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February Newsletter

February 2018 News

It's February and while we are still buried under several feet of snow, spring really is coming. That means it's time to get a jump on the pre-spring home maintenance checklist! Have you ever wondered if and where you should be hiding your valuables? We took some tips from the International Association of Certified Home Inpsectors on this topic. Also, winter is the perfect time to sell a home, the inventory is low which means you might be able to negotiate a higher price. We’ll give a few tips to winter home sellers. Read on!

Want to make your home more appealing to buyers?

If you're in the process of selling your home or if you're about to put your home on the market you'll want every every advantage to make your home more attractive to buyers. Nothing is better than a fast and clean sale. Give your home the advantage by relieving any worries your potential buyers may have by getting your home inspected before it sells. 
Yes, a home inspection for the seller. There a many advantages to a seller getting a home inspection. First, a home inspection will identify any issues with the house. Many home sale deals fall through when the buyer's home inspection report comes back showing a list of repairs and problems that the buyer doesn't want to address. Second, as a seller, knowing the issues your home may have puts you in control of negotiations. You can decide whether or not to correct the issues, then disclose the other issues in your listing. Third, you save yourself time, you save the buyer's time, and you save the realtors' time. You'll get the best price for your house and you'll avoid unpleasant surprises during the deal.
Call Ron at Sterling Home Services to schedule your home inspection. You'll receive a Move In Certified home inspection certificate and gain the upper hand in the sale of your home! 248-881-3478

February Home Maintenance Checklist

Believe it or not spring is coming. That means it's time to take advantage of the last few weeks of cold and indoor time to get our affairs in order for warm and outside time!
Check for leaks!
Check not just pipes and fixtures but check areas where condensation may accumulate including:
  • Faucets
  • Toilets
  • Tubs 
  • Showers
  • Crawlspaces and basement walls
  • Windows and door frames
  • Under sinks
Check these areas for visible signs of moisture or stains from moisture. Follow the evidence to the source of the water and determine the repair. A simple caulk job or tightened fixture may do the trick, but other jobs may require a professional plumber. Check our website for our preferred providers>>
While you're checking for water evidence change your shower curtain. A shower curtain can be the perfect place for harmful or unpleasant mold and mildew to grow, which can contribute to mold problems in the bathroom.
Air leaks
Use the cold weather outside to identify air leaks in widows and doors. Feel around every window and outside door to determine if you're losing heat (or in the summer, cold). Check where your utilities come into the house. Check other fixtures and vents, too. Repairs may be adding some weather stripping, caulking a window or may require a replacement.
Clean out storage areas
Get a head start on your spring cleaning by sorting through the areas of your house that have accumulated clutter over the winter. Garage, basement, attic, laundry room, and the junk drawer! Discard rusty tools, building material scraps, and parts with no purpose. Throw out old cans of paint, out of date chemicals or cleaners but check with your waste-disposal company first so you aren't responsible for polluting and contaminating groundwaters. Donate clothing and household items you no longer need or use. Your home benefits greatly from clearing away the junk.
Get a fire extinguisher
If you already have one make sure it's still in working order, make sure it's handy and everyone knows it's location. Learn how to use it properly. Then buy a few more for other key areas of the home. If you don't already have one, get one, use how to use it place it in an accessible location!
Outside Maintenance
If the snow ever melts you can get started on some exterior maintenance before warmer weather sets in.
  • Check for damage - the super cold temps this winter and excessive snow may have caused damage over the winter. Check your roof, walk around your house and check the foundation, remove fallen branches and debris.
  • Clean the gutters - you should clean your gutters twice a year, at least. Who knows what has been collecting in the snow and on your roof all winter! Gutters are easier to clean when it's wet so wait until after a rain.
  • Garden work - Mulch the garden beds before the weeds start to take seed. 
  • Pruning - prune your fruit bushes and ornamental grasses. Leave 2"-4" inches and rake away the cuttings.

Ice Dams - Cause and Prevention

Many people consider ice dams a part of winter home maintenance.  Instead of mowing the lawn every week, they bundle up after a snowfall, rake the snow off their roof, plug in expensive heat tape or salt their roof.  Not all houses form ice dams, and there is a way to end ice dams permanently. 
In a nut shell, ice dams form due to inadequate insulation, insufficient attic ventilation or a combination of both.  Ice dams form when snow melts on the roof above the living space, water runs down the roof hits the cold eaves or gutters and forms ice.  As the ice continues to build it begins to form a dam that can block roof drainage. Many times the water that sits on the roof can make its way under the shingles causing structural damage or stained ceilings. 
The solution is to make the roof surface above the living space cold; this can be accomplished by adding insulation and/or increasing attic ventilation.
  1. Check your attic insulation. I recommend a minimum of 10”of fiberglass insulation. The current Michigan Energy code requires much more.  Next check for missing insulation. It’s not uncommon as folks modernize their homes to move insulation and not replace it. Note: some can lights are not designed to be in direct contact with insulation, but there are products specifically designed to seal and insulate can lights such as https://www.tenmatusa.com/ . The attic hatch should also be covered with insulation.   
  2. You should also check your roof ventilation.   Current code requires 1 sq ft of attic ventilation for every 150 square foot of attic floor space.  A very important thing to note is at least 50% of the attic ventilation should come from the soffit vents, I prefer 60%.  You should also be able to see light at the overhangs or soffits. It was not an uncommon practice to fill the area between the top of the outer wall and underside of the roof sheathing with insulation. This blocks off intake air which creates cold eaves and a warm roof.  This situation is the primary cause for ice dams. Some houses do not have overhangs but vented drip edge and under shingle vents provide a solution. 

Top 10 places to hide your valuables

Burglars are generally in a hurry. It's an opportunistic crime which means basically that burglars are lazy. They will go for the easy house, check the obvious locations for valuables and get the heck out! Here are a list of place that most burglars won't bother to check. To get the full explanation and article check the InterNACHI website blog article here >>
1. Hollowed out books
2. False VHS tapes or VHS tape cartons
3. False containers in your pantry or cupboard
4. False bottom to your kitchen or bathroom waste basket
5. Wrapped in aluminum foil and plastic and stored in the freezer
6. In a floor safe in the bedroom closet
7. Inside a house plant
8. Inside a false wall outlet
9. In hollowed out removable building components like wainscoting or floor planks
10. In the garage in boxes with labels such as "Christmas Decor" or "school projects"
Hiding places you should avoid include
1. Areas where your valuables can get damaged
2. Jewelry box
3. Desk drawers
4. CD cases
5. DVD cases
6. Wall safe
7. Inside picture frames with false backs
8. In the cookie jar
9. In an electrical appliance or HVAC duct
10. Any lockbox or file cabinet
For expensive items you cannot hide make sure they are covered in your homeowners policy. Take pictures of all your expensive possessions and save the photos to the cloud. 
In general do what you can to make your home challenging enough to ward off those lazy burglars!

It Happened in February

  • February 4 1902 Aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh was born in Detroit, Michigan. He made the first non-stop solo flight from New York to paris
  • February 7 1812 Charles Dickens was going
  • February 11 1847 Thomas Edison was born.
  • February 14 1967 Aretha Franklin records "Respect"
  • February 17 1909 Apache Chief Geronimo died 
  • February 20 1962 American John Glenn becomes the first American launched into orbit.
  • February 27 1950 the 22nd AmendFebment to the US Constitution was ratified limiting the president to 2 terms in office
Do you know why February only has 28 days? Julius Caesar wanted the month that bore his name (July) to be one of the longer months so he took a day from February leaving 29 days. Augustus did the same with the month of August, leaving only 28 days for the month of February.
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