people who don't get permits when making changes around the house or their property. But here is some solid advice: If you are thinking of working on the house and ignorning the permit office -- don't. And NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER obtain a homeowner's construction permit for a contractor! It is the property owner's (2 comments)
home improvement: Examining Trees - 10/31/10 11:58 PM
Examining Trees We just finished concluded several days of heavy wind here in Michigan (many of the days had "land bombs," as the weather people kept reminding us). With our occasional windstorms, and with a Michigan winter fast approaching, it is a good idea to occasionally inspect the trees on our properties for damage... and to remove them as necessary.
A Tree's Structural Defects Trees with major structural defects can damage your house -- or your neighbor's house. Here are some signs of defects: Cankers (see picture above) are localized areas on branches or stems of a tree where (3 comments)
home improvement: Thermostat Problems and Solutions - 10/31/10 04:47 PM
Thermostat Problems and Solutions Thermostats help us keep our indoor air temperature comfortable. Most thermostats contain two meters: the "set" or requested temperature, and the actual temperature. Newer thermostats usually have digital displays, which can be used to adjust automated heating and cooling schedules. On a traditional dial-type thermostat, the user can increase the set temperature by rotating the dial clockwise, and lower it by rotating it counter-clockwise. Common Problems And Solutions Location, location, location... In order to avoid false readings, the thermostat must be installed so that it correctly reads the room temperature. It can't be near a heat source, (1 comments)
home improvement: Rafters vs. Trusses - 10/31/10 04:14 PM
Rafters vs. Trusses One of the frequent questions I am asked is: what is the difference between rafters and trusses? Rafters Rafters are sloped framing members running downard from the peak of the roof all the way to the plates of the outside walls. They are the support for the roof load. Ceiling joists tie the outside walls together, support the ceiling materials for the room below, and secure the bottom ends of the rafters. Carpenters build conventional rafter roof frames on-site. The rafters are installed one piece at a time.
Trusses Trusses are engineered and prefabricated assemblies, (0 comments)
home improvement: What's That White Stuff On My Bricks? - 10/26/10 06:53 PM
What's that white stuff on my bricks? Chances are, that white chalky stuff is efflorescence (pronounced ef-luh-res-uh ns), an accumulation of minerals and salts on brick and cement. We can see it on bricks all over Michigan, on old houses and new. While it is unsightly, efflorescence itself is not dangerous... but it does indicate there is excess water, which can lead to serious structural and health issues. How Efflorescence Forms Natural salts are present in the raw materials that make up masonry products. These salts remain trapped within masonry in solid form until they are dissolved into water (which (8 comments)
Uneven concrete is like most problems around the house: a two-part issue. The obvious issue is the concrete -- it needs fixed. What's not as obvious is WHY the problem happened in the first place. That source of the problem needs fixed, too.
Why Does Concrete Sink? Concrete sinks basically because the underlying support gives way. There are many reasons for this kind of failure... installing concrete on dirt that wasn't sufficiently compacted... (7 comments)
So you want energy efficiency and you know you need insulation. What's next? Figuring out where to put the stuff. A house should be properly insulated from the roof down to its foundation.
But first, for other exciting information about insulation (at least to building science nerds like me), you may want to look at: Insulation: A Look At R-Value Adding Insulation To A Home: How The Stuff Works Adding Insulation To A Home: Sealing And Ventilation
This is the area most of us think about when we think insulation. Fortunately, attics (0 comments)
How To Hire A Contractor And Not Get Cheated I recently wrote a post titled How To Hire A Roofing Contractor. I received an email asking me to go into a bit more detail, so this post tries to deliver that additional content. So with apologies for the long post, here it is... One of my favorite TV shows is Holmes on Homes. Mike Holmes, the host, fixes the houses of unfortunate homeowners who have been swindled by different contractors. This of course leads us to ask the question: how do I avoid hiring the wrong contractor and avoid being (4 comments)
home improvement: What Is A Vapor Barrier? - 10/10/10 10:59 PM
What Is A Vapor Barrier? Moisture control is the key to healthy, comfortable indoor air. It also protects building materials from breaking down. Vapor barriers are an important part of moisture control. A vapor barrier is typically a plastic or foil sheet which resists the passing of moisture through ceiling, wall or floor assemblies. They also are effective for controlling moisture in basements, crawlspaces, and slab-on-grade foundations. They also block gases like methane and radon from coming through cracks.
While the term "vapor barrier" is commonly used, "vapor-diffusion retarder" is probably more accurate. "Barrier" implies that the material will stop (7 comments)
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.