Time for a Home Checkup!

Just like you need to go to the dentist for regular routine maintenance, your home needs ongoing T.L.C. to keep it looking and feeling well. And just like delaying medical checkups, if you put it off these maintenance checks, your house will surely suffer for it in the long run.

We have been in business a long time, and we find that some folks simply don’t know where to get started with their routine maintenance plan. Luckily, we do! We offer the following programs to keep your home healthy, energy-efficient and in good order between larger projects. And we work with you to establish a schedule for prioritizing these tasks.

Base-Line Maintenance

Every home requires annual base-line maintenance. This includes everything from cleaning gutters and touching up varnish, paint and caulking, to power cleaning and oiling decks. We can also fix minor items like sticky door locks and broken screens. We can also identify and repair compromises in your home’s exterior to keep it in good order and prevent water from sneaking in. Keep in mind that these mini projects will have your home’s parts working better and looking cleaner, making them ready for full enjoyment all year round.

Read more

It’s Spring … Time to Check Your Seams

The layers of snow have melted, and the ground is beginning to thaw. The seemingly endless winter has finally loosened its grip — but not before doing some damage to the exterior seals of your home. The time to take inventory of what needs fixing is now, when these fixes are easy and inexpensive to make. They may cost a lot more later, when serious damage has occurred.

Caulk, just like paint, deteriorates from harsh weather, temperatures, and UV exposure. Therefore, although most homeowners don’t give it much thought, it must be maintained annually. Where to begin? Take a look at the seals around windows and doors, and at the siding of your home. You want to see tight seams between door trim and the siding, the window or door and their stops, window sills, thresholds, cracks in siding concrete pads or mortar … the list goes on. Any time you see a crack in the seal of your home’s materials, it is a place where water, carpenter ants, termites, and other pests can get in. Make a list of any cracks and breaks you find and note their location. Then, take that list to your local home center or good, old-fashioned hardware store so you get the right caulking for each location. Some seals require silicone. On others, mortar should be used. Still other seams require a good latex caulk. Most caulks can come in many colors, making the final finish very nice. Always use the right sealer for the seam in question.

While you’re at it, pick up a really good caulk gun that has a cutting tool, an “off” button and a fold-out “poker” to open the seal in the caulk tube. You don’t want to run around looking for a utility knife or a coat hanger to open a tube of caulk.

When I prepare to do a caulking job on the outside of my olive-painted house, I use a brown-colored paintable latex caulk. I put a few tubes in a 5-gallon bucket, along with my caulk gun, a dust brush, and a damp cloth to use for clean up. With this kit, I can work my way around the house in about an hour. Typically, I can touch up the caulked area with good quality exterior latex paint on the same day. To repair the broken caulking seams, I scrape out loose or failed caulking from the seam, dust it clean, and then apply a new layer of the right type of caulk to the crack. Usually I “tool” it in with my fingertip, making it smooth.

Like caulk, mortar will break down over time, especially in the presence of excess moisture. There are different types of mortar mixes to use. On modern homes, mortar is typically cement-based and very hard. You know it’s been used because if you tap a piece of it, it will make a ringing sound. This cement-based mortar is used against hard-fired bricks that can withstand the pressure of this mortar. Never use this cement mortar to patch old masonry work. Old masonry work requires lime-based mortar, which is softer and won’t damage soft stone or low-fired brick. This mortar makes a very dull sound if you tap a piece of it.

Once you know the mix ratio to use, it’s very easy to mix up a small batch of a cup or two at a time to patch a few seams that may have deteriorated. These small repairs will typically be required around downspouts or other wet areas of the house. Take the time to clean out the old joints, moisten the area, and then carefully tuck the mortar into the seams. Once set but still moist, you can soften the look of the mortar by brushing it with an old dry bristle brush. If the repair requires more extensive quantities of mortar, it’s best to call in a professional because the wrong mortar mix or technique can cause serious damage to the masonry work on your home.

Happy caulking,
The Myers Constructs Team

The Importance of Having a Plan

I’ve been speaking with some landscapers about creating a plan for our yard’s landscaping. I’m pretty sure my reaction to the process is a lot like most homeowners thinking about home renovations: ”$X per hour for design services?! How many hours will that take? What will that cost? Wouldn’t I be better off spending that money on plants and mulch? Why do I need a design plan anyway?”

The truth is, I absolutely know the value of having a great plan, whether for landscaping or renovating a home.

Read more

Road Trip Checklist

Heading out for a Memorial Day Weekend getaway? Don’t miss these last-minute house-prepping tips to take the stress out of your vacation.

· Make arrangements for pets. If you are using a pet-walking service, be sure they are certified with a professional organization like pro pet sitters

· Unplug small appliances or charging devices. These can use energy even when not in use. We call them vampires.

Read more

Easy DIY Projects #2: Fire Prevention

Regular readers will remember my blog post “Where There is Smoke, There is Fire.” Here is the link

In that post, the problem of dryer vent fires was discussed. These fires are very common and easy enough to prevent. So easy, in fact, that I, too, had neglected to do the necessary maintenance at my house that would help prevent such a fire. It occurred to me recently that I hadn’t checked on how much lint was built up in my ducting. (That reminds me of the movie Brazil, when they asked, “How are your ducts?”)

Here are the steps involved. The whole process should take about 30 minutes or less:

  • Pull the dryer away from the wall and disconnect the vent hose.
  • Look inside the vent hose, and also inspect the area where it connects to the dryer outlet and to the outlet that goes to the outside of the house. See any lint buildup? If so, pull it out and then vacuum the fine lint out of the outlets and the vent hose. A shop vac is great, but a regular household vacuum with a hose works, too.
  • While you’re there, collect the loose change and missing socks from behind the dryer. Vac up the dead spiders and wash the floor.
  • Reconnect the vent hose to the back of the dryer and the outlet to the outside. Mine is easy because it has spring circlips. You may need a screwdriver to do yours if it’s screwed or has a large hose clamp. If it’s taped, you will need to cut the tape, and then use a different mechanical fastener so you can do this regular maintenance procedure again in the future. I like circlips and hose clamps for this.
  • I like to see rigid metal ducting for this use, but flexible metal ducting also available. These two options are more fire resistant than my Mylar hosing. I’ll create another blog post discussing my switch out for my dryer duct soon. And never use white plastic hosing, since that will certainly burn in a fire.

    FYI, in the case of my dryer ducting, the greatest area of build up was on the outside flapper, where condensation made the metal wet, and then lint built up. Less likely to cause a fire, but the clot was making my dryer work very hard.

    When It Comes to Interior Home Maintenance, There’s No Such Thing as a Free Pass

    I’m always surprised when I see stuff in people’s homes that tells me they are not maintaining them. What’s most surprising is that, many times, they are very simple things to take care of.

    Last time, I wrote a little bit about the myth of the maintenance-free exterior. This post will be about the interior of our homes and some typical simple things we should all do to maintain them.

    Read more